Really bad, but at least better than the last Iron Chef special!!!
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. Because of this, only two episodes (thankfully) were released to television.
While a score of 2 is very bad, at least the show wasn't as bad as the special shown the month before ("Iron Chef USA: Showdown in Las Vegas"). The reason is that Todd English, who had embarrassed himself so badly in the previous show was NOT the featured Iron Chef. Unlike the normal chefs, English was part GQ cover model and part obnoxious and boorish child. So having him off the show was a major plus...but it also made much more obvious the other problem with this incarnation of Iron Chef---SHATNER!!! Unlike the flamboyant but emotionally restrained Takeshi Kaga (as the "Chairman" in the Japanese show), Shatner was rather buffoon-like. Subtle? Nope. Instead, it was like "The Shatner Show"--something that is completely unlike the original. Plus, while some might love Shatner, he isn't a chef and there isn't a real Academy--and his performance makes this painfully obvious.
As for the rest of the show, I only have one comment--Ron Popeil was one of the panelists!! This and my above comments pretty much say it all. A waste of time in every way.
Fortunately, a few years later, Food Network created a credible version of the show. While certainly not the equal to the original (but what is?), it is watchable and not just a pathetic shadow of the great Japanese series.
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!
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