"Project Runway" is the latest reality series focusing on the modeling business (see also: "America's Top Model".) This time around, model Heidi Klum hosts as the cameras watch the work of 12 designers who were picked from a massive group of applicants from around the country. The group gets their own luxury NYC apartments, and then one of them is eliminated each week as their work is judged. The eventual winner will get a lucrative design contract and a $100,000 prize. The set of models that the designers can use to show off their fashions are also eliminated one per week, with the last model left getting an exclusive spread in Elle Magazine.
What sets "Project Runway" apart are innovative contests - the first project (called "Innovation", no less) sets the tone, as it actually involves the designers going to a grocery store with $50 and being required to build an outfit out of things they find at the store. The challenges during the series are just that - challenges; they don't take it easy on the contestants and require definite skill to succeed. The results of the tasks are definitely interesting to see, as there are some that are remarkably creative, and others that just don't work.
The other elements about "Runway" that are very refreshing are the fact that, while there are definitely big personalities in the pool of contestants and the show does show some catfights and arguments, the series focuses more on the actual work that the contestants are trying to do. Additionally, some of the people are actually pleasant to one another, which is a real shocker for a reality series. Additionally, Heidi Klum actually makes a very good host, managing to not keep the focus on her in her scenes, and yet not be so subdued that she becomes a non-factor. It's a tough balance, but she achieves it quite well. The pacing and documentary-style cinematography are also faster and sharper than most similar shows on TV today.
Despite not really having any idea about fashion or the fashion industry, I found this to be a very engaging series.
VIDEO: "Project Runway" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Miramax. The show appears to have been shot on digital video, and while the picture quality varies at times, the presentation looks mostly good. Sharpness and detail are very good at best, and average at worst, but the presentation appears mostly well-defined.
In terms of flaws, I did see some noticable instances of pixelation in a few scenes, but these instances were few-and-far-between, with most of the footage being free of this concern. Otherwise, some minor-to-mild shimmering on occasion is the only other issue. Colors remain natural and accurate, with no smearing or other problems.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack is crisp and easily understood, with no concerns.
EXTRAS: "Wear Are They Now?" segments for five contestants (40 minutes total for all 5 pieces), 10 deleted scenes and galleries for the designer's works. All extras are on disc 3.
Final Thoughts: Certainly one of the better reality shows out there, "Project Runway" does offer the usual drama, but mostly focuses on the tough tasks the designers face and how they try to use their skills to succeed each week. Even as someone who has little knowledge or interest in fashion, I liked the series. Miramax's DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality and a few minor supplements. Those with an interest in the fashion industry or those who already fans should pick it up. Others may want to give it a try as a rental first.