A Chef’s Life Still The Cream Of The Reality TV Crop In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ A Chef’s Life is the single-best series of its kind on television today.  The hit reality-series already proved that throughout its first season both on television and in its home release earlier this year.  That reputation was solidified even more this past spring with the release of its second season on DVD.  The second season of “A Chef’s Life” continues to prove the series’ place as the leading name in its genre primarily through its content.  Yet again the pretense that is so common among all of the commercially-based reality series is completely lacking here.  Simply put, it continues to actually live up to the title of reality TV unlike all of those obviously scripted “reality-TV” series that pollute the broadcast and cable ranks.  While Season Two shines yet again because of its lack of pretense, it appears that in this season, the separate cooking segments that were prevalent in Season One are not quite as visible this time out.  While it isn’t necessarily a wholly bad thing it would have been nice to have them included in each episode.  That is because the dishes featured in each episode look and sound so delectable.  Even with that one con, the second season of A Chef’s Life is no less enjoyable than the first.  The work of the show’s editors is one more positive to this set.  It is thanks to those individuals that viewers get to see how unpretentious the show really is.  If anything, it is thanks to the work of the show’s editors that audiences will find themselves laughing and smiling all while trying to keep their mouths from watering.  That positive alongside the series’ continued unpretentious approach shows yet again why A Chef’s Life remains the best reality series on television today.  This is despite the one minor setback shown in this season. 

PBS’ hit reality TV series A Chef’s Life is the only show of its kind on television today that is truly worth watching.  That is just as obvious in the series’ second season as in the first.  It is so obvious right off the top because of its continued lack of pretense.  This is something continued from the series’ first season.  More clearly put, audiences continue to feel like they are actually watching a real-life situation within this season’s episodes.  There is never a sense of any forced drama or even anything scripted.  That is obvious in the two-part episode “Don’t Tom Thumb Your Nose At Me!” and “Apples” just as much as in “Obviously, It’s Pecans” and “Chicken Lickin’.”  That lack of pretense is so obvious in “Don’t Tom Thumb Your Nose At Me” as Vivian and Ben hit the road for the annual SFA conference in Oxford, Mississippi.  Things don’t go completely as planned for Vivian as she and Ben are preparing her presentation lunch.  It would have been so easy for those behind the show to generate some kind of over-the-top drama here for the sake of ratings.  Luckily though, that didn’t happen.  So instead audiences see Vivian’s natural stress to her first major public presentation outside of the restaurant.  “Apples” is another example of what makes this season continue to feel so real in a number of ways.  From Vivian talking to real, down home people as she plans her next, apple-related dish to her own humility as she cuts herself while slicing apples, the moments shared both in and out of the kitchen in this episode show time and again just how unpretentious this series continues to be.  Her joking about how people pronounce the word “pecan” at the start of “Obviously, It’s Pecans” shows that just as much.  It’s a short moment.  But her demeanor in that introduction sets the tone for the whole episode.  Vivian’s reaction as she watches the fate of the chickens chosen for “production” in “Chicken Lickin’” shows in its own way the lack of pretense in this season.  No need to worry.  The cameras don’t show what happens.  They do show her reaction, though.  And that mix of emotional pain and shock speaks volumes.  That is not something synthetic.  That is really her.  It is a powerful and telling moment.  And it makes even clearer just how real this series is in comparison to its commercially-based competitors.  These are just a few examples of how the continued lack of pretense in the second season of A Chef’s Life.  There are plenty of other examples that viewers will find for themselves throughout Season Two’s fourteen total episodes.  In seeing those many other moments, viewers will agree that this element alone is more than enough reason to watch this season of A Chef’s Life.
 
The unpretentious approach taken by A Chef’s Life in its second season is more than enough reason for audiences to pick up this season of what is the only reality TV series worth watching today.  While that approach presents plenty of reason to watch, Season Two isn’t without at least one rather noticeable con.  The con in question is the lack of separate cooking segments.  Season One offered audiences the chance to watch Vivian cook her dishes separate from the episodes.  It allowed audiences the chance to learn on their own how to cook some of the dishes featured in the show.  And there was, again, no sense of pretense in these segments.  Sadly, it appears that said segments are sadly missing from this season’s menu options.  In defense of those at PBS Distribution and whoever is charged with assembling the DVDs, there were a lot of recipes featured this season.  To that extent maybe someone felt that there were so many recipes that it would be a fool’s errand to try and include each one.  That being the case at least seeing the dishes being prepared within the context of each episode serves as a starting point for those that want to try out said recipes for themselves.  From there, viewers can look up the recipes online via any number of cookbooks and online cooking sites.  So in the end while the omission of the separate cooking segments is a con that must be addressed, it is not one that ultimately kills this season’s home release.  It just would have been nice to have that in there even if only one of the recipes from each episode and in the very least as bonus material.  With any luck audiences will see those segments return after Season Three ends and is released on DVD likely late this year or early in 2016.
 
The lack of the cooking segments that were originally included in Season One’s set is something that had to be noted in examining this set in whole.  While those segments are sorely missed in the case of this season’s set, their omission isn’t enough to ruing the double-disc set.  That is because the presentation of each episode in whole once again is done so in a manner completely opposite of its commercially-based competitors.  The episodes are presented in a fashion that makes the show believable.  It doesn’t feel like any element of the show is scripted.  A big reason that it maintains that truly real feel is the work of the show’s editors.  Vivian and Ben’s trip to the SFA conference is one prime example of how the show’s editing helps make it so enjoyable in whole.  The editors do an impressive job of presenting Vivian’s stress at being at one of her biggest public appearances.  Rather than show moments that might have presented an otherwise overly dramatic moment, the editors instead showed Vivian as herself.  There’s no yelling.  There’s no screaming or cursing.  There’s just Vivian ready to pull out her hair from stressing herself out.  It makes her a much more relatable figure for audiences.  The fact that the editors kept in the moment in which Vivian cuts herself while slicing apples is another example of the importance of the show’s editing to its overall success and enjoyment.  She calls herself a professional while slicing the apples, only to cut herself in the process.  From there, she even pokes fun at herself for having spoken so soon.  It is one of those moments that having been left in its given episode, makes her more relatable and human.  More simply put, it keeps her on the same level as the show’s viewers rather than elevating her to that upper pantheon of TV celebrities, which is good both for her and the show.  On a more technical level, audiences will note that the cuts from shot to shot are not as fast-paced as in other reality TV series out there.  Most people don’t pay very close attention to this element.  But the use of such technique is often used to heighten a show’s tension.  The editors behind A Chef’s Life don’t use that practice as is evident yet again in the series’ second season.  Rather the pacing of their cuts keeps a tone throughout each episode that somehow manages to maintain that fully unscripted feel about the show.  Any number of moments could be cited as examples of that talent and its importance.  Audiences will find that, again, for themselves when they purchase A Chef’s Life: Season Two for themselves.  The talent of the show’s editors alongside the overall unpretentious approach to the show makes fully clear why it remains in its second season the only series of its kind worth watching today.  This is the case even with the omission of the separate, standalone cooking segments that were included in the show’s first season.  All things considered, the approach taken with this season and the work of the show’s editors combine to make A Chef’s Life: Season Two another example of reality TV done right and why in turn A Chef’s Life remains the cream of the reality TV crop.  That being the case, Season Two ultimately shows once more why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.
 
A Chef’s Life is the only series of its kind worth watching today.  It proved that solidly in the series’ premiere season and has continued to do so in its second season as is proven in Season Two’s recently released second season.  Season Two is just as unpretentious as Season One.  The work of the show’s editors plays into that effect.  Even with the omission of the separate cooking segments this time out, the show still easily holds its own among its commercially-based competitors.  All things considered A Chef’s Life: Season Two is another must see for anyone wanting real reality TV.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=52748966&cp=&sr=1&kw=a+chefs+life&origkw=A+Chef%27s+Life&parentPage=search.  More information on A Chef’s Life is available online now along with all of the latest updates from the show at:
 
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. 

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