By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated February 01, 2007 at 10:42 PM EST

I already outed myself a while back in EW as an off-duty sweat-panted, couch-slouching, design-and-
home-improvement-porn-TV junkie, so don’t act so shocked that I’m here and not off watching small, exquisite Albanian films. I wouldn’t miss the kickoff of Top Design for all the imitation schoolhouse lamps in Pottery Barn.

Love the grizzly Neanderthal hetero John teamed up with the Tinkerbell-of-the-ball Michael, promising weeks of sniping fun ahead as John demonstrates his taste for bearskin and Michael rolls his eyes. “How do you argue with a narcissist?” Love the way Todd Oldham (pictured) calls everyone “you guys,” as if he’s wrangling teens at a sweet sixteen. I can’t say I loved that movie prop of a garden rake Goil and Elizabeth placed in the center of their relaxation pit. Elizabeth’s movie production background was showing, maybe she worked on Babe. But the tableau did summon up some nice ladylike scissoring from Elle Décor’s Margaret Russell, who called the scene a “sandbox.”

addCredit(“Top Design: Trae Patton”)

On the other hand, I don’t know what the heck Alexis Arquette wasdoing in full drag-queen-at-an-espresso-bar wardrobe as the show’sfirst celebrity client—unless the producers of Top Designwant to let us know right from the front door that this series is goingto cut quickly to the theatrical and the personality-driven. Which,after Project Runway and Top Chef, thefranchise-builders may have decided is the only way to keep the partygoing, since everyone seems to have arrived wearing his or her identitylike a color swatch.

What do you think, PopWatchers? After one episode, is Top Designa few shades too pale an imitation of the the reality/creativity seriesbefore it? Or is it, as these energetic contestants might call it,“Stanley Kubrick meets Funkadelic. Minimal meets retro meets fun meetseclectic—half Henry Rollins, half Evel Knievel”? And would you live inany of those rooms?