Originally posted at Edible TV (edibletv.net) on July 21, 2008.
The other night I checked out the Food Network’s sneak preview of the new season of Road Tasted. This time around RT is hosted by the Neeley’s who replace Jamie and Bobby Deen on the quest for the best family owned food businesses that also do mail order.
Pretty much it is the same show, just different hosts. I had always been lukewarm to this show before. The businesses they highlighted were always great and watching Jamie and Bobby tour the processes behind the products was usually great fun. But then there were set-ups and the wrap-ups which were filled with a lot of forced dialog, “Hey, brother, how about that coconut pit at the Pie Emporium?” To which the other would come back with something just as unnatural, “Oh, yeah, brother, that was good, but what about those pretzels at yadda, yadda, yadda.” No one talks like that while they through a park tossing a football. I had always thought that my misgivings about the show were the result of the Deen’s acting.
I now apologize to Jamie and Bobby; it was not their fault. The problem with RT, in my opinion, is not the hosts, the Deens were good and the Neeleys are good. The problem is the producing and the writing. They seem to force the feel of their set-ups. There is nothing wrong with just saying, “Hi. We’re the Pat and Gina Neely and today on Road Tasted we’re headed on a tour of the Sunshine State,” and then naming off a list of the businesses that are to be reviewed. Sure it isn’t cutting edge, but it also doesn’t give you an uncomfortable feeling when you watch it.
If you want to have a different approach, show the two at a computer pretending to read e-mails from viewers. But the sunset view of them standing on a bridge reminiscing about all the great food they had like it was their first visit to Machu Picchu just doesn’t wash. Gina is adorable and Pat has food knowledge that goes far beyond ribs and spice rubs. He also has a foodie’s thirst for knowledge. It is clear that when he is learning something new that he is down right interested in how it works. I suggest letting the personalities dictate the vibe of the show and leave the cheesy dialog out. Then Road Tasted may go from pleasant distraction to full fledged hit.