Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge ‘Head’s Up’ Recap: Episode 01.04

Jim Henson's Creature Shop
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This week’s challenge is for the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop contestants to create a creature who has been slain, and whose head was mounted on a wall. They are then to bring the creature back to life, and using humor, have it explain how it feels about its fate. They need to use hand puppetry and at least one element of mechanization. So, this is a huge turnaround from last week and a nice look at the lighter side of creatures.

And this week, there are NO teams.

The Contestants are Ben, Ivonne, Jake, Russ, Lex, Melissa, and Robert.

There is a wall full of animal heads and each contestant got to choose the one they wanted to use. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop creative supervisor Pete Brooke then comes out and talks to all the contestants.

Jake starts molding immediately without ever drawing a sketch and he is making a troll. Ben is going to make his into an old man who is “a tree basically.” He has also chosen not to do a sketch. Ivonne did a quick sketch and hers is a predator.

Russ said he wants to “go big or go home” and his creature will be a Minotaur. Robert has a boar’s head and wants to make a more camel-esque creature that he wants to make into a hippy. Lex is making a “mean cat thing” that she hopes to make goofy. Melissa is making what she says will be the “Lochness Monster’s cousin” and also shows concern because she has never written comedy before.

The Jim Henson’s Creature Shop molders show up to mold their creatures. The next day, everyone is happy with the molder’s work. Lex is completely lost when it comes to the mechanics. Since everyone was working on their own, they were often lost when it came to areas that they did not work on in the previous projects (such as Melissa and the eyes).

Ivonne is having trouble because her head is too small for the electronics to operate the eyes. She said to make the eyes work, the sculpture would be destroyed. Most of the contestants left Day 2 disappointed.

Day 3 was the time they needed to finish. Ben felt comfortable heading into the day while Russ said he just needed to put his together. Melissa and Lex were having problems with the mechanisms and Ivonne was really struggling. It is interesting to see the contestants struggling by having to work on their own.

Melissa is stressing because she has so much to do while Ben and Robert are touching theirs up. Then she mentions how far behind Ivonne is, maybe to make herself feel better. Ivonne finally gave up on her original creature design and worked to make it bigger, a different creature, to make the animatronics work. When the day ends, Lex and Ivonne both say that they don’t want to present theirs at all.

The contestants head to the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop stage for their screen test. The judges are Kirk Thatcher (Dinosaurs, The Muppets), Beth Hathaway (Edward Scissorhands, Spy Kids) and Brian Henson. Donald Faison (Scrubs) is there as a special guest to play the wizard opposite the mounted heads. The challenge here is not only the detail but the storytelling.

Honestly, the performances were made all the better by Donald Faison and the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop puppeteers. They liked Ben’s except for the eyes. Ivonne admits she couldn’t finish her creature and the ears are just foam and the eyes are bad. Brian Henson did tell her that it was a fun creature.

Jake was told that his looked good and it was funny, while Henson said that the horns were a problem. Next up is Russ. They said they wished the eyes were mechanized. Kirk was not impressed with the lights around the neck but Henson said it was not great but it was impressive.

Beth loved how Robert’s looked and the detail he put into it. Kirk wished the eyes were more open and closed to signify it was a stoner and Brian felt the story didn’t match the stoner personality as well as it could have. Melissa was next and Kirk mentioned the monotone paint job, which Melissa said was done in 45 minutes. Beth said it didn’t look aquatic enough for her and Brian said he wished it was slicker. Lex was last. Beth liked the fur and Kirk mentioned the painted dot eyes making it look like a puppet instead of something realistic. Brian didn’t like the eyelids.

Safe: Russ and Lex

Best of the Week: Robert, Jake and Ben

Worst of the Week: Ivonne and Melissa

Winner: Ben                     Going Home: Ivonne

This was completely fair. Both Melissa and Ivonne struggled so much with this week’s Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. Neither seemed comfortable working alone (neither did Lex) and both seemed to stress out too much when things went wrong. Either one could have been eliminated and it would have been the fair decision. To give Ivonne credit, she admitted the decision was right and no one deserved to go home more than her. I also liked Ben winning, although Robert’s was amazing looking as well.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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