Last Night on TV: David Copperfield Showed Up on Top Chef

By  · Published on March 12th, 2016

Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next day.

Last night on TV, we check in with Top Chef as it heads to Las Vegas and Portlandia as it welcomes guest star Kevin Corrigan.

Top Chef

Just when you thought it was the season finale! I guess it was just an illusion or trick or whatever that this week’s episode, “Magic Hour,” was treated as part of the conclusion of Top Chef: California. Sorry, Marjorie and Isaac, you thought you were at the end. You thought you were finalists. But then a magician came along and pulled the truth out of his hat. You guys were only semi-finalists. Oh, and you have to do the most awkward challenge of your life to attempt to make it to the real showdown.

The three cheftestants leftover from last week – the other being Jeremy – arrived in Las Vegas, where they met up with redeemed and revived Last Chance Kitchen champ Amar for a Quickfire Challenge inspired by playing card suits and social hierarchy – because in Sin City you have to acknowledge both gambling and the dichotomy between the very wealthy (royals) and peasants. Okay, this was sort of clever. And it gave all four advantages and disadvantages that made their dishes all the better as a result.

But then David Copperfield came along and made everything terrible. Any other time in a season, something like this episode’s magic show Elimination Challenge would have been fine. In fact, I kinda wish we could have seen Phillip do something involving illusion and performance. But I mostly felt bad for Marjorie, as she’s not a very outgoing chef and this was just too much outside her comfort zone. I think this far in they need to be trusted to show themselves and their food, not to try to be what they’re not.

Also, I don’t believe chefs need to be performers now, despite what Padma stated in the intro to the challenge. You know Tom isn’t like that, and you could tell that he just hated the challenge. But he also just seemed uncomfortable the whole episode for some reason. Maybe he hates Vegas and also magic shows. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t have made the finale if he was made to do some sort of illusion food prep gimmick, either. Most great chefs wouldn’t have. Oh well, I guess I do love Amar the most of the four anyway so I’m glad he won it and is headed to the real finale with Jeremy.


If there’s anything this show has proven to get brilliantly outside of Portland hipsterism, it’s feminism. So how exciting to get a full episode with Toni and Candace targeting the trendiness of feminism. With Kevin Corrigan as the guest star! There were so many brilliant lines from Toni (Carrie Brownstein) in “First Feminist City, like “This big green money is a big green penis! And it’s not going to impregnate me with its ideas!” and “You can be a feminist and still like sucking a little D.”

I don’t want to knock the episode, because Brownstein in particular was amazing in her anger about Portland and their Women & Women First store being tourist spots for both middle Americans and foreigners alike to wrongly celebrate feminism. But it was an episode that had a great point and overall joke yet wasn’t minutely as funny as I’d hoped beyond the mere idea of addressing the matter. Maybe there aren’t a lot of laugh out loud jokes to make about the co-opting of feminism, or maybe last year’s “Doug Becomes a Feminist” already covered as much of the hilarity to mine from that territory.

What did you watch last night?

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.