July 17, 2016
I’m a little more than half way through the first season of AMC’s new drama, Feed the Beast, and after catching up in time for tonight’s new episode, I felt compelled to write a review.
WARNING!! Spoiler alert. Below contains details of the show thus far and if you haven’t watched just yet, that’s on you.
As a bit of a foodie who’s dreamed of owning his own restaurant from time to time, the concept of the show is brilliant. Opening a new high-end restaurant in struggling Bronx feels like a new take on the American Dream. There’s food porn in every episode and you do get a sense between the main characters that food and wine are appreciated.
Speaking of the characters …
Where’s the dimensions?
Patrick (Michael Gladis), a.k.a. Tooth Fairy, is the villain of our drama and in an attempt to make him a modern day gangster, the show’s writing is beyond stretching into the absurd. His nickname, which has conveniently been dropped after the first couple of episodes (likely because it was just stupid), is how he controls his part of New York.
Dion (Jim Sturgess), our former prisoner chef with a nasty drug habit and seriously in debt to Patrick has developed a house of cards, as it were, that’s likely to collapse in the season finale. He’s got money moving everywhere, and his endless supply from his pimp uncle makes for an interesting dynamic. The over tempered chef – stereotypical – is headed into a massive crash and likely just in time for a cliff-hanger. Additionally, his parole officer is a joke. Seriously, Ahab and the White Whale deliberately written in?
Tommy (David Schwimmer) is our loving, alcoholic dad and sommelier trying to cope with a son who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother and Tommy’s wife a little more than a year ago, and has embarked on opening Thirio with Dion in four short weeks. Oddly, Tommy is mellow when you want to see emotion, and dramatic when you think it’s not necessary, e.g. verbal confrontation with the school counselor. Admittedly, the development of Tommy seems the most complete in the first few episodes.
Pilar (Lorenza Izzo), while recently taking a bit of the “bad girl” approach in a recent episode, is the quintessential naive new girl pretending to be experienced as a restaurant manager while the sexual tension between her and Tommy develop. Oh, did I mention they originally met in a support group for those grieving loss … of their loved ones? This romance took far too long to develop, but now that she’s anger banged Dion, maybe it was a good thing?
Aidan (John Doman) is Tommy’s dad and a racist, wheelchair confined crook who’s business is failing, so he’s become the primary investor in Thirio. Again, the development of his character has felt forced. He lies to get what he wants and isn’t above an offensive line or two when describing various ethnicities. It plays for an interesting, intentional dynamic, in that is grandson is half black.
There are few others, notably TJ (Elijah Jacob), Tommy’s son, but perhaps they will continue to evolve with the series.
Where does it go?
I do enjoy the pace of the show, and while several of the plot twists and character developments thus far have felt predictive, forced, or obvious. I do want to keep watching and see where it goes.
At the end of last week’s episode, a mob attack, inclusive of our tooth fairy friend, Patrick, results in a news story that leads to reservation cancellations for the restaurant’s opening night. While the restaurant proves a great location for the show, the struggle to open, and keep open, may get repetitive.
I do plan on watching the end of the first season to see where the show lands and to know if I was right or wrong about several elements. Thankfully, I’m not the staff in the writer’s room, but if I were, I’d probably consider the following:
Get rid of Patrick. The character is forced and adds a limited, predictable dimension to the show. While he did almost meet his fairy godmother, send him to jail where he can still have minor, anticipated plot integrations, but won’t need to be a focal point.
We’re all waiting for TJ to speak. Find the right moment and make it happen … maybe the season finale? The introduction of Child Protective Services was predictable. Regrettably, in today’s age, as long as the child has a bed and at least one parent who has a job, they aren’t going to remove him. This plot development was probably the most obvious, but didn’t have to be. Also, the sexual tension between Tommy and the school counselor is intriguing. Play into that.
A shutting off of gas is the only actual limitation the restaurant has encountered thus far. As our primary setting, it needs more drama at the locale, beyond what the cast themselves can create. The mob hit was a good start, but again, predictable given we saw Patrick and Dion interact in front of others for the first time, and we also witnessed the over-the-top van departing.
Keep the pace. The speed of the lines and movement of the show is spot-on and something I’m really enjoying. With that said, the inclusion of the food/wine elements feels forced. Interestingly enough, the videos Tommy has been watching of his late wife Rei and Dion cooking in their old kitchen, feel more natural than the primary script.
Pilar has made interesting choices, and while her role is clearly to be the “motherly” voice of reason (think of the show Scorpion), her character lacks depth. We need more backstory beyond her sister’s restaurant and her dead husband … which I’m not entirely sure is true. She has a “look at me” drama queen dimension that would be interesting to unfold if she is a habitual liar. Would be a fun twist.
Depending on how the season lands (or takes off) will depend on if I pick it back up next year. While I’ve never been a fan of Schwimmer’s work (I especially detested Friends), I really like his character the most as he’s both believable and sensible. Finger’s crossed we’ll see new recipes and a new menu in season two.
AMC, Drama, Feed the Beast, New Series, TV,