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Miramax Pictures presents
Project Runway: Season Two (2006)

"What happened to Andrae?"
- Santino "Tim Gunn" Rice

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: August 17, 2006

Stars: Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors
Other Stars: Raymundo Baltazar, Chloe Dao, Marla Duran, Kirsten Ehrig, Diana Eng, Daniel Franco, Andrae Gonzalo, Zulema Griffin, Kara Janx, Emmett McCarthy, Santino Rice, Nick Verreos, Guadalupe Vidal, Daniel Vosovic, John Wade
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language)
Run Time: Approx. 751 min.
Release Date: June 27, 2006
UPC: 796019793018
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+B B

DVD Review

I believe, and Time magazine is with me on this, that Project Runway has breathed new life into the crowded field of reality television by devising a series that actually requires something of its contestants. They aren't just looking to become famous, nor are they being sold to the public like a brand (by which I mean to say, bad American Idol contestants). They actually have to have... what's that stuff? Talent. Add to that the fact that Season One and this winter's follow-up were both exceptionally well cast, and you've got the makings of the best reality series on television.

And it's the casting that's really the key. Sure, the premise is great—a dozen or so up-and-coming fashion designers complete weekly tasks under outlandish time constraints, and a trio of fashion industry experts eliminates them one by one—but that's been true of other shows that have underperformed without breakout personalities (there's no other reason Top Chef shouldn't have been just as good, except for maybe that you can look at the fashion but you can't sample the food). Season Two of Runway eclipses the first, not only because the challenges are more inventive, but because the contestants are an even more oddball assortment, with villains and heroes, those who are immediately repulsive and those who will win you over in the long run.

Not much has changed, really. Heidi Klum is still the host, top designer Michael Kors and fashion mag editor Nina Garcia are still around, and the invaluable Tim Gunn is still shepherding his charges at the Parsons School of Design in New York. As I said, though, the challenges are even better. The designers are invited to a party and told they'll have to design an outfit using only the material they are wearing, prompting much hand-wringing about favorite jeans and spiritually-significant leather jackets, not to mention heirloom scarves. They're told they'll be designing for a fashion icon; it turns out to be Barbie (in both doll- and life-size). A dress for a garden party, made out of the garden. A costume for an Olympic ice skater. A makeover for a fellow competitor. There aren't really any duds, even if, as always, some of the eliminations are head-scratchers.

So the tasks are good, but, to borrow a well-worn Tim Gunn-ism, it's the designers who make it work. Love them or hate them, most of this bunch is great fun to watch, and provide plenty of memorable moments. There's Andrae, the drama queen, rail-thin, bald as a cue ball and mouth constantly agape as an expression of theatrical surprise (prompting his fellow contestants to try out their impressions). His Episode 2 crying jag during the runway judging stands as some of the most bizarre reality TV behavior I've witnessed. Toweringly tall, gravelly-voiced Santino is the villain, his notable design skill trumped only by his massive ego; he's got a smart mouth and does a wicked Tim Gunn impersonation (prompting one of the season's memorable catch phrases, "Where's Andrae?"), but he's a lot less entertaining when he's making fun of the others or chining when he doesn't win a challenge.

Andrae and Santino are the most memorable of the bunch, but even the under-the-radar types have their moments this season. There's math-nerd Diana, who likes to work scientific gimmicks into her stuff (and surprises everyone when she transforms into "Dirty Diana" on the dance floor); 40-something Marla, who doesn't seem to have a problem taking inspiration from others; Zulema, who thinks it's funny to pretend she has multiple personalities; and Nick, an elegant designer who fills the catty gay man slot without looking like a stereotype. Even touchy-feely Daniel Franco, who's back after a first-round elimination in Season One, makes an impression with his oddball mannerisms (his tendency to putter around the workroom, examining his work from every angle and distance, is nicknamed the "Daniel Franco shuffle").

Even though I have no real interest in fashion, I enjoy watching the designers struggle to come up with something creative, and I can appreciate the final product more knowing the work that went into it. The combination of familiar reality TV conventions (bickering contestants, dramatic twists, lingering villains) and the need for actual talent is near perfect.

Where is Andrae?

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This looks just as good as any other recent TV show on DVD: bright colors, nicely detailed image, and some visible grain due to the low budget. No problems.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is perfectly suitable—voices come through loud and clear and the "make it work" music fills out the front soundstage.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 56 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
7 Deleted Scenes
4 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Audition tapes
  2. Tim Gunn's blog
Extras Review: Project Runway once again arrives on DVD with a few fashionable accessories. The quick turnaround time (the show just ended in February) means the bonuses lack perspective, but it's not really an issue when they're also this entertaining.

Over 20 minutes of outtakes offer a few scenes from the sewing room floor, including two destined for the reality TV Hall of Fame. Santino's verbal sparring match with judge Nina Garcia from the lingerie challenge (09m:49s) proves that, whatever he claims, the season's villain was not created through editing. He's defensive right off the bat, talking about how he, I guess, meant for the clothes to be hideous, explaining his rational to Nina like she's a 5-year-old who favors OshKosh B'Gosh, and eventually yelling at her outright. And then there's the season's most cringe-worthy display: Andrae, agog and spilling crocodile tears during his first runway appearance (08m:43s). If you thought what was shown during the episode or the reunion show was bad, well... just wait. Andrae: "I'm NOT SUPPOSED to be CRYING!" We know, dude. The other cut scenes are much shorter—goofy songs, a game of "would you rather," and a flat blooper reel.

WEAR Are They Now? segments for the top three finishers run a total of around 20 minutes, but since they were taped about a month after the show ended, the answer is pretty obvious. At least the winner's photo shoot goes better than Season One winner Jay's did.

A reel of audition tapes (13m:34s) and a preview of Season Three (08m:24s) close out the video extras, but the set also includes another essential: fashion mentor Tim Gunn's blog, ported over from the Bravo website. For each episode, Gunn provides a rundown of the winning and losing designs and everything in between, pointing out who made it work and who didn't. Diehards have already read/heard these, I'm sure, but they're an excellent inclusion.

The episodes are divided into four chapters and are subtitled, as are all of the bonus materials.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Project Runway's spring 2006 line turned out even better than its celebrated 2005 debut: a better cast, inspired challenges, and the same creative spark made it the best reality show in a very crowded marketplace. If you're a fan, you know buying the DVD is worth it; this show has more replay value than anything else in the genre.

 


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