Face Off Season 8
Fifteen contestants compete in a variety of challenges where they must design and create unique creatures for a panel of judges. Though each contestant has a large amount of talent and skill, only one person can be the winner, and everyone else is sent home one-by-one.
44 mins per episode
January 13, 2015
Director(s): Michael Agbabian, Dwight D. Smith, Derek Atherton
Starring: Glenn Hetrick, McKenzie Westmore, Ve Neill
Distributor: Mission Control Media; Syfy
Syfy’s Face Off is the reality television show that every cosplay-loving geek should be watching. (Actually, it’s the only reality show anyone should be watching, but we’ll leave my disdain for the genre out of it.) Since season 8 has just wrapped up, it’s time to relive the season and find out who else is a fan.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Face Off, here’s the basic format: 1) The contestants journey to a mysterious location where they receive a challenge to create a specific type of character 2) There is a day of brainstorming and then contestants start work on the makeup concept 3) There is a final, panicked day to finish the concept, which ends in the judging and someone’s being eliminated.
Episode 1 – Return of the Champions
This season is slightly different from past seasons in that there are 3 “champions” that return to coach the contestants. After an initial challenge to get a little preview of each contestant’s skills, the winners of seasons 2, 4, and 5 pick their teams and the competition begins. The first challenge is to create an alien race that has crash-landed on a planet. The contestants begin working in three teams and the episode ends with a twist where no one is eliminated.
Episode 2 – Monkey Business
Continuing where episode 1 left off, the contestants have discovered that their aliens actually landed on the Planet of the Apes and they will need to create a third look for the judging panel. Of course, this causes some minor panic and a lot of extra work. There is finally a judging panel and the best and worst makeups are chosen and critiqued before someone is sent home.
Episode 3 – Let the Games Begin
This week’s challenge yields some pretty interesting makeups as the contestants have to merge a plant and animal into one unique creature. In teams of two, they work to create a design that is both believable and frightening with varying levels of success. The judge’s panel features Josh Hutcherson as a special guest and another contestant is sent home.
Episode 4 – Royal Flush
The contestants finally get to work on their own and show the judges what they’re capable of in this episode. They learn that they will be creating a Tim Burton-esque figure based on a deck of cards. Each contestant draws a card and then creates the Jack, King, or Queen that was drawn. Without a partner to help with weaker skills, it quickly becomes apparent who will struggle and who will shine. In the end, someone must go home and the judges aren’t really known for being forgiving.
Episode 5 – Sounding Off
This challenge is really cool. Most of the time, the contestants are given pretty definite guidelines regarding the makeup they create, but in this episode they are simply given a sound. Working in teams again, each pair is given an original sound and challenged to create the creature that they imagine embodies it. While most of the makeups are pretty cool, there are also a couple that leave everyone underwhelmed, and the judges don’t seem to have any trouble deciding who to eliminate at the end.
Episode 6 – Troll Bridge
In another individual challenge, the contestants each choose a bridge and begin to design a troll to live under it. This is the first time in the season that the champion’s advice can really be felt, as one of them gives his entire team some really bad advice. His misinterpretation of the challenge leaves the judges pretty unhappy with the concept of his entire team, and, in the end, one of them has to leave the show after being eliminated.
Episode 7 – Queen Bees
This episode is probably the low point for the entire series. Consisting solely of body painting, the contestants are given two models, both nude, and tasked with doing a full body paint in order to transform them into insects. Unfortunately, most of the artists are unfamiliar with body paint, and the challenge is pretty flat, ending with only one noteworthy result. The judges are just as disappointed and seem to choose who to eliminate without too much trouble.
Episode 8 – Dressed To Kill
In this challenge, the contestants are tasked with creating a new monster that could fit into the world of Clive Barker. There’s always a twist of some kind, so they also have to incorporate a designer’s avant garde design into their creations. Several of the contestants struggle with the overall concept of this task, and there are some pretty lame creations to go along with at least two amazing makeups. At the elimination, it is much harder for the judges to determine the winner than it is to choose who should be eliminated.
Episode 9 – Miss Intergalactic
Beauty pageants are fairly boring unless you’re doing it Face Off-style. Each contestant is given a galaxy, along with its pertinent details, and asked to design a creature for the Miss Intergalactic pageant. This episode starts out sounding uninteresting, but the amazing talent of the contestants results in a great runway show. Almost everyone creates a strong makeup, and even the judge’s choice for elimination creates something unique and interesting.
Episode 10 – Super Selfies
Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? This week’s challenge has the contestants turning themselves into heroes with the added challenge of having to apply prosthetics and makeup to themselves. Considering the scope of some of the costumes and makeups, this is no easy feat. With the creations ranging from anime-ish to scary aliens, most of them are strong and the judges are very happy with the results. The contestant to be eliminated is pretty clear throughout the last half of the episode, and the judges have no trouble deciding who to send home.
Episode 11 – Imaginary Friends
In what is traditionally the challenge that everyone hates, this week the artists are paired with a child and told to create whatever their imaginations can conjure up. The children come up with a wide array of creatures, including a three-headed monster, a zombie breakdancer, and a diamond princess. The challenge of pleasing the child and the judges is too much for some contestants. This is also the first episode where I completely disagreed with the judge’s decision of who should be sent home.
Episode 12 – Deadly Dolls
With only 5 contestants left, the challenge this week is to create a doll that could terrify the masses. A ventriloquist’s dummy, a porcelain doll, or just a plain baby doll–they are all creepy, and the amount of work the contestants are capable of in a short two days continues to amaze me. In the end, I could not decide who had the best creation, but the judges seemed to have no trouble. They also seemed pretty clear on who to eliminate, but I disagreed once again.
Episode 13 – Full Steam Ahead
For the contestants, this is the last chance to show the judges what they can do before the choice is made about who will be in the finale. What better way to do that than with one of the genres that is judge Glenn Hetrick’s specialty? In this challenge, all four contestants are given a stock western character to which they will add a steampunk twist. All four of the artists create something memorable, and it seems that there is a lot of discussion among the judges regarding who to send home. Unfortunately, someone does have to leave, and only the three finalists are left.
Episode 14 – The Dream Team
For the finale, each contestant is challenged to create four unique characters which willd fit into the film genre they have chosen. Fortunately, even the judges know the contestants would need help, and all of the previous cast members are brought back and divided into teams to help them with their creations.
Team Emily is up first, and their post-apocalyptic genre sets the stage for some great designs. In a play on The Wizard of Oz, Emily and her team create four, diverse makeups that were amazingly detailed. What makes her designs even more amazing is the fact that Emily is only 18-years-old and she has had almost no training. Considering that she has already surpassed so many people in the industry, she is sure to do some amazing things in the future!
Team Logan shows his designs next and is given sci-fi as the genre for their characters. Envisioning a spaceship, The Moreau, full of experimental animal hybrids, Logan and his team are able to create four characters that are harmonious, yet distinctly different.
Team Darla is the last to present designs to the judges and audience with the genre of fantasy. Darla’s concept of four elemental spirits is exceptional, and the beauty of the air spirit and the earth spirit is undeniable. Darla’s attention to minute details makes her designs truly spectacular.
In the end, a winner is chosen and the champion who helped coach that person to victory now holds the title of the first-ever two-time champion.
Language – All language is bleeped out except for the word h***. When used, h*** always refers to the actual place in context and is not used as a curse.
Sexual Content – There is one episode where the models are nude, but all sensitive areas are blurred out or covered by camera angles. Sometimes the female models where a bikini-type outfit when getting fitted into their makeup and costume.
Violent Images – There is no actual violence, but several of the challenges feature designs that are suitable for horror movies. Some designs also incorporate blood and could be disturbing for some viewers.
Since Face Off is a contest-based reality show, it’s pretty much a case of “what you see is what you get.” What really makes this show special, in my opinion, is that it celebrates each of the contestants and allows them an opportunity to showcase their talent.
Where most reality television thrives on drama, conflict, and betrayal, Face Off features a cast that is encouraging and helpful. It may be a competition, but the contestants are often seen offering advice and instruction to each other. It’s refreshing to see a group of people who want to see each other succeed, even as they are each trying to come out on top.
This atmosphere of encouragement is especially evident with the judges. They never hesitate to tell the contestants where they fell short in their designs, but the criticism is usually accompanied by advice and an acknowledgement of the design aspects that were successful. Even after choosing the eliminated contestant, the judges always offer parting words of encouragement, and they make a point to mention the successes that the contestant had while on the show.
Another great thing about this show is that it is almost completely family-friendly. The one episode that has nudity makes sure that all sensitive material is completely covered and most of the camera angles make sure that the models are hidden behind strategic objects. When the cameras can’t provide full cover-ups, all pertinent areas are blurred out Sims-style to maintain full coverage.
While covering up any nudity, the editors also cover up any language that people let slip. With the exception of a single word (h***), all language is bleeped out and even that only happens a handful of times within the 14 episode season. In the instances that h*** is used, it is actually in context and referring to the place, rather than being used as an expletive.
The bottom line is that this is an awesome show. Whether you create your own costumes or just like looking at the creativity of others, Face Off offers a weekly dose of cosplay fun that usually blows all other costuming out of the water. While season 8 may be over, season 9 starts on July 28th.
Are you a fan of Face Off? What are some of your favorite past looks? Let us know in the comments!
*All photos courtesy of Syfy.com
+ A showcase for some amazingly talented people
+ Very family-friendly show that celebrates creativity
- The first episode has no conclusion and feels incomplete