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TV critics tour: Esquire Network’s ‘Knife’ gives bad name to food fights

photoIt has not even been four months since the cable channel G4 ended and was relaunched as the Esquire Network. If the new cable channel’s “Friday Night Tykes” and “Knife Fight” are examples of the programming to come, cancel your subscription NOW.

Esquire magazine has always stood for higher standards but those standards aren’t being used for the cable programming. “Friday Night Tykes” is such an awful look at football for young boys that it makes “Toddlers & Tiaras” look like a program for good parenting.

But, the real disaster on schedule is “Knife Fight.” This cooking reality competition show pits a pair of chefs against each other. They both have to come up with at least two dishes in an hour using three surprise ingredients. The format sounds very familiar but the show has a twist. The restaurant is filled with an audience that’s spent most of the evening drinking. They crowd around the chefs, host and judges shouting words of encouragement or heckling.

I had a chance to see a taping and the experience ranks up there with having a root canal with no medication. The arena is the Gorbals restaurant located in a part of downtown Los Angeles that looks like it has been set up for the shooting of “Escape From New York: Part 2.” It’s in the lobby of the Alexandria Hotel, a facility in such disrepair it would take millions of dollars to bring it up to a level worthy of being condemned.

Gorbals is nice but in that location, it’s like finding a Spago restaurant in the middle of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

As soon as the filming starts, the cooking hooligans take over. And, they take their part of the show seriously. In an attempt to duck out of where a scene was to be shot, I ended up in front of one of the patrons who suddenly went Dexter on me.

“You got right in front of me you m**********r,” he growls with the same kind of wild-eyed look you see in many drunk tanks. It’s as if the chefs were the caterers for the “Lord of the Flies” Christmas party.

It wasn’t worth the battle to stay because the only thing original about “Knife Fight” is the rowdy crowd. This would have been OK had the show been on MTV or Spike. Those channels have already established themselves as having a disregard for the rules. But, this show is on a cable channel named after a well-respected publication.

Having “Knife Fight” on a cable channel called Esquire is like having a new Good Housekeeping Channel and putting “The Bad Girls Club” on the schedule.

Image is everything and the early efforts by Esquire are images that should quickly be forgotten.

Responses to "TV critics tour: Esquire Network’s ‘Knife’ gives bad name to food fights"

Gary Alexander says:

Hey Rick,
No offense. You are one of the old school writers. One of the very, very few old school writers left at the Bee. But, c’mon, man.
“It has not even been four months since the cable channel G4 ended…”
Yeah, that was the original plan. I guess the change in those plans bypassed you.
G4 is still around. They flopped the Style Network to Esquire.

Keep on, keepin’ on.

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