Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Craft 'til it hurts!" It hurts.

It's final - there are too many channels, all of which have to try way too hard to get you to watch. Today I stumbled on evidence of the above thesis: Craft Corner Deathmatch. This is real - as real as anything found on the Style Channel.

The premise of Craft Corner Deathmatch is to match two amateur "crafters" against each other in a contest to make something crafty out of a pile of craft resources. If you insist on a "meets" analogy, it's Martha Stewart Meets Iron Chef. With a touch of the wacky "anything goes" goofiness that has been seeping over from Japanese game shows like Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.

In the show that I watched today (yes, I watched the whole half-hour show, get off me. I just got back from the gynecologist. I deserve some veg time...), the contestants were challenged to build a wind chime with a pile of kitchen utensils, silverware, and some string. They had 10 minutes to work while the host nattered on distractingly. The time was mercifully edited for television. The resultant chunks of barely hanging metal were then rated by a panel of judges.

In the second round, the contestants were invited to embellish jeans with fusible webbing and assorted material. The big surprise thrown in half-way through the 10-minute round? They had to use material from the host's pants, which he gleefully ripped off to expose clowny boxers in a flag motif. Are you laughing uproariously, as I was? I didn't think so. Oh, well.

It's hard to tell why some game shows work and some don't. Iron Chef is pompously ridiculous, but it's slightly riveting television, at least enough that you find yourself rooting for a favorite and imitating the giggling actress/judge. Craft Corner Deathmatch, I'm afraid, does not reach such a height, as less-than-dazzling as that is.


Host: Although the host is loudly wacky, he is not funny. If you're going for wacky, it's important to pull it off. Otherwise, you end up being loud and obnoxious instead. Ouch. Hard to watch bad funny.

Contestants: The contestants for this show were rather personality free. For such a loopy-ass concept show, they have managed to track down some of the most stone-faced and humorless crafters imaginable. They begin by saying that they are the zany type, but then forget to pull it off. To make up for the seriousness of the craft-letes (you like my new word? thanks!), the host tries to dial up the goofiness single-handedly, with predictable results.

Lovely assistant: They have tried to infuse the show with a little boho irony with a "lovely assistant" whose character motivation could best be described as Pouty Goth Girl. On another show, it would have been clever and lent the glue-gun-and-pine-cone atmosphere a little cool, but here she just seems to have wandered into the wrong studio and is really pissed off about it.

Iron Chef Wanna-Be: The winner of the first two rounds gets to go head-to-head with the Craft Lady of Steel, an homage (I guess) to the Iron Chef, of which the show cribs more than just the Unsmiling and Formidable Super Chef. For the Craft Lady of Steel, they have kept the Unsmiling part, but seem to have jettisoned the Formidable part and replaced it with Scary, which the Lady so casted doesn't seem to be able to pull off. She seems a nice enough lady, who has been instructed not to smile so as to seem Scary.

Judges: Three judges - I suspect they have more wit in their collective pinkies then all the rest of the studio occupants. Collectively, they got to speak about a dozen words.

One of the wacky witticisms heard from the Host: "Craft 'til it hurts!" Well, it hurts.

Will I watch it again? Probably. I have no will power.

Bonus question: So, Janice, what is your favorite game show? The original Match Game, of course. Duh.

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