The stream of new reality shows is never-ending on basic cable, and just when you think you've heard the most ridiculous show idea possible, another one debuts and ups the ante. At 10 p.m. Tuesday, Oxygen premieres a reality competition so silly, it should be guilty-pleasure fun. Instead, it's a poorly produced disappointment.
Hair Battle Spectacular is a cross between Project Runway and Ace of Cakes. Stylists compete to create "fantasy hair designs" that look like intricate hair-infused sculptures-as-headwear.
Actor Brooke Burns hosts the show, and during the "Glam Slam" portion her hair looks like she just rolled out of bed after a particularly restless night. Before the "Glam Slam," the contestants, who all have nicknames that appear to mostly have been conjured by the show's producers, work on an initial design that involves putting two personal items in their fantasy hair design. For one competitor, that means a red high-heel shoe. For another, there's a paintbrush. Another uses reading glasses.
Some of the designs are creative but all of them are impractical outside a fashion runway, and many look like a child's craft project gone horribly wrong.
This show's sad attempt at a Tim Gunn mentor is an "award-winning fantasy hair designer" (who knew there was such a thing?) named Derek J, who also serves as a judge. He's fairly inarticulate in his critiques, calling one hairdo a "teased-up mess" without offering much advice on how to make improvements. Then again, I'm not sure a designer would be wise to take fashion advice from J., who waddles in wearing a high-waisted, too-tight jumpsuit paired with high heels.
The premier episode's "Glam Slam" features contestants making hair designs inspired by mixed drinks — a bartender, now called "a mixologist," is a guest judge. The big hair also has to be capable of holding a cocktail glass in its spire. Contestants compete two at a time with one shuffled to "hair dos" (safe until next week) and the other to "hair don'ts" (on the judge's chopping block).
The most ridiculous part of this stage in the competition is the "face-off" when models wearing ridiculous hair attempt to glower with intimidating menace at one another, like ladies in waiting for a catfight. Their posturing is forced and silly, the worst moments of a poorly produced show where a cheap, inept approach ruins what could be cheesy amusement.