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I may not be a Ramones fan, but I'm willing to like them for Tony
on August 19, 2009
Season Four of No Reservations is where I think the show really started to pick up steam on the entertainment side of the house. Whereas the show used to revolve simply around Tony going to various locations and eating food, this is where the Travel Channel really started figuring out that Anthony Bourdain is probably their biggest star asset.
If you're a food show purist, you will probably be a little annoyed with the increased frequency of the "Tony, go hurt yourself," skits in the various locations. Season Four includes the zip lining and cave diving bits as well as the Greek shipwreck party and the night out at Kilauea. The entire episode focusing on Anthony going back into the kitchen at Les Halles will probably irk you too as there is little to no actual food tasting being done.
If you're a Bourdain fan, this will most likely be one of your favorite seasons; probably because of the Les Halles episode (and lets be honest, Eric Ripert makes everything better). This season is a very introspective one and it seems like Tony's really taking the time to figure himself out during the course of the season. You see a lot less of the old "A Cook's Tour" and "No Reservations: seasons 1 and 2" Bourdain - the smoking, drinking, swearing version of Tony. Yes, he still swears a lot, but as he made his transition into fatherhood, the mantle of responsibility was almost palatable (no pun intended). This led to some great personal moments in the Uruguay episode with his brother Chris, trying to reconnect with their family's history. Serious items aside, there's the great Southwest road trip episode with Alice Cooper and the always entertaining Ted Nugent.
If you're a foodie, there is so much to drool over in this season. There is a cavalcade of culinary giants showing up in these episodes: the before mentioned Eric Ripert, Masaharu Morimoto (Your Iron Chef!), Marco Pierre White, and he finally buries the hatchet with Emeril Lagasse. The entire episode on Spain is nothing but pure, unadulterated food porn. As always, Tony's love of Japan really shows through every time he visits the country, and this time is no different.
One of the things that makes No Reservations such a great show to watch is the fact that you're not just sitting there watching Tony eat multi-hundred dollar meals, but instead he's getting down at street level, attempting to eat what the locals eat. If you're lucky enough to have Tony visit an area or country where you grew up in an episode, you come away thinking that he has somehow managed to truly capture a little bit of your hometown. Now imagine that he's doing that for each and every location that he visits and you get an inkling of why this show is so great.