Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge Season Finale: Episode 01.08

JIM HENSON'S CREATURE SHOP CHALLENGEPhoto by: Dale Berman/Syfy
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Finale time is here for the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge! The Contestants are called into Brian Henson’s office individually to get pointers on how to do the best they can, giving each the edge to win. He goes over their strengths and weaknesses, and delivers the last Creature Brief of the season.

Melissa, Robert and Ben must create a fantasy being. A traveler that meets 2 other travelers at mysterious tavern, where they will tell each other the story of where they came from, about their species and the journey that they are on. The first challenge where all 3 Designer’s creatures will have to interact. In addition, they must incorporate a special effect, like spitting, or vomiting, that will bring the character to life. If that weren’t enough, they have to build a prop that will be a part of their character’s story. Their traveler will need to enter, full figure, onto the set and sit down at the bar. All of this must be accomplished in 3 days, but they will have the help of one of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Masters, and the Contestants that were voted out.

The Teams

Melissa–  Lex & Chaz

Robert– Russ & Yvonne

Ben– Tina & Jake

Ben dives in, excited by the challenge and ready to go. He is planning a sad character, that will be the last of his species, looking for someone to raise an embryo that he created. His special effect will be a creature that cries. Melissa designs a scruffy, elderly, spirit of the forest-like creature that carries a pipe, with smoke that comes out of his nose. Robert decides to go large, hoping his character will be about 8 feet, with a crystal ball as his prop. He doesn’t yet reveal what his special effect  will be. The finalists delegate the tasks and scramble to get as much done as quickly as possible by the end of day one.

Day 2 comes, and Melissa gets hung up on malfunctioning eye mechs, which jump erratically. She knows that everything must be perfect for the last Jim Henson’s Creature Shop challenge. Ben’s embryo is unsettling, looking like an unformed baby covered in fluids, severed umbilical cord and all. Melissa goes a more classic fantasy route, her character will carry a glowing bottle containing the elixir of life. Robert decides to incorporate the special effect into the prop, a case that uses dry ice to create fog as the crystal ball is revealed. By the end of day 2, all the teams are confident with the amount of work that they have done.

On day 3, Melissa works in the smoke effect on her creature, using a loud smoke machine that isn’t exuding enough smoke. Chaz manages to work out the kinks, and they are set to go. The crew meets with their Shop Masters, who are all impressed with the amazing work that they have done on this challenge. John Criswell advises Melissa to mechanize her creature’s eyebrows, to add that little extra touch that will knock her character up to the same level as Robert’s. An hour before the screen test, the former Contestants are sent away, leaving the final 3 to put the finishing touches on their work. Time is called, the crew gives each other a happy hug, and then they leave to meet with their puppeteers. As a special surprise, their families are brought to the set to support them, prompting lots of tears and well wishes before heading out to the stage.

The stage is set, and the Contestants are met with a cheering and applauding audience. The Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Judges are introduced once more; Kirk Thatcher, Beth Hathaway, Brian Henson, and Lisa Henson, CEO of The Henson Company.  After all the introductions are made, the test begins.

Melissa’s furry beast enters first and takes a seat, followed by Ben’s. Robert’s hulking creature enters last. All truly impressive, but Robert’s really stands out the most, with Melissa’s coming in a close second. Ben’s creature cries as it passes it’s embryonic son to Robert’s character. The tears are sadly hard to see. The fog around Robert’s crystal ball is hard to see as well, making it hard to judge it’s success. The stories created for the creatures to tell are all well thought out. Ben’s story seemed the strongest, while Melissa’s effect worked the best.

After the screen test, the Contestants are called before the Judges to explain their work. They seem hard on Melissa’s creature, telling her of all the elements that they wish she had added, like teeth. They aren’t impressed with Ben’s paint job, and gaps in the spaces around the creature’s head. The Judges are impressed with Robert’s costuming and the mechanization of his creature. After their critique, they are sent off stage for the Judges to deliberate, waiting for that final call that will decide their fate.

Finale Winner & Newly Hired Creature Designer: Robert!

When they call Robert’s name, it’s obvious that it doesn’t immediately sink in, he’s stunned. I am so glad, he is really deserving of the job. I am hopeful that Melissa will be offered a job off screen as well, they would be crazy not to grab her up and add her to their team. Regardless, she will no doubt go far in the industry. Ben is talented too, but I think he needs to work his way up for a while, learning what it’s like to be a part of a true collaborative effort. If he doesn’t let his ego get in the way, he could go far as well. That was an amazing season finale, I really hope they renew Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge for a second season!

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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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