The 4 Best and 4 Less-Best Aspects of SyFy's Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

By Brian Hanson in Daily Lists, Puppets, TV
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

Cons!

1) The "3 Day Timeline" Thing Gets a Bit Old

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I know this is a reality show and all, and the word "Challenge" is in the title for a reason, but the show takes its inspiration from Face Off a little too literally here. Like in Face Off, each contestant - occasionally working in teams - has only three solid days to finish each challenge. While that works in Face Off, where makeups and molds and fabrication could conceivably come together in such a compressed amount of time, Creature Shop Challenge requires its contestants to bear the burden of Atlas himself as they fucking CREATE AN ENTIRE GODDAMN PUPPET.

I had a little over three days to work on this article, and it probably hasn't turned out that good. How the hell do we expect a talented, albeit human, group of artists to create a complete and concrete original puppet character in such a compressed amount of time?

2) Format Is a Bit Too Similar to Face Off

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And that leads to a bigger issue: the "3 DAY TIME LIMIT" thing is obviously a nod to Face Off, but that bears the question: why is Creature Shop Challenge taking so many nods from its SyFy lead-in?

The concept might be similar, but when it comes to simply creating a fantastic set of film makeup, to creating an entire fucking puppet character, it's a night-and-day comparison. And taking so many cues from Face Off can get a bit old, and makes the show seem too much like a stale retread. Even though it totally isn't; Creature Shop Challenge deserves to be its own wonderful entity, and not a pale shadow in SyFy's Tuesday night lineup.

3) It Could Stand to Be a Little More In-Depth

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And because of that difference, the producers of Creature Shop Challenge could actually do a bit of due diligence in educating viewers on the ins and outs of building these massive projects. I do like what they've done as far as presenting every aspect of fabrication, but there are still so many nitty-gritty details that I'd love to see displayed on TV. Such as: how in Christ's name they manufacture from scratch the mechanisms to remotely control things like eye-movement, how they instruct the individual (and sometimes multiple) puppeteers to perform within these things they've made, and the general process of construction from being a twinkle in the contestant's eye to becoming a functional, camera-ready puppet.

4) WHERE'S THE FREAKIN' MUPPETS?!?

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And speaking of camera-ready puppets, my BIGGEST complaint is this: WHERE ARE THE MUPPETS?

Every episode references all the Brian Froud-y designs from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, but let's be honest here; only sad people like you and me remember those movies. For every two-bit Dick and Larry out there, Jim Henson means MUPPETS. So where are the Muppets?!?

And don't tell me "Well Disney technically owns the license to the Muppets, so..." THAT IS NO EXCUSE.

Just show me how to make a God Damn Muppet, Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge. Is that so hard to ask?

Previously by Brian Hanson:

Seven Reasons Why Heroes of Cosplay is Terrible

Seven Reasons to Avoid Comikaze Because of Fangasm

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