Steampunk'd Debuts: Episode One Recap
Created by wilhelminaframe on 8/20/2015 12:43:22 AM

Editrix de Mode Wilhelmina Frame begins her series recapping Game Show Network's new reality competition show Steampunk'd. Episode recaps will include SPOILERS.

The highly anticipated and preemptively reviled Steampunk’d made its debut tonight on The Game Show Network. Every Wednesday at 9pm Eastern, Steampunk makers will compete for a cash prize of $100,000 and the title of “America’s Top Steampunk Maker”. So how did Steampunk’d come off? Is it the eminent death of all artistry and individuality in the genre?

In Episode One, Steampunk’d presents itself firmly in the mode of other competition based reality shows. Ten makers compete in two teams to build a room for a Steampunk “manor”. One room will ultimately win, with a maker on that room’s team being the ultimate number one that week. There is also a 2nd place winner who can come from either team. Someone from the losing team is auf’ed. It’s a tried and true blueprint. Nothing is really new here. My immediate reaction was that I was watching the forgotten sibling of Face Off, featuring no one nor any properties by relation that most viewers will have ever heard of. The opening montage throws up some random celebrities but really, if you’ve never heard of Steampunk, you’re not going to be educated or recognize anything you see on screen.

It’s hard to say much about the skills of the makers in Episode One. There were perfunctory comments made about being artists, carpenters and loving Steampunk but I didn’t get much of a handle on anyone beyond the drama they (or the editors) created during the three day build. Early on there were some attempts to cast people as certain tropes: JW as the competent, but old man grumpus know-it-all; Ave, as the drama queen, who gave the show its first tears at the 24 minute mark; Miss Morgan in a similar yet lesser role as drama queen #2 and so on.

The challenge was to create a Steampunk kitchen that 1) told a story / had a cohesive theme 2) had a costume 3) featured a Rube Goldberg type machine that could “serve” breakfast. I was fairly impressed with the setup of the challenge on several fronts. The room had to have a theme or story. It couldn’t just glue it on and call it Steampunk (although to some degree both rooms did).  The Rube Goldberg machine had to do something, ie work, however tangentially from its supposed purpose. Finally, I was pleased that a fashion and costuming element was included. As a fashionista, I was concerned that this vital part of Steampunk making would be ignored and I was glad to see that it was not. Also, it gave Kato something judge.

And what about the judges? From the point of view of a Steampunk afficiando, Thomas Willeford seemed like the only obvious choice for judge. He has some of the highest visibility in Steampunk globally and while many viewers won’t know his name, I am sure lots of the nerdcore tuning in might remember his mechanical arm from its appearance on Castle. If you image search Steampunk, you will invariably find an image of Kato in the first couple of hits. Whether or not you think she is a good designer, her cute accent and good looks are perfect for TV. I noticed that Steamgirl was not listed on Kato’s resume. Maybe that is because Game Show Network is also home to America’s Bible Challenge Game. Matt King? Who is this guy? I had to look him up. I guess he’s been on some shows and he writes and produces a Steampunk web series that was funded by Kickstarter. OK, I guess?? At least it wasn’t G.D. Falksen.

In the end, Team Eddie emerged triumphant with Ave being crowned the winner for the week. Miss Morgan from JW’s losing team was the 2nd place winner due to her semi-effective robot costume. Cutest guy on the show according to Kato, Tobias, was sent away due to his inability to produce a Rube Goldberg device. In the judging, Tobias basically said that he told his Captain JW that it wasn’t in his wheelhouse, so therefore, it wasn’t his fault that he failed his team on one of the three stated tasks. Have a good time trying that excuse in the real world Tobias! By and large the judging, this week, seemed to make sense.

If Steampunk’d is going to ruin anything for Steampunk at large, it will be by reinforcing the misconception that Steampunk is a bunch of poorly executed, tasteless junk masquerading as art. Neither team managed to present something that looked, on television, tasteful or well made. Team JW in particular made a horrendously awful chartreuse, purple and burgundy room that was an assault to the eyes. I’m all for color in Steampunk, but good lord, make it all brown if that’s what’s going to happen. That is not to say that we might not see better as the season goes on. It was the first build, with unfamiliar people working in an unfamiliar environment. I’m also sure many didn’t practice how to make things fast, as contestants on Project Runway often do. Being forced to work in teams for the entire competition may create drama, but it could also backfire in terms of cohesive, well-executed design.

Preview shots for future episodes teased appearances from Dita Von Teese, Glen Hetrick from Face Off, Carter Oosterhouse originally from TLC’s Trading Spaces, people punching metal cabinets, and one of the contestants being taken away in an ambulance. Sounds like reality TV. See you for Episode Two!

Steampunk'd airs Wednesdays on Game Show Network.

The opinions expressed in this recap are from our Editrix de Mode and not necessarily those of Steampunk Chronicle. 

Editrix de Mode and Part Time Lion Tamer, Wilhelmina Frame travels the globe in pursuit of adventure and style. When not in the circus ring with Rajah, her tiger and the rest of her “Kitten Kabal” (seven lions, three cheetahs and a rather droll panther), Ms. Frame can be seen at the most fabulous parties, in the latest fashions, sparkling with wit in conversation. Ms. Frame is the founder and Tiffin Master of The American Tea Duelling Society. Ms. Frame's alter-ego, Gretchen Jacobsen, is a freelance producer, award-winning costumer, prolific crafter, frequent convention panelist and model. You can visit Ms. Frame on Facebookfollow her on Pinterest, via @ptliontamer on Twitter or read her latest at her blog, Part Time Lion Tamer.









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