Our resident The Block NZ analyst Tara sums up the week that was. This week her findings reveal a strange mesh of family rooms, Jay Jay Feeney in a harness and some crushed pineapple dreams.//
Episode 13: Tuesday 16 September
It’s Day 17 on The Block NZ…or is it? The contestants head off to meet Mark at the Challenge warehouse. But wait one exterior-cladding minute, what is this? The contestants look exactly as they did on Friday night at the room reveal. Mark’s still wearing the same navy blue shirt! Welcome to Week 4, says Mark. Are you exhausted yet? Of course they are, Mark. They finished the room reveal last Friday night and you’ve kept them standing there ALL weekend.
There’s an intriguing twist: contestants will score each other’s rooms, with the winner receiving $1000. But will the teams play fair or foul? “Everyone wants to play fair,” Alex says confidently. “Stuff it,” says Damo, “I want to win this competition.” Back they go to The Block – or were they there already? I can’t keep up.
Quinn and Ben discuss their garage budget blowout. Their budget was $5,000; their final spend was $21,000. That’s right: $21K on black carpet and a Pendant Nook of Wow Factor™. Quinn wants to know where they went wrong; my guess is they spent too much money. The Wolf arrives with news that plumbing must be installed before they can proceed further. “But our plumber is away this week!” says Ben. Holy moly, Auckland only has one plumber? This news quickly puts the ‘Blue Shirt Debacle’ into perspective.
This week’s room challenge is the Family Room. The Council Inspector arrives to sign off Alex & Corban’s insulation, but as it’s not completed they’re failed immediately. Hang on; is this another reality TV trick? Of course it is. Mr Council Inspector returns and gives them the thumbs up. Mark suggests Alex – dressed in hipster glasses and check shirt – is turning into a Corban clone…or is Corban turning into an Alex clone? “Let’s hope they got dressed in the dark,” says Mark, which seems rich from the man who just wore the same shirt for three days.
Quinn discovers the source of the budget blowout: talkative tradies. It seems their incessant jibba-jabba stops them from working productively. “It’s 600 this, 1200 this, and then more talking,” Quinn says in bewildered disgust. I suspect they’re discussing their hourly rate, Quinn, rather than building measurements. In contrast, Alex and Corban are busy lolling about naked amongst all their winnings* (*did not happen). They’ve won the $1000 prize from the Bitter-Losing-Contestants-Score-Your-Room competition. Quinn and Maree offer some choice words on Corban: he’s a micromanager who pays attention to detail and gets stuff done quickly. Ouch, that’s got to hurt.
Alex is over The Block teams not cleaning up the kitchen. The germs have obviously affected her brain, as she decides the team with the worst Pete Wolfkamp impression must tidy up. Sounds hilarious, Alex – what a lark! Sadly, the impressions are dreadful and it would be funnier to see Mark wearing his three-day-old shirt again. Alex scores Corban a 2, meaning they end up cleaning the kitchen anyway. “That whole thing was pointless”, says Alex. You betcha.
Episode 14: Wednesday 17 September
Welcome to the first mid-week challenge. Jo indulges Damo in a pre-challenge pep talk: “you like doing challenges, don’t you honey?” she asks in a terrifying baby voice. Sure you do, Damo-Wamo. It’s an upcycling challenge, which means sanding the crap out of a huckery piece of furniture and slapping some paint on top. Tah-dah, you’ve just saved the planet. First place wins a whopping $30,000 luxury bathroom and ensuite upgrade. Holy moly, that makes me want to jump into my iPad and upcycle those suckers myself.
It wouldn’t be a challenge on The Block NZ without some silly rules. One contestant is blindfolded while the other yells directions to a piece of furniture. What could go wrong? Ben would prefer a ‘downcycling’ challenge, while Jo’s worried as Damo-Wamo struggles with instructions at the best of times. The challenge begins, and the noise is horrific. To Ben it sounds like a bunch of birds in the morning; I doubt National Radio will be playing that birdsong anytime soon. Corban is stunned to discover Maree is louder than his wife – indeed, Maree has a set of lungs on her that would wake the dead.
Alex and Corban struggle with their design concept. They’re working on Plan A which is to create a Plan B. If that doesn’t work they’ll start with Plan B, which is to create Plan A. Once that’s done, they’ll confirm Plan C to refer back to Plan A and possibly Plan B. Despite this foolproof strategy, Alex is troubled by her lack of ideas. She searches for inspiration at Bunnings but can’t find it anywhere, not even in the aisle with the goldfish. Usually I can find heaps of cool shit down there.
Ben makes an executive decision to go shopping without Quinn so there’ll be “no mucking around”. Sweet, says Quinn, and sets to work cutting the bejeesus out of the dresser with the circular saw. Yeah! Women with tools! Over at Bunnings, Ben’s gone all giddy with excitement and starts buying things not on the Approved Shopping List. Mind how you go Ben, I’ve just seen your wife totally own that power tool. This rush of blood to the head is too much and – like Scott of the Antarctic, lost and alone in the unforgiving wilderness of the Southern Motorway – Ben feels like crying Man Tears. Quinn rolls her eyes, and so do I…where’s that circular saw when you need it?
Time for guest judge Janice Kumar-Ward to announce the winners. Maree and James are the deserved recipients of the bathroom upgrade with a fantastic geometric upcycle that Janice says is clever, current and fun. Holy moly! squeals Maree. Janice says they had a great plan from the beginning. See, Alex and Corban? That’s what a Plan looks like.
The episode takes a wrong turn down Sad Street and we’re treated to ‘hilarious’ footage of Ben’s ‘outrageous’ flatulence. “What the hell’s wrong with you?” asks Quinn, and I couldn’t agree more. Fartgate is followed by a peculiar scene featuring Alex and Corban wearing horse heads. Are they drunk? Sadly, they appear to be sober and just “a little horse”. Even Damo-Wamo attempts some Wild Bean pie jokes. “Getting a pie is a real pie-ority,” he says, asking Jo to pick up some lunch. Stop, please, before my sides split from the hilarity. This was never part of anybody’s plan.
Episode 15: Thursday 18 September
There’s drama and headaches from the get-go this evening. Three houses have issues with their concrete floors, meaning their best-laid plans for room reveal are out the unframed window. We spend about thirty minutes on this unexpected hiccup, which is as exciting as watching waterproof membrane dry. Oh, that’s what we’re actually doing.
With only two days to go until room reveal, The Block residents are going a little cray-cray. Alex is sewing cushions at 12.15am. Quinn is exhausted. Corban looks like a Mario Brother in his bright white overalls. Ben paints all night. Maree falls asleep next to her red crocs. Wake up, Maree! The Wolf is coming for you and your illegal red crocs! Just jokes. Go back to sleep.
Day 21 dawns with a power tool emergency: Jo’s hairdryer is broken. OMG! Where is The Wolf and his crisis management skills when you need him? Mark arrives with Ben Crawford, winner of Series One. They visit each team to offer sage advice like “don’t stress!” “get it done!” “don’t drop your lip!” and “make sure your hairdryer is checked and tagged by a qualified electrician!” Okay, that last one was mine, but it’s true.
En route to the challenge, Ben and Quinn fight over a bucket of jellybeans. “BEN!” Quinn shouts at her husband. “You’re a freak! You were drooling in it!” I’m starting to love these two. Ben is stoked to discover the challenge venue is an indoor wall-climbing gym, as he married Quinn primarily for her superior climbing skills. “We’re going to win!” he says, clearly tempting fate. I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Ben. You might want to get that bucket of beans back.
Today’s pointless challenge is to build a tower of crates, with a $5000 window treatment prize. There are two heats and a final and then my eyes glaze over in boredom and I start to drool into a bucket of jellybeans. As Quinn is With Child, she is withdrawn from the competition and immediately lodges a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. Fortunately for Ben, Quinn’s replacement is Jay-Jay Feeney, Celebrity Tray Stacking Champion 2003-2005.
First up, Alex vs. Maree. James thinks Maree might fall off on the first tray – that’s it James, keep the faith. Alex wins and can’t believe she has to do it again, which is what I was thinking too. Next is Jay-Jay vs. Jo. Jo wins and Damo takes the credit: “you were listening to what I was telling you and it worked, eh Jo?” says Damo. “I just zoned out,” replies Jo. In the final, Alex falls (“you choked!” squeals a delighted Mark) and Damo and Jo are announced Stack Em High Champions. “Proud of you, honey,” says Damo, going in for a pash fully reminiscent of Kath and Kel at Fountaingate Lakes.
An afternoon of hilarious challenge fun doesn’t mean the work at The Block stops. Floors are down, curtains are up and doors are in. “We just invented these in our head, and now they’re here!” says Quinn, now known throughout New Zealand as Inventor of the Door. These two can drool in my jellybean bucket anytime.
Episode 16: Friday 19 September
With only a few hours until room reveal, our desperate teams add the final touches to their rooms. Maree experiences last minute angst about her green chair. Damo lives on the edge by painting without a drop cloth. Gasp! Dangerous and reckless, Damo is Manawatu’s answer to James Bond. Jo asks Damo if the posters she’s blu-tacking to the wall are straight. “Yep,” James Bond replies, before Jo begins. See, reckless and dangerous, as Jo doesn’t seem the type to put up with that crap for long.
Corban and Alex are as cunning as the fox print hanging on their completed formal lounge. They’re super organized and have finished well ahead of time. There’s a tough decision ahead at Ben and Quinn’s: where to stick Ben’s pineapple? This could be a euphemism for something better suited for The Block NZ: After Hours, but thankfully Ben’s talking about a real ceramic pineapple. My suggestion: put it back in the shop you bought it from, Ben-Dog.
Tools down, yells Mark to nobody in particular. The teams meet at the Challenge Warehouse for the results while I try to ignore Mark wearing that freaking navy shirt again. The judges visit Maree and James’ family room first. They think it sophisticated and inviting but suggest it needs doors due to noise issues and ‘cozy factor’, whatever that is. Maree shakes her head in disagreement and I think we can safely say no doors will ever be added to her family room. A strong, confident room, say the judges, even though lots of things in the room don’t match.
Next are Jo and James Bond. Shelley loves the fresh, cohesive and considered room. It’s “full of finishing touches with a personal touch” but if there’s any more touching in this room it too will need to feature on The Block NZ: After Hours. The judges think the room lacks layers of lighting, meaning Jo needed to chuck a table lamp somewhere. “It’s a nice first impression,” says Judge Mark.
Judge Mark’s first impression of Quinn and Ben’s family room is that it’s “different”. Uh-oh. Mark and Shelley find lots of positives – the art on the wall, the richness of the floor, the cleanness of Mark’s shoes – but feel the room is let down by key elements. Shelley thinks it lacks privacy: “What if Mum’s in the lounge with a wine, and doesn’t want to see the kids?” I find locking yourself in the pantry serves the same purpose, Shelley. Overall, Ben and Quinn need to take some risks. Risks? Didn’t you see the ceramic pineapple?
Finally to Alex and Corban, who deliberately ignored the brief to present a sophisticated, luxurious lounge. Shelley says the room is a style statement – strong, slick and stylish – but not a family room. She thinks Alex and Corban have been deliberately strategic and that their deviation from the brief will be overlooked on auction day. Those cunning little foxes.
Congratulations to Maree and James, winner of the Best Family Room with a score of 14.5. Holy moly! Maree bursts into tears and buckles at the knees. Jo and James Bond are second on 14; Alex and Corban third with 13 and Quinn and Ben bring up the rear on 11.5. Being second again is wearing thin for Jo and James Bond, while Quinn declares “it’s a pretty shit score, but I love our room”. As Ben said earlier: “hang in there, babe – only seven weeks to go.” Bless.
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