Judge David Johnson's kitchen isn't a nightmare, but his rumpus room sure is.
Our review of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: Complete Series One, published March 14th, 2009, is also available.
Famed UK chef and reality show superstar Gordon Ramsay shows up at crappy restaurants and swears at everyone! Fun for the whole family! (Not really, because there's a lot of swearing.)
Facts of the Case
Gordon Ramsay is a highly successful international chef and he's taken it upon himself to bring his expertise and expletive-laden diatribes to struggling restaurants around the United Kingdom. As we see episode to episode, these eateries are accurately described as nightmares, typically besieged by numerous difficulties, including incompetent chefs, deplorable interior design, uninspired menus, shoddy bookkeeping, and layers upon layers of filth.
10 episodes on three discs.
I'm not a reality show buff, but I really like this one. If you've only seen the American version of the show, you're missing out. While it had its moments, Kitchen Nightmares—Ramsay's foray into tackling US eating holes—was an amped-up, over-the-top interpretation of the superior original. Gordon is an abrasive guy for sure, but in the British version he's not quite as nuclear. If his blood gets up, he'll still throw down with profanity that would humiliate a drill sergeant, but he never becomes the cartoonish typhoon of insanity he displays in the Fox version. This makes him a far better host for the show, and lots more sympathetic.
The restaurants Ramsay visits are pathetic, each with their own individual challenges to surpass, giving him a nice selection of scenarios to apply his expertise. Add to that the eccentric characters he encounters and you've got a…wait for it…recipe for solid television.
While the cooking tips and general pointers on how to run a restaurant are appreciated, the real attraction of the show is Gordon Ramsay himself. Again, ignore the flamethrower you see on Kitchen Nightmares or even Hell's Kitchen, here he seems genuinely compassionate and interested in rehabbing these failing restaurants. When he does detonate, it's all the more amusing, because you know the recipient of his angst has thoroughly earned it.
Sometimes the owners heed his advice and the restaurant works. Sometimes they ignore it and flounder. But that's reality. It's the process of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares that's so entertaining, as Gordon whips each sorry lot into shape.
One big complaint though: several episodes are "revisit" shows, with Gordon returning some time later to the same restaurant to catch up on the progress or lack thereof. What's disappointing is that these shows heavily consist of old footage—usually from the immediately preceding episode—leaving only a minimum of new material. It's kind of a cop-out and an artificial way to pad a season.
Still, shiftiness aside, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is great fun, and highly recommended for fans of reality shows and cooking programs.
The DVD set is bare bones. Episodes look fine in their 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers, supported by a 2.0 stereo mix, but the only extra is Gordon's text bio.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'm perplexed by the choice to unbleep the profanity. I get the uncensored angle, but you're sacrificing a whole lot of family viewers for a lot of F-words.
The show is great, but there are a couple of filler episodes and the unveiled vulgarity will drive off some of the target demographic, for a DVD set that is merely serviceable.
Not F-ing Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
• Text Bio
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