By Ken Tucker
January 04, 2010 at 01:36 PM EST

I didn’t eat the whole thing. I couldn’t swallow the basic premise of last night’s Worst Cooks in America on the Food Network. I had read interviews with the producers and on-camera chefs Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan saying they could spot ringers among the throngs that lined up to take part in this cooking reality series, but, sorry, I think they let a few in either by chance or on purpose, to spice things up.

When the guy chopped off the tips of the aparagus and served the stalks — that was when my already-dubious instincts about this show settled into this-is-too-ridiculous-to-be-believed mode.

The whole thing doesn’t work as a concept. These citizens are bad cooks, and they’re, what, proud of it? Ashamed? But shame doesn’t keep anyone off reality TV, so they’re all proud, I guess. And they’ll dramatically improve to win a prize of $25,000? Yeah, I bet I, too, could learn pretty fast to do more than open a can of tomato soup and sprinkle on some pre-shredded cheese, as one guy did here.

On a series such as Top Chef, the contestants have some knowledge of, some respect for, the judging chefs. But these people who claim not to know how to cook a chicken could have no idea where Burrell and MacMillan rank in the culinary world — like most of us at home, they have to take the word of the producers. The result was a lot of blank stares mixed with barely-disguised glee: “See, I’m really awful!” so many seemed to be saying. “Are you chefs gullible enough to believe I can’t chop an onion and carry me on to the next round?”

That’s drama? No, it’s not. For drama, I’ll wait til next week’s season premiere of Big Love.

Did you watch Worst Cooks in America? Did you like it more than I did?