THE SHOW "What Not to Wear"
WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 9 on TLC
REASON TO WATCH The season-premiere episode: For the first time in the show's nine-season history, an episode was filmed in front of a studio audience. It features Anna Papadakis, 29, of Mastic Beach, a personal trainer-turned-hairdresser-turned yoga instructor, who, in the wardrobe department, tries to emulate Lady Gaga. (Yikes!)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT You know the format of this classic makeover show: A badly dressed type is nominated by friends or family to go under the microscope of fashion mentors Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. They then make serious fashion and self-esteem improvements that include literally trashing (as in throwing out) their current wardrobe.
So, imagine opening a door and walking onto a stage in an auditorium where -- surprise -- some 200 people are already seated and making fun of your clothes. This was Papadakis' fate -- or good fortune -- and she gracefully endured the audience put-downs of her rather bizarre ensembles, as well as the witty and, yes, somewhat mean barbs from London and Kelly (also an LIer). The makeover occurs over a 10-hour period in one day, also a first on the series, where transformations usually take a week.
In an interview after the episode was filmed, Kelly says, "We completely lucked out with Anna. I don't think most people could deal with a live audience bombarding their outfits." As for her fashion sense, he says, "One of her jackets looked like she skinned a Muppet." Papadakis told us, "I think the show saved my life. It felt like a new turnover. I never thought I needed a makeover before."
MY SAY Papadakis is a delight, her fashion plight compelling, and, under the circumstances, beyond poised. Meanwhile, Kelly and London are in primo form. In fact, of all the makeover-, fashion-type shows that have come down the pike, as hosts, the duo remains in the top tier of the genre -- both are riotously funny, extremely smart and, in the end, quite helpful.
BOTTOM LINE For a good time, watch it. After nine years this show stays fresh, fun and enormously entertaining.