Sunday, November 14, 2010

1:02 am on a Sunday, on the rocks.

Not the time to be inspired to write, right? Unless you've found some Jason Bourne, mainstream programming has gone to bed. I didn't think there was anything worth watching after SNL (Scarlet Johansson has some range!). And then I left the TV on....

Life/Style Television (LX/TV) airs around this time. It's reminiscent of those 'city guide' channels that come on when you power up the TV in a hotel room. Viewers get the scoop on where to go for entertainment, shopping and dining. Out-of-towners (and curious locals) may get some useful information. I use it to zone out and fall asleep on the couch. These last few weeks, however, have been some amusing reality television.

They are currently airing Season 3 of ON THE ROCKS: The Search for America's Top Bartender. Think Top Chef + (insert singing/dancing competition here) - quality lighting. Hundreds auditioned, but they feature the final 8. For the winner (using my best Padma voice), $100,000 - sponsored by Absolut Vodka, and the title of America's Top Bartender!

Shot on location in trendy/iconic bars around Los Angeles, contestants are put through challenges that test their ability to think creatively and act professionally while under a time constraint. On their most recent episode, bartenders had 10 minutes to create a cocktail using only the ingredients and tools in front of them. The catch. No glassware or stirring utensils to be found. Inventive use of pineapples and ice picks helped an otherwise daunting task.

For me, what stood out about this competition was the fact that judging occurs throughout every challenge. Each contestant works alone and in front of the three experts. Their stage presence is factored into determining the winner. Most competitions only focus on the end product. That is, unless you don't follow the rules and get penalized on The Amazing Race! A good example of this is the feedback judges provided on this "Deserted Island" challenge. Milos was commended on being the only one that used the provided hand sanitizer before starting the task. Kind of a big deal, if you're a foodservice employee.

My money is on Jason from Los Angeles. You can view this season, last season, and profiles of everyone participating by clicking on the show title above.


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