So, Feed the Beast Season 1 Episode 2 is titled "Father of the Year," which really shouldn't be surprising. In one episode, the show has already declared itself willing to embrace every masculine cliche in the television handbook – why wouldn't it tackle daddy issues?
Said daddy issues are between Tommy and his estranged father, Aidan. The two haven't spoken in ten years, so you know that when Tommy asks Aidan for money so that he and Dion can launch their dream restaurant, it's not going to go smoothly.
Aidan is a racist old grouch who made a fortune in scaffolding and has never met his biracial grandson. Yes, this is a stock character we've seen a million times before, but John Doman (most recently seen as Mob boss Carmine Falcone on another goofy drama infested with gangsters, Gotham) is perfect in the role.
I'd blow your brains out, but this is a $30,000 Persian rug.Aidan, to Tommy
Doman is an actor with an air of natural menace, so he's an ideal choice to play a guy so tough that he is capable of winning a fight despite being confined to a wheelchair. It's hard to comprehend how such a steely, sinister character as Aidan was able to spawn a soggy baby blanket of a son like Tommy.
It's also hard to understand why pretty Pilar is interested in Tommy. Yes, they share a bond through their grief support group and their involvement in the restaurant industry, but apart from these mutual interests, there is little about him that is appealing from a romance perspective. Dion, despite being a temperamental drug addict, has much more energy and personality.
David Schwimmer does do good grief, though. He plays Tommy like a drunker, more depressed version of Ross Geller. It's no wonder he can't get anyone to buy the wines he shills. The scene where he halfheartedly attempts to close a deal with a wine shop owner, and fails miserably, is absolutely painful and embarrassing to watch.
Speaking of wine: If you had a sip every time someone reacts incredulously to the news that Dion and Tommy want to open a restaurant in the Bronx, you'd pass out before the end of the episode.
Dion: What's the one thing everyone says the Bronx doesn't have?
Aidan: White people.
Dion: White people, and a restaurant.
Yes, the Bronx is a notoriously rundown neighborhood, not gentrified and in many places not safe, but it's not the Wild Wild West, which is what Dion compares it to when pitching the restaurant to Aidan. It's still civilization. (You can reach it via the subway, which is my personal definition of civilization.)
You know what's in the Bronx? Arthur Avenue, a foodie destination thanks to its numerous traditional Italian restaurants. Also in the Bronx? City Island, known for its delicious seafood. They have plenty of restaurants in the Bronx.
You're opening a restaurant? In the Bronx?Frank, to Tommy
On the plus side, it's nice to see that Feed the Beast is actually filmed in New York, albeit primarily in Queens as opposed to the Bronx. It gives the show an air of authenticity that it desperately needs, and provides its two-dimensional characters with a three-dimensional world in which to exist.
So far, my favorite character on the show is TJ. This episode opens with a flashback to when Rie was still alive and TJ was a cheerful, talkative young boy preparing food with his mom. That single moment makes the scenes starring the sad, silent TJ of today pack all the more powerful of a punch.
Elijah Jacob, the young actor playing TJ, gives a great performance relying solely on subtle facial expressions. Considering the poor quality of the show's dialogue, the fact that TJ never has to say any of it is probably one reason why he is so likable.
Yet despite being far more interesting of a character than the adults, TJ has so little screen time in comparison. One hopes that this will change in future episodes. The scene in which TJ wandered into a bathroom at school and encountered a little girl covering the walls with marker graffiti hooked me – I want to know more about this little rebel!
I also enjoyed watching Dion mentor TJ in the art of food prep; the scene was a nice echo of the opening flashback with Rie. Dion is the exact opposite of what a responsible parent should be, but seeing him potentially fill the void left by Rie's death role should be fun. Being partially responsible for TJ's well-being may also force him to clean up his own coke-addled act.
Fine, we'll do a simple freaking seared scallop then.Dion
Fortunately, the food continues to play a starring role on Feed the Beast. In this episode, viewers were treated to rack of lamb with roasted eggplant and a kalamata tapenade, as well as panacotta with figs, apricot and a honeycomb candy.
Almost every other element of the show may be laughable, but the food is downright delectable. If the show sticks around long enough to produce a cookbook, I'd be first in line to buy it.
Two episodes in, Feed the Beast still feels more like a parody of every other basic cable drama starring troubled men than one that can stand on its own, but there are elements that show promise.
What did you think? Is Aidan totally evil? Is Pilar out of her mind for getting involved with these people?
If you're hungry for more, you can watch Feed the Beast online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.