Chef! Isnít well remembered, itís kind of a relic of the late 80ís
and early 90ís when Lenny Henry was actually a big star. In many ways
though, it pre-empted a food revolution and people like Gordon Ramsey
entering the mainstream media.
first season introduces us to aggressive, obsessive but world class
Chef, Gareth Blackstock (Henry). Heís driven and totally focused on his
food which does cause some friction with his wife Janice, however, in
the first few episodes they seem to have a fairly good relationship,
even if she does complain a bit about having to sacrifice things for her
career. In the first episode we meet Everton Stonehead a school
acquaintance of Blackstockís who wants to be a chef and believes that
working in a world class kitchen will aid his career no end. Gareth
isnít really interested but Everton has two main selling points. 1 He
isnít a bad cook 2. Since his auntie is very rich Gareth wonít have to
actually pay him anything.
of the seasonís humour comes from classic British farce setups as well
as Garethís tirades which are delivered with aplomb by Henry. This show
is also food focused. Lots of the situations and plot are derived from
food and thereís also a great love of food evident; the cooking actually
looks good, the food looks good, Lenny Henry looks like he can cook.
Sure he might be a thin John Cleese-esq character in a second rate
Fawlty Towers-like series but the love of food really comes through and
makes you hungry.
it works until season three.
two has some nice touches but as you would expect in a kitchen there
were lot s staff changes from one season to another. Season two
introduced Gustav LaRoche, the alcoholic master chef that Gareth takes
in. Of special interest is the episode England Expects which is
the show at its best. Season three, however, has some issues. First the
budget was slashed, it was no longer recorded on film, so itís not
widescreen. The entire cast except for Gareth and Everton is turned over
again and their replacements are not welcome. Gustav is recast with an
inferior actor and we are introduced to Savanna an annoying American.
She is supposed to be annoying but sheís not someone you love to hate
sheís just irritating. She also spouts what Eric Idle once termed
Ojaril (old jokes and ridiculously irrelevant links). On top of this is
the addition of annoying new owner of the Chateau; Cyril a cigar
chomping Arthur Daly type who is also not welcome.
tellingly the quality of the writing has suffered. Gone are Garethís
entertaining tirades replaced with him being alternately baffled and
singularly unpleasant. Season three is not up to par at all, mostly due
to the leaving of writer Peter Tilbury.
all worth the effort but only for seasons one and two.
Special Features: None, not even a token commentary.
Quality: Variable, Season one and two are grainy, except for the season
one ďChristmas special.Ē Season three looks ok but isnít in widescreen
and suffers from that video sheen.
Uneven. Dialogue is sometimes too low and the laugh track that grates
across all three seasons is sometimes too high.