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Man v. Food: Season 1 (2008)

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Food fanatic Adam Richman has held nearly every job in the restaurant biz, and now he's on a journey to explore the biggest and best eats this nation has to offer, including some of the craziest eating challenges around. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: August 04, 2009
Lazing around in front of the television is already good about making one feel guilty for being a lazy slob, but lazing around in front of said television while watching shows about food? That's just pushing it, but be that as it may, I just can't get enough of these shows. It's true: me, Mr. Horror and Sexploitation, has a soft spot for these programs that show off the kind of food that most of us will likely never get to try. Now, I love Bobby Flay and I've seen countless episodes of Iron Chef, but the one thing that has always bugged me about those shows was the way that they always featured off-the-wall foods along with the high-dollar delicacies. I'm a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy, so I always yearned for those episodes that would feature the foods that I personally know and love - a good steak, a nice side of ribs, maybe a fancy burger or two. Those shows rarely filled that void, but Man v. Food did and then some.

The format of the show is simple: Adam Richman, a well-spoken average Joe who has a voracious appetite, travels from city to city in search of the best restaurants and the biggest food challenges. Each episode follows him around a new city, where he goes from one establishment to the next while tasting their finest dishes, and each episode is capped off with a challenge: down a huge bowl of the spiciest curry known to man, eat seventeen hot dogs in one sitting, or some other such herculean feat. It's a simple format, but I'll be damned if it wasn't entertaining as all hell.

The episodes and their respective challenges goes a little something like this:

Amarillo (72-ounce Big Texan)
Memphis (The Sasquatch Hamburger - 7.5 pounds)
Pittsburgh (Atomic Hot Wings)
Columbus (Dagwood Sandwich - 2.5 pounds)
Austin (eight of the Don Juan El Taco Grande breakfast tacos)
Chicago (three overstuffed sandwiches stacked with fries inside)
Atlanta (30-inch, 11-pound Carnivore Challenge Pizza)
Boston (12-pound Eagle's Challenge Burger)
New York City (Spicy Phaal - the hottest form of curry regularly available)
New Orleans (15 dozen oysters)
Portland (five habanero chile cheese fritters covered in habanero chile sauce)
Seattle ("Southwestern Exposure" 12-egg omelet)
Los Angeles (hot ramen - a spicy soup featuring 10 kinds of chilies)
St. Louis (five 24-ounce malt milkshakes)
San Jose (Hellfire Hot Wings)
Denver (7-pound monster breakfast burrito)
North Carolina (17 hot dogs)
Minneapolis (Meterbratwurst - a grilled German Bratwurst one meter in length)

The charm of the show lies in its extravagant simplicity, and by that, I mean that Richman isn't following the same formats that his contemporaries do. He's not hunting down the best octopus recipes and he's not looking for establishments that cater to the caviar and seaweed fans: he looks for the good, old-fashioned meals that we know and love, and he looks for the best places to partake in those pleasures. We all love a good steak, so why not head down to Texas and see some of the best that the cattle capital of the country has to offer? None of us could turn down a nice platter of crabs and shrimp, so let's head up north and see what can be found in Seattle. Chicago is the mecca of hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, so those are the foods that our man looks for when traveling through the city. These are foods that we all know and love, but they are being cooked and served by masters of the craft... and trust me, watching some of these dishes will make your mouth water. Oh, and just to keep things interesting, he doesn't always meet the challenges in each episode. Unlike what we've come to expect from certain other shows, the host doesn't always emerge victorious, so this keeps us guessing as the episodes breeze along.

As if the content wasn't enough, Adam Richman makes the entire affair even more enjoyable by being an extremely charismatic host who also happens to know a thing or two about food. He's not a competitive eater, as the show's introduction reminds us before every episode, just a guy who loves his food... and yes, he knows a thing or two about what goes into making these dishes, so we're always brought up to speed on the ingredients used to make these dishes work. He's also a genuinely funny and likable guy, and I could easily see him using this show as a stepping stone to something bigger.

The only negative thing that I could say about the show is that I thought the skits used to promote the final challenges were cheesy as all hell and should have been scrapped. You see, Adam will find himself "preparing" before each of those challenges in some silly sort of skit: maybe he'll go hang out with some fire-dancers before eating spicy foods, maybe he'll get a New Orleans voodoo spell placed on him to help with the oysters, or maybe he'll meet up with some German savages in the park who will help him eat the bratwurst. These skits are almost embarrassing to watch, and really, they should have never made it to the final product. They only run for a minute or two per episode, but I have to say that even a minute was too long.

That's a minor blemish on an otherwise amazing show. Television series revolving around food aren't for everyone, I know this, but if you count yourself as a fan of that genre, you'd be well served to check this one out when it hits DVD. You'll see some amazing dishes, you'll see the sights in each of the cities, and you'll learn to love your host... if that's not a winning combination, then I don't know what is. 9/10.
Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 08/04/2009, 05:30 PM
Just saw a preview for this show last weekend and I'm dying to see it. It doesn't even premiere here until the middle of the month.
Mojokc #2: Mojokc - added 08/04/2009, 07:41 PM
This show is so awesome. I catch it on Travel Channel whenever I happen to see it on. Unlucky me they had a marathon on Saturday but I was busy with family matters. Oh well good thing its on Netflix Instant seems like I'll be watching ol Adam stuff himself silly while I munch away on my own food and cringe as he near bursts.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 10/01/2009, 07:29 PM
Finally finished it. Such a great show. 9/10 as well.
Optimus Prime #4: Optimus Prime - added 10/22/2009, 01:25 PM
Just got through all of it... It's pretty good, I just don't like Adam Richman all the time. 8/10.
Lucid Dreams #5: Lucid Dreams - added 10/05/2010, 03:33 PM
I have to admit that Richman is annoying and so is the people that run up to him to cheer him on, but the show is pretty damn good. 8/10
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