STEAMPUNK’D Cooks Up Drama With a Side of Goat


Challenge #1: Retro-Futuristic Kitchen

This week, the Game Show Network debuted a new competition/reality program called Steampunk’d, and here at SciFi4Me there was a debate for a while as to whether or not we’d cover it. Ostensibly, it is a genre show. The contestants are challenged each week to design a particular room in a “house” — and every room is required to incorporate the Steampunk aesthetic.

Now, at first, we discussed whether or not to cover Steampunk’d the same way we’d done Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and iZombie — with podcasts about each episode (such as we’ve done over at SciFi4Chicks). But the challenge to that would be the schedule. Since Sonya’s a teacher, her work load is about to get very heavy.

And then Sonya got a brainstorm: why not give Steampunk’d the Team Zombie treatment?

So each week, we’ll discuss the episode here in print, with a little back-and-forth discussion similar to our recaps of The Walking Dead. Only with a little SciFi X/Y twist.

Ready? Here we go…

Steampunkd Cast wk 01

Challenge 1: Kitchen

retro-future design
include a character
include a Rube Goldberg Device


Team J.W. —  J.W. (Captain), Tobias, Lady Morgan, LadyHawk (Nicki), Charles

Team Eddie — Eddie (Captain), Ave, James, Karianne, Tayliss



SONYA: I have to say I had no idea what Steampunk was until Jason explained it to me.  This was very new to me and the concepts, designs, and lifestyle had to be explained so I could have an understanding of what was going on and what I was going to see in this show.

JASON: And for those who need a brief explanation: Steampunk is a design aesthetic based on the notion that the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s was based on steam instead of coal. You would have seen this sort of thing in television shows like The Wild, Wild West. It basically incorporates a lot of brass, leather, clockwork pieces, gauges and dials, top hats, and corsets.

Okay, with that said, the cast broke up into two teams and then they were off and running.  Well, one group was off and running. The other one kind of stood around for a bit until Ave took charge, in a way.

Yes, she definitely was the “secret captain” on Team Eddie. It felt from the start that Ave was going to be the driving force on the team, just from hearing her comments and seeing how she buckled down and started helping the rest of the team figure out what they were doing. All the while Eddie was spinning his wheels in “improvise” mode. Which is about what J.W. was doing on his team, as well. It felt like neither of the teams had very good leadership this week.

I really didn’t understand Eddie’s idea of leadership.  He seemed to not have an idea and didn’t like any ideas given. I don’t think J.W. was improvising.  Was he?  I thought he had a vision right off the bat, but didn’t care to listen to anyone else’s ideas.  Ave was the secret captain, and I liked her until….  LOL

Yes, we’ll get to that in a moment. (spoilers)

I think J.W. had his head full of the fact that he’s a contractor, so he’s used to being in charge. But there’s a big difference between being in charge and being a leader, and the show was edited to make him out to have no people skills.

Of course, from here on out, the team captains are whichever two contestants out-performed everyone else, so that should make things more interesting as egos get fed.

I don’t think the show made him that way, I actually think J.W. has limited people skills.

Could be. Still and all, J.W. was clearly not concerned with doing much other than the design in his head, which didn’t exactly fit the requirements of the design challenge. His casual dismissal of judge Thomas Willeford’s concerns…

He dismissed the judge, he dismissed the whole idea of the Rube Goldberg machines.  Both groups did, in fact.  They both made simple machines. Well, maybe compound machines; my science is rusty.

And for those who don’t know what a Rube Goldberg device is (clearly these people don’t), I refer you to Doc Brown’s contraptions in the Back to the Future series of films. A long complicated chain reaction of processes to accomplish a simple task. Named after animator Rube Goldberg.


 Still the best way to feed a dog. Yes, it is a long complicated chain reaction, but not really when you think about it.  They had the expertise to really do the job, we were cheated by both teams. I wanted to see the Rube Goldberg machines.

Team Eddie did the better design of the two, with the rotating plate that lifted out of the cabinet with a lever, but it still just maybe barely fit the definition. “Cheated” is the right word, as I was looking forward to a long string of elements from the “Punkyard”. Especially in the kitchen. That’s the perfect place for something like that.

That “Punkyard” was very cool. I agree, while Team Eddie’s machine was cool, it wasn’t what they were suppose to do, it was just cool.  That’s it.

Well, given that they only had three days to design everything, I can forgive them for not coming up with something as complicated as Doc Brown’s.

I can’t forgive them.  I wanted to see it!  LOL

But then to have Eddie decide to scrap most of the design ideas they’d had the first day… the lack of communication on the team started to show.

Eddie didn’t scrap anything…they didn’t’ have anything to “scrap”.  They were  flying blind until Ave really stepped up.  J.W. was being super bossy, too bossy in my opinion.  Morgan had some great ideas, good insights on how to get the team going, she was ignored. She was getting really frustrated too.

You could tell, too, that she was worried about how J.W. was coming across to Willeford in that one conversation.

Worried with good reason. He said all the wrong stuff.

Although it surprised me that a judge would put in an appearance in the midst of the challenge. I can see the host checking in, but for a judge to be there… and then for the team captain to be so dismissive… clearly not in the best interest of the team.

Yes, that really shocked me when he showed up.  I don’t watch a whole lot of reality T.V., maybe it is the norm?  Who knows. He still showed up and J.W. did not give a good impression of a well-oiled working team machine.

Nope. And then when they checked in with Team Eddie, we got to see the wheels come off their wagon, too.

YUP! Wheels come off the wagon and then the waterworks start.  My girl Ave, who I really liked, yes past tense, starts to cry about the lack of leadership from Eddie!  She cries!!  I can’t stand the crying.  No crying!

There’s no crying in baseball.



I don’t like the crying!  BUT, maybe it was a way to get Eddie off his butt and realize he’s not doing his job and it’s frustrating everyone, because that’s when that team makes the turn for better.

And here’s where I have issues with the show.


Hush. I’m opining…

This would have been a good place to start showing more of the process. I saw several comments on Twitter to that effect as well. When you’re dealing with steampunk (or cosplay, for that matter), half of the fascination is in the way the things are made. You have people who are supposed to be top of their craft, and we don’t get to see much of them actually crafting.

Yes, I TOTALLY agree with you, but this is a reality show.  They have to focus on the drama, which is a shame really.  I don’t’ think their audience wants to see the drama, we wanted to see them make the stuff.  Notice how they didn’t focus much on Charles?  Charles was busy BUILDING, no drama, no camera time.  Sad.

It’s similar to what happened with Heroes of Cosplay, in which Syfy edited the show in a way that presented Yaya Han as the “villain” of the piece.

I would expect most of the drama for this episode was manufactured to a point. But some of it certainly could be attributed to the lack of a plan for either of them. Given how each team had their respective issues, it was certainly a toss-up as to which one would pull out a win for the night. 

I guess they built up J.W. as the “villain” here.  He assigns Tobias the Rube Goldberg device.  Tobias states several times, he’s not qualified to do it. He tells anyone who will listen to him.  Maybe J.W. was setting him up for failure? Hm.

Interesting thought. Although J.W. didn’t strike me as the devious sort. But maybe that’s what we’re supposed to think…

J.W.’s safety net, if they lose, it’s not because of him? I don’t know, I could be reaching…but it IS a competition.  

Well, and it’s consistent with his behavior after his team lost — blaming everyone else and not taking responsibility for any of it. The Rube Goldberg device came up again as a point of contention between J.W. and the judges, and ultimately I think that’s what did them in.

Spoilers!  LOL

Steampunk'd Season 1 Episode 1 Kitchen Challenge
Steampunk’d Season 1 Episode 1 Kitchen Challenge

Oh, by the way: Team Eddie won in an upset.

Literally, cry baby Ave was very upset.

The look of the two rooms were very different.  I remember you saying that neither room looked very Steampunk to you.  You said the hosts’ table was a better example of Steampunk!  LOL  I really liked the color scheme of Team J.W.’s kitchen, very warm.  Team Eddie’s seemed plain in look but had many machines.  That’s probably what won it for them?  

I think so. The design was a little more Steampunk in its design. More pipes and devices, although we didn’t see of them, really. Again, I would have liked to see more “process” and less “obsess”.

Ha!  Well said. I hated that blue in J.W.’s kitchen.  I liked it on the robot head, where it was aged, but everywhere else it seemed to not fit at all. Everywhere else it was that bright blue, it stood out too much.

I hated the green. My mother loves green. I didn’t like the green. Steampunk colors are warm earth tones — browns, golds, and dark reds on one end and blacks on the other. Lots of leather. And remember, I mentioned corsets.

The green in the kitchen just didn’t fit that.

It was too light of a green.  The JUDGE said he didn’t like it.  I was surprised they left it.

I wasn’t. It was clear J.W. had his idea already set firmly in place. It’s a shame he wasn’t the one to go home. Tobias got the raw deal this week. Whether he was the scapegoat or not, he should have had the chance to prove himself in his field of expertise.

Although I’m sure they kept J.W.  for one more week to see how he clashes with either Ave or Morgan, who will be the team captains next week.

YES!  I’m excited about these two girls being the team captains.  I’m rooting for my girl Ave to win me over again and not cry, again.

And so, with that anticipatory remark, we’ll wrap up this discussion and set our DVRs for the next episode, in which the teams will face the challenge of designing a Steampunk nursery.

Tune in next week when we hear Sonya say…

“Leave the waterworks for the brass pipes, Ave. Nobody has time for your bawling.”




Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

One thought on “STEAMPUNK’D Cooks Up Drama With a Side of Goat

  • August 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I missed the first episode, but will check out the recording. I was glad to have read this account before I got my hopes up, only to be dashed. I probably won’t even pop any popcorn for the viewing.

    You are right, guys: these reality competition shows normally have a subject matter expert come in to mentor the works in progress and NOT a judge. That seems strange.

    I was disappointed to hear that they focused on sensationalizing drama and not the craftsmanship and innovations. I was also disappointed to see that they short-changed the Rube Goldberg devices. These guys could take a lesson or two from “OK Go.”


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