Tuesday – Episode 21
Welcome to week six – the Nearly Halfway Point of The Block NZ. Say it isn’t so, Mark! Damo and Jo look a bit flash – is it Date Night? Nope, they’re just too lazy to wash their regular clothes, plus Damo melted his pants on an industrial heater. That’s almost never a good thing. Mark asks if we’re still BFFs after last week’s dramatic Dinner Wars. Everyone agrees – except Maree and James. Dun, dun, dun!
It’s Small Child’s Bedroom Week. Mark wants colour! Creativity! Learning! Fun! Adventure! Jo and Damo are planning a quirky, different design, and Jo wants to go out on a limb and include a tree bookcase. See what I did there? “A tree bookcase, made out of wood. I bet no-one’s thought of that before,” says Damo. Viva la difference, Damo! Ben and Quinn visit a playground to seek design inspiration epiphany. It’s empty, just like their plan, but after much deliberation they decide to use wallpaper. “Wallpaper is rewarding,” says Ben.
It’s time to judge last week’s bathrooms. All’s well until teams see Alex and Corban’s unfinished, winning bathroom. Mark pops up to remind us that 50% of the judges vote went to the laundry, where Alex and Corban’s yellow grouting saved the day. “I feel like Jo’s been gipped,” says Quinn. “I’m a bit bummed,” says Maree, while Jo is “gutted”. Gipped, gutted and bummed. Jo has a wee cry and Damo embraces his feminine side to give her a cuddle. “You’re awesome at what you do,” he whispers softly, and somewhere Barry White starts playing. Looks like Date Night is back on!
It’s raining, and if that’s not bad enough, The Wolf is banging his ‘a tidy worksite is a happy worksite’ drum. Damo’s not having a bar of it: “the only rubbish I can see is what’s coming out of his mouth.” Damo’s got more important things to do, like poke wire through some holes. “Do it yourself, mate!” he cackles – not sure Bunnings will appreciate the Mitre 10 reference, though.
The Wolf moves on to Quinn and Ben. Principal Wolfkamp reckons Ben needs to work more hours in the day, so that a) shit gets done and b) they stop spending money. The Wolf has his pocket abacus out and reckons Quinn and Ben are looking at a $15,000 budget shortfall. Stop this crazy talk, says Ben, who gets so mad he says a Very Bad Word – twice. Be careful, Benjamin – bad language will see you sent straight to Principal Wolfkamp’s office for rubbish duty!
Shannon announces the results of the Alex&CorbanShouldNotHaveWonWithAnUnfinishedBathroom competition. Maree & James score 19, followed by Jo and Damo on 21.5. “Oh, man,” wails Maree, like Swiper just swiped her win. Ben & Quinn get 17, and Alex & Corban 15.5, giving Jo and Damo the win. They’re thrilled: “we won something!” says Damo. Ben and Quinn don’t regret giving a low score to Alex and Corban: “It’s just the way we feel. It’s only natural.” “That’s strategic,” says a philosophic Corban. “We’re just going to play our game and do the best we can.”
Mark has a special announcement, which James reckons will make their lives “a bit tougherer”. Yes, he said ‘tougherer’. Teams will deliver two rooms this week, with the second room a teenager’s bedroom. In a relaxed brief, the judges are seeking independence, individuality, privacy, personality, style and soundproofing. Oh, and teams must use the upcycled sideboards from the DIY challenge. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” says Quinn, which generally sums up their attitude these days. Damo suggests a transgendered bedroom. Are you sure, Damo? Jo thinks he means ‘gender neutral’ – which isn’t half as quirky and different as a transgendered room.
Wednesday – Episode 22
It’s still sinking in that teams must create two rooms this week. “Double doors, double wardrobes, double whammy,” says Alex. Double drama, too? Let’s hope so. Quinn’s promises to take the challenge “by our horns.” That sounds painful, but do your best, Quinn.
Tonight’s DIY Challenge involves teams creating a desk from a brief supplied by urchins from the local primary school. “Yay!” says Jo, in a look of frozen terror, while Ben looks on the bright side: “if it turns out bad we can blame it on the kids.” These two will make excellent parents. The prize is $25,000 in wardrobes, which at that price should feature a time travel portal and a chocolate fountain. With marshmallows. And sprinkles.
Maree and James are building a boat desk, Quinn and Ben a robot desk, and Alex and Corban a tree house desk. Jo and Damo have a fish theme because both their child designers are going on an overseas trip soon. Did your eyes just roll heavenward as much as mine? Tonight’s judges are the winners of a competition to discover New Zealand’s Biggest Blockaholics, and Mark travels to surprise the winners with a trip to The Block. At Cashmere High he collects India – the child, not the country. “You’re coming with me now!” he insists, dragging the small child from the classroom. Is that legal? Next we’re at Ponsonby Intermediate, where Esther is in Home Ec – or ‘Food Technology’ as the kids call it these days. It’s Ponsonby so they’re making pasta, probably to have with their organic cheese platters at lunchtime.
The teams must be thrilled that a couple of 12 year olds will decide such a huge prize. Alex and Corban are the victors with a “very cool” tree desk. “If I’d won, I would have climbed up Corban’s tree and knocked it down. But, it didn’t happen,” says Damo. Do it anyway, Damo. Do it!
Brace yourself: Hot Council Building Inspector (HCBI™) is back. And he’s early! HCBI’s diligent timekeeping puts pressure on Scottish Builder who is still hammering gib, or something, so James has to think of some quick stalling tactics. “All I could hear was some frantic hammering and screwing,” says The Wolf. At Corban’s house, HCBI gives another thorough, detailed inspection: “that one’s cool, power points 90ml, this one’s good, 2.5…cool, yep, done.”
Alex and Corban discover what $25,000 of wardrobe buys you: brown shelves instead of white, and fully extending drawers. Wow, money gets you everything! Jo and Damo hope their desk falls off the back of the truck on its way home, but sadly it arrives in one piece. However, to avoid house values plummeting, Mark allows teams to modify their desks. Quinn removes the legs, arms, and head of their robot desk, leaving – well, just a desk. In contrast, Maree and James love their boat desk so much they design the rest of their room around it – welcome to ‘The Interislander Suite’. Come aboard, we’re expecting you…
Two days to go, and it’s critical to stay on track, says Mark. Are you listening, Quinn and Ben? Mark’s talking to YOU. Everyone’s painting…except for Quinn and Ben. Corban’s running behind and blames his pesky plasterers who worked at Jo and Damo’s house first. Would you like cheese with your whine, Corbie? Damo plays mind games, telling Corban he couldn’t move for all the tradespeople at his house, and what’s more, Jo was giving them sausages. “Sausages?!” splutters an outraged Corban. That’s the final straw – nobody gives Corban’s tradies encased meat delicacies and gets away with it!
Thursday – Episode 23
It’s Challenge Time with Mark at the North Harbour BMX Park. Teams have three hours to design and build a plywood bicycle, which they must race around the BMX track. Prizes are a ‘kitchen utensil’ package from Breville and $2000. Quinn looks at Ben like, I can’t be arsed with this shit, and frankly, neither can I. “You just know who’s going to win,” Quinn complains. “Corban’s an engineer!”
Design and build-yer-bike time. “It’s about the legs – good, strong legs,” says Maree. Stay on task, Maree. Jo wants to paint a love heart on her bike, but Damo thinks he’d rather lose than race with a love heart design. Maree’s bike “holds her bum” so she’s happy enough, but what about Ben and Quinn? They’re busy whinging about their crap building skills. Call yourselves Cantabrians? Start thinking like champions: you control your own destiny! Get down low to get on top! You’re all winners on the day!
It’s race time. Mark announces that both team members must race and all pregnant contestants will be replaced by X Factor Winner Jackie Thomas. Jackie’s super excited, because as a singer she’s been preparing for this day since, like, forever. “This is the biggest race of my life,” says Damo. “I want those small appliances!” says James. “Hopefully bravery will win on the day,” says Ben. What, no ‘game of two halves”?
Maree and James are first across the line, and Maree’s reaction is typically understated: “we won! We won! We won!” “Maree’s a bit special when it comes to winning,” explains James. You got that right. “We came second,” says Jo – of course you did. Sadly, Miss X Factor comes last. Maree’s still carrying on like she won Olympic Gold. “It’s only a race,” says Damo.
Back at The Block, Mark gives us a quick introduction to the complexities of carpet laying. Gather round, children. You must paint the skirting boards first…and then wait until they’re dry! Tell us more, Uncle Mark! The Wolf is concerned at the lack of progress: “somebody’s not getting carpet,” he warns in a singsong voice. “It’s scary,” says Maree – don’t be frightened, Maree, it’s just carpet. We all breathe a sigh of relief as the carpet is finally laid. That was the longest sequence of nothing happening to ever feature on The Block NZ, and that’s saying something.
Mark brings Alice of Alice-and-Caleb for a nosy at the houses. Alice tells Quinn and Ben that having a plan makes a difference. “That’s great advice, cause sometimes we’re both out shopping!” says Quinn. “Ha!” laughs Alice, not realizing Quinn is serious. Alice loves Jo’s Tree Made From Wood, while at Alex and Corban’s she suggests not nit-picking every little thing. “Good advice,” says nitpicker Corban. Mark points out that Maree and James’ room looks just like Alice and Caleb’s teenage room last season. Busted, Maree! “What else could they copy that you did?” Mark asks. “Oh, Mark!” gushes Alice.
Friday – Episode 24
It’s the final frantic push: two hours to room reveal. Maree’s worried they may not get everything done, but don’t worry, imagine how Ben and Quinn are doing. They’re strapped for cash, winless, and exhausted – welcome to parenthood! Over at Mr & Mrs Organised, Corban’s busy with last minute cleaning. Jo’s back from her shopping trip with an hour to go. Her stress level is six out of ten. “JO!” yells Damo. “Seven,” says Jo.
Back to the disaster zone that is Quinn and Ben’s. Paying typical attention to detail, they chuck some creased linen on the bed. “This looks like a backpacker’s bed,” says Ben, without doing anything to fix it, while Quinn thinks the room is ‘outrageous’ – but not in an avant-garde, post-modernist, backpacker-chic kind of way. Ben’s need for food is put on hold when he discovers Quinn paid $700 for a chair. “That’s a lot of money for a chair that doesn’t look right.” Quick, Quinn, distract Ben by telling him how much your curtains cost!
It’s judgment time. Mark congratulates everyone on achieving two bedrooms in one week. With two rooms to judge, there’s $8000 up for grabs. “Did anyone just get sweaty palms?” asked Mark. Never mind your palms, Mark, have you noticed that Quinn’s wearing socks and jandals? Deduct a point, immediately!
The judges arrive, and Shelley appears to have wafted through a gold fountain of luminous spheres on the way there. At Jo and Damo’s they’re impressed with the warm colour scheme and the Tree Made of Wood, but Mark thinks they’ve missed opportunities to make the room suitable for children. They love the jungle theme in the Teen Room but think it feels more like a guest room. Apparently a double bed means there’s no space for activities, but Damo quickly points out that most teen activities happen on the bed anyway. “How old are these judges?” he asks incredulously.
At Alex and Corban’s the judges love the ‘playful and imaginative’ Child’s Room, which Shelley thinks they’ve designed through a child’s eyes. The Teen Room gives an atmosphere of understated sophistication with a mix of new and repurposed accessories. However, they don’t like the ‘sagging’ curtains and the blank wall spaces, but Corban feels that ‘less is more’.
Ben and Quinn discover optimism and say they’d like to win at least one room in the next five weeks. Sadly, it won’t be their Child’s Room. “Oh,” stutters Shelley. The judges like the desk, storage and pastel colours. “I think the judges are on another planet,” says Quinn. “Shelley suggests bunks would have worked well, while Mark feels there are too many ideas in one space. In the Teen Room, the judges love the colour palette and feel it’s their strongest room yet. “We don’t really like the room very much,’ says Quinn.
The judges like the ‘perfect’ nautical theme in Maree and James’ Kids Room. Mark loves how they’ve used all surfaces in the room, including putting a compass on the roof. He’s misses the fact that Maree and James swapped East and West over, turning civilization as we know it on its head. Or on it’s side. They struggle to find fault – look up, Mark and Sparkly Shelley! They also love the Teen Room, saying it’s one of the best rooms Maree and James have delivered.
The scores are up, and results are in. The winner of the Kids Room with 18/20 is Maree and James. Corban and Alex are second on 17, Jo and Damo on 14 and Quinn and Ben 12.5. Now to the Teenage Room results, and the first scores are a replay of the first round. “My giddy aunt,’ says Mark. Leave her out of it, Mark, and announce the winners: Alex and Corban with a score of 18. Maree and James come second on 17.5, and Quinn and Ben and Jo and Damo both score 14.5. A pleasing episode, despite no mention of a) two missing sideboards or b) Quinn’s socks and jandals ensemble. My stress rating: a relaxing 2/10. Until next week!
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.