Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ANTM All-Stars: Greece is the Word

How are we, ANTM fans? Fierce and smizing? Our would-be supahstars are hanging on the bus, all of them pretty cheerful...seems like Alexandra isn't exactly missed. We watch them eating lunch while Angelea in voiceover tells us that "I wanna like Dominique, but Dominique is an actress. No one is Positive Patty all the time." It's true that there is a distressing lack of backbiting coming from Dom. Actually, there's a distressing lack of personality coming from Dom.

The girls get home and disperse, only to reconvene when a giant 16th-century Chinese gentleman knocks on their door--oh, wait, it's just Andre Leon Talley in his caftan and conical hat.  The thing that perplexes me most about ALT is that he's supposedly the height of fashion, but I have seen him wear this exact outfit multiple times! I thought fashionistas were never supposed to be seen in the same thing twice?

Anyway, ALT has come for "dinner," and calls two "waiters" into the hall.  They weave back and forth holding stacks of plates as a minuet for flute plays on the soundtrack, until...a collision! Plates are broken! "Waiters" who are actually "actors" stage a fight! Smash more dishes! The girls are shocked, either because they are gamely playing along or because they are dumb bunnies--could go either way.  ALT gives us the big reveal when he says, "I am so sorry for such gauche behavior, but actually, there is one country in the world where that is a tradition. In Greece! Where we are all headed!" Screaming, jumping, confetti. (When the heck did production manage to rig a confetti drop in the house?)

Andre brought extra plates, so all the girls get a chance to smash some while they practice saying "Opa!" (For some reason, Lisa pronounces this "oopa.") Angelea, as it turns out, is a huge mythology fan, so she's thrilled. And Laura says she's never been overseas--really? She didn't make it to the trip portion of her cycle? Oh, look, our poor waiters have been forced to change into togas while they pass dolmades. (See, I live in Astoria so I can bring the Greek snack knowledge hardcore.) The girls run off to the airport, abandoning their trashed foyer, and through the magic of television we are immediately in Athens!

Miss J is awaiting them as they get off the plane, along with Vicky Kaya, host of GNTM (Greece's Next Top Model, of course!). They're not staying in Athens, though--they have a puddle jumper to Crete, where they will attend a press conference and have to prepare a one-minute speech incorporating facts about Greece and a few words in Greek. This should be a...what's Greek for disaster?  The winner gets the people's ovation and fame forever! Sorry, wrong reality show. This winner gets jewelry.  On the flight, Angelea is staring out the window when Miss J asks if she's practicing her speech. She offers the classic lazy scholar's rationalization: she doesn't want to over-rehearse. Yeah, this should go well.

Ooh, Crete is really cute! Little square houses in tons of bright colors. Let's go! The girls disembark and are met at the bottom of the airplane stairs by a little group of volunteers/victims--the mayor of Crete, the head of the tourism ministry, and the second stringer from the local paper.  Laura expresses concern because of her dyslexia and her thick southern accent.

The first girl comes down the stairs and I know instantly that it's Lisa because she's in an inappropriately trashy halter top and too-short skirt.  (However, Lisa has become so orange that she's actually sharing a skin tone with Dom now.) She's reading from a clipboard, so I guess they didn't have to memorize their speeches? It's very fifth-grade report, but she tells them her name, in Greek, and says nice things about the saganaki. The producers are giving little "ding!" sounds every time she checks off a requirement, but then at the end she throws a fist in the air and shouts, "Woo, let's rock and roll!" and she gets a "buzz!" X and a clearly unrelated shot of the crowd not reacting. I don't know why she was buzzed, unless general obnoxiousness has suddenly become a bad thing on this show.

Lisa thinks she did great, but predicts that the girl who will "memorize" the most "words" (air quotes Lisa's) will be Allison, "But I don't think it'll be very fun to listen to." I must say that Allison's traveling outfit is adorable...a pink dress with maroonish hat and heels.  Very Pan Am. Her speech goes well, she says things in Greek, cut to Miss J and Vicki agreeing that she was very cute.

Shannon is next, and in her smoker's voice croaks out the Greek for "My name is Shannon," and then launches into a pat speech, all in English, about being a role model and maintaining standards, whatever. Huge toothy grin, not a word about Greece or its culture, and when she ends with a Greek "thank you," the crowd is nonplussed.

Dom has a very glam dress that could have been designed by Project Runway's Anya (or, you know, any resortwear designer of the last 20 years--sorry, Anya!), and kind of rushes through her speech, but praises the food and the culture. Suddenly it's question time, as a "reporter" in the crowd asks if she has a favorite Greek dish.  She says "Give me some tzahini sauce, and I'll be happy." Let's assume she meant tzatziki.

Laura is overwhelmed by the now gale-force winds threatening to steal her scarf, and instantly bungles her "my name is" line. After trying to compose herself, she clearly thinks, "To hell with it," and just bubbles at them in English. She's cute & bouncy and says she's excited to be there, and even manages to get out "goodbye!" in Greek.  Someone asks her, "If you were a Greek goddess, who would you be?" Poor Laura falls into the show's clever trap...she knows her brand is "love," so she says "Venus." Can you spot the problem? The "Buzz!" sure can--Venus is Roman. But you and I both know there was no way poor Laura was going to manage Aphrodite.

Angelea is in "composed professional" mode, but she's doing OK, give or take an occasional "I was, like, 'Wow!'" She busts out some Greek, asks to see Mt. Olympus, and generally seems to please the crowd...until she tries to end on a joke: "Now where's the bano, I have to go!" The producers are so displeased that she gets both the buzz! and a record scratch.

With that, the girls are carted off to their luxurious quarters on Crete...and the scenery is gorgeous, as is the resort where they're staying. That water is out of control...this is worth every penny the Greek Board of Tourism spent. Miss J joins them to deliver critiques--I am delighted to hear him call out Lisa for being dressed inappropriately. He tells Angelea she had the whole thing in her hand until she made her "where's the bathroom?" joke--she accepts it good-naturedly.  And the winner is? Allison, of course. She's the only one fit for public consumption most of the time.

The girls meet the jewelry designer who supplied the prize, and it's a gold cuff with diamond "corset strings" called the Scarlett O'Hara. Not great.  It's no Mikimoto pearl, that's for sure.

After some time to relax, Mr. Jay arrives to tell them that they will be working with someone to create a runway gown, which they will wear in the finale if they get that far.  The someone in question is Michael Cinco, who shot the landfill shoot from Cycle 16.  Our theme is "Immortal Goddess," and each girl sits on the patio with Michael to share their ideas. Cue the soundtrack of "These girls are idiots."

Angelea wants her gown to reference Grace Jones and Greek culture. Laura wants to evoke "the goddess of birth, but like, birth of calves and wheat." (Cue a moo.) Allison wants dark and romantic (shocker). Lisa asks for Christmas lights on her dress, and Michael tells her that would be tacky. Dom wants sparkly metallics dangling from her crotch? Shannon wants "sexy but conservative." Michael decides he is not getting paid enough for this.

Off to the photo shoot! And they have to get there on a boat--cool. I notice that once again, it is incredibly windy. Is this Greece's best-kept secret? It's gorgeous, but the wind is always blowing? Laura tells us that she feels terribly sick, but will power through. This will be important later.

Oh. My mistake. They are not getting on the boat, they are staying on the rocky beach, and what I thought was a boat is actually a giant...salad bowl. Because the girls will be modeling underwear in a Greek salad. This does not seem to be as celebratory of Greek culture as the tourism board might have hoped. Anyway, Mr. Jay can't wait to rub Shannon's nose in it, of course, but in a talking head, Shannon says, "I've made it clear that I don't pose in underwear and now here I am again." She barely even seems surprised.

As the girls get ready, we see that the lingerie is very swimsuity, with plenty of coverage, so as to most make Shannon look like a prude. One of the stylists dressing the girls says to Shannon, "No offense, but it's easier to change the model than the prototype." Yeah, well, presumably her agent wouldn't send her out on an underwear job if she refuses to do underwear. I am tired of this same standoff, show!

Ew. Out in the sun, they are filling the bowl with real tomatoes and cucumbers, which seems both gross and wasteful. Dom is first in the bowl, and Mr. Jay tells her, "Remember, you're going to work your...salad." That sounds obscene. And gets more so when she starts pouring oil on her chest. I don't think I should be watching this. But anyway, he loves her, loves how she works her angles, Dom is a rock star.

Break to watch Jay harp at Shannon some more, while Shannon insists that she doesn't care if the undies look like a bathing suit, she knows that they're undies. Angelea, on the sidelines, tells us, "I'm just going, 'Please, don't change your mind, don't change your mind.'" Heh. I like a girl who can admit when she's out for herself. Jay asks one more time for Shannon to explain her position to him, and...she can't. She mumbles and then comes to a halt. Er, Shannon, I'm all for being consistent, but YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND WHY YOU'VE MADE YOUR DECISION. Jay gives up and says, "OK, well, hang out, enjoy the beach." On to Angelea!

Angelea is told to create interesting shapes in her round bowl, and while she's lying down, they seem to like it, but when she sits up, Jay starts to sneer.  She says that Angelea's core is weak, and the nasty producers zoom in on her waist, which has the temerity to appear slightly fleshy. Not so fleshy that you wouldn't mind posing in lingerie covered in oil, but still. She ends on a good note, but how much do you want to be that her "best photo" is one of her sitting up, looking a little soft?

Back to hair & makeup, where Laura is now lying on the floor looking miserable. Then we see her affixing a mike pack to her bikini bottom and walking off with a PA somewhere.  To see a medic? Who knows?

Allison's up next, and Jay tells her to bring the same fluid sexiness to this shoot that she brought to her video last week.  She asks him how to handle the bright sun, which seems too bright for her pale eyes & she puts it in confessional, "Since I have vampire vision, and I'm not meant to be in the daylight, I can't open my eyes in the sun, and when I do...tears." She does look squinty. The photographer, Nick something, sounds a little racist when he says he likes photographing models with white skin and blue eyes: "We can be more creative with this type of girls." Er, say wha? Where's his record scratch sound, producers? But I will say he happily works with Allison's sun issues.  Basically, he lets her keep her eyes closed while she poses and then just says, "Look at Now. Now." So he shoots at the exact moment her eyes are opened. Jay doesn't beat up on her too much, but she's not excited about her prospects at judging.

Lisa's turn! She skips up to him saying, "Hiiii Mr. Jay, are you excited to shoot me?" I want to hit her in the face with a ten-inch skillet, over and over again. He seems mildly amused, though.  Lisa explains in confessional that "it's important to show more of how well I am at just being a model in a simple manner." Needless to say, sic, sic, sic. We don't see many of her shots, but I guess they liked her?

Laura still feels like crap, but will try to do her best. Her face is crazy broken out. She does not look like a model so much as a college girl who went to Greece for spring break. We see some pretty looks in close-up, but she didn't look modelly enough for Mr. Jay.  (You mean pouring olive oil on your face isn't all the rage in Vogue this season?)

Down to six at panel...ALT has eschewed the Asian hat for judging, and we're joined by this week's photographer as the guest judge. Tyra is enunciating each syllable like she's biting off a chunk of feta. And we're off! Allison's photo is reviewed first, and lo and behold, they chose one with her eyes closed. It's still pretty, however, and she looks like she's sunbathing in the salad bowl. Nick is disappointed that he couldn't capture their pretty color, though.

Angelea's shot is next, and amazingly, they didn't throw her under the bus--she has a pretty picture where she's sprawled across the bowl and shot from above. Nick kind of calls her out for being awkward at shoot, but Tyra says she likes it.

Lisa is captured lying in the bowl, but in profile, and she does look strong and interesting (and oily!). But Nick says that she sometimes seemed a bit like a computer on set, and Tyra suggests that she's a bit robotic and needs to loosen up. Ironic that this is Lisa's problem.

Shannon's next, and sets her jaw as she heads out to face the lions. She tells us all once again that years ago, she decided that she would not pose in lingerie, full stop. Nigel and Tyra try to convey to her that the argument seems semantic, since it's not based on how much of her body is exposed, but simply on whether a garment is classified as "lingerie" or "swimsuit." Really, they don't harangue her too much (and why would they? her stance on underwear is the only reason she's back here), but Tyra says that because there's no photo this week, they will use her whole portfolio for judging purposes.

Dominique has about a gazillion yards of super-curly hair. Where'd that come from? Tyra loves it. Dom's shot looks great--she has J.Lo face. I think her lower leg is a little too tucked up so it looks stumpy, but her cheekbones are amazing, as Tyra notes.

Finally, Laura, who's in a yellow dress with her hair in a braid. Tyra says she looks very "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." Heh. (Is that a YA novel shout-out to promote her own Modelland?)  They pull up a shot of her that's ostensibly her "best" shot, and it is terrible. There's no way that's her best. First of all, her face has a ghostly pallor, her mouth is wide open and she's pouring oil on her hair.  Nigel thinks her face is too erotic, and ALT is NOT down with pouring oil on your hairdo. I say the fix was in on that one.

The judges deliberate, and don't say anything terribly surprising. They love Allison's languid shot even though her eyes are closed, they think Angelea is pretty good, Lisa is too swimsuit (not clear on what that means--too strong/athletic?).  Laura's photo doesn't work, but she's a secret sex bomb; Dom has "all the right things" in her shot.  Shannon's standard perplexes the judges, but I am impressed that Tyra acknowledges her commitment to her beliefs. "Regardless of whether we find it confusion, it's not confusing to her. She stands firm, and there's gotta be something good about that."

The judges have reached a decision! Opa! This week's winning photo goes to...Dominique! Good for her--it was really pretty. Next are Allison, Angelea, and Lisa.  Our bottom two are Shannon and Laura--neither one surprising. I presume they'll finally boot Shannon, because honestly, she is long in the tooth for this competition anyway. And sure enough, they do. Laura is handed a photo and told to dial back the sexy (seriously? that's her problem?).  Shannon is sent home, ostensibly not because she bagged the photo shoot, but because she's never won a challenge or had best photo. Fair enough, really.  They play her out with a bit of her cute little video. Maybe she should go to Nashville...

And that's it! Next week, ocean swimming! Ouzo! Catfights! Until then, keep working your angles!

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