Chef Gordon Ramsay has elevated his food-throwing tantrums into a kind of performance art, yielding expletive-laden outbursts as impolite as they are perfectly tailored to reality TV. So perhaps it’s no wonder Fox is seeking to expand his niche to fixing other aspects of the service/hospitality industry via “Hotel Hell,” an overproduced showcase for the hotheaded host, who sets his sights, Bravo-style, on makeovers of under-performing hotels and inns. It’s not bad, as inexpensive summer filler goes, but by spreading its premiere across two parts, the show makes like a boorish guest and overstays its welcome.
Frankly, there’s a pretty good drinking game just in taking a swig every time Ramsay blurts out “Bloody hell!” in exasperation, not to mention all those carefully obscured expletives.
The objects of his derision here are the manager and owner — the officious Robert Dean II and thickly accented Ari Nikki, respectively — of the Juniper Hill Inn in Vermont, a historic venue brimming with history but, as Ramsay’s quizzing uncovers, hobbled by the outrageous practices of its management team. (We know they’re mortal sins, if only because of the spittle-speckled tirades they elicit.)
Before he can began the piano-music-accompanied process of restoring the inn to past glory, Ramsay must naturally dress down the offending parties — at one point calling Dean a “pompous (bleep)” who should “start growing a pair” — thus riding to the defense of their much-abused staff.
It’s all fairly predictable, though the show never completely addresses why Ramsay’s first room smells like raw sewage (he describes the odor more colorfully), or what’s ultimately done to rectify the problem. Until then, how’s that property up the road look, eh?
Fox clearly can’t get enough Ramsay, and keeping the “Hell” brand while swapping “Hotel” for “Kitchen” represents a low-risk extension. That said, the urgent music and frenetic tone grow tedious, even for those who embrace the snotty Brit as a sort of lifestyle Batman, dispensing culinary — and now inn-keeping — justice.
By reaching for extremes, “Hotel Hell” doesn’t teach us much about the hospitality industry, but this is a show with finite aims, and a host who can unleash righteous fury whenever the cameras roll.
The one really false note comes when Ramsay ostensibly becomes so exasperated that he storms out in disgust — more grand gesture, pretty obviously, than a genuine flash of anger. Besides, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the inn.