Let me preface this by saying it is inspired by Alison Herman‘s piece on The Ringer “TV Needs a Great Restaurant Show” and a recent edition of The Watch where Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald, both of which tackled the fumbled attempt by AMC to bring a cooking show to the masses with Feed the Beast.
Quick synopsis, it stars David Schwimmer, coming off his resurgence in The People v. O.J. Simpson, as Tommy, a sommelier and Jim Sturgess as an ex-con/chef as they go into business together. Basically the problems in a nutshell are it’s inability to transform such an enjoyable topic already mastered by unscripted television (if you haven’t gotten lost in a Chopped marathon then I don’t even want to know you) while seemingly trying to make a show that no one in the writer’s room knew anything about.
Now, while I respect the attempt, Feed the Beast is not the restaurant show we deserve and David Schwimmer (sorry Ross, you’ll always have a special place in my heart) is not the leading man we need.
I for one am a sucker for a well done show that lets the audience dive into a world as fascinating as it is unfamiliar and that is what the world of cooking is to many. Numerous attempts at this have come and gone in unspectacular fashion, but the restaurant show we deserve is sitting right under our noses. We deserve a Bloodline spin-off tackling the events that occurred prior to the show when Danny Rayburn aka Ben Mendelsohn was attempting to open (and then keep afloat) a restaurant in Miami.
Mendelsohn stole the show in season 1 as easily the show’s most intriguing character before *SPOILER* he was murdered by his family at it’s conclusion. And while he exists in flashbacks and hallucinations/visions/haunting moments in season 2, it’s just not the same without his constant presence.
So please TV masterminds and overlords, give me Danny Rayburn as he fights to keep his dream alive before it figuratively and literally goes up in flames in more ways than one.
This show, if executed properly, could give us all we ever wanted in a great restaurant show. Danny Rayburn is a captivating character in himself, but when you put him in these elements he could really thrive.
First off, make sure this show is done right, like really right. Get people in the creative process who intimately know about opening a restaurant and the lifestyle of a chef in a high profile location. Let it give the audience actual insight into this world while educating them on the processes occurring, don’t take our lack of institutional knowledge for granted.
Next mix in a classic tale of a guy who has had his share of ups and (mostly) downs while he tries to get his life in order and make something of himself many thought was inconceivable. Through Bloodline we’ve been given a glimpse into how he went about doing this, which is what will give the story the elements that people can latch onto.
In order to get this operation off the ground he recruits some very suspect “financiers,” who lack any degree of patience and come calling when he fails to meet the monetary portion of their arrangement.
This predicament leads him into the path of some unsavory characters and forces him to find money in ways that don’t exactly align with the lifestyle of a high class chef.
Oh, yeah and all this is happening while he tries to connect with his illegitimate son and prove to him that he’s not a total fuck up.
Another unique and exciting aspect that plays into the storyline is that we already know how it ends, leaving all the intrigue in how we got here based on the bits and pieces that have been sprinkled in throughout seasons 1 and 2 of Bloodline.
Toss in an arrest (at least the one that we learned about in season 1) and the eventual burning down of his restaurant and we have the recipe for an absolute hit, so please Netflix give us chance to experience Mendolsohn in all his glory and save us from the Feed the Beast and Burnt‘s of the world.