The wait is over! It's finally here! As they say on Iron Chef: Bang a gong, it is on - it's cycle five of Australia's Next Top Model!
Hang on, there's been five seasons? Can anyone name more than two winners? Never mind, the hunt is on again to find a skinny, pouty, carb-avoider to join the ranks of Alice, Demelza... er... Eboni... and er... that other one that now works at Muffin Break as being AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL! Or just Australia's Next Model! Or potentially just Ferrero Rocher Ambassador!
This year gets off to a bittersweet start with the revelation that former host Jodhi Meares has left the show to pursue a career lecturing in Clipboard Holding 101 at the local WEA, and has been replaced by my bosses son's wife, Sarah Murdoch. Er... and isn't that WONDERFUL?!
"This year the bar has been lifted even higher with international supermodel Sarah Murdoch - the perfect guide and mentor to take our 13 finalists to the top," crows the voiceover.
Take THAT Jodhello Nobody!
Of course this now means I need to come up with a new ridiculous nickname for her, so I'm throwing it open to you guys. Whatever the poll says next week, that's what I'll stick with:
And that's not the only part of the show to receive a makeover - the theme song sounds like it's been dragged through Bollywood backwards.
"I can't talk now Rajib, I've got to get back to the studio to remix the ANTM theme for the live finale!"
We get our first look at the contestants which, as we've never heard of them before is less than thrilling, but for the following notable exceptions:
- LEAH who looks like a poor man's Sam from last year
"If both I and my eyebrows were thicker..."
- ADELE who looks like the love child of 2008 contestants Alex and Alamela
- MIKARLA and TAHNEE who may not win the competition but certainly win "the most bogan ANTM contestant name since Eboni award"
- MADISON who looks like she's hopped in a Delorean and come straight from lying on the hood of a Porsche in 1983, a look I sincerely hope she maintains for the entire series
"She's my cherry pie, hair so bleached make Joh Bailey cry..."
- And CASSI who looks like what the lovechild of Anne Hathaway and Bindi Irwin would look like if she ate Angelina Jolie feet first and stopped at the lips.
The episode gets down to business straight away, at a top class VIP function somewhere in Sydney. It's clearly a hot party, as the totally-real-and-not-rent-a-tog paparazzi are going NUTS for all the A Listers... oh wait, no, those flashes are just reflections from judge Alex Perry's shiny head as he navigates the red carpet with fellow judge (sorry, "fashion mentor") Dawson and Priscilla, queen of the desserts.
Weeellll, actually I SAY "VIP" and "A Listers" but as the only guests we can identify are last year's contestants and Collette Dinnigan (and that's only because they put up a sign telling us it's her) I think it's safe to assume it's mostly a rent-a-crowd deal.
It soon becomes apparent that all of this has been set up as some sort of "surprise" party to strike fear into the modelettes' hearts when they finally do arrive, something I heartily approve of.
"They think they're coming in to see the judging panel and then they'll see US - they don't even know we're HERE!" gushes some blonde woman identified as "Lisa Hensley, actor". Given that Miss Hensley's career seems to amount to a series of uncredited bit parts in Australian movies and one episode of All Saints, I think it's safe to assume that even if the models did know she was there, they wouldn't care.
"I don't think I could do it again, it's too much nerves," dribbles last year's winner Demelza, demonstrating that her superior command of the English language hasn't suffered at all in the last 12 months.
First lamb to the slaughter is 18 year old
"We had to walk past all these famous people - I had no idea who they were," she bleats, proving that anyone hoping for a challenge to the "pretty but thick" model stereotype this season will be sorely disappointed.
While they're waiting for the next serving of fresh meat, Dawson, Pezza and Prissy debate how they want their models this year and decide on "fresh, expensive and tall". As opposed to last season when they wanted them mouldy, cheap and short.
Now it all makes sense...
The rumour that Adele shares DNA with Alex and Alamela gains momentum when Pezza exclaims "She's got no top lip!" and Dawson shrieks "She walks like Frankenstein!" Aw, a chip off the old block.
Next up is 17 year old Madison who in the first five minutes of episode one cements herself as this year's official "hot mess", by claiming her best physical attribute is her hair.
Never would have guessed she was from the Gold Coast.
"I'm not into mainstream fashion, I'm more into sort of like, lower brands," Madison says, as if anyone thought otherwise.
Dawson labels her "economy class Garuda", but I prefer to think of her as more "cargo hold Aeroflot". Or actually, she's probably more like an Emirates flight - cheap + no sleep = disaster.
Then there's 18 year old Laura T, who will clearly be this year's Demelza/J'aime and therefore possibly the first person to get punched by Dawson.
"Yah, I went to Milan for fashion week, so I do have a fair bit of modelling experience," she blahs.
"I think she looks like a wild pig," barks Pezza, which rather puts an end to THAT ego trip.
And then there's Lola (yes, L-O-L-A, Lola), who both lives up to AND outdoes The Kinks' lyrics by both walking AND talking like a man. Or, if you're Pezza, like "a yeti".
"It'll be a competitive competition," says Lola, who is clearly going to give Leah a run for her money in the model IQ stakes this season.
Although don't discount Franky, who shows off her superior intelligence by walking into the room and missing the turn off, wandering off into the crowd instead of sticking to the blindingly obvious, specially cordoned-off red carpet laid out for her. Although it's possible she was just heading directly to the bar, in which case Franky might just be my new best friend.
And it's on to 16 year old Cassi, who is this year's official self-esteem deficient.
"They were yelling out that I was beautiful, but they probably say that to every girl," she whines.
I would take whatever I could get, if I were you...
Pezza displays a less-than-modern grip on multiculturalism by describing Laura M, a half Chinese contestant, as both "Minnie Ha-Ha" and "Lucy Liu". Oh YOU know, one of those funny skin, funny eye little people!
Same same, but different.
Then there's pale, blonde ice princess Clare, looking rather like a cheerleader who would bash your legs with a sledgehammer, Misery-style, smiling all the while, if she didn't like the way you shook your pom-poms.
"She's like a murderous beauty pageant queen - Jonbenet Ramsey aged 18," gushes Pezza. Given that Jonbenet Ramsey GOT murdered, and didn't actually murder anyone herself, this displays something of a lack of understanding of current affairs on Pezza's part. Unless he's implying that Clare looks like a dead six year old - with a BMI that low and skin that pale perhaps that's not so far from the truth.
The party parade over, Miss Murdoch brings each contestant up on stage for a bit of intelligent Q&A, which as you can imagine is rather like what you'd get if you got Michael Parkinson to interview a piece of cheese. I long for a Miss Teen South Carolina moment:
This clip never gets old
But the only highlight comes from Leah, who states that the most important characteristic of a good model is a personality. Insert incorrect buzzer noise here.
After these thrills, each model undergoes their first challenge - walking off stage and turning left - which everyone passes except for Franky. Again. Maybe she did make it to the bar after all?
"I just can't turn left..."
They're accosted backstage by everyone's favourite Lego man, Jonathan Pease Porridge, who grabs the opportunity to touch some jailbait under the guise of being a "mentor", and hairdresser Joh Bailey who starts throwing hairspray and combs at their heads. It's a day of firsts for Madison, who feels the sting of a brush for the first time.
"OMG WHAT IS THAT BRISTLY THING?!"
The intelligence festival comes to a head when 18 year old Mikarla explains how Pease eventually revealed they'd all be walking on the catwalk. No! What, after having hair and makeup done and putting on new clothes and everything? Well I'll be.
It's all a bit too much for Madison, who reveals she has "prehistoric butterflies" in her stomach.
Probably better than ninja butterflies...
Meanwhile with Sezz Murdoch doing such a stellar job of looking pretty, reading the autocue and breathing all at the same time the Jodhello bashing continues, with Collette Dinnigan declaring that as a former top model herself, Miss Murdoch is the perfect host and mentor for the girls, yada yada yada. The ghost of Jodhi starts crying, and blows her nose on last season's Tigerlily one piece.
Yeah yeah, Murdoch's great, but do her two friends help her host too?
First ever catwalk challenge in a nutshell:
- Collette Dinnigan reveals the shoes they're all wearing "were not made for walking" which kind of begs the question "WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT OF THEM, THEN?"
- Madison walks like something assembled out of chipboard from IKEA.
- Mikarla walks the exact perimeter of the runway as though she's been asked to by a police officer, but manages to avoid finishing with a power chuck into the first row.
- Cassi stumbles out like Frankenstein on a pub crawl, gasps "FUCK!" when her shoe slips, and lurches off the catwalk again in what can only be described as PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.
- Pease stands backstage and perfects his wanker impression by making comments like "You've arrived!" and "Make it work!" to every contestant.
- Charlie Brown says she hopes the competition will turn the girls into "polished swans".
"And the winner is..."
- Pezza uses the word expensive for the second time already this series, which means I'm going to have to start using this:
It's the inaugural Pezza Expense-O-Meter!
And just a reminder - Cassi is a finalist in a modelling competition.
Despite her inability to follow simple directions like "Walk down the catwalk, then back up the catwalk and turn left", Franky wins the challenge and therefore immunity from elimination, granting her the opportunity to sit around eating cake and being a big fat bitch to everyone without fear of getting the chop. Lucky she got Demelza's number at the Ivy party, she can call her for tips.
As a reward for their 20 minutes of hard work walking in a straight line, the modelettes are sent off to Model HQ to check out their new luxury digs and collect an arseload of expensive presents from designer labels.
After 22 straight minutes of "OH MOY GOURD-ing" ("Oh moy GOURD there's a pool! Oh moy GOURD there's presents on our beds! Oh moy GOURD I'm sapping Australian viewers' collective will to live!") the producers once again waste litres of expensive Veuve Clicquot on a bunch of schoolgirls. I can only hope they have siphoned it off and replaced it with passion pop - the girls would probably like that better anyway.
The only part of any of this worth watching is when Mikarla shrieks "I've got a beaver!", prompting an envious Lola to look mournfully down at her crotch and wonder what that must be like, and when
Bindi Cassi starts freaking out about being homesick, but cheers herself up by yelling "FUCK!". And then "Crocs rule!". Lola rushes to cheer her up but later admits she wants to shoot her in the head - don't worry Lola, we all felt the same way about Bindi about three years ago...
The girls spontaneously throw a "house meeting" to come up with some "house rules". Pardon? Where'd they get this bunch of prisses? Whatever happened to the good old days of the Paloma Pavlova and "Game on, moll"? Luckily, Georgie saves the day by making one of the rules "Cassi is annoying me", which is neither a rule nor fair but is extremely entertaining. Franky adds a second rule that isn't a rule, "Cassi is selfish", but then clarifies by saying "I didn't say she was selfish, I said she COMES ACROSS as selfish", which no one believes, leading Franky to reassess who her "true friends are" in the house. It's a tough lesson to learn - even after knowing people for a whole three hours, you still can't truly know them.
The next morning the girls prove how discerning and mature they are by taking an unusual amount of delight in some colourful umbrellas filled with glitter. I am beginning to doubt the models are sticking to the "no illegal drugs" house rule. After approximately four and a half hours of giggling, screaming and playing with the "pretty sparkles" the girls have a sippy-cup of juice and a nap before waking up again to go on their first photo shoot.
They're greeted by Pease, who has clearly not managed to beat his addiction to stupid eyewear despite being up to step eight on the Kanye West 12 Step Program.
In Step Nine he has to contact every shop he's ever bought glasses from and apologise.
Pease informs them they'll be shooting "swimwear ka-choor", which I assume is actually "swimwear couture", which none of the modelettes understands. This is rather like a chef looking at the big, sharp, pointy metal things in his kitchen and wondering what they are.
"You're going to have to deal with some strong accessories, some props, and we've even built in a water element for good measure," Pease says.
Oh no - water? ON A SWIMWEAR SHOOT? Still, that's the least of their problems - I'm more worried about those muscled-up handbags and shoes roughing them up for their lunch money.
Photographer Georges Antoni tells all the girls that every time they step in front of his camera, they've got to look cool. Like Pease.
Swimwear ka-choor shoot in a nutshell:
- Georgie reveals her apparent nudist background, whinging that she "doesn't wear bathers at home". Given that she probably doesn't manhandle giant soccer balls under fountains with her lips painted blue either, she probably doesn't have much personal experience to draw on for today's shoot.
- Tahnee looks like she's been attacked by a bedazzler-wielding maniac in her sleep, and is instructed to look "tragic" - as if she doesn't already.
- Lola looks a bit like Frida Kahlo crossed with Big Bird in a rainshower. I'm not sure if this is an improvement on "yeti" or not.
- Mikarla stretches up against a wall in an effort to look sexy and fashionable, and instead comes off looking like the last chicken in Coles' poultry cabinet. "I feel like you could see boniness," she says.
- Franky poses with a giant red lipstick and once again has trouble discerning left from right, front from back. Does this girl have a legitimate problem?
- Clare mistakenly gives a fellow contestant some friendly words of well-wishing, which provokes all the other modelettes to jump in and bash her for looking like a corpse.
- Cassi draws some more inspiration from Bindi Irwin by lying uncomfortably across a giant flamingo. Pity no crocs were available.
- Leah complains that her swimsuit looks like something off a Special K ad, prompting Pease to march her off set in her bathers and stilettos and give her a telling off IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY ROAD. Somewhere in the distance, screeching of tyres and crunching metal can be heard.
Back in model HQ the first ever eviction notice sends all the modelettes into a flurry of squeals and running around that is just a Wiggles backing track away from resembling an ABC Learning Centre.
Mikarla reckons 16 year old Cassi might be up for the chop, because she "just has too many dramas going on in her life at the moment" to be a top model. True, because you do have to be incredibly well adjusted to be a supermodel.
Then it's off to the elimination wherehouse, where HOLY FUCKING SHIT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO SARAH MURDOCH'S LEGS?
I know she's a model and everything but for REAL man, shouldn't there be SOME discernible difference between your calf and your thigh?
For refernce - the chopsticks are on the RIGHT.
Still, she's a damn sight better than Jodhello, as we manage to get through the "Hello girls, and welcome to elimination" speech in about 30 seconds, as opposed to the usual five and a half hours. She also seems to be able to talk without reading from a clipboard or sounding retarded. Clever girl, that Murdoch. Sadly, this cuts down the comedy potential for this series by approximately 52 per cent.
She goes through the prizes - like representation by Priscilla's, who also manages all those other Top Model talents like Alice Burdeu and... er... um... Well anyway, they also win some other crap including $20,000, which will no doubt come in handy when they need to supplement their income from those Supercheap Auto catalogue shoots after they win.
And so it's on to the first picture bitch of the season:
- Franky looks like an amputee who's trying to make love to a giant lipstick which has had a spare hand graphed onto it by genetic scientists.
The centrefold for Amputees Monthly.
- Dawson criticises Laura M for having squinty eyes. Um...
- Leah graduates from Special K commercial to Nurofen commercial
Ohhh my head.....
- Priscilla gets out her 1955 edition of the "Good Girl Guide", turns to chapter six, "How to make friends", skips past the paragraph about "not appearing too intelligent" and tells one of the models "Don't be too confident, or you'll become unpopular."
- Dawson says something about Eloise - I can't remember what, just that it involved the world "Ridonkulousness".
- Madison's photo shows her with her hair back in a bun and everyone calls it a "transformation". Just shave the girl's head and be done with it.
- Lola's photo makes her look like a 1940s sailor wench furiously searching for her lost love while inexplicably riding the back of a giant Academy Award. I am SERIOUSLY beginning to doubt that "no drugs" policy.
- Mikarla's photo looks like an etching from a 16th century book about the plague which, of course, prompts her to launch into a speech about how much pizza she eats and how normal she is and...
- Laura "I've been to Milan for fashion week and I've got a great portfolio" T turns out an absolute dog in which she looks like a corpse that's been washed up onto shore. Pezza labels her a moose. So that's her done, then.
Sadly, we can't just give the award to Sarah Murdoch, so we have to plough on with a little judgement speech for every girl that lasts approximately 17 and a half days.
And then it's down to two - Alexamela the modelbot 2.0 and some other bird I can't remember, which means she'll probably be the one to get the boot. Aaaaaaaand yep, Adelalexamela gets a piece of paper with her name on it and the other one doesn't, which means it's goodbye to Laura "Moose" T, who departs in a fog of tears and snot.
Who? Who cares! Onwards and upwards, modelites! IT'S ONLY JUST BEGUN.
Now get on over to Jo Blogs while the martinis are still cold.