I finally found the time to sit down and watch the first episode of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge online. Here are some thoughts:
The format seems pretty standard for a reality show. The ten contestants are given a challenge and put in teams, they have two days to design and build the creature; then there is a screen test after which they explain a little bit about their work. The panel of three judges gives feedback, selects one winner and sends one contestant home. Because this was the pilot episode, most of the talking heads and short interviews focused on the contestant’s backgrounds, contrasting those who were freelancers with those who worked for established studios, people who were used to fancy tools and materials vs. those who usually built with tinfoil and hot glue. There wasn’t always the greatest balance between a focus on the working relationships of the teams vs. a focus on the challenge in the work itself.
My favorite parts were the clips of the teams working in the studio (except when there would be these strange little freeze frames that happened every couple of minutes, which were annoying) and the discussion among the judges after the screen tests. While the clips of in progress work were fairly brief, they did give a sense of the tools and materials used and I’m guessing that later episodes get more complicated with the use of cables and animatronics, etc. Overall, I don’t think I’m the best audience for this show, just because I’m not a huge fan of the format. Competition stresses me out and I’m much more interested in the working process than the tensions between teammates. However, for someone interested in a behind the scenes glimpse of how fantastic creatures are created for television and movies, this is a worthwhile show to check out.