"Waiting just to catch your eye…"

by Katie Pizzuto on April 22, 2010

in Food tv

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

So I’m sitting here at the computer with Thin Lizzy’s “Waiting For an Alibi” blaring on my iTunes, and thinking how apropos the lyrics are for a Food Network theme song, at a moment where its stench of desperation can be sensed from the bottom of a septic tank in East Bumfuck, Kansas.

Valentino’s in a cold sweat

Apparently, the folks who bring the non-cooking cooking shows to your living rooms each night are scrambling to regain some of the market share they’ve lost to TLC, Bravo and PBS by unleashing a new, spinoff Cooking Channel network on May 31st, which I’m sorry to say will replace the Fine Living Network. Commence the funeral dirges now.

Placed all his money on that last bet

This channel promises to offer what the Food Network doesn’t—a finger on the pulse of the foodie nation. Butter-hording Paula Deen will be replaced by the 3 hip “Food Jammers,” cocktail-toting Sandra Lee will be pushed aside to make room for bartender Darryl Robinson’s “Drink Up,” and amply cleavaged Giada De Laurentiis will be passed over in favor of Anjum Anand’s “Indian Food Made Easy.” And for all that I’ve ranted about the network’s fall from grace, their suicide-speed derailing from what was once great instructional cooking, and their need to cover something more than another competition where some 5-foot balancing act of food goes crashing to the ground, you’d think I’d be thrilled with the new endeavor—but I’m not.

‘Gainst all the odds he smokes another cigarette

Although the Food Network will tell you that they’ve put together this channel as an answer to naysayers who longed for a return to actual cooking, and shows centered around food rather than around personalities, the sad truth is that they’re probably doing it more as a desperate attempt to reclaim the market on food television shows, that they ignorantly thought they had cornered. With shows like “Top Chef” on Bravo and “Cake Boss” on TLC (not to mention Lidia Bastianich, Jacques Pepin, Ming Tsai, Rick Bayless, Mario Batali, and Charlie Trotter all being on PBS), Food Network has been put in a position of having to rethink its down-it-like-castor-oil approach to cooking.

Says it helps him to forget he’s a nervous wreck.

A great many of the shows that will air on the Cooking Channel are merely pick-ups of current Canadian shows, and broadcasting will also include vintage episodes of “The Galloping Gourmet” and old Julia Child shows, lest the company actually put a little blood, sweat and tears into building some original programming…perish the thought. What little originality there is will come by way of Mo Rocca hosting a new show called “Foodography” (if Ted Allen couldn’t successfully rip off Alton Brown, I’m not sure what makes them think Mo can), and internet personality Lisa Lillien will most likely be doing a show on light eating that flies in the face of everything dieters should be sticking to (uh, let me think…fresh, unprocessed food?!), instead favoring recipes that include ingredients like non-fat Pringles and Cool Whip. Sounds a shitload like Sandra Lee Lite to me.