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Mr. Sobell: C | Grade It Now!
The Soufflé Also Rises

Previously on No Reservations (About Crying), the would-be chefs were asked to make dessert, and Sheetal, Lee and Mike all failed. But no one failed more than you, Mike. So take your hats and get out. Which leaves us with five.

Credits! Contestants look hopeful and nondescript. Judges glare and get most of the screen time. Take-away lesson: keep that frown upside down.

We catch up with our amateur chefs in picturesque Marina Del Rey, the one-time stomping grounds of your beloved recapper. But the contestants are not here to visit my old haunts -- rather, they are tasked with serving a fish dish to "three of the most powerful food critics in America." Far be it from me to correct the pleasant-sounding lady who narrates this show, but that makes it sound like food critics have the power to get us into pre-emptive wars or at least sway the prices of zinc, as opposed to telling me whether or not the halibut's overcooked at the local fish house. Anyhow, to make sure that the contestants are using as fresh a protein as possible, they're going out to sea to catch the star ingredient of their entrée. I think we're going to need a bigger boat.

So I watched the build-up to the 100th episode of No Reservations this past week, and in one of the behind-the-scenes episodes, Anthony Bourdain stresses how fishing scenes are like death for everyone involved -- the cast, the crew, the audience. I know he was talking about his own show in that regard, but that dire warning about fishing scenes should really extend to MasterChef, too. We're treated to shot after shot of the contestants fishing for sculpin or red snapper or really anything that bites on their line, even if it's a horribly off-course Cuban refugee, and I can feel myself aging. For God's sake, they have David catch a rock at one point. Unless there's a movie star and a professor hiding beneath the deck to liven up this three-hour tour, I say we cut to the chase. I will note that Sheetal's able to catch a fish, and either sending a crab off to join the choir invisible has inured her to the trauma of killing things, or she doesn't realize that fish don't typically last two long after you've yanked them out of the sea, but she definitely seems more at peace with her place in the food chain this episode.

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