Our resident The Block enthusiast Tara dissects the week on Newell St. This week is all about breakthroughs, with Quinn and Ben finally hitting some sort of stride and Damo breaking both a creative block, and a door off it’s hinges. //
It was a big week on The Block NZ. Damo was compared to a stray dog, Quinn contemplated the differences between oblongs and rectangles, and Alex and Corban put a solar system on their roof. Why, surely that’s enough excitement for one week, I hear you ask? Nay, there were many more nuggets to be gleaned from the precious diamond that is The Block NZ. Behold my top five highlights of Week 8. Just as the legendary 90s boy band 5ive said, this five will make you feel alright.
1. Quinn and Ben sort their shit out
For eight weeks, Quinn and Ben have been the small fry of The Block NZ. They’ve been the George Constanza to Alex and Corban’s Jerry Seinfeld, the Brick to James and Maree’s Ron Burgundy, the David Cunliffe to Jo and Damo’s John Key. But this week, there was something different in the air.
Ben yearned for a ‘hare brained idea’ to avoid coming last and found the answer: organisation. Quinn and Ben were on task, they were prepared, and they were ready to win. Blessed with a truckload of tradies painting their house exterior, they had the luxury of focusing solely on the master bedroom and ensuite. Asleep by 10.30pm on the eve of room reveal, they enjoyed breakfast in bed the next morning. “I’m stressed out to the max!” joked Ben. Let’s call him MC Hammer, because Ben nailed it.
Granted, it wasn’t all fluffy ducks in Quinn and Ben’s House of Dreams: they pissed The Wolf off with some carry-on about a gib-board delivery (“is it insulation? Or installation?” Quinn wondered), and Quinn appeared to repeat her shocking jandals and socks ensemble at judging. There was also the strangely endearing scene where they reminisced about riding elephants in Thailand. They treated us to a reenactment as Quinn climbed on Ben’s back, and erm, pulled his ears. Is this foreplay in Canterbury? Should we give these two a moment? “My ears were burning red for probably an hour or two,” chuckled Ben.
It was like the kids grew up a bit this week. They surprised themselves at how smoothly things went and how stylish their room looked. We shared their joy over Quinn’s cute baby bump and alarm at Ben’s not-so-cute food baby. “Look who I married,” said Quinn, full of desire and/or panic. But the judges felt the love: Shelley leapt onto the bed in excitement at seeing their romantic room and Mark was thrilled that they’d finally delivered. Shelley awarded them a gold star for bravery and while 16 points only got them third place, I’m sure Quinn’s eyes welled up. Or was she thinking of the elephants? It’s hard to tell.
2. Pixies, pipes, and product placement
Teams were under pressure to complete their house exteriors or risk going to auction without a code of compliance. Apparently this is very serious, like me going a whole day without chocolate. Ever the motivator, The Wolf insisted there was to be no talking, no eating, no breathing – only painting. Unfortunately this makes for crap television, and as the Wolf didn’t mention ‘no dressing up in stupid costumes’ it was left to Corban to maintain ratings by painting in a lime fairy costume. “Where’d you get your boobs from, Corban?” Maree asked. Alas, Maree, I’m not sure Freedom has them in stock this season.
The removal of the plastic wrap revealed the houses in all their glory. Phwoar, check out those pipes! It was also a chance for some long-winded product placement – how about those amazing gables, gutters and vertical weatherboards? “Ours is the one that looks like a real house,” Ben boasted. “You ask a kid to draw a house and they’ll draw our house.” Ask my kid to draw a house and she’ll make eight squiggly lines and tell you it’s a porcupine eating blueberries, but whatever Ben.
3. Personality plus
What do you call a group of celebrities? A cackle? A cluster? Regardless, The Block was inundated with visits from celebrities this week. Okay, when I say celebrities I mean contractually obliged MediaWorks employees, and by inundated, I mean there were four of them. The celebrities each bought their entourages, who looked like they’d been plucked from the street unawares by show producers.
Each team was allocated a celebrity to assist with exterior painting. Damo made a new BFF in Monty Betham and hoped they could turn The Block NZ into The Fight Club NZ. “I reckon Monty will kick your butt,” Jo said, ever hopeful. Jo Cotton looked like she would rather go back to singing “Club Tropicana” on Popstars than paint Maree and James’ weatherboards, although she did bond with Maree over their mutual love of red crocs. Alex and Corban were blessed with two celebrity assistants: radio presenter Robert Scott and Mike McRobert’s gumboots, while the newly-practical Quinn and Ben put The Rock’s Roge to work cleaning windows with toilet cleaner. Never mind the windows, Roge – have you ever been to Thailand?
4. Damo has a lightbulb moment
Challenges bring out the best in The Block NZ couples: Maree’s competitive streak, Corban’s design nous – and Ben’s defeatist attitude. Now we can add Damo’s creative temperament to the mix. In the first of two challenges this week, teams needed to design and build a light fitting that reflected their personalities — or in Ben and Quinn’s case, copy the first light they found on Google Images. Unable to bring his artistic vision to life, Damo’s frustration bubbled over as he stormed out of the challenge warehouse, ripping a door from its hinge. Well, that’s next week’s challenge sorted: how to re-hang a door.
After four hours of hissy fits and tantrums, Jo and Damo were awarded the second place prize. Damo was well pleased with this unexpected achievement: “It’s like I’m Japan and I’ve just won the Rugby World Cup,” he said proudly. To be fair, their competition was a Samoan Fale light made of plastic cable ties and a lamp of chicken wire and wooden pegs…but a win’s a win, eh Damo?
Thursday’s challenge was to create a stencil artwork to be hung somewhere in the house. “I’m thinking hallway,” said Jo; “I’m thinking dark cupboard,” suggested Damo. Some struggled with creative inspiration: Ben again turned to trusty Google for ‘art for toilet’ images, while Corban sulked about the lack of opportunities to build a geometric wooden masterpiece with brass edging. Damo, however, harnessed his creative emotions to positive use. He embraced his inner Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and created a visionary metallic feather artwork to complement the darkest of cupboards.
Otis ‘MC OJ’ Frizzell was guest judge, whose street cred must have really dropped after this appearance. Otis gave top points to Maree and James’ green leaf black bird creation, followed by Alex and Corban’s twin pandas in second. Last place went to unappreciated artists Jo and Damo. They were robbed. Robbed, I tell you! That’s the last time I ever listen to MC OJ’s famous 1990 hit “That’s the Way”.
5. The Perfect Ten
It’s a ten! Strike! Triple Word Score! For the first time in the history of The Block NZ, a judge awarded an interior room the perfect score. Alex and Corban created a salmon and brass boudoir of brilliance that Shelley considered flawless and impeccable.
Alex and Corban worked super hard for their record breaker. Their room featured bespoke furniture designed by Corban, cushions sewn by Alex, and a geometrically tiled floor so clean you could eat off it. In fact, Corban seemed to spend most of Friday’s episode cleaning. “This bathroom needs a really good hit,” The Fusspot told Alex. “You do,” muttered The Fusspot’s ever-patient wife.
Shelley loved the bedroom, but Judge Mark wasn’t so enamoured with the salmon pink. Corban pointed out that hotels are masculine spaces, so why not create a feminine space? Why should men have all the fun? Corban: the thinking man’s feminist! It’s agreed that Alex and Corban have created a risky niche space and Mark is worried: what if that niche person doesn’t turn up with their cheque-book on auction day? Oh Mark, cheques are so twentieth century; they’ll turn up with their Kiwibank smartphone app, of course.
So that was our week: records broken, masterpieces created, elephants ridden. The perfect ten score bought Alex to tears, and we watched as she wiped her tears away with fabric samples. Probably fabric samples made from bespoke organic cotton complete with geometric brass edging, because that’s how they roll on The Block NZ.