June 5, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Feed The Beast”


FEED THE BEAST:  Tuesday 10PM on AMC – Change the Channel

There’s not much on the menu of AMC’s new FEED THE BEAST, which previewed tonight in advance of its regular timeslot debut on Tuesday.  The show is based on a Danish format, and perhaps that version had more meat on its bones, but US creator Clyde Phillips, a successful midstream showrunner for series like Nurse Jackie and Dexter rather than an originator of hits, accomplished little in the opening hour beyond establishing the basic premise.

Phillips was in a rush to confirm the show’s cable bona fides:  within the first three minutes, Dion Petras (Jim Sturgess), a talented chef in the process of being discharged from a prison sentence served for burning down the Bronx restaurant where he worked, was snorting coke and having sex with his buxom attorney.  After that, though, things drifted.  The restaurant Dion torched was owned by gangster Patrick “The Tooth Fairy” Wolchik (Michael Gladis), to whom Dion still owed $600K.  (And whose nickname was earned in the most obvious way, with pliers.)  On the run from Patrick, Dion took refuge with his best friend Tommy Moran (David Schwimmer), a functioning alcoholic and former sommelier in the restaurant (now making ends meet by peddling wine when he’s not drinking the product) who hadn’t recovered from the hit-and-run death of his wife Rie (Christine Adams, seen in flashbacks).  Just to round out the general misery, Tommy’s son TJ (Elijah Jacob) hadn’t spoken a word in the year since his mother’s death.

Dion’s plan had been to flee for Paris on a forged passport, but once Patrick foiled that, plan B was to convince Tommy to return to the dream that the two of them and Rie had nurtured when she was still alive, to open a restaurant of their own.  That will apparently be the main storyline of the series, as the two and a half men presumably, in fits and starts, start their recovery from their various demons, while Dion holds off Patrick and a vicious cop who wants him to inform on Patrick.  (With the script’s characteristic subtlety, the cop literally tells Dion to think of him as Captain Ahab and Patrick as his Moby Dick.)

Feed the Beast holds together well enough, with effectively gritty location shooting by director Steve Shill and committed performances.  But there’s so little going on that the pace feels slow, and the casting is less than ideal.  Sturgess lacks the dangerous edge that Dion desperately needs, and he and Schwimmer hardly seem like age-old friends; meanwhile, the role of Tommy allows Schwimmer to indulge in far too much of his trademark hangdog persona.  Mute TJ feels like little more than a gimmick–we can only hope that he won’t start having cosmic visions like Kiefer Sutherland’s son in Touch.  The gangsters and cop are, for now at least, pure cliches.

If ever an AMC show needed one of the network’s thrillers to prop up its ratings, the low-concept Feed the Beast would seem to be the one, but instead it’s being thrown onto Tuesdays with no lead-in.  That seems to be a recipe for disaster, and the series will need to offer some awfully tasty specials to lure many viewers through its doors.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."