Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Drama In Three Courses Plus Dessert

The star enters stage left or right, and the audience knows what will happen next.

Yes, Gordon Ramsay will sample items from the menu of the struggling eatery and declare it all shite on a plate. Every episode of Kitchen Nightmares is the same drama playing out from the same script. Of course it had to end. Even the longest running play has a final performance.

The programme had a format that was standard drama, a three act play with conflict and resolution and usually something sweet at the end. It made for riveting television, for a time, until viewers figured out that they knew how things would end and the only reason to keep watching was to pick up a few recipe tips for next Sunday's dinner.

Gordon Ramsay has pulled the plug, as they say in show biz, and will wrap up the long running series at the end of this season's filming schedule. The nightmares are coming to an end.

Just like a steady diet of romance novels, the menu for the show became fixed and hence predictable. You knew the chaotic kitchen was going to get it together and crank out dishes. The wait staff would sprout smiles as the operation started to run smoothly and customers were happy. After a while, you wouldn't much notice if you missed an episode or two or five. It was the same thing, over and over, and once in a while you need some literary fiction in your diet or your brain will go soft. So, too, with television. Instead of Chef Ramsay some night, you might sit down to a delicious costume drama or comedy, just to taste something else.

The biggest draw for the show could have been the commonly held belief that anyone could operate a restaurant if they knew a few simple recipes. So many of the cooks appearing on Kitchen Nightmares were just ordinary folk with a dream and a love of cooking, and those watching at home could relate to the hero and his/her struggles.

But the second act always showed how wrong that naive notion was, and the third act's resolution put reality on display. Sure there would be those who could sit through the whole drama and still believe that they could do it, make a go of some small eatery, and for them the third act was proof that it was possible to pull off such a difficult task. Even that sort of happy ending has its limits of interest, however.

Enjoy your last few meals in the kitchen of nightmares because it's time to close up shop. The palates have been sated and there's not enough interest in the repetitive menu. One last drama, then, a full meal of three courses...or acts, if you like...with a sweet finish to tickle your tastebuds as the doors close...or the curtain rings down. It's all the same.

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