New York Times Backtracks on The Chopping Block

As a sort of post mortem on The Chopping Block, The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley goes into the reasons why the show failed with viewers and ultimately was yanked off the air. Unfortunately, it's an infuriatingly different evaluation than the one found in her original review of the show.

In the post mortem, Stanley explains why the show didn't work: Marco Pierre White didn't cook, he was too timid and didn't swear, and the contestants were uncharismatic and didn't get "bollockings." The article even takes digs at the rip-off nature of the show, saying "reality-come-lately rarely works," citing Richard Branson's The Rebel Billionaire, Fox's failed version of The Apprentice.

But if you go back and read Stanley's original review of the The Chopping Block, it was, if anything, highly favorable. Saying that it offered a "gratifying tableau of kitchen tyranny," "a more grandiloquent look and moralizing tone" (in contrast to Hell's Kitchen), Stanley drops this doozy: "In some ways the sober, earnest tone of The Chopping Block is better suited to these recessionary times." The last two sentences of her review suggests that actual, real chefs will, like, totally love the show:

Not everyone dreams of opening a fusion bistro or perfecting a vol-au-vent, but many feel that they had a tougher time learning their trade than younger, mollycoddled and overly entitled upstarts. And for those, “The Chopping Block” cuts just right.

We have the ask: Can the Times be critical only when a show gets canceled? Is Alessandra Stanley now free to reverse her opinion and say, "Well, I didn't like it that much anyway"? Is this a case of hindsight, or is the Times just too timid to actually call out a turd when they see it?

Stanley has a pretty bad track record at the Times, requiring multiple corrections during her tenure there: Her review of The Colbert Report needed a correction, since she called it "trustiness" instead of "truthiness." Even Geraldo Rivera had to threaten to sue the Times for a correction for something she completely made up. She's been one of Gawker's regular punching bags, who last year ran a post, How Many Corrections Does It Take To Get Fired At 'The Times'?.

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