Our resident The Block expert Tara weighs in on the week on Newell St. This week, as the competition begins crawling to a close, she reflects upon the warfare strategies employed by The Block‘s little battlers.//
Great things come in fours. The A-Team. The famous 90s girl band B*witched. And of course, The Block NZ. Four houses, four journeys – and what feels like four years of episodes. In the week that saw the delivery of the final interior rooms, we pay tribute to the fantastic four fighting on the battlefield that is The Block NZ.
Alex and Corban: Campaign of Shock and Awe
In this week of shock and surprise, Alex and Corban didn’t finish. Heavens to Betsy – I didn’t see this one coming. These two usually plan the geometric-patterned socks off everyone else, organising contingency time on contingency time. So, how did it come to pass that they presented two unfinished rooms?
Mark announced it was lounge and entranceway week, as well as ‘do everything that you’ve got left’ week. Alex and Corban had seven days to complete seven spaces, including an attic, which they thought they’d do just for fun. They had nooks and crannies coming out of their nooks and crannies, so it was no wonder things went pear-shaped. By Wednesday they began to worry. By Thursday, Corban predicted the judges would be visiting a construction site. By Friday, they were three days behind schedule and threw in the towel. “Friday is Cry-day,” said Alex.
In 4th Form English I learned about hubris. It stuffed Macbeth up, and it stuffed Corban up too. It was his grand design that led to their undoing; too much ambition and too little time left them unprepared, unfinished, and unhappy. Not even Wednesday’s challenge involving a smoldering fireman could cheer Alex up. As the 6pm Friday deadline neared, and the other teams whipped themselves into a frenzy of activity, Alex and Corban quietly tidied their extension cords and polished their plants. “It just feels like big fat failure,” said Alex, as she lamented the position they’d got themselves into. Cheer up, team – this is how Quinn and Ben have felt all season.
The judges weren’t impressed. Mark was scathing the minute he stepped across the threshold. “I think we’ve come through the tradesman entrance,” he sneered. He seemed to take the uncompleted space as a personal insult: “I see this as confidence bordering on arrogance,” he said. Jeez, Mark, take it easy. Can’t you judge it as a bespoke minimalist design with a distressed, exposed finish? Host Mark wrote nothing next to Alex and Corban’s name on the scoreboard — not even a smiley face sticker for taking part. “We’re embarrassed,” said Alex. “This is not our final piece.”
Jo and Damo: To the Victors Go the Spoils
Damo began the week unable to afford to replace his holy pair of shorts. Even buddy Corban wouldn’t employ him, despite Damo’s appealing offer to watch over Corban and Alex as they slept. However, Damo’s luck turned at the Design Your Own Door challenge, possibly the most boring challenge ever to screen on The Block NZ. Watching couples stare at a computer screen designing a ‘bespoke door panel’ does not make for riveting television. No wonder Damo got bored and wandered off – so did I. Jo eventually realised her husband was missing in action and discovered him “standing with his pants around his ankles.” As you do, but don’t be alarmed – Damo was only pretending to be a giant, to get through their new giant sized door.
It was a dull challenge with an amazing prize: a luxurious night at Sky City, worth $2000. Jo and Damo’s sophisticated Oversized Piece of Art was judged the winner, closely followed by Alex and Corban’s Door With A Nice Handle. Jo bounced around the room with excitement. “It’s like she just won Lotto,” said Alex. Jo was still bouncing when she got to Sky City: one glass of bubbly and she bounced right off the bed. “Settle down,” warned Damo, who’s probably seen this behaviour before.
Jo and Damo carried their lucky streak into room reveal, where their winning lounge and entranceway scored them a whopping $8000. Judge Mark appreciated their mix of “feminine elements and bloke-friendly technology.” Breaking news, Mark – females like technology too. Mark suggested the television was too big, but thought this wouldn’t put buyers off. What about us poor females who have trouble pushing the buttons on the remote, Mark — how will we manage? Perhaps we’ll just busy ourselves by fluffing the cushions instead. Damo’s got more important things to worry about – he’s off to buy some new pants with his winnings. “It’s going to be awesome,” he said.
Maree and James: Couch War Champions
Big worries for Maree and James this week: is this the last we’ll see of Scottish builder (and Wee Willie Winkie fan) Martin, now that house interiors are complete? Say it isn’t so, Maree and James! Surely you must have some bespoke outdoor furniture you need Martin to whip up for you? Maree and James pulled out all the stops to complete their rooms this week, and I’ll be surprised if they have enough money for one measly pittosporum next week, given the number of tradies working to the 6pm Friday deadline. It was a rush of activity as sparkies, chippies and tillers worked to the last minute to finish the room.
You know you’re nearing the end of the season when choosing a couch becomes a plot strand lasting several episodes. This week was Couch Wars on The Block NZ, and if we know Maree, we know she loves a good fight. Maree wrestled with Alex over the Freedom Manhattan couch and then set her sights on Jo, who reckoned it was easier finding the perfect man than the perfect couch. I was on the edge of my settee: who would be the victor in this riveting contest? Would it be cushions at dawn? Maree was the victor, buying the coveted couch and flaunting it to the other teams by, well, just putting it in her lounge. That’ll show ‘em, Maree!
The couch was a champion in their lounge room. Grumpy Judge Mark wanted a feature wall, but I think he’s been watching too much Peter Andre’s 60 Minute Makeover, while Shelley harked back to her Week 3 bugbear about the lack of doors separating the family room from the lounge. Host Mark said the judges thought it a fresh, inviting and family friendly space. “It’s inviting, it’s fresh and it’s family,’ Shelley said, just in case we didn’t quite understand what Mark meant.
Ben and Quinn: Operation Stag’s Head
It was a return to stealth tactics for Quinn and Ben this week. Low on budget (I still blame that carpeted garage) and with a $4000 prize in the Judge The Other Teams Room competition on offer, Quinn and Ben launched a pre-emptive strike by voting strategically to try and win the cash. They were brutally honest about the other teams efforts: “that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” Quinn said of Maree’s cushion. Hang on, Quinn – what about that fish artwork in your kitchen? Their plan worked: “Quinn and Ben, you win something!” Shannon announced in amazement. “This is a good feeling,” said Quinn. “Alex and Corban must feel like this all the time!”
Quinn awoke to find a banner of support hung on their fence. ‘Quinn and Ben: be encouraged! Well done!’ it read. She wondered where it came from; is your Mum in town, Quinn? There’s no time to contemplate, as there were walls to paint and Quinn had lost her paintbrush. She discovered she was sitting on it: “that’s the third day in a row!” she wailed.
Quinn and Ben like to find the silver lining in every cloud. With Alex and Corban withdrawn from battle, does that mean they’ll win? “We do have a one in four chance,” said Quinn, and with those maths it’s no wonder they’re over budget. Quinn’s continued her animal theme with a ‘primo’ stag’s head in the lounge, which I misheard as ‘sex-head’ — an entirely different design feature. Despite the stag’s head, Judge Mark felt the lounge lacked an ‘I’m home’ feeling, whatever that is. I can’t elaborate, because I’m too busy fluffing the cushions.
And so, week nine of The Block NZ drew to a close. It was an epic struggle of settees and surprises, doors and drama, holy pants and holy moly’s. While we await the excitement and intrigue that week ten will bring, let us pause and ponder one of life’s great mysteries, as so eloquently put by Damo. “If a man is in a forest, and there’s no women around, and he says something, is he still wrong?”