A Chef’s Life Should Be On Every Reality TV Fan’s “Menu”

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

This fall, PBS’ hit reality series A Chef’s Life returns for its third season. This is according to a post on the series’ official Facebook page. While it might not seem like it, that’s not too far away. Luckily though, there is still just enough time for fans of the only reality series really worth watching to catch up. Fans can do just that with the show’s first season. A Chef’s Life: Season One was released on DVD earlier this spring. The thirteen episode run offers audiences shows through a variety of reasons why it stands head and shoulders above all of the garbage out that claiming to be reality television beginning with the show itself. Unlike all of the commercial shows that populate the broadcast and cable ranks A Chef’s Life shows in its debut season to have none of the pretense that is all too common among those shows. In simpler terms, it actually feels real rather than scripted. In regards to the box set itself, audiences will appreciate that the episodes that make up Season One are separated out across both of its two discs. This is one of those rare cases in which it is okay that continuous play is not incorporated into a DVD, Blu-ray or box set. The reason for this will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of all that makes A Chef’s Life: Season One so enjoyable for audiences is that not only are the episodes separated out as standalone episodes but the cooking segments featured within the episodes are themselves separated out for audiences’ viewing. Even better is that PBS didn’t resort to using them as bonus features. Rather they were made standard with the episode selections. Whether for this reason, for the separation of the episodes, or for the very presentation of the episodes themselves, audiences will see in watching A Chef’s Life: Season One that this first season shows why it is the only reality TV series worth watching and in turn once again why PBS has proven itself to be the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

PBS’ hit reality series A Chef’s Life is the only reality series worth watching today. It stands head and shoulders above all of the garbage out there today claiming to be “real” television. It stands so tall primarily because it lacks the pretense that marks all of those other shows (I.E. Welcome To Sweetie Pies, Cake Boss, American Chopper). Rather, it really does feel real. Star Vivian Howard and her husband are not the flashy figures that audiences are so accustomed to seeing in those shows. Nor are their daily lives the flashy type of stuff that is portrayed in those other, obviously scripted series. Everything that goes on in the lives of Vivian and her staff feels completely organic. So if there some clever editing that happens, the end result doesn’t feel like all of those other shows. What’s more, unlike those shows, A Chef’s Life includes throughout its lead season to have its own amount of educational content. For example, when Vivian wants to make the beloved southern treat called cracklins she goes to one of the local hog farms and learns how ham is cured, treated and generally prepared for market. Audiences learn the importance of keeping the meat in certain conditions versus the belief of having it in other conditions. It is a really enlightening moment. Audiences also learn the intricacies of properly cooking things like collard greens and proper growth of said products as well as what makes Muscadine grapes one of the most underappreciated of the grape family. Many audiences will be interested to discover that Muscadines are used often used for wine production. There is much more in terms of the show’s educational content that audiences will find quite intriguing. What is noted here is just a small sampling of the series’ educational content. That content, when partnered with series’ overall lack of pretense and feeling of true reality makes fully clear why the content that makes up the first season of A Chef’s Life makes it stand head and shoulders above all of the other series out there today claiming to be reality.

The overall content that makes up the body of A Chef’s Life in its first season is plenty of reason within itself for audiences to watch this collection of episodes. Collectively, they show the series to be one that stands head and shoulders above all of the other series claiming to be reality TV. In turn, the content presented here shows yet again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. The content presented here, as strong as it is, is only one of a handful of reasons that audiences will appreciate the first season of A Chef’s Life. The separation of the episodes throughout the set’s two discs is another reason that audiences will enjoy Season One. Unlike so many other DVDs, Blu-rays, and box sets out there, A Chef’s Life: Season One doesn’t have an autoplay function embedded within its discs. This means that after each episode’s end audiences are taken back to the title menu so as to choose which episode they want to watch after the chosen episode ends. To some viewers, the view has been that this is not necessarily a good thing. The reality though, is that it is actually a very good thing. It means that if audiences don’t want to have to sit through a certain number of episodes to get to the episodes that they want to see, they need not worry. The disc will take audiences right back to the title menu and let them choose if they want to watch a specific part of the given episodes such as the cooking segment (which will be discussed shortly) or a given chapter of the episode in question. Viewers can even do this before playing out the episode(s). Simply put, separating the episodes out without the autoplay function gives viewers more options. To that extent, this is definitely a good thing in the grand scheme of Season One. It still is not all that makes A Chef’s Life: Season One so enjoyable for audiences. There is still that matter of the episodes’ segmentation at yet another, deeper level.

The separation of the episodes in the first season of A Chef’s Life is itself a very good thing despite what some viewers might have people think. The content within said episodes makes this season in whole even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages. Both elements together offer plenty of proof as to why A Chef’s Life is the best reality TV series out there today and in turn why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television in whole today. For all of the importance of the noted elements, there is still one aspect of the set worth noting that makes it enjoyable. That last remaining element of the set’s enjoyment is the segmentation of the episodes’ cooking segments as their own viewing option in each episode. PBS has given audiences the chance in this season to watch each episode’s cooking segment by themselves completely separate from the episodes. This means that those that want to try out the recipes features in each episode can do so at their own leisure. They don’t have to speed through the given episodes to get to said segments since they have been separated out along with being presented within the course of each episode. On yet another level, there is no sense of pretense in these segments either. It would be so easy for Vivian to be like all of the celebrity chef’s on Food Network and other networks. But she doesn’t take that opportunity, instead coming across just like a down home chef. She talks to audiences rather than at them or even down to them. It makes her more relatable to audiences and brings everything in this set full circle proving once and for all why A Chef’s Life: Season One is a great start for the series and why it is the best reality TV series out there today. In turn it proves once more without any doubt why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.

A Chef’s Life: Season One proves in plenty of ways why A Chef’s Life is the best reality TV series out there today. The lack of pretense in its overall content separates it clearly from its competitors (if one even wants to consider those other shows competition). The separation of the episodes within the course of the two-disc set makes it even more enjoyable despite what some might want to believe. The separation of the episodes’ cooking segments and the overall lack of pretense within said segments brings everything full circle proving once and for all just how what makes A Chef’s Life: Season One a great debut for a show that even now as it prepares to debut its third season, is the best show within its genre today. In turn, all three elements together show once more why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. A Chef’s Life: Season One is available now on DVD and can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=54994066&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 series’ latest news and more at:

Website: http://achefslifeseries.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AChefsLife

Twitter: http://twitter.com/chefsouth

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.

AMC scores another hit with Hell on Wheels

Courtesy: Entertainment One/AMC

Studies done in recent years allege that despite ticket sales numbers, more people watch television than do see movies in theaters.  Considering the rise in digital technology, it would be no surprise if there’s any truth to those numbers.  Keeping that in mind, it’s just as little surprise that television network, American Movie Classics (AMC), has joined the party and started running original series alongside its daily offering of classic movies.  The network has a bona fide hit in its shows, “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead.”  And now that its first season is complete and out on blu-ray, AMC has shown that it has another major hit in “Hell on Wheels.”

“Hell on Wheels” has so much going for it.  Even being a serial, it has a certain quality that makes it stand out from other serials and scripted shows in general.  First and foremost, the show’s writers are to thank for that.  The storylines keep audiences gripped from Cullen’s first shot to the end of the season finale.  That the episodes don’t begin with the standard “previously on” makes the show that much more appealing.  And of course, there are the sets, costumes, and general shooting.  All combined, they come together for a great first season now on blu-ray and standard def dvd.

The general shooting and planning are among the main factors that make “Hell on Wheels” the impressive show that it is.  And fans will get an even deeper look into those factors thanks to the bonus features included on the set’s third disc.  Those bonus features will appeal especially to students and enthusiasts of theater construction and production.  The “making of” featurette shows how the people behind the cameras made “Hell on Wheels” come to life, even with a wet Spring.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing moments in the “Making of” featurette comes when negotiations with the local Native American tribe are discussed.  It was obvious how real the crew wanted the show to look being that they wanted to talk to the local tribe first and get their okay.  Staying on the track of believability, one wouldn’t even have known that the story that was supposed to have taken place in the American midwest was actually taped in Canada.  That’s a positive mark for the work done by the crew. 

The work done by the crew to build Hell on Wheels and bring it to life is only part of what makes the show a hit.  The show’s scripting is another major bonus.  Just as the production crew did its part to make the show believeable, the show’s writing adds to that believeability.  As many interweaving storylines exist in each episode, the show’s writers have done an impressive job not allowing them to bog down each episode.  And now, thanks to being released on blu-ray, fans can even get a synopsis on each episode before watching them thanks to an episode-by episode featurette.  To sweeten the deal, the Spark Notes style featurettes are guided by the cast members themselves.  That tiny detail makes the featurettes that much more worth watching.  And watching them makes following the storylines that much easier to follow.  So Kudos to AMC and Entertainment One for including them in the new blu-ray presentation.

Whether for the storylines, the production or the cast itself, “Hell on Wheels” has so much going for it.  In an age when reality tv and game shows are dominating the Big Four, this show is even more proof of how much better cable programming is than that of the Big Four.  And now that it’s on blu-ray, fans who might have missed episodes during the first season can watch the show at their convenience.  By the time audiences get tot he final moments of the season finale, they will be hooked, waiting with baited breath, for Season Two later this year.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Daily updates are also available at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.