Now, we know she's a great TV host -- an Emmy-nominated one, in fact -- but is Padma Lakshmi funny or interesting enough to be a sitcom star? Apparently, somebody at NBC thinks she is, since they're developing a half-hour comedy with her. Myself, I didn't even believe her when she sat on a stoop and enjoyed Hardee's Western Bacon Thickburger, but hey, kudos to Padma for succeeding in an industry so notoriously difficult for drop-dead gorgeous women to break into.
Our only problem -- their concept, which seems to be about a single woman working in the culinary world, seems pretty formulaic, as does their proposed title, Single Serving. Don't they know that cooking comedies (Kitchen Confidential, Emeril) are doomed to fail? Taking for granted that she can act, which we're still not too sure about, we've got some other ideas for series starring Padma that may fare better.
With Lakshmi's icy-calm demeanor and her emotionless, monotone voice, the first thing we think of when we see her is "robot." Summer Glau's Cameron on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is more playful, and she's been programmed to kill. We say cast Padma as an experimental robotic chef who prepares meals for a wealthy executive, but who may have more in mind than dinner. Is she subtly sabotaging his relationships? Is he really falling in love with a robot? The "will-they-or-won't they" plot carries itself out over several seasons, culminating in a landmark court case about whether one can marry a kitchen implement.
Law and Hors D'Oeuvres: Criminally Delicious
Lakshmi plays a detective in the NYPD who came to the department via the world of cooking, guided by some tragedy in her past. Paired up with a cop who lives solely on fast food, Lakshmi finds herself drawing on her culinary skills to help solve crimes, even as she tries to convince her partner to broaden his gastronomic horizons.
A celebrity chef, played by Lakshmi, has just finished her long-awaited cookbook based on her life around food. But then she gets in a horrible car accident, putting her into a coma and burning the book's sole manuscript to a crisp! When she awakens, she doesn't remember who she was, but a representative from her publisher is there to inform her that she has six months to deliver the manuscript, since the advance was already spent to cover her hospital fees. Now Lakshmi must not only remember who she is, she has to remember what her recipes are, and every episode sees her revisiting a different part of her life, triggering memories of who she is and what recipe she was going to include.
In sunny Miami, Lakshmi is the owner and head chef of an underperforming restaurant, but she's a chef with a secret -- she's also a serial killer. Until now, she's always kept her work and her personal life separate, but when a shipment of meat turns up spoiled right before an important dinner party she's managed to land, Lakshmi has to improvise or close her doors forever. Luckily, her flavorful meat is the hit of the night, and business skyrockets. Now, Lakshmi has to continue to bring her work home with her, harvesting only the evilest residents of Miami to serve to its powerful elite.
In the future, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable, and a fleet of ships laden with humanity is traveling the stars, trying to find a planet where they can settle down and restart civilization. But the amount of food they have on board is limited, so it falls to their head chef, Padma Lakshmi, and her team of paramilitary sous-chefs to explore the surface of the planets they pass and collect organic matter (plants, animals) that can be turned into food. Since these are uninhabitable planets, that may include giant killer shark meat from an all-water planet, or "fruits" from a tree-like organism on a gas-covered planet. Safely back on board, Lakshmi must make the food into something edible and (hopefully) tasty, so their voyage can continue.
For more from Television Without Pity:
- "Top Chef": Where Are They Now?
- "American Idol": Who Should Replace Paula?
- The Sexy Sci-Fi Star That Can Save Television
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