Project Runway -- TV Review

You'd be hard-pressed to find an easier, breezier hour of TV time worth spending than with "Project Runway": Pretty, skinny things in outrageous architectural cloth concoctions, stressed and weeping (even in the first episode!) designers and dapper Tim Gunn there to make it all work.

Yes, despite nearly a year away from TV screens because of a lawsuit, a shift in networks (the cause of the lawsuit) from Bravo to Lifetime, the loss of longtime production house Magical Elves (replaced by vets Bunim/Murray) and a shift to Los Angeles (the one part that truly rankles this New York reviewer), "Runway" is the same old clotheshorse it has been for the past five seasons.

Well-edited and well-cast -- halfway through the first episode, nearly every one of the 16 starter designers were distinguishable in personality and style -- "Runway" has its patterns set: You've got your former meth addict (who still sips champagne at an introductory toast, so watch for plenty of meltdowns), a designer who calls her outfits not plus-sized "but plus-sexy" and one who gets inspired while doing handstands. This all is set against a super-color-saturated Los Angeles, with sets also nearly identical to New York. The product placements (and there are many) have made the transition, too, but unlike some reality programs, they're never showy, just part of the natural landscape.

The first challenge is to create a red-carpet look for the Emmys in just two days; what emerges is both jaw-dropping and inspiring -- though the screener cut off before the judges (executive producer Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and ... a special guest whose name rhymes with "Dinslay Kohan") could render opinions.

Most likely if there are to be any network-change redesigns of the series, they'll pop up in the next season, but for now, "Runway" is precisely what long-time fashionistas have been slavering for all these months. Best-dressed, indeed.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20 (Lifetime)
Production: The Weinstein Co., Bunim/Murray, Full Picture Prods
Executive producers: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Jonathan Murray, Sara Rea, Heidi Klum, Jane Cha, Desiree Gruber, Barbara Schneeweiss
Co-executive producer: Gil Goldschein
Supervising producers: Tess Gamboa, Colleen Sands
Co-producer: Daniela Unruh
Producers: Lisa Fletcher, Nate Green
Director of photography: Craig Spirko
Production designer: Katie Abiad
Casting: Jennifer Dickinson, Kasha Foster, Jay Pace