Pat Clark

Clark: Hello, doctor? Tests and a talk might be in order

There's a good chance that I am not well.

See-the-doctor not well.

This comes up because my reaction to a promo spot on Bravo last week simply could not be considered healthy on any level.

My love of the Bravo network's competition/reality series "Top Chef" is no secret. But I think we all can agree that nearly tearing up with joy over the fact that a new version of the show is about to debut is not a normal reaction.

Not even kind of normal.

I mean, it's just a TV show, for heaven's sake.

Once I got hold of myself, I was able to enjoy the news from a rational place — one where tears are replaced with a more measured and appropriate response such as, "Hey, that's pretty cool."

So, hey, that's pretty cool, isn't it?

The new show is a spin on the old one, wherein some of the world's renowned "master chefs" will compete against one another, rather than your garden-variety restaurant chefs from across the country.

Sure, it won't be as good as the original, but it'll fill in the void until the next season of "Top Chef" gets started.

According to www.bravotv.com, "Top Chef Masters" will pit 24 chefs in the same basic format as the original. Instead of playing for personal prizes and cash, these already successful chefs will compete for cash for their favorite charities.

Four chefs will compete at a time over six episodes, with the winners from each meeting in the final four weeks, when one will get eliminated each episode. The last chef standing will win $100,000 for charity.

"Top Chef Masters" debuts June 12, filling in the long, woeful period as we rabid (read "seriously ailing") fans await the debut of season six of "Top Chef," filmed in Las Vegas.

    

Let's stay with Bravo for a less enthusiastic comment.

It was a sad day when the cable network lost its flagship series, "Project Runway," to the Lifetime network. Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, et al, were forced to pack up and leave Bravo when the show's producers were lured away for greener — as in greenbacks — pastures.

It's no surprise the spurned Bravo network would try to reinvent a fashion competition series to replace it, and I had hopes for "The Fashion Show," currently running on Bravo.

But it's just not the same.

First, the show's host/judges just haven't got the Klum/Gunn factor — not by a long shot.

Celebrity designer host/judge Isaac Mizrahi has a ton of charisma, to be sure. In fact, he's got so much charisma it spilling all over the floor of the set.

It's a bit much.

His cohort on the show is Kelly Rowland, who's billed as an actress on the Bravo Web site, but let's face it, she's really just Beyoncé's also-ran from Destiny's Child. She talks a big fashion talk, but mostly she's just a sourpuss — rather off-putting with her eye rolls and sneers.

The other problem with this version is that the producers seem to have stuffed the contestant ranks with over-the-top flamboyant and kooky personalities.

Yes, the ranks of fashion designers are filled with flamboyant and kooky personalities. But for every Karl Lagerfield or Isaac Mizrahi, there's a calm, cool Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren.

Here, the Calvins and Ralphs are seriously outnumbered.

Sure, "Project Runway" had more than its share of flamboyant contestants. but it managed to strike a balance between the kooky and the even-keeled.

The abundance of Characters with a Capital C on "The Fashion Show" makes it feel like a sad caricature of "Runway."

And so, as it is with fashion, no knock-off ever can match the magnificence of an original.

    

Elsewhere around the Scene:

A trip to the islands can be closer than you think, thanks to a Sunday night show at the Copper Rhino by Black Square, a reggae/punk band from Hawaii. Black Square plays its first-ever Modesto show at 8 p.m. at the downtown Modesto venue, 927 10th St. Call 577-4776.

Blues guitarist Chris Cain returns to Clayton's by popular demand for a show Sunday at the downtown Modesto restaurant. Doors open at 5 p.m. and Johnny Valdez opens the show at

6 p.m. Jazz and blues aficionado Cain takes the stage at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, available by calling Clayton's, 522-7811, or Skip's Music, 522-1003. Clayton's is at 1016 H St., Modesto.

Powerman 5000 plays an all-ages show June 5 at Modesto Virtual. The Boston-based hard-rock band is fronted by Spider One, younger brother of Rob Zombie. The band found its biggest commercial success with the 1999 sci-fi-themed "Tonight the Stars Revolt!" Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Also on the bill are Tri Star Embodiment, Dardanelle, Wait For Sleep and more. See www.myspace.com/originalmodestovirtual for more.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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