Friday, September 9, 2011

2.1: Turn and Face The Strain

Paul:  I am going to start on an extremely geeky note and make a Star Trek comparison.  I think it's okay for me to do that as this season is slightly geekier than the last.  More on that in a moment.

My mother and I were both Trek enthusiasts while I was growing up and I am old enough to remember the first episode of The Next Generation on its original airing.  Having grown up with the originals, I can still remember my reaction after the first episode of The Next Generation, which was something along the lines of "What?!!?  A Klingon? An empath? A robot guy? A quiet British captain who is always going on about diplomacy?  Boy oh boy, is this going to suck!"  And then I soon ended up a confirmed Picard man, far preferring TNG over TOS, coming to loathe Kirk and love everything Picard.

Like the first day at a new job or a new school, we are introduced to many new faces and think "Oh, I don't know about this.  Where's Jay and Austin?"

Laurie:   Ah, I see what you're getting at.  That's funny, because I was just thinking this morning that it reminds me of how I feel every time we get a new Dr. Who.  It always takes me a while to get over losing the old one, and to forgive the new one for not being the old one.  But then, eventually, I've always grown to love the new one.  The jury's still out, though, on the Season Two designers.

Paul:  It is the temp's nightmare and the job-leaver's dream.  It is the feeling of very big shoes.  It reminds us that all humans are of equal value to other humans regardless of the previous connections we've made.  It reminds us of the beauty in strangers, the potential in everyone to love, so often squandered out of neophobia.

Although there are a few hopeful notes.  There is a nerd in the cast this season.

Diana makes clothing with nods to science.  She made a skirt with magnets that didn't work because the polarities reversed and she gets to explain that on Project Runway.  Although I appreciate the freshness of vision that she is attempting to bring, I am already concerned that she is far too enamored with gimmicks and novelty.

Laurie:   Yes, and fashion does appear to be her second love, after science/tech geekiness. She seems rather inexperienced, which could lead to trouble later.  Besides that, I'm not sure how ready I am to have my clothes married to my technology, or, as you say, Paul, to have them be gimmicky.  I'm pretty conventional in a lot of ways.

Paul:  It is one of those things in life where I am happy that it exists although I doubt I would ever have any practical use for it. 

Daniel is back, but we're playing catch up at this point (we're on episode 4 and trying to write about what we've watched so far.  The show is like eating potato chips and it's way easier to watch it than to write one of these blog posts.)  We will have much much more on Daniel in the forthcoming episodes.  Actually there are two Daniels this season, but don't lets muddy the waters any further than they already are.

Laurie:   Okay, so you're saying I shouldn't get going on the return of Daniel Franco, so I'll try to control myself.  Let's just say it was a shock, and not a happy surprise.  He was truly an annoying character last season.  I wasn't too keen on reliving that experience.

Paul:  The time for that will come soon enough. Daniel provides a wealth of material to write about.

There's also Santino with the eyes of Rasputin, oozing charisma and danger.  He seems the likely candidate for the raw, unfettered talent of this season, but he also seems to have a bit of a mean streak.

Laurie:  It's been bugging me and bugging me. This guy's eyes remind me of someone, and I just can't place it.  Hopefully I'll figure it out before the season is past and can make the announcement here.  Until then, I can say that I've found Santino, so far to be kind of fascinating. Very talented. Very charismatic. Very aware of both. A tad catty.

Paul: My favorite so far is Emmett, mainly because he seems to me the only person who has appeared on this whole series so far who would likely be able to make a proper cup of tea.  He wears white linen suits with hats at a jaunty angle.  Sort of a "what Tom Wolfe would wear to a summer garden party thrown by Gay Talese or vice versa."  In other words, precisely how I would like to dress.

Laurie:  I rather like Emmett too. He's a grown-up near my own age, who behaves himself as an adult of that age should. I like his calm demeanor.  He quite handsome  and reminds me of James Spader from Pretty in Pink, only not evil.

Paul:  Yes, he is arguably the first grown up contestant on the show.  He behaves himself.  I am signing on to Team Emmett.

But I am reluctant to say too much about any of them as all will be revealed in the fullness of time.  So far we only have thumbnail sketches of our core characters.  We will learn from them as we go.

Their first challenge is to make a dress that most communicates the artistic vision of the designer.  The designers are given a week or two before the show to make it in the comfort of their own homes on a decent budget.  One guy gets voted off for admitting that he only spent about 8 hours on it.  One girl gets voted off for, as Nina Garcia said in the judgment, "Sometimes pretty can be boring."

Laurie:  To be more exact, they were give six yards of plain white muslin, $20, and one week.

Paul:  Oh, that's right.  I remembered the muslin part because of how often I had to work with that material back in my theater days.  

Laurie:  And it seemed to be a surprise to all that they voted off two.  I guess they're mixing things up a bit to keep everyone on their toes. This first episode really felt like a whirlwind of faces.  I didn't come away from it very compelled by any characters yet.  Hopefully someone will capture my imagination along the way.  Oh, and another early observation.  Added to the prizes for the winner is a new car.  It would appear the budget for Season Two has been helped by the success of Season One. 

Paul:  And so I find myself settling in for what I am realizing is a very long haul.  I knew when I started that I had nine seasons ahead of me, but the first season was so flashy and new.  I know that there are probably seasons that are better than others and I am already suspecting that 1 > 2.  As snap judgments seem to rule the day, I find myself gravitating towards team Emmett this season.  Interesting.  I do the same thing when thrust into any new group of people.  I look for the person most likely capable of making a proper cup of tea and hang next to them.

This shouldn't effect this blog in any way as our goal here is not actually to write about the show.  Hang on.  This may be a bumpy ride.

Laurie:  Be that as it may, I find the show satisfying if only for watching the creative process.  I just love seeing what these designers come up with and how their designs really come alive on the runway.  It's so true what my mom used to say, "Sometimes you have to see the dress on."  In fact, I have lots of clothes like that, and they are usually the items that I receive the most compliments on.  I've often found them on the clearance rack, where the clothes that require a snippet of imagination to appreciate often land. My gain!

Santino's winning design.
Perhaps we should mention that Santino was the clear winner of this first challenge. As you can see at left, his design and detail were lovely. Daniel Franco, back for a second try, finished a depressing second to last, and I'm finding myself feeling much sorrier for him than I did the first time around. Perhaps he's mellowed a bit.

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