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RECAP: Steampunk’d Season 1, Episode 1: The Future Is Past

I caught the show by accident, because my in-laws really like game shows. On GSN, there is a brand new competition show, Steampunk’d. It airs on Wednesdays at 9PM. Fortunately, I discovered this show before this week’s episode. I am a fan of steampunk but I’m not part of the scene in any way. I am just an interested bystander who loves the artwork and the aesthetic that is Steampunk. Steampunk is from what I’ve seen, of two schools; an alternate history where steam powers all the modern conveniences in a more Victorian setting, and a retro future where all the cool stuff in the future is powered by steam. In either way, it’s beautiful stuff.

The artists of Steampunk'd (image: GSN)

The artists of Steampunk’d (image: GSN)

For Steampunk’d, ten steampunk artists, called Makers, are competing for cash and a title. TV personality Jeannie Mai will be the host and Matt King, Kato, and Thomas Willeford are the series judges; all of whom are fairly well-known names in the world of Steampunk.

The ten Makers meet on a dark stage and I’m not familiar with any of the artists there, but I’m not familiar with the makeup artists on the first episode of each season of Face Off either. Everyone seems to have different strengths and backgrounds. Jeannie welcomes everyone to the show, introduces the series judges and explains the premise of the season. On the stage is an empty house with blank spaces where several rooms should be. Steampunk Manor will, by the end of the season, be full of the rooms.

This week, two teams will work on retro-futuristic kitchens. They will be judged on creativity, design, and functionality. Apart from the kitchen itself, they will need to fabricate a Rube Goldberg machine, and create one outfit to go with the room. They will be given a blank kitchen complete with cabinetry and appliances and access to tools and something called a Punkyard.

The teams are assigned randomly. One team has JW, Tobias, Miss Morgan, Lady Hawke, and Charles. The other team has Eddie, Ave, Tayliss, Karianne, and James. JW and Eddie take leadership roles and immediately we can see the problems that unfold. Artists are interesting creatures – some need a plan and some need inspiration and generally speaking, the two don’t balance well. The team leaders seem to be inspiration driven, seat-of-the-pants kind of creators, and it’s driving some members of their teams a little bit bananas. Planners really need their plans.

They search through the Punkyard looking for all kinds of interesting and inspiring things, and I find myself arguing a bit with the television as they passed over so many things that could have been so neat. JW delegates everything, but it doesn’t really seem like he talked to his team about their strengths. Eddie is trusting his team to work without any direction. Neither approach is successful, but Ave and Miss Morgan can only do so much to mitigate the deficits of their team leaders; Miss Morgan softening JW’s words and Ave providing foundation to Eddies. Both leaders are lucky to have those women.

The day doesn’t seem to be very time constrained, and when they leave the workshop there are no scenes in a house or hotel or other gathering which I like. The show is showing more of the head butting and interpersonal drama, but I think you’ll have that in a situation where everyone will be working in teams.

At the end of the challenge, the kitchens are more or less finished. JW’s kitchen looks a little circus styled because of the red and purple fabric on the walls and for window treatments, copper painted cabinets, and copper accents. Eddie’s kitchen is very metallic, silver and black with chrome accents. Aesthetically, I like Eddie’s kitchen better. Of the two outfits, I prefer Eddie’s team as well but mostly because I don’t care for the birdcage shaped head of their robot. I don’t like the mask on Tayliss, but her actual costume looks like she could have bought it. Unfortunately, it looks like she could have bought it now and not either several decades ago or several decades from now. The final element, the Rube Goldberg machine, it seems neither team really gets; one doesn’t work at all and the other is only really one step. It’s a shame really, but I’ve never seen a lot of functionality in the steampunk I’ve been exposed to, so I’m not super disappointed in anyone.

Best Kitchen: Eddie’s Kitchen

Winner: Ave

Second Place: Miss Morgan

Going Home: Tobias

I think it’s a shame Tobias went home rather than JW. JW had a horrible attitude about everything and Tobias needed (and asked for) help. From what glimpses you get to see of his non-show related work, he has some serious costuming talent. JW thinks a lot of himself and I really don’t see him going all the way in this competition. I also wish very much that they would post pictures of the finished rooms online so I can share them! Maybe this upcoming week.

This show looks like a lot of fun and it certainly has a lot of potential. This show makes me want to learn to weld and work with tools and make something fun. I’m looking forward to seeing more.



  1. Just watched episode one and I was actually pissed off when Tobias was sent home. The poor guy was a team player and got stuck with the hardest part of the challenge. Tibias raised his hand and revived no help. I think the rest of the team (in fact both teams) were clueless about the Rube Goldberg piece. JWs attitude was unacceptable in my opinion, taking no ownership for the failure and turning Tobias into the scapegoat. That’s just lame but politically I think the judges can’t ac the most talented guy (JW) in the first episode. The reality is that none of these artists are very good managers so why would we expect them to be. I love the whole steampunk theme but it’s annoying that none of the stuff is functional. For me it’s a major turn off. Who cares if you put a bunch of gears and copper pipes together and it has no actual function. That’s just lame. Anyway, I’m pissed that Tobias got the ax so in my house the show gets the ax. I won’t be watching anymore. Plus I think it’s completely unoriginal to keep ripping off the original “Survivor” idea of sending someone home. Let’s switch it up people.

    • sarahwagner

      I watched it the rest of the way through and it didn’t get much better – bickering, being terrible to each other, zero functionality in the creations, and some incredibly weird decisions on the part of the judges. There’s a reason there aren’t any more seasons! I like watching people make interesting things, watching the creative process, but the competition part for me is tertiary at best while, for the show, it’s primary.

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