Okay, we’re going to give this bad boy a go tonight. The first ep was kinda interesting, like a Top Chef-Apprentice Hybrid. (Top Chef because of the cooking competition aspect; The Apprentice for the overly dramatic host with terrible, terrible hair).

Chef White is actually more mentor-y than Tom Collichio, despite the widely-circulated fact that he once made Gorgon Ramsey cry, although maybe they’re waiting until the second episode to bring out the major expletive firepower. Also, I believe the “surprise critic” tonight is Jeffrey Steingarten (good job, NBC editors), who is always good for a laugh or for generating the feeling of needing to punch someone. Sometimes both. Good times!

Anyway, I’ll be here tonight, 8pm, watching NBC. Background on the contestants, if you care. Join me. Or don’t. Whatever.

8:00PM: Last week: There were four couples. They opened restaurants in Manhattan. In real life, both restaurants would be closed and this show would have been over 6 days ago. Then some people who didn’t really deserve to go threw themselves under the bus.

This week they have to reinvent their spaces and host parties for designer Nicole Miller and Rebecca Walker, and Marco White’s hair is still kinda pubic-y.

8:02PM: Challenge: They have to set a table properly.

Lord preserve us from a poorly set table. Although if Martha Stewart were the guest judge, this could turn HARDCORE. Or Sandra Lee, because she has a way with a tablescape. (Granted, it’s a way that makes me want to ralph.)

Okay, they also have to repaint some of their spaces and furnish from Pier 1, which apparently has a total lock on the cooking reality show series.

8:04PM: Marco shows up in the kitchens to put on a cooking ego display. He throws some food together. It will probably taste better than anything these people will put together.

Yoda-like, he informs us that inconsistency is failure. I thought sucking was failure, so that was helpful.

8:07PM: Since I don’t remember anyone’s names: Black guy is head chef at one restaurant. Guy with blonde wife at the other one.

8:08PM: Marco visits both restaurants to see their place settings, through which he will “learn more about the teams.” Red team: He likes the red wall with subtle, tone-on-tone stripes. Their tablecloth hasn’t been ironed. The table is wobbly. The black team has a bright yellow wall and no water glasses.

8:11: Marco goes around the corner to “process his thoughts.” You know, he’s no Gordon Ramsey, but he manages to be a dickweed in his own special passive aggressive way. The pontificating from the leather club chair? The “I want to help you but really I’m not-so-secretly trying to show you up”?

As a passive-aggressive person myself, I’m still not sure if I like it or not. It makes me think too much about myself. I don’t like anything that challenges my self-perception as a good person.

8:14PM: Table-Setting Winner: The red team. Their parents must be so proud. They get extra $ to spend at…Pier One. I swear, put all your money in them. They are recession-proof.

They’ll be opening tomorrow: 60 people, party for Nicole Miller.

8:16PM: The black team loses. They get Pier One Dollars as well. They will fete Nicole Taylor. Head chef, who I’ve learned is Dean, does not like losing. Fascinating.

Quoth Chef Yoda: “You’ve got to pull this rope together. If you don’t it will hang you.” Will it? Or will you just get rope burns on your hands and lose the tug-of-war championship?

8:20PM: Nicole Miller has no problem serving her guests baby chickens, but chilean see bass is a no-go. Turns out that Rebecca Taylor was actually engaged in the Black team’s restaurant before they took it over and turned it into a hole of suckage, so have fun with that.

8:22PM: Marco comes to check in on the Red team. They have to serve the baby chickens whole, which cuts the number of servings they thought they had in half. Because there’s nothing less creepy than having a whole baby chicken on your plate. He shows them how it should be done, and then EATS ONE OF THE FUCKING CHICKEN LEGS, leaving them with a portion even less.

Instant Poll: Dick Move, or Douche Move?

8:27PM: Black restaurant’s name: Soul. Red team: Crimson. For a restaurant that’s painted red. The creativity, it is astounding.

Did you know that this is a competition? And the winner takes all? That’s right, unlike most competitions, the losers get NOTHING. What kind of reality show is this? I call bullshit.

8:28PM: Mystery critic: could not be less of a mystery. Steingarten. Everyone will have one new asshole by the end of the night. Some people might have two.

The red team has a “fight” about salad. It is anti-climactic. The black team is having trouble “servicing” so many people. I try not to make a juvenile joke about how they’ve chosen to phrase that.

8:30PM: Chef White in the club chair – what’s with all the pointing? Is the pointing and limp-wristed hand waving necessary? This is not a rhetorical question. It’s not.

Next: He visits both kitchens to berate guide them some more. You know, I could go for some good old fashioned Ramsey-isms to liven this up. “YOU ARE A FUCKING DONKEY.” That kinda shit. Maybe he’ll snap and kick someone in the nuts? Probably not, there’s probably some stupid contractual clause preventing him from doing that. Maybe that’s why he’s so passive aggressive, from restraining himself.

8:35PM: The red team just realizes they have no vegetarian dish. Because what are the chances that you’d need a vegetarian dish at a party for a fashion designer in New York? They let a non-cook make it. He thinks he did a good job because “it’s the same color as the other food.” I want to cry.

A woman in the black restaurant is fomenting her own rebellion. I wish she would take it a step further. Or 5 steps further.

8:38PM: The black restaurant is also trying to kill people with rare lamb (gotta say, it didn’t look so off to me). Steingarten shows up, and everyone immediately knows who he is.

8:39PM: Red team runs out of halibut. Nicole Miller actually COMES INTO THE KITCHEN to express her displeasure. I hope she does it physically. I mean by, like, throwing a cellphone at someone Naomi Campbell-style, not through interpretive dance or anything.

They tell Steingarten they’re out of halibut but have the sea bass. Instantly: “Isn’t that endangered?” Server with outdated fauxhawk: “Not here, it isn’t.” It gets a chuckle. That will be the last one.

8:44PM: Nicole “doesn’t want to serve anyone chilean sea bass, like, ever.” So they served 5-day old farm raised salmon instead. Yum!

Steingarten does NOT eat farm raised salmon, and he is INSULTED that you would dare try.

8:45PM: Here comes Steingarten. Everyone knows they sucked. But how bad?

The black team: Shrimp cocktail is a joke. Their insalata caprese was the worst thing he’d eaten in 3 years. (How the hell do you fuck that up?). The lamb was good, as were the crab cakes that I didn’t even realize anyone was making.

8:47: The red team: Good salad. Old baby chicken, if you get that. Farmed salmon. And then he says SOMETHING ABOUT HERPES that I don’t catch and neither does Brian. I mean, I didn’t hear it. I didn’t just catch herpes from the show. Did he just compare farm-raised salmon to herpes? DAMN MY LACK OF TIVO.

8:52: Winner: Black team, although the red team was more fun. Excitement! They’ve had their first win! This is only the second episode! So calm the fuck down!

Angie: “We had to have won. Who knows what would have happened if we had lost.” Probably ANARCHY. Blood covering the land. Locusts. That kind of thing.

8:54: The Chopping: Head chef whose name I still don’t know felt disrespected by Lisa, the blonde lady who’s here with her ex-husband who’s rocking some terrible hair that’s only marginally better than Marco’s.

One of the fauxhawked guys said he was strong in the background, which causes Marco to say that “he smells a rat.” I have no fucking idea what that means. I do know that if he said that on Top Chef, Tom Collichio would have throttled him to death with his eyes.

8:56: The bus-throwing commences. Fauxhawk throws the head chef. Lisa throws team fauxhawk, as does the head chef’s team.

Their defense: weeping. This is how pretty girls get out of speeding tickets, not how you stay on reality shows.

8:58: Now one fauxhawk guy throws himself under the bus, dragging his partner with him.

Says non-wuss fauxhawk: “We came as a team and we’ll leave as a team.” Subtext: “But now we will never speak again, you spineless motherfucker.”

8:59: Marco’s parting sage advice: Sort out your egos. Because there is only room for Marco’s ego on this team.

NEXT WEEK: A tragic injury. I bet you $10 that the person doesn’t just suck it up the way my FABIO!! did.

ONE YEAR AGO: Tacogate ’08: Tasty Pico and Inauthentic Refried Beans