Fox's Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live [video]
Last night, the be-flanneled, bleached-blond, and botox-injected Gordon Ramsay, chairman of an imploding restaurant franchise, hosted the special Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live on Fox, an American reworking of the much tamer British Cookalong concept (where all Ramsay really did was stand alone in a kitchen, telling you what to do). And stateside, we do things big. Hollywood! Live studio audiences! Smoke machines! And then we bring in moderate celebrities to cook along, like LeAnn Rimes, Cedric the Entertainer, and Alyson Hannigan. None of them are skilled cooks, making them just like you or I. Except some of them get into car crashes while fleeing the paparazzi (LeAnn Rimes). And then Whoopi Goldberg and her daughter Alex, live via satellite, both "ready to be lively and cooking stuff." How could this possibly fail?
After countless late-night talk show appearances in the US, it's about time Ramsay was handed his own live show, made all the better with the ostensible and honorable goal of teaching people how to prepare a three-course meal in an hour. And Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live was indeed a spectacle. But we don't mean that in a good way: the frenetic, disjointed foray relied heavily on unfunny pre-taped segments and sometimes awkward satellite chats, all of which interrupted the actual cooking of the food. "Trainwreck" is getting tossed around a lot, but that's too inadequate of a description. Also: too charitable, too lenient. Some terms people might use: Inexcusable. A cruel circus. War crime. Skullfuck. Shitshow. Your pick. But let's enumerate his crimes:
Insert a "Jaywalking"-like segment in which Ramsay trolls the streets of Los Angeles asking people if they know what a Steak Diane is (sadly no, they do not). Jay Leno makes an appearance to ultimately explain what it is, mocking British food.
Trying to be on his best behavior, Ramsay couldn't help but insert multiple dick jokes. Even more classy: sort of shamelessly flirting with LeAnn Rimes on live television. Seriously, stop touching her, you're a married man.
For extra gravitas, we pull the heartstrings, bringing in Marine wives whose husbands are in Afghanistan. No, they say, we don't know when they're coming back. Next month, maybe the month after that? But thanks for asking, Gordon. Can we just cook these steaks and put our kids to bed? It's also amusing when people possibly burn their houses down (see above).
But we're here for the food. Gordon Ramsay is a talented chef after all, and what an opportunity to resurrect the forgotten (or possibly irrelevant?) Steak Diane. Above: after flipping the steaks, Ramsay claims, "Look at that color. No color, no flavor. Really important."
In the end, the food came off as garish and sloppily-plated hospital food. Which is a shame, for in theory it's a promising show. Perhaps with more focus on technique and the actual food, it may turn out more successful. And the ratings? Nielsen numbers:
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" (17.4 million, 10.8/17)
NBC: "The Sing-Off" (7.4 million, 4.4/7)
FOX: Special - "Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live" (4 million, 2.5/4)
ABC: "Scrubs" (4.3 million, 2.7/4)/"Better Off Ted" (3.2 million, 2.1/3)
Scrubs got better ratings. Scrubs. But based on the amount of buzz this show has generated, surely we can expect more Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live. Pray for us all.
Video: LeAnn Rimes on Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live
Video: Part 1
Video: Part 2
Video: Part 3