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`Nest' is nothing special, and that's OK

March 28, 2007|Robert Lloyd | Times Staff Writer

Whenever a successful group breaks up, there is the question of whether the parts will prove to be less than their former sum -- whether whatever chemistry and historical moment that had once created a perfect pop storm can happen again, or if it's all over now for John, Paul, George and especially Ringo.

As one of the style/lifestyle/life consultants from Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," "Design Doctor" Thom Filicia has been one-fifth of a genuine phenomenon, which means that anything less phenomenal will be reckoned a kind of failure. Notwithstanding Carson Kressley's turn last December in "The Year Without a Santa Claus," Filicia is the first of the group to go bravely solo, with "Dress My Nest," which premieres tonight at 11 on the lower-profile Style Network. And while it's nice to think that he'll have a TV life beyond "Queer Eye" -- whose final episodes will run this summer -- lightning (on the limited basis of the one episode available for review) has not struck twice.

And yet to say the show is nothing special is only to say it's more like all the many other makeover shows -- of which it is a perfectly decent example -- than it is unlike them; it shares their aesthetic faults and modest rewards.

As a fan -- Kressley was the obvious cut-up among the Fab Five, but the drier Filicia is the one who most made me laugh -- I have to say that "Dress My Nest" is not the frame that best sets him off. Perhaps he has too much to do, too much scripted text to read; there is something to be said for shooting from the corners. But it is a good enough time for anyone for whom these things are the idea of a good time.

The concept here is that Filicia decorates a room based on what a woman wears, as analyzed by sidekick Erika Martin, of MTV's "Trailer Fabulous." It's an appealing idea, and sensible enough as a guide to taste.

Their first client, or subject -- since, as is usually the case, the makeoveree turns herself over entirely to the makeoverers -- is Teresa, a Vietnamese American on the verge of 30 with a taste for butterflies, hearts, the color pink and Hello Kitty, which she regards not as a brand but as a being. Martin estimates Teresa's style as "fun flirty meets a toned-down Joan Jett"; Filicia responds, "I would say 'bubble gum meets liquor.' " But he means to sober her up -- in a fun way.

The insistently rapid cutting undercuts the show's instructional aspects -- Filicia himself is most interesting here when at his most professional -- and the customary false drama is edited in ("Erika, are you not freaking out about the fact that we might ruin her whole year?"), with much weight put upon the question of painting a mirror frame white. But the tears we've been teased with throughout turn out to be tears of joy, and as in "Queer Eye," it all ends, quite predictably, with hugs and Champagne.

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