As is the case with most "all star" seasons of reality television, the latest installment of Project Runway All Stars has a few qualified candidates and a bunch of folks who were simply more than available. And, like the various "all star" treatments out there, Project Runway's second outing falls trap to the notion that trying to mix and match old seasons doesn't necessarily make for an attractive new one.
That's not to say there weren't legitimate Project Runway all stars to be excited to see again during the Season 2 premiere last night. What happened to Andrae? Funny you ask, because he was there! Along with fellow runner-up talents like Uli, Anthony Ryan, and Laura Kathleen. (My money is on Uli taking this whole thing. Much like how Mondo nabbed the Season 1 All Star victory to make up for the loss during his season, Uli will likely do the same here.) There's the contestants there for sheer entertainment value like Casanova (who already provided some Soup-worthy quips), Gay Ryan Reynolds AKA Josh, and the villain everybody love to hate to hate to hate, Wendy Pepper. Then there's Suede and Kayne and Peach. (Names have not been changed.)
The problem with both incarnations of Lifetime's Project Runway, both the regular season and now the new All Stars, is that even though you can dress it up the same as the original Bravo show, the fabric of the series has fallen apart at the seams since the network swap. (Come on, who doesn't like a series of fashion puns?! Oh, right, everyone.) Project Runway started to lose its edge when the talent pool not only dwindled substantially as the seasons went on and the challenges were anything but challenging. Case in point: last night's challenge.
After host Carolyn Murphy (who is lovely enough, but is no Heidi Klum as far as hosts go) told the contestants they'd be paired off into dreaded teams, the designers assembled to take on their first "challenge": creating a line with the theme of "attitude". Isn't all high fashion about attitude? How would this be considered a challenge to a fashion designer? Making clothes out of plants and scrap metal and random items at a grocery store, that is a challenge.
Nevertheless, they were split into two teams with Team 1 consisting of Kayne, Uli, Casanova, Ivy, Althea, and picked-last-for-kickball Wendy, and Team 2 had Josh, Peach, Laura, Emilio, Andrae, and Suede. The teams were given the chance to pick a word for the attitude challenge and Team 1 went with "confident" and Team 2 picked "bold". You know since bold and daring are things designers rarely strive for, this was going to be a real stretch.
Given $250 per person and the looming threat that the person with the worst design on the losing team, they all got to work. As well they should have considering how much is at stake this season. Project Runway may be painfully boring, but they sure do keep it interesting for the stars. This year the winner gets to be the Contributing Editor of Marie Claire for a year without all the fun of having to go to J-School, an all-expense paid trip around the world to the various Fashion Weeks, studio space, and $150,000.
If you're a long-running — and at this point, suffering — you know the drill from here on. The designers visit Mood, they eyeball and tear apart each others' progress in the work room, someone makes a blanket statement ("I'm not here to be safe, I'm here to win", "You're only as good as your weakest link"), their models come in, they get ready for the runway show, they put on the runway show, the judges judge, a winner is declared, and a loser is sent packing. Of course, there are a few key differences with regular Project Runway and All Stars in that, like the host, there's an entirely different set of judges (Michael Kors and your totally bats**t analogies for outfits, where art thou?) and instead of the heartwarming Tim Gunn, there's Tilda Swinton doppleganger Joanna Coles.
The judges — composed of Murphy, Coles, Georgina Chapman, and Isaac Mizrahi (who made my favorite declaration ever last night when he pondered "I wonder about shorts anymore!"), along with guest judge, the aforementioned Mondo — watched on as Team Bold showed a series of not terribly bold black-and-blue outfits and Team Confident had a slightly more confident black-and-lace collection. And, despite having Kayne and his super hero gone awry outfit, Team Confident emerged the winner. Team member Anthony Ryan became Season 2's first champ thanks to a chic number with a sexy surprise lace detail in the back (hey, the guy's still got it), while athletic wear enthusiast Peach was understandably the first to get the boot because of her unflattering, long-sleeved disaster of a dress.
All in all, it was a pretty dull episode of Project Runway All Stars. Does the season have potential? Perhaps. Based on the trailer, it seems like Ivy is hell-bent on giving Wendy a run for her money as insufferable TV villain and Katie Holmes makes an appearance as a guest judge. But since these episodes can feel a little tedious and the show itself can hardly muster up the same inspiration that it used to, here's some fun games you can play at home should you choose to watch the rest of this season, such as:
Who Said It: Casanova or Gloria from Modern Family?
Is That Suede Or A Juggalo?
Kayne or Kanye?
That last one doesn't really make sense, but you know, make it work.
What did you think of the Season 2 premiere of Project Runway All Stars? Were you underwhelmed by the lineup and the challenge or just thrilled that you didn't have to go a full two weeks without an episode of Project Runway? Who do you think looks poised to take this season? Share in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: Lifetime]
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Chefs are challenged to make an Asian stir-fry with just five ingredients; and are given an unusual grocery list for a fun family meal. Finally, there are only two minutes on the clock to purchase what's needed for a decadent pasta dish.
Episode 2. Wild in the Aisles
(AIR DATE 10/20/2013)
The premiere of a cooking competition set in a supermarket begins with host Guy Fieri challenging the chefs to serve their best spaghetti and meatballs, but not all of the key ingredients are in stock. Later, a meal for a family of four must be prepared for less than $7; and in the final challenge, dishes are made using only frozen ingredients.
Episode 3. Surf's Up
(AIR DATE 11/10/2013)
Challenges include surf and turf using only canned foods; and shopping with no carts for soup and sandwich ingredients. Also: A steakhouse dinner determines the winner in the final battle.
Episode 4. Feisty Fiesta
(AIR DATE 11/17/2013)
The chefs use frozen ingredients for a seafood dish; and must incorporate soy sauce in Mexican cuisine. In the last challenge, no carts are allowed when the chefs shop for a breakfast recipe.
Episode 5. The Ol' Switcheroo
(AIR DATE 11/03/2013)
The first challenge is to make gourmet salads with no leafy greens, then coupons come in handy during a "Budget Battle." Finally, the last two chefs are tasked with preparing comfort meals using their opponent's ingredients.
Episode 6. Five Star Frozen Feud
(AIR DATE 11/24/2013)
The chefs attempt to make five-star dinners using only frozen foods; a healthy kid meal must be produced during a "No Carts Allowed" challenge; and the finalists have only two minutes to shop for ingredients for savory pies.
Episode 7. Cart Wars
(AIR DATE 01/19/2014)
The first challenge is to prepare tacos, but tortillas and ground beef are out of stock. Also: sandwiches made with frozen food; and seafood dishes featuring five ingredients or less.
Moms compete in the Season 2 premiere, which challenges them to cook with ingredients that all begin with the same letter. Later, they are asked to make brunch for four on a budget; and are thrown for a loop when preparing a guilty pleasure.
Episode 2. Caught in the Middle
(AIR DATE 05/18/2014)
An international dish is made using only items from the middle aisles of the store; seafood is prepared with five ingredients or less; and substitutions are required when cooking signature hamburgers.
Episode 3. Grocery Grillin'
(AIR DATE 05/25/2014)
The chefs take part in grilling challenges. Included: making pizza with peanut butter; creating a dish using mystery meats and unmarked cans. Also: the game Top Shelf/Bottom Shelf.
Episode 4. Food Network Stars Take Over
(AIR DATE 06/01/2014)
Four Food Network Star chefs take to the aisles to compete on behalf of their favorite charity. First, Guy tasks them with making a lunchtime favorite only using 5 Ingredients or Less. Then, the chefs are challenged to make a steakhouse dinner - on a budget. The two finalists compete in one of the most difficult games yet, One Ingredient Per Aisle, in which they pull out all the stops to make the best dish for a good cause.
Episode 5. Cut The Cheese
(AIR DATE 06/08/2014)
The chefs must overcome hurdles when making mac and cheese, a chicken dinner, and in the last challenge, a romantic meal.
Episode 6. Free Samples
(AIR DATE 06/15/2014)
Free samples must be incorporated into Mediterranean dishes, the chefs make desserts in a "Closing Time" challenge, and the "Food Wheel" plays a factor in determining the ultimate winner.
Episode 7. Marshmallow Madness
(AIR DATE 06/22/2014)
Marshmallows must be incorporated into hearty lunch dishes. Other challenges revolve around taco night and a family favorite.
Episode 8. Produce and Cons
(AIR DATE 06/29/2014)
Challenges include a vegetarian feast; surf and turf on a budget; and dishes that are colorful like a rainbow.
Episode 9. First You Don't Succeed, Fry, Fry Again
(AIR DATE 07/06/2014)
A fried feast is prepared during the "Watch Your Weight" challenge. Also: A skewered meal is made out of items found in the clearance carts; and the final two chefs must spin the "Food Wheel" to determine their budget for an elegant dinner.
Episode 10. Cart to Table
(AIR DATE 07/13/2014)
The chefs must dig through Clearance Carts to make comfort food with mislabeled meats and unmarked cans. Next, the chefs' strengths are put to the test, as they carry as many items as they can to make breakfast for dinner. With two chefs left, their fate is in the spin as the Food Wheel decides what components will be used in their best dish.
Episode 11. Weight for It!
(AIR DATE 07/20/2014)
In Watch Your Weight, the chefs must scale the aisles to rein in their pounds before the big weigh-in Who can tighten their belt enough to make the best burger? Making a meal with two sides sounds easy, until the chefs learn they're playing the chilling Frozen Food Feud. The last two chefs must dive into Guy's Grocery List to make a winning pork dinner: which chef will make the judges pig out more and go on to win up to $20,000?
Episode 12. Around the World in Three Carts
(AIR DATE 07/27/2014)
In game one, we take a trip around the world as the chefs create an international dish using only items found in the Clearance Carts. Next, the chefs set out to make a delicious dessert until Guy surprises them with a savory Red Light Special. In the final game, the chefs try to make their best dish in the letter-limiting challenge, ABC: Whichever one of these chefs uses their spelling and culinary skills the best will go on to play for $20,000 in the Shopping Spree.
Features four chefs competing in three cooking challenges in a grocery store, as they navigate their way through the aisles adhering to a number of "real-world" culinary challenges to create tasty dishes.