Thursday, September 23, 2010

Runaway Runway

After a really promising start, with episodes 3 and 5 looking like classics, this season of Project Runway has started to veer off the rails again. Hopefully, tonight's episode turns things around, but let's take a look at exactly why these past few weeks just haven't made it work.

Episode 6: You Can Totally Wear That Again

The Michael Costello drama in this challenge just came off very produced and unappealing. I also think the win was bullshit. His repurposed bridesmaid's dress was poorly constructed, if somewhat editorial. Beats me why Mondo, who won the most votes from the public, didn't win. His styling was off, sure, but whose isn't every once in a while? Yes, some of these designers are expert stylists. Gretchen, in particular, is amazing at it. But this is a design competition, and looking at the design alone, Mondo was the clear winner. Oh, and Michael Drummond sent out a horrendous look that should've gotten him sent home. Peach's was just a hair worse in the judges' minds.

Shoulda Won: Mondo
Shoulda Been Out: Michael Drummond

Episode 7: What's Mine is Yours
A resortwear challenge where the designers had to work on each other's looks sounds like it'd be a lot of fun, but other than a little "Ivy throws Michael Drummond under the bus" drama, it all came off very stale and overdone. Not the greatest episode of this show ever. April won for a very sexy, almost lingerie-esque look, though Andy's was really the standout. Similarly, Casanova went home for something that wasn't even resortwear, whereas Ivy went home for something that was a heaping helping of dull. It was "sister-wives go to a resort" fashion, which isn't really fashion at all.

Shoulda Won: Andy
Shoulda Been Out: Ivy

Episode 8: A Rough Day on the Runway
Damn, what a messy episode. The designs that the contestants put out ranged from the boring to the contemptible, as though they didn't understand the challenge. Then again, according to Tim Gunn, maybe they didn't understand it: this clip is a pretty severe damnation of the Project Runway production team. It's difficult to even judge this episode considering how scatterbrained it all seemed, but two things: first, Ivy's look without the outerwear was the clear winner. However, the outerwear, as ill-conceived a twist as it is, did indeed apply, so Mondo's amazing purple houndstooth look was head-and-shoulders above the others. All the other looks were...meh. Second, those judges were bitchy. I guess all the tension around this challenge just led everyone to get a little pissy, but that runway criticism was just ugly. (One thing: Lifetime producers? Stop trying to play that the designers are going to kill each other. Although I must thank you for giving me my new favorite sound bite: "The workroom is a WAR ROOM!")

Shoulda Won: Mondo (with the twist, without it the winner would be Ivy)
Shoulda Been Out: Andy

What will happen in tonight's episode? I'd say we're looking at an elimination for either Valerie or Christopher, both of whom have been playing it entirely far too safe this season. Ivy and Michael Costello could both easily go home, though the former really brought her A-game last week and the latter is turning into the judges' pet this season. One thing's for sure: you can bet Gretchen won't be going home any time soon. She's not a perfect designer, but despite her personality defects, she's a pretty great one.

Rapid Reviews: Easy Catfish Town

Rapid Reviews time! Let's check in to see what movies deserved my quick judgment this week!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tim Gunn is Ashamed of Your Runway Performance

If you missed last week's episode of Project Runway, you missed what was easily the most-entertaining episode of a a series many have written off as yesterday's news in a long, long time.

Haven't been watching this season? For shame! Get yourself over to and catch yourself up. The challenges this season have been great, from the initial "make a garment out of another contestant's garment" challenge to the unconventional materials "party dress" challenge to last week's 6 vs. 6 mega-team challenge that inspired some of the best drama I've seen on television in years.

Luckily, all this seems to be paying off, as Lifetime is recording major ratings for the show, inspiring many to call it a return to the show's watercooler days of the first few seasons. Have you not been watching? Well then, let's catch you up.

Episode 1: And Sew It Begins
Corny pun episode titles! How I missed you. The season premiere's challenge was to pick one garment out of your suitcase, trade that with another designer, then use their garment to create a brand new garment. This isn't completely original, as they've had "use the clothes off your back" challenges before, but forcing them to trade was a nice twist. However, the designs were trash. None of them were too impressive, and yet the judges chose to only eliminate one designer, despite their power that week to eliminate multiple. Gretchen (who also answers to "That Bitch") won the challenge with a dress that wasn't anything special but then again, it was probably the best on the runway. McKell was sent home (completely undeservingly, honestly), and train wrecks like Casanova and Jason stayed for, you guessed it, their personalities. Love reality TV.

Shoulda Won: Gretchen
Shoulda Been Out: Casanova and Jason (an argument could be made for Ivy, too)

Episode 2: Larger Than Life
Also known as the moment everyone on this planet turned against Gretchen. In a Project Runway first, the designer who won the first challenge also won the second challenge, as Gretchen took this win for her jumpsuit (gag). The challenge was to create a look for the Marie Claire woman (Marie Claire, of course, referring to the sponsor publication of Project Runway) that would be featured on a billboard in Times Square in New York City. Personally, my win would have gone to either Mondo, who channelled Mary Tyler Moore in his look, or Valerie, though her exquisite look probably wouldn't have translated to a billboard. However, Gretchen won it again, somewhat undeservingly, and Jason, very deservingly went home. Nicholas also went home, which I would discuss more if I could remember who he was. I can't. Whoops.

Shoulda Won: Mondo
Shoulda Been Out: Jason

Episode 3: It's a Party
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AT PARTY GLITTERS! Tim Gunn prefers wooly balls! What a fun challenge, to make garments out of party favors, a challenge that seemed like a repeat but really wasn't. The challenge had a great spirit, which is unusual these days on Lifetime, and the drama was, of course, amped up. Gretchen appeared to be headed for yet another win, which, of course, would have been boring, only to have Andy earn the win for his absolutely fantastic black dress made out of ribbon that did not at all look made out of ribbon. As judge Michael Kors pointed out, it looked like a dress Rihanna or host Heidi Klum would wear. He rightfully won, though Michael Costello, soon to become a loathed contestant by the other cast members, produced a great red dress that went unnoticed. Casanova, however, produced an absolute train wreck that not even a drag queen would have loved. And that's saying a lot. However, he's a character, so he was saved again in favor of Sarah, a good designer having an off week.

Shoulda Won: Andy
Shoulda Been Out: Casanova

Episode 4: Hats Off to You
Fun hats + not fun garments + the wrong winner - much drama = a snoozer of an episode. Michael Drummond should have taken the win, but Michael Costello won it for a horribly weak entry. And Kristin went home for not being able to translate an orchid hat into a good dress. Not my favorite episode of the season.

Shoulda Won: Michael Drummond
Shoulda Been Out: Kristin

Episode 5: There IS An "I" in Team
This episode will be remembered as a masterpiece of reality television that hearkened back to this show's glory days. Stuck in a mega-team challenge, six versus six, Gretchen had a meltdown on the runway, one team all dogpiled on Michael Costello as being talentless (though he had immunity and couldn't be eliminated), and the underdogs won, with the underdoggiest of all, Casanova, taking home a completely deserving win. (And I would've eliminated him twice already! So surprising, and in a great way.) The key moment, however, was after A.J.'s undeserving elimination (sure, his garment was bad, but not worse than Ivy's), Tim Gunn scolded the losing team for their behavior on the runway and all but called Gretchen a bitch. To her face. It was a brilliant moment, and reminded the audience exactly why Tim Gunn is so beloved. He is the star of this show, and we should all be honored to get the chance to see him week after week. You think I'm kidding? Go watch that wooly balls segment again. Or the smackdown. Seriously, they're both on YouTube, and they're masterpiece moments.

Shoulda Won: Casanova
Shoulda Been Out: Ivy (but Gretchen made a good case for herself with that meltdown on the runway)

I haven't watched episode six yet, but it sounds like it was another deliciously dramatic episode featuring the bitch twins Ivy and Gretchen. If you haven't been watching, guys, seriously, catch up. Project Runway has transformed itself yet again into the best show on television. And that includes a great season of Top Chef and a brilliant one of Mad Men. It's just that good.