Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge ‘Life in Motion’ Recap: Episode 01.05

Jim Henson's Creature Shop ChallengePhoto by: Dale Berman/Syfy
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This week, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop starts with Brian Henson and Gigi Edgley presenting the crew with the enormous black unicorn from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way tour. Impressive in size and design, it is manned from inside by 2 puppeteers. This is a hint at what is to come. This round the Contestants face another difficult challenge, the Creature Brief? To make a large scale creature that comes to life not by how it looks, but by how it moves. The creatures will be made in teams of 2, and will have a profession puppeteer to help with the design and to man the final piece.

The Teams

Lex & Jake

Ben & Melissa

Russ & Robert

John Criswell returns this week as the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Master, throwing in the added challenge of using UV paint on their creatures, so they will glow in the dark.

Ben and Melissa decide on a bird, Lex and Jake go with a reptile design akin to a giant komodo dragon, and Russ and Robert decide to do a bird as well.

Melissa struggles right off the bat, when Ben takes charge, not letting her use any of her ideas. This makes her understandably nervous when it comes down to the judging. Jake spends most of day 1 sculpting detailed feet and a head for his and Lex’s creature, making Lex worry about time on day 2. John Criswell points out that Lex was left with the brunt of the body work thus far, while Jake stayed in his comfort zone, molding stationary pieces on a piece that will be judged on movement. When it comes to Melissa and Ben’s piece he is very hesitant and skeptical, in comparison to Russ and Robert’s bird. After the consultation with John, Ben throws a lot of changes into the fabrication, throwing Melissa for a loop. She is visibly frustrated, hoping that following his controlling lead doesn’t send her home.

Rehearsal time comes and none of the teams are really close to ready. Melissa and Ben quickly realize that their bird’s wings don’t work and will have to be changed again. Ben is finally ready to take some of Melissa’s advice. With 4 hours left in the day, all the teams are hurting. All are still painting up until the very last minute.

Screen test day arrives, and the black light stage is set. Russ and Robert are up first, their bird rises off of a nest of glowing eggs. Their test goes off with out a hitch. Melissa and Ben go next, their bird looks really good under the black light, the textures really shine. Last is Lex and Jake,  their lizard is a bit bulky and lacks much defined movement.

Safe: Russ & Robert

Worst: Lex & Jake

Best Creature: Melissa & Ben

Overall Winner: Melissa

Going Home: Lex

I’m so happy that the Judges were able to see Melissa’s contribution, and how she basically pulled them out of the fire. I still wish that the Judges watched the behind the scenes secretly, which would only make sense when choosing someone for not just a winner, but a lasting job contract. It’s interesting that the strongest Contestants seem to also be the most humble on this show. I am sad that Lex was sent home, though I think both her and Jake would have gone home sooner than later. Jake would be far more suited as a contestant on Face Off, than this show, which involves so much more fabrication than sculpture and molding.

As a die hard fan of both fabrication and everything Jim Henson, I love the fun facts that we learn every week, like the tidbit Brian Henson shared about every feather on Big Bird being hand placed, so whenever Big Bird is shown, he has to have a 1st class ticket so his feathers don’t get ruffled. He also shared a tip to designers, if ever you don’t want something to glow, spritz it with sunblock, and it will glow no longer ! Makes sense, but I know I would never have thought of it. So many neat ideas, and interesting challenges, I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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About the Author

Ruby LeRouge
is a long time slave to the Silver Screen, and all around media junkie, with a strong interest in the study and archival of classic cinema reels, scripts, press releases and props. A professional artist, dabbling in prop fabrication, costuming, and practical effects makeup in her spare time. She credits much of her artistic inspiration to her life long love of movies, and holds a special adoration for stop motion animation, film noir, and classic B movies. She writes a movie editorial blog called Sleepless Cinema, sharing her candid view on all media, new and old. Insomniac and cinephile, coffee swiller and media collector, has silver screen scream queen dreams, and she lives her life in technicolor. "While the world sleeps, I watch". - Ruby LeRouge
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