Sunday, May 23, 2010

TV Review: Kings

Michael Green's "Kings" started with a compelling premise - a modern, divinely-inspired absolute monarchy - but never seemed to find a solid focus. Was the show an action-adventure tale, a sci-fi style alternate reality drama, a profound religious allegory or a star-crossed love story?

It was interesting, though, for taking the idea of direct communication with God and direct divine intervention in human affairs as legitimate plot devices and not an example of mental illness. Green himself complained about the refusal of NBC to directly market the series' themes to religious audiences, and it's easy to understand why he was disappointed - network shows that take religious faith seriously without reducing it to soft-focus, family-friendly platitudes are mighty scarce.

The series gets a big plus for Ian McShane's nuanced and emotional role as King Silas and Susanna Thompson as the detail-oriented Queen Rose. There's also the tantalizing question of what would have become of Macaulay Culkin as the son of the kingdom's manipulative villain William Cross (Dylan Baker) had the minimal screen time of his role stretched past its initial five episodes. And of course Brian Cox is good in everything he does, including his 3-episode arc as the deposed and imprisoned King Vesper Abaddon.

Recommended to Old Testament fanatics, monarchists, and anyone who ever wished Carter Baizen from "Gossip Girl" was gay.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Really, Eric Ripert?

I look at a lot of restaurant websites, mostly to preview their menus. And like the food at a fine dining establishment, a restaurant's website can be judged by its attention to the little details. A misplaced diacritic can ruin a pdf menu as surely as a hint too much salt can doom a plate of risotto.

Thus I'm always perplexed to see a restaurant whose owners have clearly made large investments in every other aspect of their operation throw up a menu for public consumption that looks like it was copy-edited by a developmentally disabled chimp.

Whether it's Tableau attempting to entice customers with a pan roasted halibut with "beure blanc" (they couldn't afford the second r?) or Stratta offering up the rather alarmingly named "sausage and leak" pizza, one would think someone on the management side would notice these things...eventually.

Which brings me to Eric Ripert's Westend Bistro in Washington, D.C. When the restaurant first launched in 2007, I was excited and looked forward to eating there. When I looked at the online menu, though, I noticed so many spelling, grammatical and capitalization mistakes that it deflated all of my enthusiasm. I've still never been there.

Which brings me to my thing de résistance, a screen shot of Westend Bistro's bar menu, in which Ripert offers up, for the low, low price of $200 a pour, "Remy Martin Lois XIII" cognac.

(Click image to enlarge)

I know there's no "u" in team, but I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be one in "Louis." Plus, Eric Ripert is French, right? I know he grew up in Andorra, but he's still basically French, no? Yet he has a menu listing for a drink Peter Griffin might order by accident. I know celebrity chefs are busy and everything, but how did his website launch without someone who knows something about the restaurant and beverage industry looking at it? I'm certainly no expert and it jumped out at me immediately. And again, it's been that way for almost three years now.

Yeah, First World problems, I know. But isn't being a master chef all about insisting on perfection? Being intolerant of even the smallest errors of execution and presentation? Why, M. Ripert, would you make excellent food but present it via a terrible, error-filled menu? In the name of FSM, why?