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ABC's "The Chew" has too many cooks crammed into its party kitchen

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ABC's "The Chew" has too many cooks crammed into its party kitchen

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In regards to ABC's brand-new daytime chat show, "The Chew," there are so many food-based jokes that I could do here. I could start by saying the first episode (which premiered yesterday afternoon) was both half-baked and overdone. With the end result being that "The Chew" left kind of a bad taste in your mouth.

But that said, it's important to recognize that this was the very first episode of "The Chew." Or - as Clinton Kelly, the defacto host described yesterday's program - " ... the first day of the biggest food show launch in the history of daytime television." So perhaps it's a bit early to be passing judgment on this program. Especially since - over the next few weeks -- execs at ABC Daytime will undoubtedly be experimenting with "The Chew" 's recipe.

Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz and Clinton Kelly chats with Mario Batali from his
live remote at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, NJ. Copyright American
Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

I do have one suggestion to make, though: That Network execs immediately limit this show's hosts' expresso intake just prior to airtime. Given how rapidly all five of "The Chew" 's hosts were talking yesterday (more importantly, how often they were speaking right on top of one another), it was often hard to understand to what these people were saying. Let alone decipher some of the recipes that they were racing through.

Speaking of which ... Why exactly does "The Chew" need 5 hosts? I mean, I get that "The Chew" is supposed to be the food-centric version of ABC Daytime's hugely successful "The View." And since that chat show stars legendary newswoman Barbara Walters and her four feisty co-hosts ... Well, ABC Daytime obviously wanted to replica that formula as closely as possible when it came to "The Chew."

This past Friday, "The View" paid tribute to "All My Children," the long-running ABC soap
that "The Chew" will be replacing by inviting members of the cast to come by and share
their favorite memories of this show. (L to R) Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck,
Susan Lucci, Cameron Mathison, Rebecca Budig, Alicia Minshow and Vincent Irizarry.
Photo by Lou Rocco. Copyright American Broadcasting
Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

The only problem with doing that is ... "The Chew" (in its current incarnation, anyway) doesn't have a Barbara Walters to serve as this show's center. All this new ABC Daytime program has going for it right now is a virtually interchangeable quintet of reality television stars.

Seriously. This is how this group was described in the two - count 'em, two -- introductory sequences that "The Chew" 's first episode had:

Clinton Kelly helps Carla Hall cook up one of her rescued recipes, Fried Apple Pancake
Rings.  Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

And then when you factor in that ABC Daytime was trying to give each of "The Chew" 's hosts the chance to be on the spotlight on this new chat show's premiere episode ... Well, that's four in-studio cooking sequences that they had to do. PLUS a live remote in New Jersey that they had to keep cutting away to. PLUS several of the hosts' parents in the audience to introduce. PLUS a surprise drop-by by Daphne's Dad, Doctor Oz (Yes, that Doctor Oz). PLUS then there were all of these sample dishes that had to be schlepped across the studio for tasting by audience members. It was just an awful lot of material to try & cram into a single hour of live television.

Michael Symon serves samples of his Pork & Beans Supreme to "The Chew" 's studio
audience. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

Which is why yesterday's premiere of "The Chew" ... Well, it felt extremely hurried. Like one of those cooking segments that they present on "Good Morning America" during the last 15 minutes of the show. You know the ones I'm talking about, right? When that morning news show's producers don't really have enough time to properly present a cooking segment (at least in a way that the viewer can actually understand what's going on). But because this segment had already been scheduled & promoted (more importantly, because this show's support staff have already done the necessary prep work), "Good Morning America" 's producers just ram this cooking segment through anyway -- full steam ahead. With the end result being this kind of frantic piece of television which isn't much fun for the viewer or the hosts.

Well, that's what the entire hour of the first episode of "The Chew" felt like. Like one long hurried cooking sequence on a morning news show, where the hosts were constantly trying to cram in all of these heavily focus-grouped factoids (EX: In a pretty ham-handed attempt to make "The Chew" seem instantly relevant, tie this supposedly hip, fun new cooking show in with Americans' current concerns about the economy ... As every recipe was completed and plated yesterday, the hosts would then immediately chime in with how much each meal cost per person per serving). Which is why watching this cooking show with its far-too-many hosts and way-too-many segments left this viewer feeling kind of queasy.

Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, the host of
BBC's popular "Two Fat Ladies" cooking program.
Copyright 2011 BBC. All rights reserved

Don't get me wrong. "The Chew" does have some decent ingredients. And some of the recipes that were showcased yesterday did indeed look very tempting (I'm actually going to try and make Carla Hall's Fried Apple Pancake  Rings for breakfast tomorrow. Wish me luck). But as of right now, "The Chew" really does have way too many cooks crammed into its party kitchen. I mean, five hosts? Seriously? When you look back over the history of truly successful television cooking shows (EX: "The French Chef," "The Galloping Gourmet," "Two Fat Ladies" and "The Rachel Ray Show"), the most popular programs were built around one, maybe two personalities.

Which makes me wonder: Would it maybe be possible for ABC Daytime to get "The Chew" 's producer Gordon Elliott out from behind his off-screen announcer desk and up on stage? Maybe this Emmy Award-winner (who used to host his own syndicated talk show before Elliot eventually wound up at the executive producer of many of Paula Deen's cooking programs) is actually the ingredient that this new ABC Daytime chat show is currently missing. An actual show business veteran who knows how to properly introduce a new segment. Make sure that everyone gets their moment in the sun. More importantly, keep conversation following naturally.

"The Chew" executive producer Gordon Elliott. Photo
by Rick Rowell. Copyright American Broadcasting
Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

Because between Mario Batali's awkward live remote (which - to be fair - had more to do with behind-the-scenes tech issues rather than anything Mario did or didn't do) and Clinton Kelly's hyper-active attempt at hosting to poor Daphne Oz being upstaged by her famous father (At one point, Dr. Oz actually held up a bowl of blueberries and said "Can you see these berries? Can you what color they are? That was the color Daphne was when she was born. She had the (umbilical) cord stuck around her neck and ..." At this point, Daphne interrupted her Dad and said "I'm trying to make friends. That is not the way to make friends") ... "The Chew" didn't get off to all that great a start yesterday.

But like I said, this was the very first episode of ABC Daytime's newest chat show. So here's hoping that - in the weeks ahead - execs at the Alphabet Network make some necessary adjustments to this program's recipe. Which will then make "The Chew" a whole lot easier to swallow.

Doctor Oz drops by help his daughter Daphne prepare her famous superfood breakfast
as Clinton Kelly looks on. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved

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  • Or a better idea would have been to place this show on the food network where it belongs. I'm no die-hard soap fan, though I am familiar with them, but it seems foolish to replace a 41 year old institution with this obviously cheap replacement.

  • Im a big soap fan. When I found out the were replacing AMC with a show called The Chew, I flipped! Cooking shows belong on cooking networks. Which there are two of. When OLTL is off air I will refuse to watch abc for ANYTHING!

  • This show left a bad taste in my mouth just by the way it was introduced.  What they actually do on the show doesn't matter to me at all.

    ABC showed complete insensitivity to the long-time fans of All My Children by the shameful way they killed that show, and then heaped salt into their wounds by incessantly advertising The Chew during the final weeks of AMC.  

    Then, as if that wasn't enough, they sold the future production rights to AMC in a shaky internet deal and instead of providing a wonderful series finale for fans to savor (and buy on DVD!), in late-stage production they devised a horrible "cliff-hanger" ending for a show that may or may not continue.  Stupid, stupid, stupid all around.

    They could have cashed in on the ending of AMC.  Think Luke-and-Laura's wedding...think prime-time episode with big advertising rates...think reunion movies.  They threw away a huge financial opportunity.

    I know Disney is a business and of course they have a profit motive.  But they blew their fan-loyalty and revenue opportunities by the way they ended All My Children, big time.

    From a JHM perspective, I'd love to hear Nancy's thoughts on the business aspects and the storyline of the ending of All My Children.

  • looks like from the first episode that abc in a rush to try and duplicate the view mixed with cooking they forgot the old adage too many cooks in the kitchen. for if they want to try and get some of the fans they hurt by canceling amc they need to not over due it. the chew needs a quick redo . or better removed to the food network where it belongs. amd  the soaps resurected

  • Sweet Cheezus!  Is there anywhere we can have an Oz-free zone???  Its not enough that we're subjected to him on the ABC local news, constant plugs for his program during just about every single commercial break??  Now, they've even got his daughter on "The Chew" (I'd like to nominate this one for dumbest title of the year!)...arrgh!

  • Screw the Chew

  • I'm glad the chew didn't go well.  I will not watch it.  I want all my children back.

  • I watched the 1st two episodes of the Chew and absolutely hated it.  It really doesn't show you how to make anything (a quick version of the recipes), it moves from one topic to another in quick speed action, there are too many commericials, one after each topic and more than anthing else . . . IT'S BORING!!!!  Bring back All My Children.

  • Write to the advertisers of the Chew and tell them you're not watching the show and why.  I doubt there's anything else you can do.

  • I think that it's way too much! You said it all! Too many cooks. Also, they act way too enthusiastic. It appears too phony. I couldn't see watching it regularly. It has it's moments but not nearly enough to make it.

  • I think this is comparable to the theme parks division's California Adventure.  They thought they'd have a bigger return with something cheaply made, and people stayed away in droves.  Frons, et al were going on about how Soap audiences were dead and everyone wanted cooking shows.  The first episode just barely surpassed All My Children's ratings in their low period, and the second was behind quite a bit.  Yes, they'll save money producing it, but their name is mud in terms of quality.  You'd think that someone might have pointed this out to Mr. Frons, that those who ignore history tend to repeat it.  ABC will be known for cheap and easy, not high-quality and entertaining.  He'll also spend the rest of his career being known as the "ignorant, arrogant" (Lucci) douchebag who killed a beloved genre.

  • I liked it.  It made my life feel complete.

  • I watched The Chew knowing it would be bad but what I saw was worse than I had imagined.First off the hosts all talk ar once,it's all done in high speed so you can't have a relaxing time watching because everything moves too quicly.Having five people on a cooking show is ludicrious since there is a rush to showcase all five.ah!AMC must replace The Chew !!!

  • My big problem with the show is that it's boring. I mean I like hanging out in the kitchen when my friends are cooking--or friends hanging out in my kitchen while I'm cooking. But then I usually have a glass of wine in my hand and the benefit of participating in the conversation and the meal. Plus, II think you've gotta give more than idol chit-chat for viewers since we're actually taking time to sit down and watch the show to the exclusion of all other activities (except email, facebook, and talking on the phone).

    Writer of this piece would benefit by finding another way to achieve conversational writing style besides writing, "well, ...".

  • Even my husband, who always groaned and complained while I was watching All My Children on Tivo or SoapNet, saw the trailers for The Spew and said " You mean they're replacing AMC with THAT? What are they thinking? What a ridiculous show!"

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