For FOX, there are never too many cooks: Gordon Ramsay's all of them
Gordon Ramsay can most easily be thought of as Chef Judy, but he uses his plate-rattling temper more cleverly than that-it's hard to imagine otherwise how he'd sustain three shows on FOX's summer schedule. No one would have any hearing left. Hell's Kitchen is Ramsay the roarer. The show's dependable high point finds him banishing everyone from the cooking area and screaming so many bleeped words that it's hard to track a whole sentence. On the higher-end MasterChef he's more considerate, but then the wannabe chefs there are also more serious. The true terror is fellow judge Joe Bastianich, who can dismiss a disappointing rice pudding with a cold sneer and a snip of insult. He's Severus Snape with knife and fork. The new Hotel Hell gives us a Ramsay who shouts, but out of passion as much as anger. He takes charge of faltering hotels by confronting owners, winning over employees and racing around in a lather. Hotel Hell's format means that the ultimate emphasis is on uplift: Ramsay is a general who disciplines with an iron fist so his army can savor victory. I find myself wishing Ramsay would just get out a chainsaw, but the melodrama of it all is tasty-a jumbo macaroon.
ALL THREE SHOWS: 3 stars
Hell on Wheels
AMC, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET/PT 2 stars
Back for season 2, the drama about the Transcontinental Railroad and the violence accompanying every newly driven stake has stalled. Ex-Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), now part of a gang of robbers, mostly lies low the first episodes. When he rears his head, he has the mythic but inexpressive look of a spaghetti-western hero. The minor characters-ragged misfits-show rough vitality. But Mount needs to run this thing, and he can't if he's the caboose.
Starz, Fridays, 9 p.m. ET/PT | 3 stars
As a new season starts, Chicago mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) has been forced to sacrifice the most valuable members of his inner circle to political necessity-and his attempts to medically control the disease destroying his brain produce an awful and ironic result: He sees things. These visions aren't done with any originality, but Grammer's performance is still powerful. He's a lion whose determination to rule the jungle is nearly suicidal. Again, awful irony. Jonathan Groff (Glee) is a surprisingly good addition as Kane's new aide, a smart little creep on the make.
OWN, Aug. 19, 10 p.m. ET/PT | 2½ stars
deputizes relationship coaches Paul Carrick Brunson and Kailen Rosenberg to transform Kingsland, Ga., into a place of romance, compassion and other nice feelings. The show exercises genuine skill in picking citizens for matchmaking-their backstories are touching-but resolving a feud among dance studios is a bit much. I'd be happy just to see a few sweet dates. I don't need a perfect Oprutopia.
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