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Emmys: Will 'Top Chef' win again for reality competition show?

August 23, 2011 | 11:59 am

"Top Chef" at the Emmys in 2010

The battle for reality competition show yielded the most dramatic Emmy victory of last year when "Top Chef" zoomed past "The Amazing Race," which had won seven years in a row. What will happen next? If our forum posters are correct, it's a close fight among "Top Chef," "The Amazing Race" and "Project Runway," which is overdue to win. Below are descriptions of the sample episodes submitted to judges. At bottom: comments from our forums.

"American Idol" ("Season 10 Finale" -- May 25, 2011)
The 10th season finale features duets between the "Idol" contestants and stars such as Kirk Franklin, Gladys Knight, Judas Priest and Tony Bennett. Lady Gaga and Beyonce perform before the winner is announced: 17-year-old country crooner Scotty McCreery.

"The Amazing Race" ("You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win" -- April 10, 2011)
The seven remaining teams race through Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges River in India. The first challenge directs teams to locate holy men in order to arrange clues into a sentence, followed by a challenge that requires them either to make 50 manure patties or deliver hay bales. It ends in the elimination of father-daughter team Ron and Christina. The Onion A.V. Club's next-day recap described the installment as "your basic meat-and-potatoes 'Amazing Race' episode."

"Dancing With the Stars" ("Episode 1204" -- April 11, 2011)
Classical-music week, during which the contestants perform either a waltz or a paso doble routine. Chelsea Kane received top marks with partner Mark Ballas, followed closely by Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, and Hines Ward and Kym Johnson. It's the week after Kirstie Alley's talked-about spill on the dance floor, and she experiences another mishap, losing her shoe in the middle of her waltz, but she nevertheless receives praise from the judges.

"Project Runway" ("There's a Pattern Here" -- September 30, 2010)
The contestants must design fabric based on meaningful moments in their lives, leading to surprise reunions with their loved ones and an emotional revelation about one of the contestants, Mondo, who announces that he is HIV-positive, first in an interview and then to fellow contestants as he describes the inspiration for his fabric design. Valerie is eliminated from the competition.

"So You Think You Can Dance" ("Ep. 726/727A" -- August 12, 2010)
The seventh season finale featured encore performances of noteworthy dances from the past season, including Kent & Neil's "Damn Yankees" routine and a Bollywood-inspired number with Billy and Robert. The final encore performance is a tribute to an injured contestant, whose part during the dance is taken over by special guest Ellen DeGeneres. At the end of the two-hour episode, Lauren is revealed as the big winner.

"Top Chef" ("Give Me Your Huddled Masses" -- March 2, 2011)
The episode begins with a Quickfire challenge in which the remaining five contestants must prepare meals using only what they can find on a ferry to Ellis Island, including hot dogs and nachos. The elimination challenge requires them to make dishes based on their ancestry, with the help of a geneologist and a group of surprise guests: the contestants' families. It is revealed that two of the contestants, Antonia and Mike, are actually distant cousins, and though Antonia wins the challenge, none of the contestants are eliminated because the quality of food is so high.

Quotes from Envelope posters:

PianoMann: "I was sincerely hoping 'Top Chef' would be smart enough to submit 'Give Me Your Huddled Masses' and am so thrilled that they did!"

Atypical: "So 'Idol didn't submit Casey's save episodes, and 'Project Runway' didn't submit 'There's an 'I' in Team.' Sad. I don't think a results show will do the trick for 'Idol' or 'So You Think You Can Dance.'"

RBurton: "['Project Runway's' submission 'There's a Pattern Here' is] beautiful and moving regardless of if you're familiar with the talents … I think 'Project Runway' and 'Top Chef' are our main competitors here with the slight edge going to the former."

iskolar: "It's 'Amazing Race' vs. 'Top Chef' again … With how overrated ['American Idol'] was this season, I'm glad they messed up their submission."

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: The triumphant "Top Chef" team at last year's Emmys. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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