Jake Peffer reviews season one of Feed the Beast…
Feed the Beast follows two friends, Tommy (David Schwimmer) and Dion (Jim Sturgess), as they open up their own restaurant in the Bronx. Tommy is a down on his luck wine connoisseur who has just recently lost his wife and now has to care for his son TJ. Dion has just got out of prison and is hoping to get back on his feet until he runs into an old acquaintance in the form of mobster Patrick Woichik (Michael Gladis). Patrick is out for the money that Dion owes him for burning down his restaurant, and the only solution Dion can come to is to talk Tommy into starting up the restaurant they’ve always dreamed of running.
From the start of this show you can see that it has the potential to be great. This first season does do some nice things but you have so much going on here that at times it can be just a little too much. One of the key positives is that the acting from the majority of the cast is solid. Nobody is giving any award worthy performances, but on the whole almost everybody shows off their acting chops fairly well. It’s good to see David Schwimmer back on TV and putting in some good work. After his stint on The People v. O.J. Simpson, he continues some really great dramatic acting here and what I would say is the highlight of the show. Jim Sturgess, while not up to the same level as Schwimmer, does a good job here too.
The overall concept and atmosphere of the show is what kept bringing me back each week for the next episode. While it might not have the most complex story and it’s not really bringing anything new to the table it definitely has moments where it shines and that’s mostly in the scenes involving Tommy or Dion. I did like the story arc for the character TJ throughout the season. Watching him progress episode to episode was very engaging, but I just wish they could have got a kid who was a slightly better actor.
This is a show I’m very split on. On the one hand it’s got some good acting and there are some pieces that make it worthwhile. At the same time though there’s as much to dislike here as there is to enjoy. The writing and direction are two of the biggest flaws with Feed the Beast. There is just so much going on and there are so many side stories and subplots that at times it all just feels convoluted. It feels like both Tommy and Dion each have about five different story lines going on at the same time, with some parts getting too much time on screen and others not enough. Had they maybe focused on half the stories, this could have been a tighter story and possibly a more engaging one too.
The other big negative to the show is with the villain, Patrick Woichik. Not sure if it’s the character, the actor who plays him, or a combination of both but he was definitely the worst part of the show for me. He was never menacing or convincing that he was a mobster and most of the time the characters didn’t even seem too threatened by him. A different actor would have helped but had they spent a little more time developing this character he could have had a lot more potential.
Feed the Beast is one of those shows that’s worth blowing through over a weekend on Netflix or Hulu. It’s only a ten episode season and there are certain aspects of it that work really well and other aspects that will have you rolling your eyes. This has the potential to be better but unfortunately it settles for less.