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Project Runway Premiere: A Roundup of the Reviews

A Sam Ronson doppelganger dresses her model. Image via Lifetime/<a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/tv/la-et-project-runway20-2009aug20,0,626807.story">LA Times</a>
A Sam Ronson doppelganger dresses her model. Image via Lifetime/LA Times

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If you're still weighing up your Thursday night options—and the three-and-a-half-hour Project Runway premiere extravaganza is one of them—we've rounded up some of the key reviews to help in your decision-making process (alas, we weren't deemed important enough to get a copy of the screener ourselves). The marathon kicks off at 8pm with an "All-Star Challenge", followed by the Season Six premiere at 10pm (in which Lindsay Lohan guest judges an evening gown competition—sadly, not of the Miss USA variety), and wraps up with spinoff "Models of the Runway" at 11pm. The general consensus? Even though the commercial breaks may skew slightly more menopausal on its new Lifetime home, this is still the same old "Runway".

The Critic: Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times
High Point: "The greatest and most innovative American fashion has never come from the Mayflower descended. It has come from those deeply invested in reinvention. “Project Runway” has absorbed the history lesson."
Low Point: "“Project Runway” is Barneys; Lifetime is Kohl’s. The cable outfit that broadcasts “Army Wives” and “Reba” reruns maintains an ethos that says, “Viewer, I see your cellulite; I’m down with your fibromyalgia; I know your menopausal misery.” Strikingly, however, while “Project Runway” has been decidedly non-ageist in the past, drawing from designers at different stages in their careers, the current season is loaded with the unwrinkled: 9 of the 16 competitors are under 30, possibly a function of the fact that the casting is now conducted by Bunim/Murray, producers of “The Real World.”"

The Critic: Mary McNamara of the LA Times
High Point: "And therein lies the success and value of "Project Runway." Not with the personalities, not even with the competition. It's the miraculous simplicity of creating something from nothing that makes "Runway" endlessly watchable."
Low Point: "The season was filmed in 2008, long before the NBC-ordered injunction put the show on an 11-month hiatus, which means that one of these people has been walking around for a year knowing that she or he won "Project Runway" and unable to tell anyone about it!"

The Critic: Stuart Levine of Variety
High Point: "As for how the Lifetime "Runway" will differ from the Bravo version, the answer is: not much...The most noticeable difference this season is that the show was shot in Los Angeles, not Gotham."
Low Point: "Bravo isn't exactly wishing the show well in its new home. The cabler will take on "Runway" with "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," which has been picking up steam in its Thursday 10 p.m. slot and is the net's top-rated program."

The Critic: Amir Kenan of Metromix
High Point: "So apart from the odd commercial for "Not Without My Daughter," this will be the same "Runway" you've grown to love over the past five seasons—only on a network you've gone out of your way to avoid."
Low Point: "According to "Project Runway," Lohan's an 'Actress/Singer/Fashion Designer,' so... that's cool"

The Critic: Tim Gunn, in conversation with the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan
High Point: "We have drama to beat the band, including a model who refused to wear a garment...I'm quite firm in saying, 'This is your responsibility. It's not a matter of personal taste -- you are a mannequin basically. A walking mannequin. Put it on."
Low Point: "We were doing challenges that integrated ABC shows and Disney [properties] that suddenly went away because we didn't know where the show was going to air [Lifetime is part-owned by Disney]. It was awful."