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The executive producer of AMC's new "Feed the Beast" is nothing if not a great salesman. And one who had very high hopes for his product.
" 'Feed the Beast' is about tragedy and treachery, love and lust, good and evil, manipulation and greed, family and betrayal," said Clyde Phillips ("Dexter," "Nurse Jackie"), repeating the pitch he delivered to AMC executives. "It's about adultery, rivalry, rage, jealousy, paranoia, drugs, arson, mutilation, extortion and murder. It's about devastating loss, grief, PTSD, forbidden attractions, shattered dreams and broken people. It's also about resilience, reinvention, redemption and resurrection.
"And through it all, in spite of it all, and maybe even because of it all, this is a story about best friends and the lives they share."
Wow! That sounds like a show that reaches out and grabs you, right?
Well, not so much.
"Feed the Beast" stars David Schwimmer ("Friends") and Jim Sturgess ("One Day") as boyhood pals struggling to launch a high-end restaurant in the Bronx. Which, we're told, is being gentrified.
That's one of the more plausible aspects of "Beast," which debuts Sunday at 11:05 p.m. on Comcast (8:05 p.m. on DirecTV and Dish). Episode 2 airs Tuesday at 11 p.m. (8 p.m.), the show's regular time slot.
Schwimmer stars as Tommy Moran, a sad sack whose wife was killed by a hit-and-run driver, leaving him the widowed father of an emotionally scarred son.
When his old friend/cocaine-snorting chef Dion Patras (Sturgess) shows up straight out of prison, Tommy agrees to this new venture. He knows Dion was convicted of torching the last restaurant where he worked; he doesn't know the crime family that owned the place is after Dion.
Maybe it wouldn't matter. Tommy does, after all, agree to go into business with a drug addict/arsonist.
The misadventures that ensue are supposed to be darkly comedic, but there's not much comedy here. Just darkness.
Except for the food. "In each episode, there will be one or two big moments of food being prepared," Phillips promised.
That would be great if someone invented taste-o-vision.
"Feed the Beast" is adapted from the Danish series "Bankerot," which translates as "bankrupt." That was changed first to "Broke," but Phillips didn't find it "sexy enough." So it became "Feed the Beast" because it "means so many things. It means feed your hunger. Feed your need. Feed your drug need. Feed your soul. Feed the oven. Feed the people in the other room."
He is a great salesman.
But "Feed the Beast" has one huge narrative flaw. The storylines center on the tension that arises keeping the fledgling restaurant going. But there is no tension.
If the restaurant closes, there is no TV series. It's sort of like trying to make viewers believe that Jane is in mortal danger in the middle of a "Jane the Virgin" season. We all know she can't die because then there would be no show.
"Feed the Beast" is definitely a show, but it's not all it's cracked up to be.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.