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Friday night cooks up bloody good TV time

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Greg Gayne / FOX
 A kinder, gentler judge Gordon Ramsay whips contestant Sarah into shape on MasterChef Junior.

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Greg Gayne / FOX A kinder, gentler judge Gordon Ramsay whips contestant Sarah into shape on MasterChef Junior.

FOX/CTV/SEPT. 27/7 p.m.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR

Starring: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliott

Premise: Two dozen aspiring chefs, aged eight to 13, take part in a reality/competition cookoff in which they attempt to mix, slice, chop, saut©, grill, steam, bake and serve their way to a $100,000 grand prize and the title of TV's first-ever MasterChef Junior.

Lowdown: This one should be interesting, given that Ramsay's entire reality/reality-competition empire (MasterChef, Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen, Hotel Hell) is essentially built on the bleeped-out, profanity-laced tirades he launches in the direction of hapless chefs, restaurateurs and innkeepers whose slipshod efforts draw his ire. What the @#%$ is he going to say to an eight-year-old who fumbles a flan or serves up a sorry souffl©? Here's what one MasterChef Junior contestant had to say during the recent TV critics' press tour in Los Angeles: "I have seen almost all of Gordon Ramsay's shows, but I wasn't really frightened about it because he can't be really mean because, like, we're kids."

Bottom line: Premi®re episode was still in post-production at press time, but preview clips shown during the TV press tour suggest a much kinder, gentler kind of cooking competition.

 

NBC/GLOBAL/OCT. 25/9 p.m.

DRACULA

Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Victoria Smurfit, Thomas Kretschmann, Jessica De Guow, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Nonso Anozie, Katie McGrath

Premise: A not-quite-modern spin on the classic vampire saga, in which the mysterious Count Dracula has arrived in 19th-century London in the guise of an American businessman who wants to bring modern technology -- a wireless form of electricity, to be specific -- to Victorian society. He's also seeking to wreak a bit of vengeful havoc on those who cursed him to blood-feasting immortality centuries earlier, but his plans are disrupted when he encounters a beautiful stranger whom he believes is the reincarnation of his long-dead wife.

Lowdown: Anyone who watched The Tudors knows that Meyers can bring plenty of brooding and blood-lusting to a costume drama, and this series, a U.S.-U.K. co-production, is counting on the guy who tackled the unlikely task of making Henry VIII sexy to give Dracula the same appeal for a broadcast-network audience. Interestingly, someone (no doubt on this side of the pond) decided it was important for this version of the Count to be American. The vampire is also cast as somewhat heroic, as part of his eternal mission is bringing a bloody end to a secret society of nasty rich guys who've been preying on the poor for centuries.

Bottom line: It definitely doesn't bite, and having spooky/supernatural Grimm as its lead-in could give Dracula a built-in audience.

 

RETURNING SHOWS:

Last Man Standing (Sept. 20, ABC)

The Neighbors (Sept. 20, ABC)

Shark Tank (Sept. 20, ABC)

Undercover Boss (Sept. 27, CBS)

Hawaii Five-0 (Sept. 27, CBS/Global)

Blue Bloods (Sept. 27, CBS/CTV)

Parenthood (Sept. 27, Global/Sept. 26 on NBC)

Marketplace (Oct. 4, CBC)

The Fifth Estate (Oct. 4, CBC)

The Carrie Diaries (Oct. 25, Citytv)

Grimm (Oct. 25, NBC/CTV)

Raising Hope (Nov. 8, Fox/Citytv)

 

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2013 D3

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