‘The Chew’ Debut Turns Into Oz-Fest

by | September 26, 2011 at 4:46 PM | TV News

Dr. Mehmet Oz and Daphne Oz on The Chew (ABC)

Dr. Mehmet Oz and Daphne Oz on The Chew (ABC)

Now that the cancelation “All My Children” has left a hole in the hearts and TV-watching schedules of millions of viewers, ABC has brought in a brand new cast of characters for their new project, “The Chew.”

The show, which combines the multi-host format favored by the likes of “The Talk” and “The View,” ditches the usual girls with gossip subject matter in favor of a food-centric show that approaches kitchen culture from many angles. The program’s hosts include come from many walks of life, some more directly connected to the kitchen than others. Many are familiar faces to fans of food television, like chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon, and former “Top Chef” contestant Carla Hall, while others, like “What Not To Wear” host Clinton Kelly and Dr. Oz progeny Daphne Oz are more related to food because of the mere fact that they spend some part of each day eating it.

Monday’s premiere segments, all of which had the benefit of being extremely cost-conscious, included everything from how to improve upon old recipes to miniaturizing your favorite meals to serve as party appetizers. The hosts appeared to be having a genuinely good time cooking, eating, and sharing personal anecdotes, and the audience, who got to taste test the hosts’ creations, looked pleased as punch to be watching a talk show that didn’t discuss Lindsay Lohan. And then, it happened. Like a panther stalking its prey, Dr. Oz popped out of a cupboard in an attempt to both embarrass his young daughter and remind audiences that you can’t talk about food on TV without his input.

While awkward surprises like Dr. Oz’s visit and a confusing segment in which Batali taught the audience how to make pizza on a golf course (concession: he was there for charity), indicate that the show hasn’t yet gotten its sea legs, the hosts engage in highly watchable banter that makes “The Chew” feel like you’ve gotten the best seat at a dinner party full of funny, intelligent people.

Much like EW’s Sandra Gonzalez, who commented that she was “overwhelmed by the activity” on the show, I was similarly thrown by the show’s frenetic pace, but it seems likely that this kind of minor kink can be worked out as the season progresses. All in all, “The Chew” was more than watchable: it provided a much-needed respite from the high-intensity food shows on TV and reminded audiences, myself included, that you don’t need Gordon Ramsay screaming down your neck to make a properly cooked meal.

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