Horrible in every way...and even worse than the "Iron Chef" holiday special that aired a month later.
I adored the Japanese version of "Iron Chef" and have watched every episode they aired in America. So, when I heard that production wrapped up, I was saddened...no more Chairman Kaga and no more Iron Chefs! However, soon after, there was an announcement that the show would be coming to America with a new cast and new Kitchen Stadium. I was excited. Then, sadly, it turned out that they tossed aside all the good elements of the original show and substituted it was an almost "Jerry Springer" and "Gong Show" atmosphere. Gone was the pageantry, subtlety and charm.
The single worst thing about the new show was that the chefs were no longer men you could admire and love. Kinichi, Sakai, Nokamura and the rest seemed like really nice people--skilled, yet honorable and humble. Now, in this bastardized version from America, the chefs were combination mega-celebrities AND GQ cover models. The worst of these was Todd English (who starred in this premier show). He seemed more like the wrestler Gorgeous George coming into the arena than a real honest-to-goodness chef. In the process, he came off as very obnoxious, self-assured and arrogant...and quite pretty. Because of his boorish antics (such as tossing food into the audience and prancing), I swore I'd never eat at one of his restaurants and I never will. I saw him recently on QVC or HSN and think that this is more fitting for his "talents". No one cooks THAT good that it's worth putting up with all this phony image that the show's producers no doubt convinced English to adopt.
The fact that English was so obnoxious was fortunate for the new chairman, William Shatner (who thought of Shatner!?!). While his performance was stupid, English so overshadowed Shatner that his wooden and dopey performance could be overlooked...a bit. Another problem is that when Americans watch the Japanese shows, they have no idea who Chairman Kaga is--and so it makes the idea of a real kitchen stadium seem almost possible. Most Americans don't know that Takeshi Kaga actually was a rather famous Japanese actor--famous for stage performances in plays by Andrew Lloyd Weber, TV and movies (such as the DEATH NOTE live action film). Not knowing all this actually was a plus in the States. You wanted to believe he really was the chairman of some mythic cooking arena!!
Apart from English and Shatner, the rest of the show had much more of a tacky Vega-style look to it. Too many crazy camera tricks, special effects and absolutely no charm. For fans of the original, there just wasn't anything to like. Fortunately, the Food Network version that appeared a few years later was much closer to the original. While still not nearly as good as the original, as least it did not look like a deliberate parody of the show!!
By the way, if you think I am being too rough on the show, Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle said of the show "'Iron Chef USA' an abomination". That about says it all!
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?