Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Face Off season 5

I don't watch many reality show competitions but this is one I love. The show started off interesting and has improved over the seasons.

The basic concept of the show is always the same. A group of makeup artists are given challenges, either as teams or individuals. A panel of judges made up of industry heavy-weights scores the makeups and divides them into Top Picks, Bottom Picks, and safe. They tell the people who did the top picks what they liked then choose a single individual who did the best job. Then they tell the Bottom Picks what they did wrong and select one person (sometimes two) who will be eliminated.

The show also has occasional Spotlight Challenges in which the contestants are given a short deadline and the winner gets immunity. These are often a tie-in to some other movie or show and there are fewer of these as time goes on.

Some things have changed. The first two seasons had a lot of monster makeup and titillation factor. Both seasons had nude body-paint challenges that must have been included to increase viewership. They dropped the body paint and even challenges that involve monsters have beauty makeup.

During the first season it was easy to tell who would be eliminated. Some of the creations were outright failures. Possibly the quality of the entrants has improved. It is still obvious that some contestants are not on the same level but there are few outright disasters.

The first season also had a villain - Frank who was so obnoxious obnoxious that you couldn't wait for him to be eliminated. I don't know if the producers asked him to act that way or if he thought that no one would ever see the show so it didn't matter how he acted. He's back in the 5th season without the attitude and is giving it his best effort.

In the first three seasons they had someone come through to advise the contestants. Sometimes this was a judge but often it was another tie-in with a show or movie. Starting with the 4th season, they have had a single mentor, industry legend John Westmore.

Another subtle change is the lack of drama. In the first two seasons there was back-biting and arguments. Since then everyone seems to get along as an extended family. There have been numerous examples where someone needed help and one or more others would drop their own work to assist. This sort of camaraderie is rare on shows like these.

Women had problems competing in the first two seasons. In the third season two of the three finalists were women (including the winner). In the 5th season, the two strongest competitors have been women.

The 4th season did have one big problem - a lack of drama. Anthony was such a strong competitor that it was obvious he would win. I suspect that the producers asked the judges to be harder on him.

By the 3rd season it was obvious that the judges were scoring based on past work as well as the current entry. One contestant always did the same face (a version of his own). Individually his pieces were all wonderful but the judges insisted that he do something different and he was eliminated when he failed to.

The big hook for the 5th season is that they brought back some of the best from the prior season. Some were huge fan favorites. The inclusion of familiar faces and the level of skill that they have has made this the best season yet.

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