There’s only so much Top Chef Masters could have offered. The chefs are all already established so the drama of a career hanging in the balance doesn’t exist. The critics, all from the print world, seem a little too awed by seeing their celebrity chef subjects in person to judge them harshly enough. There’s no Colicchio-esque figure acting as the backbone of the operation. And Kelly Choi is no Padma.
Still, TCM is fun to watch. It’s fun to see that a James Beard award winner can eff up his chocolate cake just like the rest of us. It’s fun to see a Michelin-starred chef holding his breath–just a little–as a couple of Girl Scouts taste his dish. It’s fun to see a grown man cool pasta in a college dorm bathroom. OK, maybe it’s gross to see that last one. (Seriously, Hubert, ew.) But the chefs seem to be having fun, and so it’s hard to not have fun watching them. Besides, we need something to hold us over till the next season of the original.