Thursday, February 23, 2012

TV Review: Project Runway All Stars

Project Runway is one of the few reality shows I've stuck with, and it's probably my favorite, closely followed by Top Chef and Survivor. If you haven't kept up with Project Runway All Stars, let me tell you a bit about what you're missing. And what you're not.

What's Good:

The Talent

The always-subtle Austin
As soon as the all star edition was announced, I imagined a stellar line-up of designers due for a second chance at winning and of course, drama. What I love about Project Runway drama is it's rooted in fierce talent. Everyone here is skilled - no question. I'm continually amazed by the creativity and drive of the contestants. Not only do the assignments require forward-thinking concepts, but the contestants have to actually sew them. No handing off work to a low wage seamstress; they do it all.

The cast for All Stars is delicious: a mix of runner-ups and mid-way cast-offs: Micheal the crier, bitchy retro-loving drama queens Mila and Kenley, southern diva Anthony, and Austin Scarlett. Austin Scarlett is man you cannot invent. He is too original and bizarre, although surprisingly charming when he wants to be. The designers are up to their old tricks: Mila's still trying to convince everyone she's more than colorblocking and mod (which I love), Kenley thinks all her designs are winners, Jerrel and Mondo both turn out solid designs but Jerrel is usually overshadowed, while Mondo gets the film editing treatment of a man wronged and seeking revenge (probably true, given how season 8 turned out). It's a good cast.

The Guest Judges

Moi? A guest judge?!
The best judges add to the challenges and enhance the runway critique. In the second episode, Miss Piggy is the celebrity judge. MISS PIGGY. This delighted my Muppet-loving self, but even better was an entire hour of hearing the designers discuss her like she was a real person. "I understand Miss Piggy," Austin says with complete seriousness. Michael explains how she's a fashion icon.

She is made of felt. She is a puppet. No one says this.

What's Not So Good

Different Host/Mentor/Regular Season Judges

a.k.a. NO TIM GUNN.
Tim Gunn is no where to be seen and his presence is missed. It's gotta be disappointing for the cast. No one else can attempt a 'gather round like Tim.

No Heidi, either. This doesn't bother me nearly as much as missing The Gunn, particularly because I haven't quite forgiven her poor judgement in pushing Gretchen as the season 8 winner over Mondo. Michael Kors is to blame for that too, and I questioned the integrity of the show after the judges showered praise on Gretchen's dowdy hippie fare. By the way, Kors is out for the All Stars edition, as well as Nina Garcia (I'm surprised this installment is still sponsored by Marie Claire). Instead, we get Isaac Mizrahi, who shows up most of the time, but when even he doesn't care enough, an array of random costume directors and "fashion mavens" fill in.

Shorter Running Time

The format is back to 1 hour rather than the 90 minutes PR has run since it moved from Bravo to Lifetime two seasons ago. After getting used to more time for interactions between contestants, more Tim Gunn consultations (not needed here), the hour format feels truncated.

I can't resist keeping up with my favorite contestants, but something is missing with this edition. The returning cast deserved the full Project Runway treatment: regular host, Gunn, the 90 minute format. Instead it feels... off the rack.

(Sorry, that was inexcusable)

Are you watching? What do you think?


  1. I don't know if I'm watching, but I do like Miss Piggy, though.:)

  2. Oh, I know. I get VERY excited for Muppet anything.

  3. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..


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