What if they did America's Next Top Model All-Stars...

...and nobody cared?

Also known as, Is that a shark I see in my rear-view mirror?

I really don't know why this season has gone all sideways. Your favourite models from past cycles! The best of the best duking it out for the title of America's Next Top Model All-Star! This should be a big deal. So why does it seem that they're cutting corners?

I understand that they have to try to keep the show fresh. After 16 cycles, you can imagine that there's little they haven't done already. But just when you'd think they would want to go big, they seem to be going small. After the huge and probably expensive Cycle 15, with a trip to Italy and some true couture in the photo shoots and shows, perhaps Tyra just didn't have it to spend on Cycle 17.

The show this past week started out promising. I love the idea of the models creating their own fragrance and marketing it. That seems like a very realistic kind of challenge—yes, Bianca, even the bathtub part (although I don't recall seeing Shannon sitting in the tub either). Unfortunately, the winner of the challenge was granted immunity at panel, and they decided that the winner was the one most over the top—Lisa. I don't think they were rewarding quite the right thing, but hey, it's not my show. It was a disappointment, however, to know halfway through the show that Lisa would definitely not be going home yet.

And then, another bizarre photo shoot. Two weeks ago, we had the Kardashian line of clothing for a runway challenge. That same episode, the models had to pose as various incarnations of Michael Jackson for a photo shoot. This did not bode well. And this week, we got a combination of the two. The models had to somehow embody qualities of one of two reality TV stars—Snooki from Jersey Shore or NeNe from The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Imagine—aspiring professional models are supposed to spend their time getting familiar with reality TV characters! That's serious class, Tyra. In earlier cycles, the emphasis was on knowing the fashion business. Now, for "all stars," we've sunk to slumming with Jersey Shore.

(I will admit to never having seen either Jersey Shore or any of the Real Housewives series, although I did have some idea of who Snooki was. It's hard to escape pop culture. And who knows. Maybe if I watched, they would be guilty pleasures. But somehow I doubt it. And really, what does this have to do with winning a modelling contract?)

Because no one was eliminated the week of the Michael Jackson shoot, the models knew there would have to be a double elimination at some point. And even though "TyraMail" announced that eight would be continuing after the judging, it was really only seven. That seemed a bit sloppy. I mean, really it was a lie. Lisa got best photo, even though she was already immune. I will admit that it was one of her better shots. Angelea, who no longer annoys us, had second best. Others were fairly predictable: Dominique, who has been strong all along; Laura, who has gone way beyond the sweet little hayseed from Kentucky but still needs to pick up her game if she wants to go all the way; Allison, who is still getting away with having the same look week after week; and Alexandria, who somehow manages to survive. At the bottom were Shannon, Kayla, and Bianca.

Boring St. Shannon of the querulous voice was saved. I have no idea why, except that they had to save someone. The stunning Bianca was just too much trouble, and Kayla never got even close to bringing her A-game.

And that seems to be endemic in this show. Tyra thought the idea of bringing back models from previous cycles was a good one, but it might be that one by one they all wonder just why they agreed to this. Kayla never seemed engaged. Beautiful Bre never found her focus. Among those remaining, only Lisa seems consistently happy to be there, and that might be because she herself has turned into an over-the-top reality TV star, someone you remember for being wild and crazy, not for seeming like a top model. I hope Angelea gets more consistent. I hope Laura gets more memorable. I hope even Dominique, never my favourite, starts to show some star quality. Anyone but NeNe. Excuse me, I meant Lisa.

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