Food Network Programming Query
- Bada Bing Dec 13, 2011 04:36 PM
It's been several years since I watched Food Network at all regularly, but I know that in the trailing off period, I still watched new Good Eats shows, the occasional Bobby Flay thing (I rather liked that Throwdown show for a while), and maybe an Iron Chef America that I stumbled across midway.
Today when I happened to scan the channel offerings for the evening, I see that they are only showing either episodes of Cupcake Wars or Chopped from now (7 p.m.) until 4 in the morning. That seems insane to me. I've never seen either of those shows, don't know why I'd care to, and couldn't watch anything else on Food Network if I wanted to.
Is there any consensus here about what's going on with that channel?
Edit: I've noticed this sort of pattern before, but never really bothered to track the exact time span of such narrow programming. That is, tonight does not seem to me like a highly unusual circumstance...
You mean why do they show one series for an entire night? Cable networks, which lack the breadth of programming the traditional Broadcast nets, have learned that if they catch you early in the night and you are a fan of that show, you'll stay with them all night. Using different shows only invites you to leave at the hour or half-hour. They repeat them in three-hour blocks because even though they have two feeds, one for each coast, this isn't true on Satellite or on the HD channel. So they repeat the blocks so the 8pm EST show (5pm PST) is also on at 8pm PST (11pm EST).
It's a strategy we debated a lot when I was there (I was opposed but they didn't listen). And they are having great success with it, while alienating viewers like you in favor of those more easily hooked.
As to why they really don't show anything where you actually learn something any more, their decision was that they had maximized the audience for this type of programming and in prime-time, Entertainment and Competition was the future. At the expense of those viewers who built the network. It was one of the reasons I quit. But only one.
Thanks for this informative reply.
I'm sort of surprised that this approach is successful. But then again, I'm not sure I can fault their analysis of what will pay. I think I watched Food Network mostly from about 1999-2003 or so, and I did realize at the time that, after watching that many shows, I'd really learned most of what they could teach at that level.
To keep viewers like me at that point, they're in a bind, because I'll be bored by exactly the shows that newer viewers might learn from, while newer viewers would find my kinds of interests (say, making duck confit or tamales) rather esoteric. It's not an easy predicament. That said, I regret that the channel has veered so far from something that can teach people how to cook.
re: Bada Bing
That's what TV needs - duck confit, without the magic of television to speed up the process! :)
For tamales, possible places are Chucks Week Off (CC)
Rick Bayless (PBS Create TV),
Good Eats (2009 Tamale Never Dies, CC),
60+ recipes from FN website
I realize those are just topics chosen at random, but it illustrates what is available with some searching, even if you can't find them on FN every Saturday night.
My impression is that Discovery tried this focused block strategy before Scripts. EG Mythbusters nights, Dirty Jobs nights, ghost this, ghost that. It is also typical to have 3 repeats in block, along with 1 new episode (or all repeats).
My strategy is to look for the new episodes that I like. If nothing else of interest is on else where, I'll leave the repeats on, but browse Chow while I'm at it. Like it or not, many of us are multitasking while watching these shows (that includes flipping back and forth between several shows).
What did it for me was launching Guy Fieri into the stratosphere, Paula Deen's coronation as the queen of every day cooking and the nauseating Neeleys. Oh and the endless, stupid, cake/sculpture bakeoffs. What a waste of time.
While Cooking Channel leaves a lot to be desired, at least it's closer to a food network than the Food Network. I do wish they had some new programming as I have seen every show at least five times. I do appreciate some of the new shows like "Unique Eats," and "Unique Sweets" that inspire me to reinvent some of my old recipes.
Go to the FN website to see a week's worth of shows, not just one night. Saturday evening has few originals. Also check Cooking Channel.
Chopped is one of their more popular show, with a new episode nearly every week.
I don't pay much attention to Cupcake Wars
They are in the middle of a Next Iron Chef season. There are long threads on each episode. Yesterday Cooking Channel played old NIC epsiodes all day long.
They are also showing new episodes of ICA - including several featuring the winner of NICA in Jan.
Good Eats is no longer being produced, with the recent exception of a Christmas special. But reruns are showing on CC.
I haven't seen anything new on Throwdown recently.
People talk about how great FN was in the old days. While I probably watched it more in 2000 than now, it being new to me, I can't name many superior shows.
For some reason, Unwrapped comes to mind as a typical show. And Door Knock dinners!
IC Japan was novel.
Melting Pot was, perhaps, my favorite cooking show. Some guests are now FN regulars.
The only Mario show that caught my attention was his tour of Italy with a wacky sidekick.
A lot of people didn't like the On the Road in Spain show with wacky sidekicks Gweneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman and a Spanish actress I don't remember. I liked it for the scenery and off the beaten path locales, but got tired of the camera always being on Gweneth and her little soy milk tantrums.
Shows I liked "back then":
Taste with David Rosengarten.
Essence of Emeril
... and perhaps a few others. These shows had some things in common: A) they were cooking shows that showed actual cooking techniques. And B) the people cooking were people I actually wanted to learn cooking techniques from. I can't say that for the vast majority of the personalities currently being featured on either channel.
A - what techniques do you recall learning from them?
B - why did you want to learn from them - their reputation, or teaching skill?
C - do you use any of their cookbooks?
I don't call seeing any Rosengarten shows.
About the only Emeril shows that I saw featured a band, an audience, and bam. He has had some newer instructional shows on CC.
Mario's instructional shows, with an audience of 2, had been moved to daytime hours by the time I started watching the channel.
(A) Techniques? Several...
- Rosengarten always covered one ingredient per show, kind of like Good Eats. For example I recall an especially good episode in which he deconstructed egg salad in various ways, leading me to experiment with various egg-based sauces and preparations in the following weeks.
- On "Essence" it was just Emeril alone in the kitchen. No band, no bam. Relaxed presentation of real cooking techniques. Several dinners during that period were made using flavor combination ideas I'd gleaned from the show.
- Batali -- pasta technique. I'd never tried making my own before watching him do it. Not that I do it very often now, but at least I was inspired to try.
(B) Why watch them? Skill. Teaching or otherwise. I'd never heard of any of them before I started watching Food Network. They all made interesting things (to me at least) and presented them well.
(C) Cookbooks? No. But I hardly ever use cookbooks at all.
Now if someone wants pasta techniques they'd have to look to CreateTV (Lidia) or Cook Channel (Kelsey - http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/kelse...)
Anyone wonder why Mario has done a travel show, but no more cooking shows?
Those old Molto Mario shows are showing on Cooking Channel - early weekday mornings.
A YouTube search turns up quite a few 'David Rosengarten' clips
“It was one of the shows that hooked me on FN and began my obsession with all things culinary” --- goodhealthgourmet, quote in this thread
“I love everything and anything to do with food” ---First picture on Foodgawker, food blog where this is the first sentence of the bio.
These are two pretty good examples of just how revolutionary the Food Network was when it began. In my opinion, FN is wholly responsible for the heightened food sense in the USA and the gazillion blogs out there that serve no other purpose other than someone telling the world how much they love food and all things related to it. I would also suspect this site (CH) would have nowhere near the following if not for FN.
Bada Bing, I have a suspicion I am much older than you, but the seemingly deterioration of such a novel, unique and groundbreaking concept is common and there are many examples, especially from TV, where this has happened. CNN is one. 24 hrs news? Unthinkable really, but now there are many channels doing it, and we talk in terms of a 24 hour news cycle. MTV. 24 music videos? That network and its spawn are much different today, and I would argue, have seriously deteriorated, and in fact deviated from what it originally was. I was fortunate to see the original seasons of SNL (Saturday Night Live). It was edgy, uneven and not very polished. A lot like FN during its beginnings. Those days are gone for both. Everything is slick and polished or it doesn’t make it on TV. None of this makes a difference from a historical perspective but all of these were revolutionary TV ideas that have changed the social culture, and for some, our lives.
I grew up in a typical middle class neighborhood (at least I thought it was typical) outside of Los Angeles. At that time (I’m 47-so 1970s-80s), your social network was your neighborhood, school, church, etc. No computers, no Internet, no cable TV, etc. Everyone knew everyone, and as kids, we were all in each others houses for lunches and dinners and families did a lot of things together. I don’t remember anyone ever being obsessed with food or even using kosher salt or crack black pepper. Every house in the neighborhood had a kitchen table and there was a salt/pepper shaker on every one of them. Iodized salt and ground pepper is what was in them. There weren’t any sayings like “farm-to-table”, heck, there were not even farmers markets in our neighborhood. I don’t recall anything like a CSA basket showing up on anyone’s front porch. We primarily ate at home, eating out only on special occasions, and not once did anyone ever wonder out loud who the chef was. Now, chefs they are like rock stars and yet I had never heard of Bobby Flay when I first saw the show Grillin & Chillin, which I loved immediately.
There was a time when FN was the only channel I watched. Seriously, it was on in the background no matter what I was doing. Those days are gone, but I still consider this an important channel and one I always go to first. I don’t stay long anymore but my feelings for the channel (which are fond) are based on how it changed my life, which was NOT teaching me how to cook, although it did that at times. FN fueled my desire to learn more about food, cooking, and all other things relating to food. That has helped me seek out other detailed sources so that me and my family eat well.
Edit: I should add my feelings for your consensus of what is going on with the channel. I personally think it is just a reflection of society as all TV shows are. Of the new shows, Chopped is a show I like, I like ICA also. If FN ever figures out how to do a real reality show, look out. The Chef Jeff Project was as close to that as I can recall and I loved it.
re: Rocky Road
In general TV is better at introducing ideas than at giving detailed instructions. Print, or even video clips that you can replay are better for the details. That certainly applies to ingredient quantities, but also, I think, to technique. And for introducing ideas, competitions and travel shows can be as good as instructional shows. A big problem for instructional shows is that they have to have a certain skill level for the audience. Aim too high and you leave people behind; aim too low and you bore others.
Well sure, they have about 20 minutes (after commercials) to do something, so it's just enough to wet the appetite. I don't think I've ever watched a FN program without having to consult other sources to do what was needed. To watch a 30 minute program and expect to know it all is an unreasonable expectation. I think that FN excels in wetting the appetite for more info, at least that's what it did for me.
In my opinion, skill levels are not relevant when it comes to TV, because the only thing that promotes skill is practice. I don't think anyone's skills will increase demonstratively by watching TV or even reading a cookbook.
Between Cupcake wars, Diners and Dives, Sandra Lee, Rachel Ray , Restaurant what ever, they have lost me. Sara Molton was wonderful, still like Ina, but aside from them you can have FN. The Neeleys drive me really crazy!! Create is good and Cooking.com is OK.