Our resident The Block NZ analyst Tara sums up the week that was. This week the teams served up a piping hot round of Dinner Wars, with a sumptuous side dish of bathroom and laundry.//
Tuesday – Episode 17
It’s bathroom & laundry week!
But first, let us behold the weekly Bitter-Contestants-Judge-Each-Other’s-Rooms competition. Will the teams agree with the judges, or will they vote strategically? The teams are in agreement – firstly that the judges scored Maree and James too high, and Ben and Quinn too low. Quinn thinks Maree & James’ family room is a sad little place that “doesn’t say schnuggle in here with me.” Ah, the world-famous Schnuggle Design Factor.
Onwards and upwards to this week’s room. The judges give a specific brief: high-end hotel style. Mark says Alex and Corban are ‘really stoking the engine’ – steady on Mark, that’s a bit personal. Although Alex’s bathroom design looks it was drawn by a five year old, it’s apparently an ‘incredibly difficult’ plan that needs four different inspections. Shivers! says Alex.
At the bathroom showroom, Jo climbs into the deepest bath I’ve ever seen. It’s like a crevasse – Damo will need rope and crampons to hoist her back out. Jo’s amazed that Bath of the Century costs more than her engagement ring – not sure if she’s trying to insult Damo or The Block NZ producers. “Only the best for you, honey,” replies Damo, and I’m not sure who he’s trying to insult either. Call Mountain Rescue: Jo’s fallen in again and gives Damo her Sexy Time eyes – but rather than joining Jo, Damo pretends to use the showroom toilet. Snort! What are we going to do with you two big kids?
Shannon announces the winner of the Family Room judging: it’s Quinn and Ben. They’re off shopping with their winnings, because they “love to do everything together”. But there’s trouble brewing back at The Block when their builder discovers a problem and can’t reach Quinn and Ben by phone. Something tells me this won’t end well.
Dinner Wars is back. “A challenge to use our time that’s completely unrelated to the renovation. Great,” says Sarcastic Corban. Hey, Corban: nobody likes a smart-arse. Each team must present a themed dinner party, including costume, entertainment and a special ingredient. To decide who’ll host tonight’s party, Shannon orders a party game. Teams crack an egg on their foreheads; raw, you lose, hard-boiled, you lose too, you big crack-an-egg-on-your-forehead doofus. Alex and Corban win and put themselves up first – game on, bitches!
Corban is peeved he has to go dinner party shopping rather than manage things back at The Block. “What about a Chinese takeaway?” he cheekily suggests. He has to ring the builder to crack the whip: “yeah, totally”, “yeah, exactly”, “okay, thank you” – but really he’s ringing the Lucky Dragon to order Beef Foo Young for eight, and don’t forget the free Prawn Crackers. Their dinner party will set the night on fire but there’ll be no love tonight, Alex warns Corban. It’s not THAT kind of dinner party.
Party time. Maree promises to judge the party fairly but firmly, but Damo’s less strategic: “they could’ve put cat food on the table and I would have smashed that too.” Quinn feels sorry for Alex, as Corban’s been downing the beers all night while she looks frazzled. Prepare to be frazzled yourself, says Ben to Quinn, with a nudge and a wink. Did you get the memo, Ben? It’s not THAT sort of dinner party. “Gawd” splutters Quinn, equal parts excited and embarrassed.
It’s time to be entertained. Corban challenges the men to a sumo wrestle; last man standing wins a full body massage. A full body massage? Maybe it IS that type of dinner party. James loses when Mare’s yelling pierces his eardrums, while Ben and Damo go at it in the final: “I was hammering him,” says winner Ben. “Gutted” says Damo.
Back to work, and uh-oh, the Wolf is lurking. He’s not impressed at Quinn and Ben’s relaxed approach to managing their tradies. The Wolf thinks there should be a division of labour, like it’s 1953 or something. “We don’t need to be on their arse all day” says Hands-Off Quinn, which is an interesting mental image. They’re happy to shop while the builders do…well, everything. Meanwhile, Maree claims to be the Insulation Queen and boasts that they’re half a day ahead of everyone else. Did she mention that they won last week?
Wednesday – Episode 18
It’s council inspection time, and you know what that means? Hot Building Council Inspector (HBCI™). Alex discusses the bath she’s chosen and Corban is like, take your jibba-jabba elsewhere, I got to hammer some shit into the wall before my BFF HBCI arrives. Jo and Damo are also ready for HBCI’s visit and then gasp! there he is, a vision in black polar fleece, lurking in the doorframe. Jo’s thrilled – tell him about your crevasse bath, Jo! That’s a great story. HCBI gives a thumbs up for Jo and Damo’s bathroom. “Give me five!” says Jo, when she really means, “let me show you my bathroom white ware!” He thinks I’m weird, sighs Jo. Not sure why – that wasn’t awkward at all.
HBCI teases Alex and Corban that they’ve run out of time, so Alex goes to Plan B: chocolate biscuits. HBCI is well up for bribery and before Alex can open that pack of blurred out Chitchats, HBCI signs off their bathroom. On a sugar high, HBCI rocks over to Maree and James’ and quickly signs them off too. Maree and James are super organized, because they won last week – did you hear? Sadly HBCI fails Quinn and Ben for not having any chocolate biscuits at the ready. Cheer up guys, this means HBCI will have to return with his ‘580 aqualine, 14 metre stud, 180 degree nail line on the left’ bedside manner.
Jo and Damo are shopping for Dinner Wars. “I don’t want to argue today, ok?” says Jo. “We haven’t been!” argues Damo. The New World Fishmonger invites Jo ‘round the back to have a go’ and I hope he’s referring to prepping the fish, but either way, Damo’s coming too. Damo suggests they have a roast for entrée, and suddenly this is my kind of dinner party. The theme is ‘A Grecian Layout with a Superheroes’. I’ve no idea what this means, but Damo is set on unleashing his inner Batman. It sounds terrifying. “It’s going to be choice,” says Damo.
Damo’s worried the guests won’t come in the rain, but Shannon reassures him that superheroes can travel in any weather. Thanks Shannon, your visit added heaps to tonight’s episode. Jo’s flat out like a lizard drinking and I’m not sure what Batman’s up to, other than checking himself out. Quinn suggests Damo is a ‘man-child’ – a little kid in a man’s body. This is a most astute observation, Quinn.
Food time. “It’s gone a bit cold and the purée isn’t really a purée,” apologises Jo. Mmm, it sounds delicious. The entertainment’s here: it’s a fifth former arriving for tradie work experience. Actually, it’s comedian Stephen Witt who, according to Facebook ‘aces the commonplace, day to day happenings with a sideways perspective that will leave you wondering when to laugh’. Alex reckons “this could go real bad…but he was SO funny!”
Everyone enjoys themselves, apart from Quinn who can only eat two tomatoes before she gags and she had, like, twenty on her plate! Call the Tomato Police! Ben calls it ‘a bit better than average’. Even with all those tomatoes, Ben, and at winter prices?
A new day dawns on The Block. Bathroom tiles are laid at Alex and Corban’s. “I’d no idea that’s what I like,” says Corban of the tiles – that’s why you have a wife, Corban, to help you discover these things. The Wolf does the Very Important Bathroom Flood Test, in which he turns on a tap to see where the water goes. Hopefully the laws of gravity are the same in Auckland as they are everywhere else in the world.
It’s going great guns over at Maree and James’. Did they mention they won last week? They’ve hired a Scottish tradie who’s popped over during a filming break on Outlander and while I cannae understand a word he’s saying, I could listen to that Highland burr all day. Quinn’s had a crazy morning making sure the toilet roll holder fits the toilet roll, so she’s off for a well-earned break. We trust our tradies to get the job done, say Quinn and Ben, who have obviously never seen an episode of Target.
Quinn and Ben are hosting Dinner Wars. As they bring out the entertainment Maree suddenly screams, fleeing from the room in terror. What could possibly provoke such a dramatic response, especially when Maree and James won last week? Turns out the ‘entertainment’ is a petting zoo, and Maree mistook a bearded dragon lizard for a snake. Alex enjoyed Maree’s response: “I really want to see it in slow motion!” she says. “It was so funny, I mean sad, but SO FUNNY.” Time for the main – let’s hope they washed their hands first – and Ben’s gone all Jamie Oliver with the steak. “Perfecto! Magnificento!” praises Jo, who’s obviously been matching her wines with her food.
Thursday – Episode 19
It’s Tileapalooza tonight. Damo’s tradie was sent to the naughty step for parking in the wrong place, leaving Damo and Jo up the bathroom creek without a tiler. Ben and Quinn are in the Bunnings tile aisle for the third time this week. They choose an especially ugly tile and head back to see what their Dad builder thinks. I-tie-my-pants-with-rope Tony likes their choices, but worries they might go out of fashion quickly. Not yet, Tony – they’ve got to come into fashion first.
Maree and James head to New World to shop for Dinner Wars. Their special ingredient is eggplant, which Maree can’t pronounce, let alone cook. Their Island themed night begins with a bang: “a half naked guy comes in and a half naked woman and right then I was like, 10 out of 10” says Damo. “Except for the half naked man, of course.” Of course, Damo. The teams all shake their moneymakers and Damo cuts so many shapes he thinks he might fall through the concrete. It’s a BBQ for the main meal, which – surprise, surprise – leaves Quinn and Ben unimpressed. Ever the gracious host and mindful they all have work to do, Maree makes a toast – “may the best team win” – when she really means is “go home, losers”.
It’s day five of Bathroom Week. Quinn & Ben’s tilers arrive, meaning they can finally take a break from wondering where they are and eat breakfast. It’s 8.17am and in struts The Wolf, tapping his watch: time for a telling off. It’s like watching the School Principal asking questions he already knows the answers to, and while Quinn and Ben appear to listen they’re actually wondering when does the Wild Bean truck arrive? I really need a muffin. “I had my breakfast about two hours ago,” says Principal Wolfkamp, poking out his tongue and blowing a raspberry. “What the hell?” asks Quinn. The Wild Bean truck doesn’t get here til 10.30am?! What am I going to do until then? But what does Dad builder Tony reckon? “Do you want us to run the ship more?” asks Ben. Nah, we got it, says Tony, hitching his pants up with a bit more rope.
With nothing else to do, Quinn and Ben sit back to watch their tradies sweat. “We got a good spot here”, says Quinn, while Ben eats toast and pervs at the tiler with the low hanging pants. Someone get that man a rope belt! Ben suggests Beautician Quinn ask The Wolf to help her do a Brazilian, to see if he’d tell her what to do. That would be weird, wouldn’t it, wonders Quinn. Not at all, Quinn – though I’m not sure The Wolf is a Brazilian type of guy.
Mark announces the Dinner Wars results. Quinn and Ben lead with 42.5 points, with Maree and James’ scores to come. Maree thinks Quinn looks uncomfortable: “something is definitely up”. Turns out Quinn and Ben give Maree and James a low score, securing first place for themselves. Alex looks at Quinn like a disappointed mother and Quinn and Ben are officially out of Maree’s Circle of Trust. Ben, ever the diplomat, reckons “the fact of the matter is, she didn’t throw a party that had any of the things we like in it.” Anyone for toast?
Friday – Episode 20
It’s Bathroom and Laundry reveal day, but the teams are still reeling from yesterday’s Dinner Wars results. Maree’s very sensitive and is unimpressed with Quinn & Ben’s tactics. Quinn takes a different view: “it was just a crappy dinner party.” Damo plays Good Cop and understands why Ben and Quinn gave low scores: they’ve a massive place to paint, Quinn’s pregnant, and Ben’s got to do all the work. Damo obviously hasn’t met Belt-On-a-Rope-Tony yet.
It’s frantic as teams try to get everything done before the deadline. Ben’s struggling to hang a door, while Quinn’s trying to use curtain rail ends as door handles. Ben decides to do a little wallpapering with five minutes to go – nothing like a bit of pressure to get you working, Ben! Jo and Damo’s bathroom is finished (and looks amazeballs) thanks to Damo’s unorthodox grouting methods, but they’re worried their laundry is a bit underwhelming. Poor Jo’s into her third day with no sleep…watch out she doesn’t fall back into that bath, Damo.
James and Maree’s confidence is running high after last week’s win. They’re dressing the room but need to use a tiny plant for decoration as the Giant Plant Shop was shut. Alex and Corban worked hard to get their laundry finished, including some pretty flash yellow grouting. The time they’ve spent in the laundry means their bathroom is unfinished. Gasp, an unfinished room? What about your PLAN, you two serial planners?!
Tools down! Ben and Quinn are starving after their busy morning of door hanging and curtain rail handle finding. Jo complains she didn’t get a ‘tools down’ hug. “You’re so grumpy,” she tells Damo. “You’re grumpy!” replies Damo; “No, I’m not!” says Jo. You two kids! Maree and James are thrilled with their beautiful bathroom, and James reckons it’s worth all their hard work. Don’t talk too soon, James – let’s wait for the scores, eh?
First up, Maree and James. Judge Mark is underwhelmed by the laundry, wanting more storage and creativity. A bit rough, considering it seems they were given half a hallway to chuck their laundry into. Shelley loves the bathroom – it gives an atmosphere of ‘polished Pacifica’, and is modern and dramatic with a soulful flair.
Quinn and Ben’s laundry is a fresh, bright and compact space and Shelley thinks the tiles and wallpaper look great. The bathroom layout is good but they’ve let themselves down with the details, such as using three different types of tiles and no handles on the cupboards. “It ticks most of the boxes,” says Judge Mark.
Alex & Corban’s laundry is a hit with the judges, especially the yellow grouting. The bathroom – while not finished – is quirky in a contemporary and stylish way. There’s poor lighting over the mirror, but apart from this Mark struggles to find any criticisms. Let me refer you to exhibit A, Mark: the unfinished grouting.
independent journalism happen!Find Out More
Jo & Damo are desperate to win. Shelley thinks their laundry lacks finishing touches and looks like they ran out of time. But their bathroom is beautiful – “an unexpected oasis with wow factor to burn”. Someone find Shelley a fire extinguisher!
The results are in. It’s close, but the winners are Alex and Corban on 17. Corban can’t believe an unfinished bathroom scored so well – I reckon the other teams will agree with you there, buddy. Jo and Damo score 15.5, James and Maree 15 and Quinn and Ben 13.5. This is the sixth time we’ve been second, says Damo, and it’s getting mentally hard: “it’s just shit, really”. It sure is, Batman.
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the days' best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.