Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Top Chef gets ready for the end,Sleepy Hollow's first season sum-up and dire doings at Downton Abbey

We are so very close to the finale for this season of Top Chef and the Final Four contenders were made very well aware of it going into the last Quickfire round.

 It was a two part QF,with the first challenge coming from Judge Gail who tasked them to make a perfect bite that would literally fit onto a cocktail fork.

The fellas won this challenge,Carlos with a grilled shrimp and Nicholas for a deckle of beef with a purple potato chip,so the ladies sat the second half out.

Judge Tom then had them choose between an eggplant and a pepper to highlight in a dish. Immunity was off the table but the chance to win a new car was quite the carrot on the stick there.

Carlos won the car,thanks to his red pepper soup with fennel and basil. Nicholas felt bummed that he was the only one left in the game who hadn't won anything yet but hey,dude, let that be a motivator for you!

The Elimination Challenge was to make a dish that reflected each chef's time in NOLA and to also add your own spin to it. A summery supper,in other words and three other prominent chefs joined the judges and Emeril,including TC Masters winner Douglas Keane,for that all-important meal.

Nina had big plans for her plate,especially an Italian mini pasta with ricotta cheese, yet forgot to add that extra item to her dish before service.

She was quite upset over that but it turns out that was a blessing in disguise. The speckled trout with baby veggies was perfect on it's own and landed her a spot in the finale. See,Nina, you did fine,relax!

Shirley also has a guaranteed place in the finale and was deemed the overall winner of this challenge.

 Her black drum fish with butter sauce was truly enchanting and the judges loved her mix of Chinese and New Orleans style. I'm rooting for either Shirley or Nina to take the whole shooting match but if pushed, I will admit to being a bit more on Team Shirley.

 She's a sincerely sweet person and it would be good for someone nice to win a reality competition show every once in a while(Nina is a nice person,too!).

As for the guys,Nicholas was in danger of leaving once again due to a lack of seasoning on his dish. I kind of have to go with Padma on this one as she pointed out that being this close to the finale should make you more on your game about something that basic.

However,the flavor profile on Nicholas' trio of cobia,bass and tuna comfit was enough to squeak under the finish line for now.

That left Carlos as the one who had to pack his knives to take on Louis(who has had an amazing winning streak) in Last Chance Kitchen.

There didn't seem to be that much wrong with his twist on a tamale(using seafood mousse instead of corn) but the judges did say that the mousse wasn't completely broken and perhaps they were just unimpressed. The two part finale will take place in Maui and let's keep our fingers crossed for the ladies( Team Shirley and Team Nina!).

Sleepy Hollow wrapped up it's first season with one hell of a bunch of cliffhangers(liked that Secret Bad Guy twist reveal at the end!) in a two part episode that has fans clamoring for more.

With Abby trapped in Purgatory,Katrina handed over to the Headless Horseman and Crane imprisoned underground in a coffin,plus Jenny and Captain Irving taken off the playing field, things do look dire there for the forces of good.

However, I have faith in the show for a logical escape for all of these characters unlike a certain other supernatural program(which I'll get to in a moment) and real interest in a second season.

I hate to compare and contrast but between Sleepy Hollow and AHS:Coven, it's hard to ignore the fact that the one series with a fairly conventional genre set-up(witch school) is chock full of plot holes and character inconsistencies while the show with the more far-out premise(Headless Horseman as harbinger of the Apocalypse) has a much steadier hand at the story telling tiller. Both use humor when needed but SH clearly has the upper hand in world building,plot momentum and character development.

It also says a lot for network television when a show like Sleepy Hollow proves that they can nurture
well written genre fare just as good as their basic & pay cable competitors can. Hopefully, this will lead to better shows all around,particularly by next fall when Sleepy Hollow returns:

In the mean time,Downton Abbey is chugging right along with their parade of plot lines including Lady Edith's overnight visit to her still married lover(which her aunt scolded her about,being more concerned with appearances than anything else) and Tom getting out of a potentially messy situation with Edna.

Seriously,Edna played her hand with all of the subtlety of an anvil;one night with a drunken Tom and you're claiming a possible pregnancy? Any schemer with sense would've let some time go by before dropping that bomb. Kudos to Mrs. Hughes for nipping that thorny rose in the bud good and proper!

Speaking of Mrs. Hughes, she is certainly the bearer of dark secrets as Anna insists on keeping what happened to her unknown to everyone else,especially her husband.

Granted,that time period wasn't known for respecting a woman's rights as the victim of a sexual crime and Mr. Bates might very well kill a man who violated his wife(and I wouldn't blame him one bit) but seeing Anna suffer like this is heartbreaking.

It would be best if she let him know what occurred sooner rather than later,as Bates is the type of man to look into the matter on his own and misunderstanding could easily arise from such an investigation-let's just hope the truth comes out in the right way:


THE WORST COOKS IN AMERICA: A new season of the Food Network competition between Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay, as to who can train a hopeless case in the kitchen into a culinary whiz the best ,is due to arrive next month. The early episodes are the most fun for food follies:

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