Kitchen Nightmares returns with a nearly pointless two-hour recap episode

Tonight, Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares returns at 9 p.m. ET with a two-hour episode titled “Gordon Returns,” on which Fox says “Gordon Ramsay revisits the kitchens of six restaurants that were once on the verge of disaster.” Next Thursday, the show will return to hour-long new episodes focusing on a single restaurant’s makeover each week.

While checking in on the restaurants Ramsay redesigned and owners Ramsay yelled at could be interesting, for anyone who watched last season, this episode is a waste of time, best watched recorded and with your finger on the fast-forward button. The Fox version has always been a dumbed-down version of the BBC America/Channel 4 version, focusing more on conflict than anything else, and largely ignoring the actual transformation process. And that’s obvious here.

The episode literally spends more time on clips of last season’s episodes than it does with the follow-ups; one restaurant, for example, gets nearly nine minutes of recap and just five minutes of follow-up with Gordon Ramsay. Worse, the new content includes more flashbacks–identical to the ones we just saw! So even if you’re watching because you missed the first season, you get recaps of the recaps. Apparently, Fox and/or the editors think we’re so impossibly dumb and have such minuscule attention spans that we’ll forget what was just on the screen.

The whole thing is offensive and nearly pointless, especially because there are also “coming up” segments and an extended preview of the entire episode at the beginning, and thus there’s basically nothing here except a thin couple of minutes per restaurant. The new segments should have been clips put online to promote the new season, not kick it off, especially because what new content is there just comes across as an advertisement for the show and/or Ramsay. Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s no mention of the restaurants that closed down after Gordon Ramsay’s visit, such as Lela’s in Pomona, Calif.

It’s best just to pretend that the new season starts a week from tonight and write off tonight’s episode as some kind of misguided joke.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.