TV | Ken Tucker's TV

'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution' season premiere review: Crappy burgers and sugary drinks, we love 'em! Go home, Jamie!

Jamie Oliver tried to launch a new season of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, but he was met with some stiff resistance. The unintended message he delivered was one from West Coast America: Don’t take our cheeseburgers away from us, you pushy Brit!

Shoved out of the L.A. school system early on in the hour (if he thought the bureaucracy in Huntington, W. Va., was tough, he had not reckoned with an L.A. school board), Oliver took to the streets.

He went to an L.A. burger joint to try and win a convert, a site on which to practice his good-nutrition ideas. As someone who admires and partakes of Los Angeles’ many fine independent fast-food establishments when I visit, I was ambivalent as he tried the patience of the owner of Patra’s, a good-looking L.A. burger joint (I haven’t eaten there). Oliver tried to convince the guy to re-do his menu with healthier items that would cost this small-businessman more money, which cost would be passed on to his customers. Can you blame the man for not wanting to be used as Jamie Oliver’s guinea pig, and to lose business while Oliver passes off yogurt smoothies as milk shakes?

Oliver is great at the grand gestures. The climax to the first hour was to have an empty school bus (“this icon of trust,” as Oliver put it) filled with the amount of white sugar consumed by students in the L.A. school system in a week. The sugar – 57 tons of it – overflowed the bus. It made a great impression… on the 20 people who showed up.

But his showboating gestures don’t make for coherent arguments, either with school officials or, ultimately, with TV viewers, I would guess.

What did you think of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? Does hyping health work?

UPDATE: Some of you seem to have interpreted the headline on this post as expressing my opinion of Oliver? It was intended to be sarcastic, to represent the sentiments that have met Oliver’s efforts: The L.A. school board shown here would certainly like Jamie to “go home,” don’t you think?

Twitter: @kentucker

Originally posted April 12 2011 — 9:05 PM EDT

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