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Charlie Toft

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Charlie Toft used to win awards for book criticism, but decided that reading was too much work. As a TV writer, his specialty is an encyclopedic and possibly unhealthy knowledge of American Idol.

WHAT2WATCH: Top Chef Is Texas Toast

Season Nine of Top Chef ends this coming week (Bravo, Wednesday 10 p.m.), and most fans seems to feel it’s been one of the weaker entries. There was nothing really wrong with the Texas setting, but the franchise is beginning to show the strain of almost never being off the air (Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Desserts round out the field). Most bothersome has been the intrusion of elements into the challenges that don’t have anything to do with cooking, such as the bizarre final four challenge that found the cheftestants cutting through enormous blocks of ice to get to their ingredients.

The crop of competitors was likewise a bit stale this time around, as too few of them combined skill in the kitchen with a winning personality. But I imagine most fans will be rooting for Austin’s Paul Qui in the finals, who has consistently been the most impressive in challenges (the amount of money he’s won so far isn’t much less than the show’s actual first prize). Boorish Sarah, the other chef in the ultimate “fix a four course meal” challenge, has been gaining strength of late and ought to make it a real battle. Unfortunately.

Also this week:

Monday: Mike & Molly (CBS, 9:30 p.m.): Mike gets nervous when Molly offers up the suggestion that the two write their own wedding vows, but Carl gets the bright idea that he should pretend he’s describing a favorite food instead. I tried this once, but she didn’t appreciate being referred to as “marvelously greasy” and “bursting with fat.” Hey, I like bacon.

Tuesday: Ringer (CW, 9 p.m.): Bridget realizes she’s in trouble when Andrew proposes again; Juliet makes a major decision that her mother disagrees with; Olivia gets a bad feeling about Malcolm. This show really needs to bring on a vampire if they’re serious about getting a second season.

Thursday: Awake (NBC, 10 p.m.): Critics fell all over themselves praising this pilot as far back as last summer. Jason Isaacs plays a detective who emerges from a car accident experiencing two separate realities: one in which his son died and his wife survived the crash, and another where the exact opposite occurred. The good news is that his overtime at work must be insane.

Friday: Portlandia (IFC, 10 p.m.): This show works so well because it’s about a type you will find in any large city, not just Portland. This week, Fred and Carrie take their latest campaign to the mayor, demanding that Portland eliminate itself from contention to ever host the Olympics. Talk about a question no one was asking.

Saturday: Q’Viva! The Chosen (Fox, 8 p.m.): You might dimly remember the stories about Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony working on a reality show together? This is it, premiering after sweeps month on a Saturday, so you know Fox is way proud of it. The now estranged pair will be searching for the next big star in Latino entertainment. Obviously, watching these two interact will about 99 percent of the fun.

Sunday: GCB (ABC, 10 p.m.): The producers can’t claim ABC has given this series a shortage of promotion. After her marriage ends in scandal, a former high school mean girl (Leslie Bibb) returns to her upscale Dallas neighborhood, where she finds old enemies gunning for her. It’s broad, but after Desperate Housewives, it just might work.

Categories: TV

Tags: Awake, Gcb, Jason isaacs, Jennifer lopez, Leslie bibb, Marc anthony, Mike and molly, Portlandia, Q'viva the chosen, Ringer, Top chef, Top chef season 9, Top chef texas

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