It's Always the Quiet One

Rambling about life, culture, Project Runway, and the occasional fruity drink.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Just in time for episode four… it’s my recap of episode three! You see, I planned it this way… to keep last week’s episode fresh in your minds. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Uh huh. Sure. Anyway, on with the recap!

Todd comes in wearing a super-cute argyle type sweater. He instructs the designers to open the beach bags that are in front of them (you KNOW someone already peeked before he came in). Inside the bag are various beachy items, which they all start playing with, and postcards of exotic places. Their challenge this week is to design and build a beach cabana. Everyone starts nodding and talking about how awesome they’re going to do because they were raised in a cabana, or something. (Except for Goil, who has to ask what a cabana is. Then, to let all the viewers who might not know either off the hook, they let Matt helpfully tell us what it is.) But yes, there’s a twist – isn’t there always? In each bag is a postcard, and that will determine which TEAM you’re on! *groan* Teams AGAIN?
Now, every time I type the word “cabana” I hear Barry Manilow in my head… so let’s let him tell us about the teams.

Her name’s Carisa, she’s a designer
She, Goil and Ryan say “hooray”, they all have cards from St. Tropez
Then Matt and Erik, they get Miami
Elizabeth says “that’s our scene
So let’s use burgundy and green”
And on Team Tahiti, the threesome hug with glee
Another team challenge ALREADY?
You’ve gotta be kidding me!
Now they’re copin’ with their cabanas
And driving each other bananas
They’re all copin’ with their cabanas
Painting and passion and Kelly’s odd fashions
Who’ll be latered?
We’ll wait and see…

Um, thanks Barry. Anyway, that’s our story so far. Todd tells them their budgets and name-drops Pier One, which is where they will be getting all their furnishings this episode. (Hmm, I haven’t seen a Pier One commercial… getting a name drop must be cheaper than doing a whole commercial.)

Erik, who has immunity from winning last week, can’t be eliminated. That sends Matt into spirals of profanity and negativity right off the bat, which does not bode well for Team Miami. Elizabeth has picked out some very un-Miami-ish colors – burgundy and a green that is… well, I can’t decide if it’s “unripe banana” or “safety patrol vest.” Meanwhile, Matt is shaking his head at Erik with a look like, “Man, these colors SUCK, I can’t believe we’re actually going to use them” but doesn’t say that out loud, which he should. And the Tahiti sisters (Andrea, Felicia and Ralphie) are off to a great start – you can tell already that this is not going to be the drama team because they hugged right away. Nothin’ but love from this group. They’re all sketching merrily and actually working together nicely. In the back corner Goil, reaching deep into his bag of architect tricks, uses pencils and the flip-flops that were in the beach bag to make a 3D model of his idea for the cabana.

So who IS the drama team? Well, it’s a toss-up at this point – they could focus on Elizabeth kind of taking over her team, Matt whining about everything but not offering any suggestions of his own, or else something is going to clash over at Team Tropez, where we’ve got artist Ryan, architect Goil and set designer Carisa, any one of whom could have an massive attack of self-importance at any moment.

Sketching time is over, and Todd makes each team split up the work – one person will go shopping at Pier One, one will go to the hardware store with the carpenters, and the other person will be in charge of fabric. Most teams take this in stride and quickly divide up the tasks… except Team Tropez. Ryan and Carisa each think they need to go to Pier One – Carisa, because she designs sets and knows more about furniture, and Ryan because he’s an artist, which means he’s an expert on everything. Plus, guys just don’t go to the fabric store, apparently. It’s just not guy-ish. (Or something stupid like that, I tuned him out.) Goil just kind of helplessly flops around the table, shooting worried looks from behind his lavendar glasses. So in the end, Carisa gets shunted off to the fabric store (“because I’m a girl”), and Ryan gloatingly heads off to Pier One. And here is where we see that this team now needs to be referred to as Team Drama. I think the defining moment is when Carisa says “I’m worried, no offense,” to which Ryan replies, “Whatever.”

Much shopping ensues. Ralphie is pumped – he has “good taste” and he’s gonna make sure everyone knows it - *snap*! Carisa, on the other hand, who is already tiring me out, is all, “They made me come here, they’re not helping, so I don’t care, I’m gonna buy the ugliest stuff I can find.” Meanwhile, over at Pier One, Felicia has put together a nice set of silver-toned pitchers and glasses, etc. while Ryan continues to espouse on his superiority as he buys what looks like a red blanket in a plastic bag. (Wait a sec. Would blankets fall under accessories or fabric? I’m really not sure, but I am sure that it’s going to piss Carisa off.) I won’t spend time on the hardware store people because watching people buy wood just isn’t too interesting, frankly.

So they bring all their goodies back to the PDC and we get to see what crap Ryan has brought back from Pier One. First, we have really ugly pillows, which Carisa insists they have to recover immediately. They have a discussion about what St. Tropez really MEANS – Carisa says “classy”, Ryan says “topless women in motorboats”. I’ll tell you what, topless women in motorboats would laugh hysterically at Ryan’s pillow choices. (Unless they’re topless senior citizen women.) We don’t get to see what else he bought because then they get into this whole boring discussion of conservativism, and Ryan disses all of Carisa’s rooms so far. I’m waiting for the fists to start flying. Actually, that would make this whole scene more interesting.

Let’s move on to more civilized people. Todd comes around to look at everyone’s designs, and he stops at Team Miami first. I notice that Todd’s sweater is almost the exact same color palette as they’re planning to use. He likes their overall design for the structure, but despite the fact that he’s wearing them, he expresses concern about the colors. After all, the colors are on his sweater… sweaters are not Miami. They’re Minneapolis. He then stops over by Team Tahiti, where Ralphie is showing off his seamstress skills by making a mattress. Already? Wow. Way to save money, Ralphie! Todd strolls over to Team Drama, and after discovering that they really don’t seem to know anything about St. Tropez, educates them a little. Basically, without saying it, he seems to be trying to tell them that they’re designing a thrift store version of St. Tropez.

Todd then drops this episode’s bomb – they only have four hours to construct an entire cabana from scratch and then take it back apart so that it can be put on trucks. FOUR HOURS. Yeah, I guess they’re not building an entire HOUSE, but really! All the pieces have to be on their way to the beach at 12:01. (Isn’t that a little late to be dropping lumber on the beach? Or is the beach six or seven hours away?) Also… the beach isn’t wired so they will only have non-electric tools to put their cabanas together.

Everyone rushes off to the construction area, which is already full of carpenters and power tools. Team Miami is painting enough lumber to make an entire house. Matt is concerned that they’re not going to get done, and he finally gets the courage to squeak out, “I’m scared.” Erik kind of blows it off. While all this construction is going on, Felicia and Ralphie are stuffing the mattress, which is either a description of what they’re doing or a new euphamism for… well, you can figure it out. Felicia praises his new-found energy and gung-ho-ness. She is also wearing her homemade superhero costume. (What is she, Doily Woman?)

I can’t ignore Team Drama (no matter how hard I try). Carisa tells Goil that she and Ryan are “having a little tension” and Goil plays stupid (“Oh really? I hadn’t noticed that”), and behind their back says both of them are being whiny babies. Then Carisa and Ryan spend two hours arguing over cutting an angle at the edge of their rafters that NOBODY is going to notice. Goil agrees with both, depending on which one is closest to him at the time (that way the other one can’t hit him). He’d make a good politician.

Time winds down and all the lumber goes bye-bye. The designers trudge back to their lofts to try and sleep, but too soon it is morning and time to head out. As they get started I am surprised at what some of the designers consider “beach wear”. Especially Carissa, who is wearing what looks to be black bicycle shorts under a denim miniskirt. They hurridly put their cabanas together, along with a small army of seamstresses and sweaty, shirtless carpenters that get a LOT of screentime. Carisa appears to be spending the entire time spraying down the shirtless carpenters.

But sooner than you think, time’s up, and the judges appear from whatever shady place they’ve been hiding. All that building and running around in the sun and sand must have made the designers a bit pungent, because the judges are standing FAR away from them. Like fifty feet away. In addition to Jonathan, Kelly, and Margaret, we are joined by Kathryn Ireland, who is an interior designer I’ve never heard of and NOT Kathy Ireland the model-turned-entrepreneur. They all walk around and inspect each cabana, making notes and faces. After what seems like several hours, everyone heads back to the PDC.

On to the judging. Of course, I can’t go further into this without discussing what Kelly’s wearing. It’ll be impossible to concentrate on the designs if I don’t. The top of Kelly’s dress appears to be made out of discarded 1980’s shoulder inserts - or maybe they’re a couple of absorbant pads that are used under a nursing bra. I’m not sure which. And she takes the “socks and sandals” thing waaaay too far by aqua wearing knee-highs with strappy high heels. There. Now that’s out of the way; let’s discuss the designs.
Team Tahiti builds a raised platform for their cabana, much like the huts on stilts that are found on the beach in Tahiti. Their curtains are beautiful – large and billowy. Their room is entirely open on top – they have a basic frame but decided at the last minute not to add any roof. But as artistic and sculptural as their “roof” looks, where would the shade come from? To be honest, I’ve never been in a beach cabana, but it seems to me that part of the usage of a cabana is to get out of the sun a bit without leaving the beach and perhaps get some refreshment, but look more sophisticated than sitting under a big striped umbrella drinking out of a can. The judges like what they did but take them to task for the roof.

Team Miami has too many heavy curtains. And in the wind, the heavy fabric is blowing right onto the couch, which would be incredibly annoying for someone sitting on it. They appear to have put half of their rafters on upside down, also. They’re very scary, like they were spiky fortifications on a Civil War battlefield built to keep the enemy from storming over the earthworks. The inside, while shady where the other two teams’ cabanas are not, is actually too dark because of all the heavy canvas. The judges hate the colors – I understand that they were trying to do sophisticated Miami and not sherbet, but why not just darken the sherbet colors? They also jump all over Matt for not adding anything to the design and basically letting Elizabeth and to an extent, Erik, steamroll him.

Team Drama’s cabana looks like a sweater drying rack. The giant towels draped across the top would only offer useful shade at high noon. Carisa mentioned, at the beginning of the challenge, that St. Tropez was elegant and rich and sleek and sophisticated and they would have to play off of that… but what kind of furniture did Ryan pick? Thick, chunky wicker and rataan-looking stuff. They might have saved it had Carisa picked out light, flowy fabrics, (much like Team Tahiti) but instead they’re using bath mats and throw rugs and afghans in dark colors and heavy upholstery-weight fabrics. Just looking at them makes me feel very sweaty. Their cabana would be better suited to a beach on Lake Erie in October than St. Tropez. The judges rip into all the things I just mentioned. They approved of Goil’s design for the structure, althought Margaret thought it looked like a hamburger stand, but thought Ryan and Carisa basically sucked at their jobs.

After the usual long, drawn out camera work where we have to ponder everyone’s facial expressions and listen to tense music, the winner is… Team Tahiti! Even though they had no roof, their fabric and styling choices were inspired and very Tahitian. They are all very appreciative. They win a weekend getaway at some hotel where Kelly designed the cabanas. I picture them all getting facials and mani-pedis and lounging poolside sipping fruity drinks, and then hanging out in their PJs all night having pillow fights, ordering room service and watching chick flicks. I’m jealous! Hope they have fun!

For our final three, it comes down to Ryan, Elizabeth and Matt. Jonathan chastises Matt again, but lets him stay. Ryan slips past once again, and Elizabeth is “latered” for her crappy color choice. I think that was kinda weak, personally, but I guess someone had to be sacrificed, and Ryan promises to bring too much drama to get kicked off yet.

Elizabeth has to go pack up her stuff, and Todd comes in. I love how they show Todd talking to each designer before they leave. He is always so positive and sympathetic and tries to make them feel better about a crappy thing. Kudos, Todd! And good luck, Elizabeth – you may have helped pick the wrong colors but you’ve still got more design talent in your little finger than I have in my whole body.

Goil glasses color count for this episode: four. Although I couldn’t tell at one point if his glasses were gray or black so it might be five. That's still a heck of a lot of glasses - I wonder if they're prescription or for vanity purposes?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pint-Sized Design

Last week, Top Design started off with a bang and a whimper, as the ID's were challenged to create a room for a mystery client with questionable taste in accessories. They were put into teams of two, given an ungodly amount of money, a carpenter AND a seamstress, and still most of the rooms sucked. The amount of orange and green used in the designs last week was unfortunate, and none of those rooms won, either. They probably would have had better luck with this judging panel.

Still reeling from losing two of their number so early in the game, the ID's blow off a little steam back at the lofts by taking turns riding Ryan's skateboard in the living room. (The producers are obviously hoping to get a shot of someone taking a humorous spill so they can send it to America’s Funniest Videos or a VH-1 "reality TV embarrassing moments" show.)

But they're all giggling and having a good time, when John-Ralph decides to let them know that he's HIV positive and was given a huge dose of testosterone by his doctor, which accounts for his aggressiveness towards Michael-Ralphie. He then tells them that he doesn't hate Ralphie or anything, he just thinks he's a talentless whiny pansy, and then goes off to take a bath. The fun has been sucked out of the room, and they all sit awkwardly, watching Andrea knit something. Also someone has apparently slapped Ryan across the face, or maybe he fell off the skateboard and hit his face on the credenza, which I'm sure will end up on the DVD in the bloopers section, but for now just looks kinda painful.

The next day, the ID's return to the workroom. The table recently occupied by Lisa and Heather is sitting there, huge and empty, and I'm surprised that one of Ralph[ie] hasn't claimed it. Mr. Todd breezes in and gives them their next challenge - design a bedroom for an unknown client. (Hmm... this sounds familiar... oh yeah! That was last week's show! Reruns already?) Each ID gets a short bio of the person they're designing for, and they're supposed to plan the room using that. They will be getting a mattress but they have to design and build the bed themselves, AND they only get $600 for paint and $8,000 for furnishings. (They got a little spoiled the last time with that $50k, didn’t they? I’m hoping a future challenge has them shopping at garage sales with a $100 budget.) This week, the winner gets immunity – but someone else will be going home. Carisa acts like that’s a surprise. Weren’t you paying attention last time, girl?

Everyone picks a design bio and gets to work. They also get to choose a hardwood floor sample from a table. Felicia picks the one John had his eye on, and he’s all “Bitch stole my floor!!”

So he decides to go with linoleum. In a BEDROOM?? That's like putting wall-to-wall carpeting in a bathroom. Maybe his room is someplace warm where the floors never get cold in the wintertime. Either that or he's going to put a kitchenette in the room (hey, that wouldn't be a bad idea!).

Mr. Todd comes in to take a peek at the designs. Goil has built a tiny room out of a box! He’s even made a tiny cardboard person to show scale. Todd asks how tall the person is, and Goil replies, “Six feet” to which Todd nods knowingly. Felicia’s design has a big bed, in case her client brings home a ‘lady friend’. Well, at least she’s considering the function of the room.

Now it's time to go memo-ing out. Surprise! All the furniture is insanely expensive. Nobody can afford anything, so they all have to build their furniture out of posterboard and spit. Well, I guess they get a little bit of stuff but it's still all pretty much ugly.

Enough shopping! The clients are here for their presentations. Mr. Todd ushers them in and - jaws drop - they're ten-year-olds! (This immediately gets my attention, because I have two kids and I'm trying to get them to decide how to decorate their rooms. This episode is going to be their after-school viewing tomorrow.) It also makes Goil’s "scaled-for-a-six-footer" mock-up room and Felicia’s “lady friend” comment that much funnier, and I have to rewind and watch Todd’s reaction to those, since he knows the entire time that the clients are children. Ah, what a poker face. He's good, that Todd Oldham.

How well do the designers adapt their ideas to fit their youthful clients? Andrea admits that she's scared of her young girl, because she only had brothers and has two sons, and doesn't know thing one about girls. Matt's girl is an actress, and she looks all sweet now, but he'd better give her EXACTLY the room she wants, or she's going to go Veruca on him.

The ID's now have to figure out how to make all that high-end designer showroom stuff they just picked out work in a kids' room. Luckily it's Mr. Todd to the rescue, with $300 more for each of them (plus a bonus c-note for Elizabeth and Goil since they won last week) to go shopping at Target to get more "kid-friendly" stuff. (Of course, they don't SAY they're going to Target, because Target's not a sponsor, but we all know that's where they are.) What I want to know is... in which department do you find giant chains? I LOOOVE Target but I didn't know they had a harbor accessories department.

But enough fun. It's time to get down to business and create magic, people! Ralphie apparently took a crash course in wall-painting overnight. (That's because he really wants the judges to like him so they'll give him an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model staple gun with a color wheel in the handle and this thing that tells time.) Goil decides that cutting the walls worked so well for Felicia and Matt last week, he's going to do it too. Only he'll cut TWO holes instead of just one, which should be twice as good! Andrea builds a cool Murphy bed that I covet.

But poor John. His carpenter came back without linoleum (because he knew it was a stupid idea) so now John's room has no flooring. He's very upset. (His testosterone has worn off and now the estrogen is kicking in.) And painting time is up, so he can't even paint the floor, and he just chooses to leave it with big dirty drywall-dust footprints all over it.

After a tiny bit of sleep, the ID's finish their rooms and it's off to the White Room. Again, I feel the need to comment on fashion here. Jonathan is wearing a tie that looks like my daughter made it for her stitchery badge at Brownies. And Kelly? She's mixing decades: a 70's Princess Leia-ish poofy Danish on just one side of her head, a very 80's spangly black jumper/bicycle shorts/leggings combo with high heels, and black Madonna-esque fingerless gloves. (Not even Jonathan gets her outfit.) And our guest judge Liz Lange joins in on the fun, looking like she's been shopping in the chain section of Target with Erik.
Let's assess the damage, in no particular order. (But before we do that, bravo to Bravo for managing to get ceiling-less pictures of the rooms this week. Thank you.)

Andrea - The first thing that jumped out at me in Andrea's room was the black and white pillow. I immediately thought of Mickey Mouse's glove. I love the Murphy bed, too. Her color palette was a bit too brown and not enough pastel, and I know she wanted the girl to be able to do her own thing with the space, but the judges were right to question the lack of sparkle and shine in this room.

Erik – This was my ten-year-old son’s favorite room. It was fun and funky and colorful and had places to hide things (very useful when Mom tells you to clean your room before you can play). Kelly thought it was a “bit overboard” (hahaha! A pirate room going overboard! She’s so funny. Bleh.) but it’s EXACTLY the kind of room a kid who likes pirates would want, and that magazines love to publish. And I could see that as the child outgrew the pirate theme, this room could still work by removing some of the theme decor stuff.

Matt - The judges made me mad on this one. They kept saying, "Black for a kids' room? Too funereal." So??? THE GIRL LOVED THE ROOM. See? Look.She loved it, it was her, Matt gave her what she asked for. Shut up about it. Some kids do like black. The makeup-mirror lights were a great idea, too.

Carisa - I liked this room. The judges did too. The huge expanse of red wall took me by surprise at first, and I wasn't sure I liked it, but I think after the boy put up a bunch of travel posters or something, it would be just the right amount of red to pop against the green. Her bed/desk/sidetable was great. I wish she could have finished the tops differently so it just didn't look like particle board, but I see the natural-finish thing she was going for.

Goil - The cutouts were cute, but 1)where DOES the bed go? In a real house, there would either be another room on the other side of that hole, or the outside of the house. That's a good way to teach kids about space, all right. And about what kind of noise a bed makes when it's shoved off the second story onto the back deck. And 2) you CAN'T hide in a hole in the wall with nothing to cover the hole. Good ideas, but not completely thought-through. And enough with the random objects sitting on the floor, already.
Ryan - Cat, cat, cat. We get the idea. The girl has a cat. And I, as a mother, am extremely concerned about the jagged platform around the edge of the mattress. That girl will swing out of bed and scrape the heck out of her legs every morning, and her mother will hate you. I do appreciate the fact that you chose to wear a blazer that matched the color scheme of your room, though.

Michael – The top judges' comments on this room were: that it "looked like a room in an assisted living facility", "it was a room", and "it was decorated". Not good comments. This is not a kids’ room. But I know what the problem is. Ralphie doesn’t know how to design for kids because he never WAS one. Last week he made the comment that when other kids were outside playing, he was watching “Dynasty”. He probably never SAW another kid’s room because he was too busy looking at Joan Collins’ rooms. So… what he actually designed was a room for a “Dynasty” kid. I do like the color he chose, but other than that it was just not right for even a “sophisticated” ten-year-old. Way to go on the paint job though, Ralphie.

Elizabeth - Eh, it's not bad, it's not great, I've seen better soccer-themed rooms. I don't get the yellow dots all over the walls. The judges didn't have a lot to say about it, and I really don't either. My soccer-player son wasn't impressed.

Felicia - A kid that likes chess is probably a more serious-minded kid, so I think this was a good design. And I like the bed lengthwise against the wall like that with the giant chessboard as a headboard. When he goes to college he could take it down and him and his buddies could play chess using beer bottles as chesspieces. I could kind of see where the judges were going with their "it looks like a hotel room" comment, though.

John – This room was, to quote Tim Gunn, a hot mess. The floor problem notwithstanding, there are blotches all over the walls, like he was spackling nail holes and didn’t get the right shade of touch-up paint.
(On closer inspection I think it’s some kind of leaf/vine thing, but it’s so subtle as to not even be worth the trouble. He should have spent the time painting the floor instead. Maybe it looked better in person.) I don't know what was up with the rug - at least I think it's a rug... or maybe it's the painting dropcloth. And one of the big rules in a room where kids will be spending a lot of time is to put things at their eye level. The flower pictures in John’s room are at the eye level of Shaquille O’Neal. The mirror was Shaquille-sized as well. It desperately needed to be mounted on the wall, too - if the kid went behind it (and kids do that kind of thing) and it fell over, it could crush the poor little girl. He tries to explain his problems to the judges, and they act sympathetic to his face, but when he's gone Jonathan calls him the "Mayor of Excuses Village" (which is the lamest thing I've heard Jonathan say so far, but I'm sure it won't be the last. The ladies laugh politely but you know they were rolling their eyes the second he looked away).

But whose scene reigned surpreme? Goil, Carisa and Erik were the judges' favorites, and Captain Erik walked away with the win and immunity for next week. (I have a feeling there's going to be a run on giant chain at Target, as kids everywhere insist that their parents give them pirate rooms.) Congrats, Erik! Well-played.

And "walking the plank," we have Cat-Man, Granny's Boy, and John No-Floor. It's a hard call, but John is out. (I'm hoping we make it through the episode without a "See ya later, decorator!" but alas, there it is. I will NEVER like that.) He goes back to the workroom to chat with Todd and hug him repeatedly. John's got the right attitude, though - he WAS picked out of hundreds of people for this show, and that's impressive. So we wish John "good luck" as he makes his way down the Walk of Shame and they turn the lights out behind him.

Next week's show promises to be a doozy - another team challenge. Groups of three this time, to mix it up a little. Are they going to kick off three people at once? Wow! This is going to be the shortest reality TV show ever!
Ack! I almost forgot! "Goil eyeglasses frame color" count for this episode: five.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Project Runway models go Hollywood!

Looks like a couple of PR2 models have their sights set on Tinseltown! First up, we have the lovely Rebecca, shown here in a shot from her screentest for the upcoming Flintstones movie "Bedrock High", starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. as BamBam Rubble. Rebecca's up for the role of Pebbles Flintstone. Good luck, Rebecca!
And in our second bit of model news, we have this never-before-seen still photo from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", where we can see the stunning Grace in her role as the oldest Weasley sister, Tessie. Unfortunately, Grace's few scenes were cut from the film after HP author J.K. Rowling pointed out that there WAS no older Weasley sister in any of the books.

Obligatory Disclaimer: In this age of instant news and gossip, I don't want anyone thinking that either of these things are true. They're not. I just wanted to show off my poor PhotoShop skills. It's sad that I have to even put this on here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Time for "Top Design"!

First, there was “Project Runway”. Then, “Top Chef”. Now comes the unimaginatively but serviceably-named “Top Design”, which aspires to do for interior design what the other two shows did for fashion and cooking. I've gained a bit more fashion sense from PR and gained several pounds from TC (watching other people make food makes me hungry, okay?) And quite frankly, I could use a good course in interior design, so my hopes are high for TD. Let’s take a look at the premiere episode and see how it’s shaping up, shall we?

By now, the Bravo formula is set: start by showing the contestants moving into their apartments, figuring out where to sleep, and sizing each other up. Our first designer, Goil, takes advantage of being the first in the guys’ room and rearranges the furniture as soon as he walks in. We soon meet all the other guys (Matt, John, Erik, Michael, Ryan) and the gals (Elizabeth, Felicia, Andrea, Carisa, Lisa, Heather). Now, I didn’t watch any of the extra tidbits Bravo posted on its website so I know very little about any of these people’s personalities apart from what they showed in commercials. But a few of them look kind of familiar...

Erik: it’s kind of a toss-up between Sean Hayes from "Will & Grace", and Jai Rodriguez from Queer Eye. He'll be fun.
John: kind of a gay Ralph Kramden, big and blustery, I expect a lot of harmless threats of violence towards other contestants out of him.

Lisa: Yes, it's obvious and everyone else is going to say it so I'll just get it over with and then never mention it again. Storm. X-Men.

And last but definitely not least, Michael. Don’t let the name fool you. This is Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”.

So, they all get settled down when from out of seemingly nowhere, envelopes appear with notes from their host. Of course they are all tickled to find out that it is Todd Oldham, so they jump into their Sponsor Mobiles and away they go to the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood. They meet Todd out front, and as he begins to welcome them I am struck by two things: one, he’s kinda cute. And two – his line delivery is rather awkward. Not in a grating sort of way, but like he’s speaking not to a bunch of adult interior designers, but to a bunch of kids. Preschoolers, even. In fact, if this decorating thing doesn’t work out for him, he’d have a successful career in children’s broadcasting or preschool teacher (“Hi kids! Today we’re going to be fingerpainting! Join me!”). But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as it’s his first TV hosting experience and I’m sure he’ll get better as he gets used to it. (Wait. It’s not? He's had shows on MTV and HGTV? Ohhhh boy.)

Todd shows them around their work area, which is big and very white (but apparently they’re supposed to decorate it – how cheap is that, Bravo? Cutting some corners on the budget, are we? You didn’t have the PR designers dress Tim and Heidi, did you? Although, come to think of it, Heidi could have used some help last season. But that’s beside the point).

Their first challenge, Todd says, is to design an ‘inner sanctum’ for a busy celebrity client. The client is SO busy, that he/she doesn’t even have time to come talk to the designers. So he/she sent over some objects for the designers to study (but they can’t use the objects in their rooms). Good thing, too, because to my untrained eye they pretty much look like stuff you’d win at a carnival game (“pop three balloons and win this mini-disco ball on a pedestal! It even plays The Bee Gees!”). If my kids won stuff like this I wouldn’t let them in the car.

Now that he has them confused, Todd takes them over to their design spaces. On the way out, he tells them to pick a paint chip off the table as they leave. Wait. Is this going to be the challenge? Design a room using the paint chip you picked up? No, it turns out to be much worse - the first challenge is a TEAM challenge, and whoever has the matching paint chips are teammates. Jaws drop. Including mine. A team for the FIRST challenge?? How cruel, not to mention annoying. How are we supposed to get a feel for each designer’s aesthetic and style if they have to compromise with another person right off the bat?

The teams are: Elizabeth/Goil, Felicia/Matt, Ryan/Andrea, Heather/Lisa, Carisa/Erik, and John/Michael (how coincindental that the two people I related to characters named Ralph are stuck together. I think from now on I will refer to them as Ralph[ie] – it’ll just be easier). The teams get a budget of $50,000 to use in the design showrooms to pick out fabric, furnishing and accessories, and another much smaller amount to use for paint and lumber. They also get a carpenter. AND… a seamstress. Wow. They got it GOOD. No Trading Spaces roll-up-your-sleeves-and-do-everything-yourselves junk here. These are DESIGNERS, dangit, not Joe and Jane Homeowner and their neighbors, whose idea of interior design is for all the velvet paintings of Elvis and large-eyed children to hang in a straight line.

The reasoning behind this team challenge is soon apparent – they’re going for the drama. Take Ralph[ie]. (Please!! Seriously. Take them.) These two get into it right away. They don’t like each other’s ideas, colors, personalities, clothing, hair, speech patterns – you name it, they hate it. Much eye rolling and cussing and pouting and flouncing and hmph-ing and mouth-taping ensues. They bicker like an old married couple. And of course, so much time is spent on these two that we see very little of what the other teams are doing, because they all seem to be getting along just fine. The only other tension that seems to be going on is that Heather is letting herself be steamrolled by Lisa into doing an Asian theme that has little to do with the objects that they were shown.

They then go shopping. Well, not really, since they’re not actually buying anything. The correct term, as Mr. Todd tells us, is “memo out” (at least I think that’s what he said). I see a lot of very ugly stuff, and some stuff I wouldn’t mind having, but mostly ugly stuff. I guess this is why I am not an interior designer.

Now that they’ve picked out furniture, it’s time to get back to their demo rooms and start painting. So they rush off to get started, and right away I see problems. First of all, half the teams are using green. And two very ugly shades: “canned peas” and “LED alarm clock numbers”. Michael-Ralphie doesn’t know how to paint and John-Ralph won’t let him do anything, so he wanders around visiting the other teams. (PR fans – think Vincent/Angela from last season – same thing.) Felicia and Matt cut a hole in their wall. This worries Heather, who feels inadequate about her team’s plan and lack of innovativeness (is that a word?).

Midnight comes and goes, and in the morning they get a few hours to finish up their rooms. Todd drops another bomb – TWO people will be going home. This is a big bummer. Not only do two people have to leave, but they really won’t get a proper chance to show us why they got picked for this show. Bad form, Bravo. Then Todd calls time, and whisks them off to the White Room (“Join me!”) to meet the judges – designers Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler (who is wearing what appears to be two end-to-end candystriped lampshades and gray flannel longjohn pants) and Margaret Russell, editor of Elle Décor magazine, all of whom the designers ooo and ahhh over.

There are three people in the room, but four chairs, and since Todd’s not judging, that must mean they’re finally going to meet the celebrity client. Todd tells the designers she’s an actress, and a member of “Hollywood royalty”. I immediately think Drew Barrymore. I mean, what family fits that description more than the Barrymores? And I could see her owning those strange objects, which in the context of Drew Barrymore don’t seem so much tacky carnival junk as quirky conversation pieces.

But it’s not Drew Barrymore. Surprise! It’s Alexis Arquette, the brother/sister of David and Patricia and Rosanna Arquette, who is probably best known as the Boy George lookalike from "The Wedding Singer". The designers are sent back to their ‘rooms’ and the judges walk through each one, asking questions and taking notes. Let’s examine the rooms and what the judges had to say about each one.

Ryan/Andrea - Margaret comments that while this room is glitzy and mod, it looks like a dorm room, and I don't disagree. (In fact, my actual college dorm room was this exact same color. I hate this color.) Kelly makes a comment about a "dialogue" between the walls and the floor, which is painted the same green. They're probably discussing how depressed they are about being that color.

Carisa/Erik - Speaking of paint, they painted their walls to look just like the shirt Steve from "Blue’s Clues" wore all the time. While that might be a great design for a preschooler's bedroom, I'm not so sure it's right for the inner sanctum of a busy celebrity. There are also eight thousand pillows in this room, and a lot of glass vases. Not a good combination.

Heather/Lisa - The judges feel this is too themey, like a Chinese restaurant. I am concerned about the boxes at the foot of the bed. What if Alexis needed to get up in the middle of the night? She'd break her toes on those, or fall right over them. It's also waaaay too symmetrical. Even I know that. Symmetry is bad. And feng shui comes in there somewhere too.

Side note: What is it with all the orange and green in these three rooms?? Yuk. Being a child of the seventies, this brings back some bad decor memories. And I think next week, Bravo should try to take pictures of the rooms that DON'T show the studio lights. Unless that's part of the design.

Felicia/Matt - The colors are a bit drab, but I guess adding any of Alexis's objets d'art would put a little color into it. And might actually make them look less like midway junk. The lighted niche they built into the wall is very cool.

John/Michael - Blah. White. Dark brown. Orange. Green. Smelly shoes under the coffee table. Eww. The judges like the 'narrative' they put into the room (the shoes, stuff scattered around to make it look lived in). Also, Ralph[ie] does a lot of bitching to the judges about how horrid it was to have to work with such a narcissic imbicile who doesn't know how to paint and gives them a rash. (Time to get out that Red Ryder b-b gun again, perhaps, Ralphie?)

Goil/Elizabeth - A very relaxing room - nice cool blues and whites, and an interesting swinging couch with a sandbox underneath it. That would be totally fun to sit on it and draw in the sand with your toes! Margaret says that the big rake they put in to use on the sand makes her think of a giant litter box. Let's hope Alexis doesn't have cats.

Jonathan, being the lead judge, gets to say "You can stay" to the people who don't win but didn't lose (Carisa/Erik, Ryan/Andrea). The top two teams are Felicia/Matt and Elizabeth/Goil, with the latter taking the win! (I liked their room best anyway, mostly because it wasn't green and I like sandboxes.) That leaves Ralph[ie] and Heather/Lisa. You know that they can't possibly get rid of such a drama factory as Ralph[ie] yet, so poor Heather and Lisa are out. Jonathan simply says "goodbye" which I think is a nice, classy way to do it, much like the auf Wiedersehen you get over at Project Runway. Then he goes and spoils it by sending them out of the room with a "See you later, decorators!" and I gag. That is pure cornball. Who thought THAT up?? I think I'm going to have to mute that every week so I don't get sick.

Heather and Lisa get nice hugs from Todd, who comes in to talk with them and is very sweet. But I still don't think it's fair that they got kicked off so soon for a team challenge. Just dumb. Sorry you couldn't schedule more episodes, Bravo - next time just pick less people.

Will I tune in again next week? Sure. It's only the first episode, they'll get into a groove. But I hope that they show more of the design process (sketching, inspirations, etc.) and less of Ralph[ie]. Plus, it will be fun to see exactly how many different colors of eyeglass frames Goil owns. And I've already learned that it's bad to leave the selvage on fabric if you're hanging it up (so that's why my bedroom curtains look weird! No more using the selvage as the bottom hem I guess. Thanks Todd!).

Oh wait. Before I go, I have to get this off my chest. I know this isn't a show about fashion. Several of the designers were wearing somewhat questionable outfits. But look at this preview shot of Michael-Ralphie. What is he WEARING?? I don’t know if all those outfits Aunt Clara made for him finally confused him to the point where he just gave in, or if it was the soap poisoning, but grown men should NOT wear cutoff khaki pedal pushers. Don't try and tell me they're shorts.