Steampunk’d Week 3 Review
By Jim Trent
Publisher, Dr. Fantastique’s
As the cast of contestants gets smaller and the manor fills up with rooms we continue to see ingenuity and creativity on Steampunk’d. This episode moved on to the bedroom with a theme of “Wild Wild East”. This was an exciting prospect as Asian themed Steampunk has been a growing aesthetic with some fantastic costumes, props, and artwork coming out of the Steampunk community over the last couple of years.
Team captains this episode were JW and James, two very talented builders who show a lot of passion in their work. Teams broke down like this:
Team JW: Eddie, Tayliss, Karianne
Team James: Charles, Morgan, Ave
The teams were provided with only the most basic of bedrooms containing a simple double bed and four walls. I was relieved to see the bed provided as having to construct a bed from scratch would have been a time consuming process that would have set the contestants back on other aspects of the room.
Team JW went with a “guarded geisha” theme. Building an armor plated room designed to keep a precious geisha safe. The plan was to have the side panel plating of the room retract with a mechanism that ran on pulleys and ropes. This plan appeared ambitious and seemed to aggravate Eddie who favored an engine driven approach. JW wisely let Tayliss work independently on costuming and Karianne focus on props. The assignment allocation and division of labor seemed to work well for Team JW.
Team James seemed to have less of a vision with their focus being a “temptress assassin” theme. The assassin theme seems a bit overdone by this point and I’m hoping we can move away from it in later episodes. There was some definite friction on the point of costume design as both Morgan and Ave seemed to have a vision as to what the costume should look like but failed to coagulate on a set design. Both adopted a standalone attitude of working around each other and this would lead to issues later.
Both builds moved along quickly and Team JW seemed more focused and harmonious as the work progressed. JW had issues with the paneling warping as it absorbed the paint which is a known factor that should have been accounted for. This resulted in adjusting the number of panels that moved with the mechanism and lessened the effect of the room. This however was nothing compared to the meltdown happening on Team James as the costume issues continued to cause friction (and no doubt the type of TV action the producers were looking for). There were clearly vision issues with the costume as Ave favored a certain shoulder harness that wasn’t communicated or factored for by Morgan. To his credit James attempted to step in and mediate but his efforts resulted in little progress. The height of the problem was reached when Ave somehow managed to cut up a skirt Morgan was working on. This was a ridiculous blunder to the point it felt staged for dramatic effect. Who sets a piece of their project out where it can be messed with? Who cuts into a skirt with a waist band and claims its scrap? The whole incident seemed hokey and distracted from a really amazing tree artistic piece by Charles and the work of James to overcome a mechanical issue. I’m still disappointed by this show’s desire to focus on drama instead of the work being done, apparently to the point of inventing drama to focus on.
When the rooms were finished it was time for the judging, the guest judge this episode was an odd choice; Carter Oosterhouse from shows such as Trading Spaces and Carter Can. While having a handyman type judge present for the build aspects of the show, it seems as if once again the producers of this show are desperately lost when it comes to Steampunk. Where are the Steampunk judges? Where are the personalities from the Steampunk community?
The rooms themselves were both very impressive. Team James produced a more scattered look that seemed to lack a unifying theme but the work put in was impressive. The artwork tree produced by Charles was nothing short of breathtaking. The costume was very pretty with great work by both Morgan and Ave but pointing out to the judges that there were issues in fabrication pretty much shot the team in the foot. Team JW produced a great room with a green color palette and a solid Steampunk look but the reduction of panels in the mechanism was a negative. The kimono done by Tayliss was stunning and the prop swords by Karianne were very nice. While the industrial build with diamond shaped rivets look is nice I’d like to see more out of JW. I think Team JW could have benefited with more input from Eddie and his mechanical skills. Overall however the more cohesive room was Team JW’s.
This episode demonstrated a big issue I have this show in the judging. While the decision of which room won was well made there is still an issue with deciding winners and losers for each episode. The maker sent home was James and he was sent home for being a poor team leader. This seemed odd, in the previous two episodes makers were saved or cut on the judging of their work. I’ve noticed a disturbing lack of criteria on this show when it comes to judging. Decisions are completely free form apparently with no discernable scale, standard, or system. This is a irresponsible way to conduct a competition and suggests the format is such to allow the show’s producers to steer decision based on what makes good TV. This was reflected this episode in the fact that both Morgan and Ave threw each other under the bus when asked who they would have cut from the show. Clearly both ladies had the weakest work and worst attitudes of the episode but both were kept on the show, no doubt in the hope of producing more “reality TV fireworks” in the future. This is becoming a disturbing trend with this show.