Question: I'm curious to see what your opinion is of Top Design now that the season is well under way. As a huge Project Runway and Top Chef fan, I really wanted to like this series, but I think it's pretty bad. The designers are boring, the judges are boring, the hosts are boring, the challenges are boring. I don't see anyone with the charisma of Tim Gunn or Michael Kors, and I can't remember who the contestants are an hour after the show ends. Plus the judging at times has been incomprehensible. You can't tell what the judges are looking for or why one design is "in" and another "out." Plus, "See you later, decorator" has to rank as the lamest exit line, worse than Martha's goodbye letter on her version of The Apprentice. I can't even say that I'm learning something or getting ideas of my own because they show so little of the design process. How much more fun would it have been if instead of doing the "fake" rooms for those students, the show had gone into a college dorm and had ...
Ready, set, create something fabulous!
That in a glitzy nutshell is the gist, and the appeal, of a new wave of skill-based reality-competition shows that I have become completely addicted to on Bravo. They may be rigidly formulaic — from over-the-top casting to the soul-crushing (if not career-crushing) judging — but why mess with success?
It all started with the wildly entertaining and Emmy-nominated fashion-design contest Project Runway and continued into the kitchen with the succulent Top Chef, whose second-season finale this Wednesday will be followed by the newest promising contender: Top Design (premiering Jan. 31 at 11 pm/ET). This one pits interior designers against each other. Watch the fur,and paint, fly.
HGTV has covered this territo
Question: I just finished watching the next-to-last episode of HGTV's Design Star. As much as I wanted to give my vote to Alice (a fellow Louisiana Tech graduate), I had to vote for David (don't tell the alumni association!). His final design, much like all of his others, was simply stunning. The episode once again showed how great the judges are. They actually offer constructive criticism and genuine enthusiasm, unlike judges on some other reality programs. You said in an earlier column that as long as David was around, you'd tune in. So did you?
Answer: Yes, I did. And I'll be watching Sunday when they name the winner (based on America's votes, not the judges' assessments). I've enjoyed watching these designers rise to the creative challenges, but what really intrigued me as the show neared its end was how we were asked to judge the contestants not just on their design savvy but on their technique in front of the camera. Thankfully, David had sharpened his act in that regard, and he
Question: I finally jumped on the Project Runway train for this current season, and I'm loving it. Great premise, and I hope I can catch up on the first two seasons. My comment is more about Bravo's scheduling. I'm all for cable networks broadcasting episodes several times a week, but do you think they go overboard with Runway? My DVR shows Runway coming on 32 times this week — don't you think that's overkill? Another question: I'm looking forward (of course) to the new season of Battlestar Galactica and even Nip/Tuck, now that enough time has passed since that ludicrous Season 3 finale. Do you think premiering these shows during the start of the broadcast season may hurt them?
Answer: Without a doubt, Bravo goes overboard with the Project Runway replays — but at least you don't have to fret if you miss an episode. (I've become hooked on HGTV's Design Star, and they don't replay that one often enough — its original Sunday time slot is way overcrowded.) I'm not sure it's overkill,
Question: Have you checked out Design Star on HGTV? It seems to do a good job of balancing design (which most people watch the network for) with the drama of a competition. It certainly is more dramatic than Project Runway, and it seems like a subject more people can relate to.
Answer: Sacrilege! Nothing is more dramatic (in reality terms, anyway) than Runway! But I have taken surprisingly well to Design Star, partly because (like so much of HGTV's programming) you might actually be able to apply some of the contestants' methods to your own projects. In that regard, it is more relatable than Project Runway, but then again, the exotic challenges and talents displayed in Bravo's fashion-design competition are what make it so appealing ...
Question: I admit to watching Last Comic Standing and the very cheesy Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, and I caught Design Star last night, but overall, I wouldn't miss reality shows if they weren't on. When will this trend die? I know they are cheap to produce and apparently have an audience, but I feel like my eyes will fall out from just watching the ads for Big Brother. It's all so horrible. I would rather they program reruns, second-run movies or documentary-type fare than this junk.
Answer: I'm guessing you're responding to my summer-reality-roundup Dispatch, written after spending an entire week catching up with many (though certainly not all) of the summer's reality shows. Believe me, I won't make that mistake again, at least not until next summer's glut. The point I was trying to make in that column was that, as always, there is good and bad in every form of TV, and that includes reality. I'm actually looking forward to new episodes each week of Project Runway, So You Think You