As Fienberg and I discussed on this week's podcast, while I don't make much time for reality TV these days, I do remain fond of the various professional talent competitions produced by the folks at Magical Elves, most notably "Top Chef." "America's Next Great Restaurant," which debuted tonight on NBC, was very much in the Elve-ish wheelhouse, offering plenty of overlap with "Top Chef" but not so much that it made you wonder why we needed this show, too. And I remain impressed that the Elves - as opposed to Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and whoever else was making creative decisions on "The (Non-Celebrity) Apprentice" - recognize that while jerks can add a certain amount of drama, the real draw of these shows is in seeing talented people show off their talents. So while a couple of knuckleheads made this show's top 10, for the most part we have what seems like smart, energetic people with intriguing concepts. (I know that if the restaurant that won the last slot in the top 10 opened in my neighborhood tomorrow, I would be eating there.)
What did everybody else think? Too assembly line, or just different enough?