There are too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s one too many ingredients. It’s overcooked and underdone. It’s malnourished. It’s warmed over. It’s spoiled. It’s a dish better not served at all.
There are food metaphors aplenty that one could apply to AMC’s new David Schwimmer series, Feed the Beast, and none are particularly good. It’s certainly possible that the drama from Clyde Phillips (Dexter, Nurse Jackie) eventually finds its legs, but the pilot episode suggests that Feed the Beast wants to be way too many things at once.
Here are all the marinating storylines after only one episode:
David Schwimmer plays Tommy Moran, a wine sommelier who:
a. Is an alcoholic
b. Is a grieving widower
c. Is a single father to a troubled mixed-race son who hasn’t spoken since his mother’s car accident
d. Has a wealthy, racist father in a wheelchair with whom he has not spoken in a decade
Jim Sturgess plays Dion Patras, a chef who:
a. Is a cocaine addict
b. Has just been released from prison
c. For burning down a restaurant
d. And owes money to a crime boss called the Tooth Fairy (because he extracts teeth)
e. Also has maybe the most grating New York accent I have ever heard
Basically, Dion gets out of prison and tries to convince his best friend, Tommy, to open a restaurant, so that Dion can pay back the crime boss (Mad Men’s Michael Gladis), who has vowed to kill Tommy and his mute son if he does not. Tommy is reluctant, because he’s still wallowing in wine and grief, but eventually agrees, though he still has to get the money from his disabled, asshole father in order to pull it off.
If that weren’t enough, there’s also a detective (Michael Rispoli) with a missing front tooth who is forcing Dion to feed him information about the Tooth Fairy or else go back to prison.
In other words, it unnecessarily wants to be too many shows at once, where a show about a grieving widower and a recovering addict (without an obnoxious accent) trying to open a restaurant would’ve been plenty. Adding an adorable but traumatized child into the mix is close enough to overkill, but the addition of cops and the mafia pushes it over the edge.
It doesn’t help that Schwimmer is perpetually in wounded Ross mode, or that every time Jim Sturgess speaks you want to slap the guy and tell him to stop talking. The writing is also painful at times, and the tone is uneven.
It’s a taco filled in a burrito wrapped in a waffle and dipped in syrup. It’s like a Cheesecake Factory menu: There are too many dishes, and none of them are done particularly well.
However, there might be a decent taco underneath, a Kitchen Confidential dying to get out, if only Philips would concentrate his efforts on making one great dish out of fewer, fresher ingredients.