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Bitchin’ Kitchen Review

Why am I reviewing Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen, a cooking show? Not too long ago, the Food Network followed me on Twitter after I watched 10+ extreme chef episodes in a row. I loved it, by the way! This is important, because they have a following number of about 8300, with over 1.3 million followers. This is a ratio of about .006 or 3/500. For them to follow me had to be a conscious choice on the part of whomever is running their feed. With the Food Network now paying attention, it would be a mistake for me not to talk about them, both on Twitter and my blog. Besides, I’ve always been a fan of the Food Network anyway.

However, Bitchin’ Kitchen is not on the Food Network. Instead it’s on their sister network, The Cooking Channel, where all of the Food Network’s cooking shows were banished after the Network decided to focus fully on reality shows.  The show originally started life as a web series of three-minute videos that got turned into a full show running on the Canadian Food Network and eventually proved popular enough to import to the US.  After watching a few episodes I have to state that Bitchin’ Kitchen is quite possibly one of the worst cooking shows I have ever watched.

This is not a joke. I took this directly from the Cooking Channel’s site.

Bitchin’ Kitchen is a comedy cooking show with attitude. Nadia G, the on-air personality, is the creation host Nadia Giosia and is a wise-cracking ‘bitch’ who wears gaudy outfits and speaks in snark complete with random Italian phrases.  In addition, there’s Panos, the fish guy; Yeheskel, the Israeli Spice Agent and Hans, the shirtless food correspondent; all are as flamboyant as the host. To be honest, it’s very tough to describe this show – it’s just one of those shows that has to be seen to be believed.

As you can see, this is a meta-cooking show, one that doesn’t take itself seriously. Bitchin’ Kitchen is trying to be entertaining as a well as informative, which I can applaud. However, the problem is that the whole thing is forced and Nadia just comes off as annoying and unfunny.

In the episode linked above, Nadia is making a pan pizza passed down “through her family.” At about 5:00, after coming back from a commercial break, she goes off on a tangent about her mother for 30 seconds ending off with “Every time I see the glass half  empty, I fill it with Chardonnay,” after which she spends several seconds drinking a glass of wine. The entire segment serves no purpose. It’s not funny and it just comes across as awkward.

The awfulness extends to the cooking segments themselves. A few moments after the wine skit, after mixing a few ingredients, Nadia switches bowls to mix a few other ingredients. You can hear the bowls clink on the counter, to which Nadia quips “The ol’ switch and a slam, eh?” What was the point of that, exactly?

Her cohorts are equally unfunny. There’s a clip on the site called SnuggleYeheskel.com. Yeheskel, after describing Chipotle, says, “Flavors like Tomato….and vinegar will add spice to your dish.” He then winks and says, “But where’s the spice in your life?”

This leads into a fake ad for Yeheskel’s fake dating website, where you send him your info and he comes to your house and “whisks your feet.” The clip lasts a minute. For a twenty-minute show, this is a lot of time to waste on a pointless, idiotic skit.

Bitchin’ Kitchen seems like a parody of a cooking show, a skit Saturday Night Live would do to poke fun at the concept. Unfortunately, it isn’t, since the recipes are real and very tasty if the reviews are any indication.  The format might have worked as bite-sized chunks on the web. However, as twenty minute long show, the comedy gets old fast and Bitchin’ Kitchen is nothing more than an annoying, grating mess.

The cooking show hosts that last for years are the ones who are captivating but ultimately don’t upstage their culinary creations, whether they’re on the Cooking Channel or PBS. A good example is this clip of the late and great Justin Wilson:

Justin, like Nadia, starts off with a random tangent, but unlike her, once he starts cooking, he focuses fully on the recipe at hand. He doesn’t break for jokes or skits with others, because the food is the star. Then, at the end of the segment, he subtly weaves the opening tangent back in, giving it a purpose.

Obviously, Bitchin’ Kitchen currently has a fan base, almost certainly hip women in their twenties and early thirties, which is why this show remains on the air. However, I don’t predict this show lasting more than another season or two because the women who watch this will age and no longer have the time or patience to watch a show that is as focused on nonsensical meta-humor as it is on teaching recipes.

Nadia Giosia would do well to learn from hosts like Justin Wilson, because right now, she’s probably just going to be remembered as a flash in the pan.

Reviews

Review: American Godesses by Gary Henry

americangoddessescover-e13358056282727I’ve decided my first review is going to be based on a book I bought. I purchased American Goddesses since it’s a superheroine novel and I’m in the middle of writing one myself.

Before I begin, I should disclose that  Mr. Henry read and liked A Clear and Feathered Danger. You can find a link to his review on the book’s page.  But that does not give Mr. Henry a reprieve from the review I’m about to give.

Here is the book blurb from American Goddesses:

When two small-town women find themselves with nearly unlimited powers of mind and body, their lives get complicated. Things turn nasty as a shadowy organization attempts to use Megan and Trish for their own evil ends, and destroy them, their town and the USA in the process.

This blurb is a little misleading. This is because depending on which part of the book you are reading, the main villain is either the shadow organization, a Russian telepath or the people  who hire the organization to do a simple task for which the organization needs the telepath to control the two goddesses to complete it  for no other reason then they’re an evil shadow organization… but let’s back up just a bit.

American Godesses revolves around Meg and Trish, two women who live in Lawrence, Kansas and who, thanks to being lab rats, have unlocked supernatural potential. They go about their daily lives working their jobs and and saving lives as honorary deputy police officers. Enter an evil shadow organization called the Agency who have the power to destabilize entire countries any way they see fit. This group is hired by several unnamed people to break a bombsmith out of jail.

Instead of bribing a judge to overturn his conviction or the parole board to give him an early release, the Agency cooks up an plot to have this Russian telepath take over the women’s bodies and break him out that way. Despite this segment seeming contrived, the first part is decent, building up the two protagonists and the villains who oppose them quite well. It’s fairly well done, even if a few plot points , like an intentional gas explosion, are never resolved.

The middle section of the book, where the telepath takes over the heroines, is well written, suspenseful and entertaining.  Then, unfortunately, we reach the last part of the book and everything falls apart. Once you find out who hired the Agency and why, it becomes apparent that the author wrote himself into the corner. To get out of it, Mr. Henry starts literally pulling things out of nowhere.

First, the bombsmith is revealed to be nothing more than an unnecessary MacGuffin. It made me wonder why he was in the book to begin with as he wasn’t broken out to build a bomb, the bomb was already built. Second, the Agency inexplicably vanishes from the book around the same time the third villain enters. This could be explained away by saying that their role is done, except the book spends an awful lot of time building them up. To have them just vanish is mystifying and renders all the buildup pointless.

Third,  the two main characters don’t even take part in the climatic chase to apprehend the MacGuffin and his boss; that falls to two new characters, part of a new group of heroines who magically show up about the 80% mark. I learned a rule in writing very early on: don’t introduce new protagonists more than a third of the way into a story. We’re supposed to root for them and therefore the reader needs time to grow attached. These protagonists are introduced so late that they merely accelerate the plot’s complete collapse.

Finally, at the 95% mark, things get downright stupid when aliens enter the plot for a last-minute revelation and heavy-handed moralizing. For a story in which UFOs and aliens are not mentioned at all, for them to be introduced so late and given as much importance as they are reeks of desperation and poor planning.

A chess AI at the beginning of a match has an opening and an ending in mind and spends the middle trying to bring that ending about. In writing it is much the same. Even if you don’t know what the middle is exactly, you need to go in with an firm ending already in mind, otherwise you will end up with a muddled mess of a book like we see here. This isn’t an exam. Part 1 being an B, part 2 being an A  and part 3 being an F doesn’t average out to a C+…it averages out to an F. Every part of a story needs to hold up for the whole to work: beginning, middle and end.

American Goddesses could have been a winner if the author streamlined the plot and stuck with the shadow organization and telepath and had the ending involve a blockbuster possessed-goddess-on-goddess fight, which the entire middle third was building up towards exceptionally well. It’s only when the third villain enters the picture a little over two-thirds of the way in does the entire book begin to collapse. To borrow a line from Mr. Henry’s reviews, while nobody writes a perfect book, a book’s flaws should not cause the entire plot to crash and burn as spectacularly as American Godesses does.

As a result, I simply cannot recommend this book.

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