Totally 90s: “Dinner and a Movie”

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at a decade defined by its extremes. Rap versus grunge; mullets versus pixies; Saved by the Bell versus NYPD Blue – the 1990s had it all, and then some. Every other week I’ll be reminiscing about some facet of the 1990s, potentially drowning in some ill-forgotten nostalgia despite my best efforts otherwise. Serving as inspiration is an utterly ridiculous but nonetheless intriguing list created by Huffington Post — 1990 Things from the 90s to End the Nostalgia Once and for All – and I’ll be using a random number generator to pick each week’s “topic.” So don’t have a cow, man, if I ask you to talk to the hand while take this sweet ride through the 90s. Word to your mother. 

Week 19: HuffPost list #186 – “Dinner and a Movie”

There was a time in my life when I was absolutely obsessed with cooking shows. Granted, “Dinner and a Movie” was not one of those shows — might as well get that out of the way now — but roll with me here.

I think it all started in high school, maybe middle school…definitely somewhere in the teenage years, anyway. Saturday afternoons, after all the cartoons and monster movies, our PBS station showed several cooking shows, which were following by several home shows – This Old House, and such. For whatever reason, this little nucleus of TV that occurred before and right around dinner time became a “thing” in my house. There were three cooking shows that we almost always watched: The French Chef, The Frugal Gourmet, and Louisiana Cookin’. Each one presented cooking in very different manners, from the fancy rigors of Julia Child (The French Chef), to the simple stylings of Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet), to the down-home charisma of Justin Wilson (Louisiana Cookin‘)…

…and there are three names that, though firmly planted in my memory, I never thought I’d need to recall…

…they were all about food. Presenting food in ways that were interesting, fun, and accessible. For what it’s worth, it all stuck. Can’t say that I’m much of a cook today, at least not without my recipes, but it is something that I enjoy.

Fast forward to the 1990s and the advent of the TV Food Network, a cable channel devoted to all things food. Turn it on at any given time of day, and there someone was, cooking up a storm! My own stride with the network occurred during the Iron Chef and Good Eats era (right around 2000), which might explain why I never much sunk my teeth into “Dinner and a Movie.”

Ha! And you thought I was just going to wildly diverge into food memories! Well, there’s always the chance that could happen before this row is done, especially if sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese pop up on the Huff post list.


So while I didn’t regularly watch “Dinner and a Movie,” I did watch stuff on its host channel, TBS, so I was well aware of its premise. Each week two hosts — comedians Paul Gilmartin and Annabelle Gurwitch, as I best remember — cooked (with the help of an actual chef, I think) some sort of meal or dish that played off of that evening’s movie. I won’t sit here and pretend like I can recall any of the meal/movie pairings, but I know the show was on for several years, so it must have done something right. See for yourself; it seemed entertaining enough.

I don’t know much about Ms. Gurwitch, but Mr. Gilmartin, who I often heard on the Bob and Tom radio show, had some prime bits.

::snicker snicker::

With the overwhelming proliferation of cooking shows/movies/YouTube sites over the course of just the past few years, if nothing else, at least we’ll all head into the apocalypse knowing how to best season whatever foodstuffs manage to survive the fallout. As for “Dinner and a Movie,” watching clips of it now, it does rather reek of that innocent, basic cable, 1990s charm, in the same way that Pop-Up Video or Mystery Science Theater 3000 did. By superimposing something familiar over standard viewing fare, it seemed to elevate it ever so slightly into something more. Of course, I don’t know that a nicely cooked steak could help improve the enjoyment factor of a movie such as Angus, but at least somebody tried something. Because no one is going to watch Angus of one’s own volition, let’s be honest.

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