Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge: Review

If you enjoy SyFy’s Face Off, you will likely enjoy the latest spin-off, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. Contestants must conceptualize, fabricate, and mechanize full-size creature puppets under insane time constraints – you know the usual. The host, judges, and contestants aren’t particularly charismatic, but the contests’ work is definitely interesting and one can only imagine how much better their creatures would look if they had 3 extra days. Or a heck even full week! The point is to see the process of imagination at work and this is where the show is most successful.

However, it’s also peculiar that the editors of these shows insist on creating drama, underdogs, and villains to tell a companion narrative along with the actual competition. But instead of all this “reality” (the contestants feelings, opinions about each other, emotional backstories) I’m much more interested in how they make these cool creatures. Yes, I know it’s not a “how-to” show, but why not throw in a few tutorials along the way? It’s like being backstage at a magic show and never seeing how any of the tricks work. It’s kind of a bummer, but I guess there’s not enough of audience who wants to learn anything. As a Halloween fan who is just getting into prop making, this show gives me some inspiration but like eating a bag of potato chips when you’re hungry, there’s no real satisfaction.


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