Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars

This blog really got started with Project Runway, so it's only right that I do a review of the "biggest and best" season.

Back in the day, I spun this off of a few of my other blogs (yes, I have lots of blogs, I like compartmentalizing) because I was doing weekly recaps of Project Runway episodes based on the fashion. You can see them in the tag if you want to go back, though I never managed to finish an actual full season. That's something I'm going to try to fix for next season.

There are two reasons I didn't do episode recaps of this season. One, because I've been so busy with my film and other projects that I just couldn't spare the time. Two, because it bored me to death.

I don't know what it was. There was nothing specific to point to, because it wasn't like they changed the formula. This time I actually knew everybody going in, so I didn't spend the first five episodes going "Wait, who is she again?"

A lot of the personalities were chosen well, they were over the top and known for being good on camera. Between Austin, Kenley, Michael, and Anthony it should have been one of the most fun seasons yet.

But it wasn't. The challenges weren't any better or worse than other seasons. The judges were pretty good, and I've been sick of Michael and Nina and wanting a change for a while anyway. The host did a pretty good job, though I still like Heidi's enthusiasm better. Tim Gunn was clearly a better mentor, and it's insane to try to do ProjRun without him. But it wasn't like any of those pieces of the puzzle were so out of whack. All of those things were still done well, the production company did their job.

Maybe it's because they had all done this before, so it was harder to throw them. Maybe they were more reserved and aware of how they came across on camera so the footage was harder to find things that were raw and realistic. Maybe it's because most of the "characters" have become actual characters.

Or maybe it's because throwing in people we already know and doing challenges we've (mostly) already seen (with a twist) a viewer has time to sit back and realize that the format isn't that fresh and innovative any more. What was really new and different when the show premiered so many seasons ago is not only old hat now, but reality competitions have evolved past that format now. We're on to a new style now, and Project Runway is actually not on the cutting edge anymore. One day you're in, the next day you're out.

When Top Chef did an all-stars season, it quickly became my favorite season of the entire show. Partially because I got to see more of Carla. But it still had the energy of the regular show. I think part of Project Runway's problem was taking itself too seriously. They were thinking they were haute couture when they're really off the rack. Where were the really off the wall and memorable outfits? Where was the cornhusk dress? Where was the Santino like insanity? Nobody took real risks, and everybody was so serious about how artsy they were.

Which meant they were boring. I can't even remember Rami being on the show. I know he was, I remember him being there. I think he even won a challenge, but I can't remember. I don't remember Anthony contributing really anything, which makes me really sad because he is probably one of my favorite designers from all the years of the show.

In the end, the entire thing seemed like a recitation rather than a new design.

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