The new NBC series Making It has two reasons for being.
One is to grab a little of the upbeat, you-can-do-it energy generated by competitive cooking shows – The Great British Baking Show especially – and expand it to other areas of crafting. The other is to give viewers some solid hangout time with the stupendously amiable hosting pair that is Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. All put together with some staples and glue, it's a lovely, if very low-key, summer watch.
The series is a brisk six episodes, premiering July 31st, and it begins with eight crafters who do everything from sewing to woodworking to paper crafts and more. The real-life Offerman is an accomplished woodworker, so he takes the role of the knowledgeable host, while Poehler is the bright-eyed newbie with lots to learn. Each episode has a theme and follows the contestants through a shorter challenge and then a longer one. They make a variety of projects from a variety of materials, and at the end, they're judged. The judges are Simon Doonan, a sort of all-around Fashion Person who's designed store windows at Barney's, and Dayna Isom Johnson, who's a "trend expert" at Etsy. And yes, every week, someone has to go home.
The format – two hosts, two judges, even the layout of the main craft room in an alleged outbuilding – recalls The Great British Baking Show. But Making It lacks that show's technical focus and close scrutiny of actual skills. When you see 10 efforts at making precisely the same cake, for instance, and they're judged on fine details like the size of the crumb or the thickness of the frosting, you really do feel like you're learning something about some fairly technical aspects of baking, and the authority of the judges is never in question.