This Throwback Thursday, Alex Casey recalls a television scandal combining both home renovation and face-lifts that made the internet explode.
Recently, swept up by the same nauseating force of nostalgia that once saw me fork out $30 for a rusty Chupa Chups Spice Girls tin, I Googled ‘Bob the Builder’ just to see what me friendly old mate was up to. I remember the little guy fondly, he had the thick accent of my primary school caretaker and a face that was halfway between a bowling ball and a raisin scone.
Each episode would see him, his side-chick Wendy, a bunch of anthropomorphised diggers and a man with a potato head get the job done. It was inspirational to watch, like a snackable version Our First Home with less of a threat of death around every corner. Bob was ahead of his time, a tattoo-free Goran Paladin taking kids through the importance of teamwork and positivity when faced with an immense task. Can we fix it? Yes, we can.
Expecting to be greeted with the same friendly, simple face of my childhood, I was shocked at the results of my Google. Who the eff is this handsome codger?
Just as Harry in Shortland Street went to Fiji and came back with darker hair and a new face, Bob took some gardening leave circa 2012 and returned all chiseled with a swanky American accent. Since the primitive claymation days, Bob’s been given pupils, eyebrows, nostrils, fingernails and the all-important addition of thumbs. God knows how he got anything done before that, maybe that’s why he just kind of sat around telling the machinery to do everything, as this angry parent expressed in one of many hate-fueled reviews of the show:
Not only have his dead shark eyes been replaced with human irises, Bob’s fashion has moved with the times too. He now wears an exciting Baby G watch and gets his bare arm skin out on the telly in a way that no woman at TVNZ ever will. He’s rolled up his sleeves to reveal some definite forearms, and has donned a high-vis vest to comply with health and safety standards for once in his goddamn life.
If this transformation happened on Beauty and the Beach, you’d call it a lovely makeover. But this ain’t Beauty and the Beach, this is Bob the frigging Builder and his sexy wee revamp made a lot of grown adults very very angry.
Some were genuinely moved to tears by the crushing passage of time…
Some took out their rage on other characters…
And the most passionate of Bob purists were compelled to print out the new Bob, and mercilessly flush him down the toilet.
For all the rage, the tears and the watery death threats, it’s important to remember who this most impacts. The man himself seems happy enough with his fresh new look, solving an age-old conundrum that Spud and the gang have long agonised over. Can we fix Bob’s self-esteem? Yes, we can.
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