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Bad Taste

Rumor has it that NBC is interested in a second installment of The Restaurant, the Mark Burnett-produced reality show about the operating of a tony eatery.

The current edition of The Restaurant has been alternately tasty and unappetizing, and last week I officially asked for the check. It's not that the show's premise isn't an interesting one -- the idea of following the creation of a restaurant, from its business details to the personal conflicts of the management and staff, through the opening-night travails and the quirks of its customers, is pure TV gold.

No, the problems with The Restaurant are twofold. First, in insisting that the first subject restaurant open in a very short period of time, we're left with an almost untenable situation: from all appearances, Rocco DiSpirito's restaurant Rocco's is an unmitigated disaster, with terrible service, bad (and cold!) food, staffed by a bunch of drama queens and run by a chef so interested in being a personality that he's lost all connection to the thing that got him where he is today. (Hint, Rocco: it's in the kitchen, not schmoozing with the pretty girls at table 12.)

Second, and more egregious, is just how much goosing Burnett has done to the show in order to make it dramatic. On Survivor, it became clear over time that the editing was the real star of the show, emphasizing certain areas and de-emphasizing others in order to tell a good story. But on The Restaurant, Burnett's editing-for-story technique is uncharacteristically ham-handed. The show's "plot twists" feel completely fake, as if acts of desperation by a production staff who realized that the show wasn't going to be salvagable without intervention. Even Burnett's trademark in-show commercial endorsements are far more painful to watch than on Survivor (Imagine being a sponsor of The Restaurant: Bud Light! The beer served at horribly mismanaged eateries!)

Another installment of The Restaurant? I could think of worse things. But please, Mark Burnett, learn from your mistakes.


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