We’re into the ninth season of Syfy’s Face Off, which continues to be the network’s highest rated unscripted series. This week’s make-up theme is Star Trek, so I was eager to see where they took the challenge. The episode is in the series typical two challenge format, however this time the way they tie it back to Star Trek is that in the first round the contestants have to create an alien design based on a different background assigned to each person, and in the second they’re tasked to update it for a Next Generation era feel.
Since the first round is always only a few hours in length, the challenge was to come up with an alien character with a TOS-era look (read: relatively simplistic and something they could pound out quickly). Host McKenzie Westmore‘s father, Michael Westmore returns again as the guest mentor & judge for the remaining contestants. His being on any episode is a plus, as he, more than many of the featured industry guests, continues to have some of the best feedback and helpful ideas for the various competitors.
I’ve no idea where the costume closet that they raid pieces from is, but they did make use of a Galaxy Quest costume (since it’s one my favorite Star Trek movies, I was bummed none of the judges or contestants mentioned it). Once the initial challenge is complete and the winner selected, it was time to move on to the second round. The twist in this episode beyond that of the norm, is that the second round was a challenge to make a “Next Generation” variation of the design created in the first round. They were to take those same alien designs but update them with a two-day makeup and prosthetic build session to showcase their ability to modernize and expand on an initial creation.
An ever-jovial Jonathan Frakes appears halfway through the episode to join Michael in giving the various competitors feedback and to ask questions about the directions they were taking on their designs. Michael Dorn appears and joins in the action as a judge during the final reveal of the models wearing the full costumes, makeup, and prosthetics.
The episode ties itself together better than most in that you get to see each contestant take a second stab at their designs. Some realize just where to go to make it really pop, while others have that deer caught in the headlights look. I could still wish that there’d be more time given to heading the feedback and suggestions given by Jonathan and Michael to the various designs, but overall getting to see where modern makeup artists are able to go with little time and lots of pressure (and skipping the too-common interpersonal drama that plagues so many of these competition shows) continues to be a leading reason why Face Off’s ratings numbers remain among Syfy’s highest.
Face Off shows Tuesday nights at 9 p.m./8 p.m. central.