Take the abusive style of chef Gordon Ramsay, stuff it into modeling “super-agent” Paul Fisher — a dead ringer for “Sex and the City’s” Evan Handler, except a less-accomplished actor — and voila, enter “Remodeled.” Blending elements of other reality shows (almost all from Bravo), Fisher goes about the task of renovating ailing small-time modeling agencies he’s assembling to create a consortium dubbed the Network, with which he hopes to reshape the New York-dominated modeling biz. Or whatever. Mostly, this CW show’s an excuse for Fisher to swagger around like a pompous jerk, daring viewers to take him or leave him.
Actually, “Remodeled” operates on parallel tracks, which would theoretically add to the number of plotlines. If only the producers could make us care about either strand.
While Fisher crisscrosses the U.S. masterminding makeovers of regional agencies — to be managed under his imprimatur and unearth modeling “stars” in the making — he leaves New York’s high-stakes fashion week to his trusted lieutenants, offering separate subplots about fresh young faces with catwalk dreams.
While a few of those moments resonate — it’s always tough watching a kid being told they don’t have what it takes — they also happen to feel utterly generic, given the abundance of similar programs.
So the defining element of “Remodeled,” for better and mostly worse, is Fisher, who delivers his advice as if Moses just brought these tired maxims down from Mt. Sinai. In the premiere, when he chides the staff at a Minneapolis agency for letting models be poached by competitors, he explodes at them for laughing. But listening to his melodramatic delivery, how could you not?
“Paul seems to intimidate everyone he comes across,” one of his employees, Olga, says at the outset, which is really just a way of providing cover for his boorishness.
Of course, the redeeming aspect of Fisher’s tough-love approach comes at the end, when it’s suddenly Christmas and he shows the small-town rubes how to “fix” their struggling businesses — including a physical redesign of their offices.
“You have something special here. Make me proud of you,” he tells the first agency owner, Brita Jackson, before moving on to Rapid City, S.D., in the second hour. (Without giving too much away, the latter episode contains a postscript that makes one wonder why it wasn’t completely reedited, but never mind. Why interfere with a happy ending?)
CW has milked modeling for about all it’s worth, so the network is perhaps to be forgiven for dredging that well — even if it means another blowhard ripping into people, from agents to 5’11” teenagers with high cheekbones.
Yet given TV’s glut of fashion fare, “Remodeled” resembles another cheap knockoff. And that’s nothing to be particularly proud of.