C.J.'s Awesome Return to 'Top Chef' and the Not Awesome Cancellation of 'Last Resort'
November 18th, 2012 2:00pm EST
Brittany's Blog: This is my viewpoint, from the far end of the couch...and this week, I discuss the welcome return of a favorite to Bravo's Top Chef and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the disappointing decision by ABC to axe its compelling drama series Last Resort.
Viewers of Top Chef: Seattle were surprised on Wednesday when host Padma Lakshmi announced that three former competitors - CJ Jacobsen, Josie Smith-Malave and Stefan Richter - would be joining the current crop of hopefuls. Me? I haven't been this excited about Top Chef since...well, CJ was on Top Chef: Miami seven seasons ago.
Miami remains my favorite season of Top Chef, and that's because in addition to having great competition, there were also a multitude of personalities that made the show entertaining. It had the likes of Brian Malarkey, Dale Levitski, fan favorite Casey Thompson, and my favorite, CJ.
CJ was to Top Chef: Miami what Hugh Acheson was to Season 3 of Top Chef Masters - someone who brought both aptitude and wit to the proceedings. A lot of his humor was of the self-deprecating variety, whether it was poking fun at his height by saying he'd be "dusting the ceiling" of a boat the chefs were cooking on, or riffing on his bout with testicular cancer during the holiday special when a nutcracker was involved.
His return should balance out some of the show's overdramatic moments, like the suddenly jerky camera work and overlong pauses at judges' table. Now let's see if he can redeem himself for that broccolini misfire.
Top Chef: Seattle continues Wednesday nights on Bravo.
As happy as I am about CJ coming back to Top Chef, that's how unhappy I am about ABC's choice to end Last Resort.
The rogue nuclear sub drama had all the ingredients to be a smash hit: a stupefyingly great cast including Andre Braugher and Robert Patrick, fantastic pilot direction by Martin Campbell (who directed the 2006 James Bond flick Casino Royale), and one of the best writers in television in Shawn Ryan.
What's more, it lived up to the tall expectations those pieces set. Braugher and Patrick were dynamite, both together and apart; Patrick's work in the most recent episode, Thursday's "Nuke It Out," was his best of the entire series to date, as his Master Chief Joseph Prosser dared to cross local drug dealers and paid the price. Meanwhile, Scott Speedman has grown in leaps and bounds since TV audiences saw him as Ben Covington on Felicity a decade ago, and there's also been a strong guest cast including Jay Karnes and Bruce Davison.
While the show isn't perfect - the romantic subplots fall flat more often than not - it's been a breath of fresh air, a great serial story in a landscape of procedurals. It's less about how the crew of the Colorado will save themselves than it is about watching them evolve through facing that challenge. Sam's loyal wife Christine (Jessy Schram) has been pushed to her limits trying to defend him, while commanding officer Marcus Chaplin (Braugher) has seen his authority questioned numerous times, and there are plenty of conflicted, desperate sailors caught up in something bigger than they can understand. It's thought-provoking, often stomach-churning television.
Now the question is will the writers have the opportunity to give the saga of the USS Colorado a proper conclusion? And having given us the two best television shows of the past two seasons - let us never forget the brilliance that was FOX's The Chicago Code - how does Shawn Ryan just keep drawing the short straw in TV land?
Last Resort will finish out its thirteen-episode run beginning Thursday, November 29 at 8 PM ET/PT on ABC.
Thankfully, I have a way to vent my frustrations, thanks to the return of The Hub's Dan Vs. It's the second-funniest show on television behind FX's Archer, and both are equally delightfully demented. I'm pretty sure the only reason Dan Vs. isn't as big a hit as Archer is because it airs on a network most folks have to look for.
For those of you who haven't yet found The Hub, Dan Vs. is about the angriest person on the planet. If Lewis Black's stand-up routine got animated, it would be something like Dan Vs. Each episode focuses on the title character (voiced by Curtis Armstrong) vowing revenge against something or someone that he can't stand, and he'll stop at nothing to get it. In the first few minutes of yesterday's season premiere, Dan was prepared to launch a nuclear missile in order to eradicate a squirrel against whom he had an unspecified grudge.
This is escapist television, pure and simple. You will not learn a lesson. You will not get to spin the Wheel of Morality. You will, however, laugh a lot as you watch Dan go after things that bother all of us, whether it's Los Angeles traffic, parents who don't rein in their unruly children, ATM fees at the bank, or telemarketers - because you'll understand, if you don't outright share, his ire.
And while Dan's capers are decidedly over the top, somehow the only thing that happens is massive property damage. No one ever seems to get hurt or killed, even as Dan wages war against whole states and rogue dinosaurs. So it's (mostly) harmless fun.
If that doesn't convince you to check the show out, you can read my chat with the cast and creators from this year's San Diego Comic-Con and my interview with star Paget Brewster about the new season.
Dan Vs. airs Saturday afternoons at 1 PM PT/4 PM ET on The Hub.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit Digital Airwaves and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
Photo Credits: Bravo, ABC, The Hub