Barbara Nitke/Lifetime
Annie Barrett
September 02, 2011 AT 05:30 AM EDT

Project Runway

TV Show
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen
Current Status
In Season

Well now. This was a rather disappointing episode, right? The avant-garde challenges in past seasons have produced some bold, forward-thinking designs and some spectacular failures. And as hilariously ridiculous as Bert’s sponge-magnet jumpsuit and Josh C.’s terrible, terrible cocktail waitress look inspired by a community theater production of True Blood were…the rest of the designs were just so uninspiring this week. I wasn’t wowed by any of the top three, and the winning dress had an unfinished hem. You know it’s an off week — possibly an off season altogether — when the most compelling moment in a 90-minute episode involves Tim Gunn listlessly chasing after a canine fabric store mascot named Swatch.

Some of the designers seem so afraid to fail that they’re not putting their best ideas out there, but I’m beginning to wonder by now if there are really that many forward-thinkers in this bunch. I no longer suspect that some brilliant idea is about to burst out of Olivier at any moment. (And I’m realizing that even if Nina Garcia decides a future design of his is “what’s next,” chances are I will personally hate it.) Anya seems fun — and thank God she and gay Ryan Reynolds are around to keep things colorful and light — but I don’t want to get too attached to her before the inevitable episode down the line where she completely flakes out. I like Becky and Kimberly’s work, but unless the challenge involves ready-to-wear garments and the everyday modern women, I’m not sure they’ll get a chance to shine. Anthony Ryan and Viktor (he of the semi-long ruler) are both very hit-or-miss for me. Laura knows what she’s doing; I just usually don’t like looking at it.

Sorry, I didn’t intend for this to turn into some sort of comprehensive mid-season complaint box. Not at all. These opinions — they’re everywhere! Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear. It’s about that time, I guess.

The contestants worked with students from the Harlem School of the Arts to create an avant-garde look inspired by a painting. I loved the ominous music after Viktor — who will never have kids — explained that they’d be working with icky children. Even better: His outspoken student’s name was Skyy. Skyy! I’m surprised he didn’t have a cocktail or six in him during their consultation — an idea he suggested after the fact. Project Runway is not usually one to shy away from a promotional tie-in!

NEXT: Is Bert so terrible, after all?

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