TV

Bon Appetit

Tonight marks the debut of "The Chopping Block," (NBC, 8 p.m.), the network's latest attempt to not air dramatic programming.

British chef Marco Pierre White is the host, giving eight couples the chance to open their own restaurant by competing a series of challenges. If "The Apprentice" took place in a restaurant, it'd be this show.

Frankly, I've never understood the appeal of most shows centered around eating. It's one thing if it's a program on the Food Network, in which a chef shows the viewer how to prepare a specific dish. That makes sense to me.

So do the various Gordon Ramsay shows on Fox and BBC America, in which he shows various restauranteurs why their establishments are failing and what they need to be doing to improve them.

But something like "Top Chef" on Bravo baffles me, because it comes down to which chef makes the best meal. As a viewer, you can't taste it or smell it, so how can you really judge? Since peoples' taste buds are so different, how can you know you'd like a meal they prepare?

"The Chopping Block" is a mix, with the contestants both preparing meals and doing other challenges involved with running a restaurant, all with White doing his best Ramsay impression and yelling a lot.

I think I will see what else is on the menu.

'BIG LOVE' -- BIG CONTROVERSY: The Mormon Church is up in arms about an upcoming episode of the HBO series, "Big Love," which centers around a Mormon family. In the episode, Jeanne Tripplehorn's character undergoes the Mormon ceremony of endowment.

The church is opposed to showing this ceremony, even though the producers have said they are showing it because it's an important part of Mormon life and important to the storyline on the show, and that they will be respectful in how they show it.

I must confess I know nothing about endowment or much about Mormonism in general, so it's tough to say if anyone is wrong in this dispute. When cases like this pop up, I usually substitute Judaism for the religion in question, since it's the only religion I know.

Generally, most times I've seen Jewish ceremonies portrayed on TV or in the movies, the producers have been respectful in how they portray the ceremony and stay pretty faithful to it. There have been a few times where the writers and producers have gotten things wrong, but they didn't do so with any disrespect intended.

If endowment is an important part of the Mormon Church, I can understand why the church would be sensitive about it. Apparently, it's a very private ceremony that no non-Mormons can participate in or witness, according to statements the Church released. HBO responded by saying that it had an advisor on the set who was versed in the ceremony.

I look at such programs as an opportunity to learn about other cultures and religions. As long as HBO is respectful in how they portray things, I personally think they should continue with it.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Again, networks, I remind you that sweeps have begun. I say this again because "Lost" is a rerun, re-airing last week's installment (the best of the season, by the way, in my opinion). "Life On Mars" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is new, however.

Fox is doing the move it said it would do a few weeks ago, moving "Lie To Me" to 8 p.m. and "American Idol" to 9 p.m. Personally, I think it's a better move for "Lie To Me," which won't have to compete with viewers from the same demographic who are watching "Lost" or NBC's "Life," which is all new tonight at 9 p.m., following "The Chopping Block" and preceding a new "Law & Order."

CBS is all-new with its lineup of "Old Christine," with guest star Kristen Johnson, "Gary Unmarried," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."

On cable, "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) is all new. BTW, check out tomorrow's Telegraph for a feature on a movie shooting in Middle Georgia called "The Crazies," which stars Tim Olyphant of "Damages."

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