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October 13, 2015

'Face Off' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Feb 10th 2011 6:45AM
syfy face off aliens['Face Off' – 'Out of This World']

This week's episode of 'Face Off' was a treat for sci-fi nerds as a special guest judge, 'Star Trek' alien designer Michael Westmore, inspired the contestants to create their own original alien creature.

Our fledgling behind-the-scenes stars were charged with designing a fictional inhabitant of a very real planet, Gliese 581 g – the most Earth-like planet that exists outside of our solar system (that we know of, of course).

The artists met Westmore -- an Oscar-winning designer who created the aliens for all four 'Star Trek' spin-off shows and the 'TNG' movies -- at the iconic Vasquez rocks (where Captain Kirk famously karate-chopped the Gorn, Bill and Ted got dead, and Malcolm McDowell made a million nerds very very angry).

After some sage creature-crafting advice from the master -- don't forget about the eyes, "they're the windows to the soul" -- the group learned all about Gliese 581 g (it's a lot like Remus) and they were split into teams of two.

Before we jump into the alien designs, let's take a sec here to talk about the show's cute little love connection between Megan and Conor. Megan is smitten, which is sweet, and Conor seems flattered and interested in an "aww shucks" kind of way; he even offered her a special birthday cupcake. It was a little strange at first to see 'Face Off' diving into the contestants' personal lives and crushes here, but it made sense later on when Megan was more than a little disappointed about not getting paired up with Conor.

Conor teamed up with Jo (who looks like a Megan clone) and Megan, like, totally swore that she wasn't jealous and stuff. Even though she was. And everyone knew it.

Conor and Jo's collaboration seemed to work out quite nicely, even with Jo complaining that she felt like Conor, who has 20 years of experience on her, was baby-sitting her. I think the best thing to do on these two-team collaborations is to let the pro take the lead. It worked out for Conor and Jo. Their creature turned out great, and the judges loved it. The attention to detail on the face was outstanding, especially considering the time limit. This was a cool, regal-looking alien that wouldn't have looked out of place on a sci-fi TV show. Maybe putting a dress on the thing and covering up the body was a bit of a cheat, but the judges didn't seem to mind. The face and hand details sold it. Conor deserved the win.

A lot of the other contestants struggled to work together. Megan and Tom were bickering from the start, and Megan seemed too busy spying on Jo and Conor half the time to really focus on her work. I know reality shows like to create narratives and manipulate the facts with "creative" editing, but Megan did seem pretty damn obsessed with Jo and her close proximity to Conor. In the end, Megan and Tom's alien looked like a sloppy, uninspired mutant, and the disjointed design reflected their shaky partnership. Even Megan used words like "awful" and "disgusting" to describe the end product. She wasn't far off.

Anthony's worst nightmare came true when he was paired with Frank, who's easily the laziest and cockiest artist of the bunch. As per usual, Frank took a more-than-casual attitude toward the challenge, not communicating with Anthony, almost giving up halfway through and doing a half-assed job. As one of the judges remarked, their partnership ended in disaster, with a boring design that looked like it was patched together in a hurry. The only cool thing here was Anthony's bulbous back piece. Sadly, the judges chided him for not really stepping up when Frank was slacking off, but Anthony's contribution still looked okay. What Frank did -- the body suit and the lackluster face design -- looked pretty bad. I almost cheered when he was sent packing, especially when he said "Yes!" after the judges ousted him. He doesn't belong on this show.

Conor, the night's winner, recommended that the judges cut Tom, and not Frank. He said Tom deserved to go because he didn't work well with Megan, leading to the unimpressive design. Hmmm ... Frank was the obvious loser here. Did Conor's budding feelings for Megan cloud his judgment?

I really liked Tate and Sam's creature. It was ambitious and creepy, and the judges were so impressed with it that they overlooked a small tear in the alien's "womb." This was a collaboration that worked from the start with both artists agreeing on an overall concept, coming up with a creative but risky plan ("Let's turn the model upside down!") and just attacking it. It was nice to see the other group members pull together to help them finish as the clock started to wind down.

Gage and Marcel worked quietly in the background without any drama and just the slightest bit of apprehension. I wasn't a big fan of their alien's albino skin, but it made sense considering that the creature was supposed to live on the dark side of the planet. The shape of the face and the porcupine quills on the back looked amazing. The detailed airbrush work was original and top-notch, especially on the body. This entry wouldn't have looked out of place on an episode of 'Buffy,' which probably pleased judge (and former 'Buffy' bad guy designer) Glenn Hetrick.

'Face Off' is turning out to be an unexpected pleasure. The show does a good job of illustrating the artistic process, and the guests and judges offer some great insight into the behind-the-scenes wizardry that goes into movie monster-making. One of the best parts of this week's episode was watching judge Patrick Tatopoulos pop up in the middle of the show. He basically freaked everyone out by eyeing their unfinished work, but his conversation with host McKenzie Westmore about the designs was insightful and a lot of fun to watch.

'Face Off' airs Wednesdays, 10PM ET on SyFy.

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Kim A.

Isn't Connor like 20 years her senior? whatever. episode 4 sort of clears things up abt it.

February 21 2011 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alicia S.

Sounds interesting. I just may have to start watching this one!

February 10 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Vela

It's cool to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating these alien creatures...I really don't care about the personality clashes...I guess that's done to try to attract viewers...it does nothing for me...

February 10 2011 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
General Kenobi

My guess is that Conor was playing the game and trying to get rid of someone that actually had talent. Why jettison Frank when Frank's a complete douche and has no intention of trying, let alone winning? If he could've kept Frank for another week, it's another week when the obvious choice would've been Frank. That said, I think everyone in the audience is happy that this talentless, motivationless loser is gone. One wonders why he even went on the show. Clearly he thought he'd be the star, and when he ended up being middling, he just gave up and acted the ass to cover his lack of talent, methinks... anyway, I hope Megan goes soon also.

As for the albino, I don't think the veining they worked on so hard actually showed on camera very well. The judges get to get up and look more closely, it would be smart if they also did a screen test, as that'd be pretty important, as I think that albino probably looked a lot better in person than it did on any of our screens.

February 10 2011 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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