Episodes

Menu for Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

Season

1

Episode

7

Alien Press Conference

It's the challenge we've all been waiting for: aliens. When Jake, Melissa, Robert, and Ben made their way into the Creature Shop this week, they were greeted by a very familiar face who happened to be an old friend of our host, Gigi Edgley. It was none other than Dominar Rygel the XVI from Farscape. 

Rygel was brought in to help inspire our designers in this week's challenge: design and build a new alien life form. These aliens were to be intergalactic diplomats on their way to a press conference and have to travel incognito. These aliens were to have a large outer head, which opened to reveal the true inner head of the creature.

Brian's instructions were very specific. The transformation needed to be very clever.  They needed to fabricate the outer head, but it didn't need to speak. The inner head needed to be sculpted and have at least one form of mechanization. And you guessed it—they only had a whopping three days to complete their work! Pete Brooke served as the master this week, and the designers were working on individual builds.

Day one was specifically set aside for sculpting the inner heads, as the mold makers were going to be in that evening to create the foam heads for the designers. Melissa was shooting for a creature that was old and frail, therefore had a reason to be hiding inside the larger creature.  She was determined not to be the one to go home this week. Jake was psyched about the opportunity to sculpt aliens.  It was one of his favorite things to do. He was shooting for what he described as an "intergalactic Mussolini". 

Ben was going for a creature which was very insectoid and kind of hideous to look at, but encased in only a slightly more inviting shell. After coming out on the bottom last week, he was determined not to be there again. Robert was shooting for regal. He wasn't more specific than that at the beginning, but he knew what he wanted.

Once their sculptures were finished and ready for the mold-makers, the designers each moved on to the eye mechs.  They ended the first day of the build with many incomplete eye mechanization parts on the work benches.

Day two was a resumption of eye mech work for most of the designers, and when the foam heads came back, they were all psyched to see the results of the previous day's work. Jake decided to go for a larger outside creature to allow him more room for movement and mechanization. 

Everyone was so stressed from the time constraint, but they were trying to hide it as much as they could.  Ben's problems with the latex paint causing his outer disguise creature to not quite open properly wasn't helping him, either.

Day three was going to be finalizing the creature that formed the outer shell.  The reveals had to be just right, and everyone knew that.  When Pete Brooke came around for his master session, he and Jake discussed some of the classic "alien within an alien" reveals, including the famous one from the original Men In Black.  We also found out that day two of the build was Jake's 22nd birthday.  Happy belated birthday, Jake!

Unfortunately, Jake had a lot of work to do on the third day of a three-day challenge.
Pete was also very concerned about whether the judges might be able to see the inner alien in the outer design that Jake had devised. 

Pete's master session with Robert was more intricate.  Robert had devised an intricate solution to a problem with how the puppeteer would work the creature instead of the normal "hand up the back" notion.  Robert put the head on a rod, and ran the mechanization wires down that rod so it could be manipulated that way instead. Pete found Robert's solution to be very creative and clever.

Pete's meeting with Melissa was also a worry about time.  He thought she had a good thing going, but still had a lot of work ahead of her for less than a day.

Pete's meeting with Ben was just as much a mentoring session as anything else.  He cautioned Ben on his tendency to overachieve, and wanted to make sure Ben always went forward with giving the client what they wanted. 

Screen Test day arrived, and everyone worked through the working of their creatures with the puppeteers. The judges this week were supplemented by the addition of none other than Barry Sonnenfeld as a guest judge.  Jake couldn't have been more psyched, as Men In Black was a huge influence to him when he saw it as a child.

Kirk Thatcher was a little concerned with Melissa's Basithe, as it looked a little too much like a floating head against the black background that she'd used on the inside of her external creature.  It looked almost as though the creature didn't have a body. 

Ben's King Karg went over interestingly. Kirk loved his creative reveal of the inner head.  Beth Hathaway loved the design, and Barry loved the idea of the outer creature's eyes becoming shoulder pads.  Brian thought the fabricated outer head wasn't what it could have been, but he adored the eyes on the inner creature.

Jake's creature was High Warlord Abiden, the warlord who'd been attacking all of the other worlds represented at the press conference.  Beth would have loved a little more in the eyes, but she thought it was rather cool.  Barry would have liked for the reveal to have been a little more dramatic. "You can never add too much KY Jelly to your alien," might go down as the best quote of the series.  Kirk loved the creature's mouth, and thought it reminded him of a James Bond villain.  Brian thought the outer creature needed a little work, but thought the inner creature was good.  

Robert's creature was named Reginald, and Kirk loved it, because he thought it looked like the child of the Grinch and E.T. He thought, however, that the eyes were a bit dead on the inner creature.  Beth disagreed with him, and thought they went with the overall look.  Barry loved the creature, and told a story about designing creatures with Rick Baker.  Specifically, they discussed the whole notion of whether aliens would have eyes and a mouth. Brian marveled that he thought the creature was absolutely camera-ready.    

Barry was blown away by all of the designers' capacity for work product in a matter of three days.  He said at one point that creatures like this would have been five months of work for his folks. 

Ultimately, Brian thought it came down to the fact that there was no real loser this week.  It was a choice between "most impressive" and "least impressive".  The judges were all impressed by how much Melissa had grown in her skills over the last few weeks, and Barry thought her reveal was excellent.

Barry thought that Ben's creature was everything the challenge looked for.  The eyes on Ben's creature really were what impressed the judges most.  Kirk actually saw a creature there thanks to those eyes.

Jake's creature was, according to Barry, more impressive when they were talking to Jake.  The hinge didn't quite work for the judges, and they were surprised at such a big head coming through the smaller opening in the outer suit.

Robert's creature wowed Barry.  Beth thought there was no part of the creature that wasn't finished off.  Brian still believed Robert's creature was camera-ready.  The decision was not going to be an easy one for them.

Ultimately, Ben's transformation and intricate design took the week.  Robert was the second choice for the finale, and Melissa rounded out the final three.

Jake, unfortunately, was the eliminated designer this week. The judges were truly impressed with his grown as a designer since the challenge began.