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‘Feed the Beast’ review: David Schwimmer drama has engaging premise, but details are unsatisfactory

John Doman, left, Elijah Jacob and David Schwimmer

John Doman, left, Elijah Jacob and David Schwimmer in "Feed the Beast," a new series premiering on AMC. Credit: AMC / Ali Paige Goldstein

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday at 10:05 p.m. on AMC


WHAT IT’S ABOUT Tommy (David Schwimmer) is a sommelier and wholesale wine salesman, when his childhood pal Dion (British actor Jim Sturgess) — a brilliant chef, just released from prison — arrives with a proposal to open a restaurant in the Bronx.

One problem: A vicious mobster known as the Tooth Fairy (Michael Gladis) wants what Dion owes him. To those who don’t pay up, the Tooth Fairy exacts retribution, in the form of pulled teeth.

MY SAY “Feed the Beast” is Lionsgate’s first series for AMC since “Mad Men” so there’s a touch of TV history with this and even symbolism. For the special occasion, a pair of well-regarded actors have been engaged, along with a veteran showrunner — “Dexter’s” Clyde Phillips, who also closed out “Nurse Jackie’s” run following the departure of the original creators. New York City meanwhile takes a starring role, and you can never go wrong there.

So what went wrong here? For starters, the details — or those gremlins that somehow dislodge the flow of a story, or bring it to a fatal stop. For example, has there ever been or will there ever be a self-respecting New York mobster with the street name “The Tooth Fairy”? It brings to mind a sprite on gossamer wings, bearing a nickel (or quarter, factoring in inflation) — not someone with a pair of pliers and an incisor fetish. Couldn’t the guy have been called (say) The Bicuspid Bandit, or the Cavity Killer? I’d even settle for The Dentist.

Next gremlin/quibble: Sturgess’ Bronx accent. Not that there’s such a thing as a typical “Bronx accent” any more than a Queens or Brooklyn one, but Sturgess’ attempt sounds like the unholy union of Lawn Guyland with Merseyside.

Gremlins aside, as a series, “Feed the Beast” does in fact have an engaging premise: A couple of childhood pals want to open a four-star restaurant in the Bronx, but first have to navigate grief, the past, family dynamics and tooth-extracting mobsters. What ultimately appears missing from that premise is promise — the promise of something deeper, richer or more dramatic. Just to keep our restaurant metaphors straight, this newcomer does a competent job of setting the table, but when the plates arrive, there’s nothing on them.

BOTTOM LINE Toothless.

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