How did food television become so boring and predictable? Umpteenth season of Top Chef? Yawn. Endless cupcake wars? Yawn. Paula Deen pouring more butter into the cake? Yawn. Guy Fieri tucking into another giant hamburger? Zzzzzzzzz. Well, the time has come to invent new types of food-themed shows, and here are a few modest suggestions.
1. DeMarco’s Way — Between scrupulously constructed pies, pizza impresario Dominic DeMarco meets with shadowy Mafia figures in the dining room of his pizzeria, as long lines of reverent tourists and foodies look on. Together, Dom and the crime bosses plot the shakedown of other businesses along Brooklyn’s Avenue J, and the firebombing of competing pizza parlors. CRIME DRAMA
2. Abercrombie & Fudge — Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich play two charming ambulance-chasing lawyers who discover that they’re capable of making the world’s best chocolate fudge, and then use it to bribe police, judges, and court officers. Outlandish mayhem ensues. SITCOM
3. Porked! — Each week highlights a different celebrity chef, who takes over a tent at the local farmers’ market, and uses his wiles — and a series of cunning disguises — to punk a gullible populace. Hilariously, he labels the meat he buys at Western Beef as “organic,” tucks pieces of rotten cheese inside good ones, and sells “local” wines that have been decanted from five-gallon jugs of Yellowtail. The reactions of the customers when the “farmer” is revealed to be, say, Michael White or Christina Tosi are priceless. REALITY TV
4. Bean There, Done That — In this prequel to The Office, Rainn Wilson (Dwight) decides to change his farm over from beets to cranberry beans. All the other actors are repurposed from the original series, with Jenna Fischer (Pam) playing a horny widow on the farm next door, Craig Robinson (Darryl) a sharecropper newly arrived from the South Carolina, and Kate Flannery (Meredith) the virtuous and brainy mayor of a small town. Steve Carell (Michael) makes his triumphant return as an itinerant margarine salesman. SITCOM
5. Top Chef: Single Ingredient Challenge — The cheftestants are given only a single ingredient in this latest iteration of the Top Chef empire and told to do something wonderful with it. In the first rollicking episode set in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that ingredient is butter. Some merely melt it, some make elaborate sculptures, some create new and unusual hair styles, while others use it as lube for sexual experimentation. REALITY TV
6. Butchering Amy — A celebrity butcher played by John Goodman decides he has been paying way too much for the boutique cuts of meat and humanely raised animals he’s been selling, so he hits upon a plan to kill and butcher his Prospect Heights neighbors instead, and finds a way to cut up and display the meat so that it looks like pork, veal, and lamb. SITCOM
7. By a Hare — This half-hour series focuses on the teams of crack professionals that create the wacky and wonderful hairstyles for such shows as Chopped, Iron Chef America, and Top Chef: Single Ingredient Challenge. The pressure is on to invent and repair complex styles as the tapings proceed in a behind-the-scenes look at these competitions. In the final segment of each weekly show, one stylist is asked to create a special family meal for the other hairdressers — wholly out of rabbit. REALITY TV
8. Food Hoarders — Survivalist contestants are told the world is about to end, and given 24 hours to amass the biggest and most diverse stockpile of food for their bunkers. At the end of the episode a panel of food professionals — chefs, magazine editors, and restaurant critics — judge the range and excellence of the stockpiles. GAME SHOW
9. Tapeworm — In this competition, normal people are infected with tapeworms, and then told to try to keep their weight steady or increase it. The series will be shot in a spa-ranch-type setting. Each episode ends in a dramatic weigh-in, and during the hour contestants try to remain as inactive and indolent as possible, in order to avoid burning calories. REALITY TV
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