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‘Cosplay Melee’ wonders what would happen if Darth Vader participated in ‘Project Runway’

Xavier makes a transformation from soft-spoken artist to bloodthirsty crime lord. (Syfy)
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How often does a show come along with a name you’re not even sure how to pronounce?

Here’s one: “Cosplay Melee.”

Is that co-splay? Cosp-lay?

Turns out it’s kahz-play, a mashup of “costume” and “play,” referring to those who dress up as sci-fi characters.

And in case you’re not up on your SAT words: That’s “mey-ley,” not “mee-lee,” and it can mean a “confused hand-to-hand fight.”

The series (10 p.m. Tuesdays on Syfy) answers the question: What would happen if Darth Vader invaded “Project Runway”? In each episode, four cosplayers create an original character and construct a costume, using stuff like foam, air-conditioning ducts and leaf blowers. Yvette Nicole Brown of “Community” is host and judge, along with cosplay model LeeAnna Vamp and costume designer Christian Beckman. The winner of each week’s “melee” gets $10K.

The four contestants in last week’s premiere seem fairly ordinary: a lady cop, a British expat who paints toy soldiers for a living, a purple-haired costume designer and Xavier, a confessed introvert who lives in the shadow of two accomplished athletic siblings.

Watching them make costumes is like watching kids cut up foam in an elementary school art class. Still, the show is alluring because cosplay also bares the soul. The cop fulfills her abandoned dream of being a comic book artist and indulges her love of justice and “big guns” with her “badass bounty hunter” costume, complete with gigantic weapon and silver skin. The Brit turns into a bloodstained crime lord whose foot got blown off in a trap, so now he hobbles on a Lego-like brick. Soft-spoken Xavier transforms himself into an armored avenger with a “vibro-spear.” (I don’t quite know what that is, but trust me, you don’t want to get near it.)

Xavier wins and clumsily wipes a tear from his eye with his massive armor-encased hand. “It doesn’t matter what your skin color is,” says the young African-American man, describing his love of cosplay. “It doesn’t matter what you look like. Anybody can be who they want to be.”

With my puny human hand, I wipe a tear from my eye, too.

Read more of Marc’s TV musings:

Louie Anderson lifts up the eccentric ‘Baskets

‘Last Man on Earth’ leaves Kristen Wiig alone in the world

Sure, ‘The Arrangement’ is totally fictional