Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next day.
Last night on TV, Louis CK shows up on Portlandia and Top Chef hits a sweet spot.
Christopher Campbell: What happens when Louis CK guest stars on Portlandia? It’s like a crossover episode between Louie and Portlandia, that’s what. I’m not sure if Louis CK co-wrote the episode, but he played himself, and he was written as such, similar to his self-based character on his own show. And Carrie and Fred played opposite him as their self-named characters. They were obnoxious fans, he was an annoyed celebrity. Everything was as perfect as we could have hoped for. Plus Steve Buscemi, who directed the episode, as the duo’s landlord!
Problem is, as great as all the Louis CK and Buscemi scenes were, anything without them felt like a waste of time. The opening radio show bit was fine, while Carrie and Fred’s decorators for the Vape shop weren’t that funny. Maybe the thing about the toilet, for anyone who has been in a cheap business’s bathroom. As for that cheap business, Vape My Day was a good enough satire of the vaping trend. Actually, the line about how nobody knows if vaping is actually healthier than smoking made me laugh the most this week.
Anyway, can Louis CK just be in all TV shows? And all movies, for that matter. I just made myself watch Trumbo before the Oscars, and he was the only reason I didn’t find the whole time devoted to the biopic to be spent unwisely. But then his character dies and it’s all downhill from there. Sorry for the spoiler, but you won’t care if you actually watch it. Louis CK is the greatest. Like Fred, I’m something of a comedy nerd, so I should know.
Christopher Campbell: This week, Top Chef hit the reality-show hot spot with its penultimate episode before the (two-part) finale. And I have to say, I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s that last week saw the exit of my favorite cheftestant of the season. Maybe it’s just a weak season overall. Maybe this particular episode wasn’t that thrilling in either its concept or execution. Whatever the case, something just didn’t have me rooting for any one, let alone a few, making it to the end.
The episode, titled “Where It All Started,” began with five people left – Amar, Carl, Isaac, Jeremy and Marjorie – and one of them was killed off quickly with a Sudden Death Quickfire featuring guest judge Traci Des Jardins. Jeremy won an expensive oven by making the best toast, while the lovable Amar was ousted after he and Carl were deemed the worst (Carl because he mixed fish and cheese, which I will defend) and a secondary challenge sent one of them knife packing.
The remaining four then met Hubert Keller, who cooked for them and Emeril Lagasse a nice last supper at Keller’s recently closed San Francisco landmark restaurant Fleur de Lys. The dish the legendary French chef made looked like a crustless potpie prepared in a crockpot, but I guess it was something much fancier. He then welcomed the cheftestants into his kitchen for a special final event at the restaurant, where they’d in turn cook some classic dishes for a room full of great chefs and other notable diners.
Usually, this is the sort of episode where the Judges Table segment is filled with compliments and difficulty deciding who has to be the last to go. Sometimes it’s so difficult they don’t even make the decision and let the fourth go to at least the start of the finale (or maybe that hasn’t happened since the Last Chance Kitchen webisodes began). This time, Jeremy was a clear winner and the other three got nothing but harsh talk downs from Tom, Padma, Gail and Keller. I guess they all seemed to deserve it, but it was hard to watch.
And if it wasn’t already brutal enough, complete with Marjorie completely losing it, in heavy tears, Padma pulled one of those fake-out bits where she made the first runner-up think they were going home. And it was Marjorie. She looked like she was about to literally die there on screen. I did have a least favorite of the four, and fortunately it was he, the boring Carl, who got the axe. Because, as Gail said, in the bougiest quote of all time: “I’d rather eat overcooked duck than undercooked foie gras.” And wouldn’t we all agree?
What did you watch last night?