Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

Regular Air Date: 
Tuesdays @ 10/9C
Air Date: 
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Syfy had a huge hit with Face Off, their reality contest show about movie makeup, currently in it's sixth season. Their set design show, Hot Set, isn't listed as cancelled, but it also hasn't aired a second season since the first came on in 2012. And now, partnered up with the brand that brought you the Muppets, and movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and many more, Syfy is unveiling on March 25th their latest reality contest: Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge.

Much like the other shows before it, a bunch of contestants are challenged, either alone or in groups, to design on a theme. Here, they are building puppets, costumes and other unreal monsters, in just 2 days, with a 3rd partial day to work with their puppeteers to bring their creation to life. And they will be judged by Brian Henson (son of Jim, and current Chairman of the Jim Henson Company), Beth Hathaway, and Kirk R. Thatcher. And the whole shebang will be hosted by Gigi Edgley, who is best know for her role as Chiana on Farscape (a show who's creatures and makeup were done primarily by the Jim Henson Company).

Having seen only the first episode, I can't say the entire show will be a winner, but if the pilot is any indicator then it will be as good as Face Off and not stray too far from the tried and true formula. The most fascinating part of a show like this is getting to see exactly how those super cool movie monsters get made, and by regular people. Not to say that the people who work in Hollywood aren't regular people, but sometimes there is a chasm between where we viewer at home sit and where those people work, like as if you couldn't do that yourself unless you went to some fancy school or worked at a big name shop. But in this first episode alone, one of the teams put together for the challenge are a woman who runs her own shop and a young man who has mostly been doing stuff at home. When he suggests that they could get the effect they want not by laboring over a finely crafted piece of costuming but instead by using tin foil, hot glue and paint, she is skeptical but she trusts him, and he's right - it looks great.

Of course it isn't all awesome, love and unicorns. The first episode of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge also features drama in the form of one team not working well together and one of them throwing the other under the bus in front of the judges. But a little drama is to be expected since these people are fighting for the grand prize: a one year contract working in the Jim Henson Creature Shop as a professional designer and creator.

I think Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge is going to be an excellent addition to the Syfy stable of programming. I just hope they get the ratings to have it get a second season and not fade away like Hot Set.

Review by Jason Pace
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