Registered: Aug 2001
Location: San Francisco California
Did you see Iron Chef USA?
Tonight I watched the American version of Japan's "Iron Chef". I enjoyed it somewhat, but they totally screwed up many of the subtler aspects of the Japanese show that make Iron Chef so fascinating.
First of all, like so many "reality shows", they made the mistake of cutting away for special pre-taped profiles of the show's stars. In the japanese version this all occurs at the beginning of the show. Once the actual battle begins, the drama of the contest plays out realtime and you get the feeling of watching an actual live competition, while the American cutaways just killed the pacing and rising tension. Secondly, the NFL-esque sportscasting and over the top computer graphics overpowered the food; the effect was like pouring ketchup over caviar.
During the summing up of dishes at the show's end, we were assaulted by shouting announcers, blinding graphics, a huge cheering audience (complete with "rah rah rah" signs obviously provided by the producers of the show), and loud marching band music that would have been more appropriate for a hotdog eating contest.
And in the end they totally lost the pleasant feeling that envelops the viewer during the Japanese show's climax, as the soft classical music and soft-spoken announcer compliment the dishes. While on "Iron Chef USA" Bruce Vilanche fired off Gong Show one-liners (and oh yes there was a spokesmodel who struck a big gong), they missed the point of a fine meal cooked by a world-class chef, that sitting down to such a meal is a special and intimate affair, a basic human necessity transformed into a heavenly experience for the senses.
We enjoyed the show somewhat. The chefs did prepare some amazing dishes, and eccentric ham William Shatner was the perfect choice to play "The Chairman".
But the producers of the U.S. show chose to create "American Gladiators meets Iron Chef", and I think I'd be completely burnt out on this show after 2 or 3 viewings. Which is probably not even possible because I don't think the show was picked up for more episodes
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