Spike TV renews 'Bar Rescue' series

Bar renovator Jon Taffer
Gordon Ramsey had a great idea for "reality" programming when he came up with "Kitchen Nightmares." Take a failing restaurant business, give it a good shake, and, in most instances, make it a success.

The trouble is, Gordon Ramsey. The volatile, foul-mouthed celebrity chef relies too much on screams, insults, put-downs and manufactured drama to push his show along. Luckily, there is an alternative: "Restaurant Impossible," hosted by a pumped-up Brit named Robert Irvine.

While he is forceful with the owners and staff of the failing restaurants, he is rarely demeaning to them, and never foul mouthed. He's much more entertaining, his show more realistic -- except for the cliche of made-up pressure concerning deadlines -- and you don't feel as if you need a shower when you're finished watching an episode.

Now, along comes Jon Taffer (right) with "Bar Rescue." The show, which has just been picked up by Spike TV for a 10-episode second season, started off well for a cable show and has steadily gained audience. Last Sunday, against televised NFL competition, it drew 1.3 million viewers, nearly doubling the July 17 premiere viewership of 742,000.

"Bar Rescue" is a bit of a misnomer. What Taffer, a noted New York hospitality industry guru, deals with is full-service eating-and-drinking establishments. And, his shows deal with the food as well as the drinks, along with service, decor and marketing. His on-camera persona is alternately gruff, encouraging, teaching and, ultimately, decisive. Another altogether satisfactory alternative to Ramsay.

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