Saturday, 8 March 2008

Auf wiedersehen

Is there life after Project Runway?

The fourth season ended this week, for me yesterday on YouTube, and for those of you watching at home on Bravo, some hours earlier. The winner was one of the three worthy finalists, and quite honestly I'd have been just as happy whichever of them it might have been.

The fourth season was exceptional in finishing with nobody you could hate. After the judges had dumped touchy Carmen, cold-fish Victorya and cry-baby Ricky, there wasn't even anyone you could even dislike. Stark contrast to previous seasons, when Wendy and Santino and Jeffrey provided more than enough fuel for animosity, with Jeffrey making things even worse by winning. This season of the US show may have been influenced by the more sedate and friendly Canadian version. At any rate it was a kinder, gentler PR, and all the better for it.

Anyone who doesn't watch will be mystified, I suppose. Sure it's a reality show, with the additional built-in drama of a cast of creative divas, some of whom may or may not be flamboyant attention-seeking homosexuals. What's interesting about it, though, is the fact that even the rubbish designers on this show can actually make a garment in an afternoon and have it stay together as a model walks down the runway. Something most of us would be at a loss even to imagine, I bet.

Casting begins for the fifth season this month, for taping from June. The quality of the entrants should diminish as time goes on, you would think, but it doesn't seem to have worked that way so far.

Now all that remains is the season finale next week of Hell's Kitchen, pitting the cocky arrogant Rock (Rock likes to talk about Rock in the third person, just one of Rock's more annoying characteristics) against former nanny Bonnie, who has a disarmingly clear idea of her own limitations, and who delivered the money quote this week when her parents were brought in to greet the news of her qualification for the final: "I don't think I'm going to be a teacher any more, Dad," she wept.

And then there's only the ghastly Project Catwalk, the second season of the UK version of the show. The first season had Liz Hurley in the Heidi Klum role, a wizened little orange Welshman trying hard to be the Simon Cowell of the judges but failing miserably because a Welsh accent makes you sound like a gnome, not the scourge of fashion wannabes, and the dull clerk-like Ben De Lisi in the Tim Gunn role. The second season has replaced Liz with Kelly Osborne, who has no talents at all, not even for standing on a mark and reciting some lines. The designers, too, are the dregs, clearly coming to the show with one idea and one idea only: to be cast as the obligatory larger-than-life character, or the genius you love to hate. None of them has any discernible talent for fashion, but like all British youth nowadays it seems, they are all fully conversant with what we require of reality-show contestants.

A depressing prospect. Anybody know anything about Top Chef? Worth a look? Things are getting desperate here, folks.