Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tom Colicchio Hopes the Chicharrones of Logic Will Leaven Conspiracy Salad
















From Tom Colicchio’s latest entry (one his best ever) on his Bravo blog:

Alas, we had to let Antonia go, which of course has brought a wellspring of vitriol from the theorists on our message boards. Therefore, I’m compelled to give my once-a-season response to those cynics out there who insist we make our decisions to manipulate the ratings. If I sound defensive, I think I’m entitled: Let’s just say we were the types of judges that, in exchange for scaling the breathtaking heights of reality TV, yielded to the producers directives, in order to play to audiences. Wouldn’t that mean we would have let Lisa go?

For the uninitiated: the bulk of the Top Chef season is shot over six grueling weeks some months before the show airs….While we’re shooting, I have very little contact with the contestants….We see tape of the chefs' interviews, and clips of them cooking, bonding, or fighting only after they’ve been cut into the final episode. It’s thus impossible for us to draw anything other than the most cursory conclusions about the chefs, much less figure out ratings that don’t yet exist, or who will eventually be "villain" or fan favorite.

If we had been able to somehow able to figure this out ahead of time and thereby act upon it, Tiffani would have been booted early in Season One (or Stephen, take your pick), Marcel would have never made it to the head-shaving incident, Sam would have won Season Two hands down on the female vote alone, and Tre would have stayed, despite screwing up, because he was such a likable and competent guy. In fact, we would have been compelled to ignore all of his subsequent mistakes because he had been such an able contender up to that point.

It seems that the theory-that-just-won’t-die has surfaced yet again because of Lisa, who has enraged people with her defiant, arms-crossed Judges' Table scowl. She’s clearly not as loved as some of the other chefs who have been sent packing, leading to the conspiracy theories: They kept her for the ratings! I can see why some take issue with Lisa -- she’s been called out on the carpet a number of times and somehow seems to hang on. I think Lisa, along with a few chefs from past seasons (Dave Martin and Mike Midgley are two that come to mind,) benefited from a phenomenon I call the "lucky-dog-who-keeps-skating-by-effect," in which a chef of decent, but not stellar, skills gets lucky and doesn’t screw up at precisely the moment that one of their more gifted opponents does. And since we judge each week’s Elimination Challenge on its own merits, we are operating each time under the assumption that everyone still cooking deserves to be there.

Possums, after reading this, we are tempted to believe that Tom shaves his head with Occam’s Razor.

Be sure, then, to read the rest of Tom’s blog, as he goes on to explain the whys and wherefores of Top Chef judging as it stands. If you’re still a cynic, think of the fun you’ll have using his words against the show the next time the judging (or, perhaps, the editing thereof) is inconsistent with the stated principles! (Say, for example, during the Scallopgate episode, where the Magic Voiceover (an editor’s insertion) at Judges’ Table recited how many times Spike and Lisa had been on the bottom, suggesting that cumulative performance does get taken into account.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"(Say, for example, during the Scallopgate episode, where the Magic Voiceover (an editor’s insertion) at Judges’ Table recited how many times Spike and Lisa had been on the bottom, suggesting that cumulative performance does get taken into account.)"

I don't agree with your assumption. I had the idea that the reason they added this was just to say that both chefs have done badly and that it's time for one of them to go, not to say that the exact number of times they've been in the bottom counts in the judges' assessment of who stays and who goes. I think it was just, "you've been here a lot. You can't keep getting lucky."

The Big Shamu said...

I agree my brother. The very fact that they knew how many times Spike had been there vs how many times Lisa had been there tells me they are keeping track for what ever purpose. I also think it helps to win early and often, giving you that slight edge if you happen to find yourself at a very close judge's table with someone who has not done well early or often.

Maya said...

I could have sworn, as well, that in a previous season of Top Chef, Collichio blogged that he watched the taped show the same night of the challenges.

I may be wrong, but I'd also have no way of checking...I beleive the inconsistency though.

Re: Tom's comments about Lisa -

Ouch!

Sam as a female favorite? Not sure about that one.