Monday, June 13, 2005

I'll Die If I Ever Have To Choose Between Debbie Travis' Curb Appeal Landscaping House Hunting Design On A Dime Finals Challenge And The Cardinals

Alright. It's true. I am watching WAY too much television. And spending WAY too much time online. God help me.

Because I'm obsessed with something other than Cardinals games. Sure, the Cardinals. I knew that would happen come summer. And one would think this would be enough.


I had to go and hook myself up with another addiction. And this one's more dangerous, because I fear a constant, all-year battle with this.

You see, I love HGTV. Besides sports and the occasional Weather Channel turn, it's pretty much all HGTV for me.

Here's a brief rundown of my favorite programs, in ascending order.

Designer Finals
Description from the HGTV website:

"Top design students face their final test—a real-life makeover with a minimal budget, a handful of helpers and advice from a mentor. In each episode, a student gets their chance to "go pro" and redo a room in a real family's house. The student gets real-world experience while the family gains a great new room!"

I love watching these students sweat it out, trying to get their work done on budget and in time. Is that wrong? I guess it's like watching NASCAR waiting for the wrecks (something I don't do by the way). They learn an important principle of life: things hardly ever turn out as planned.

Weekend Warriors
From the HGTV website:

"Weekend Warriors celebrates the do-it-yourself trend with a cinema-verite look at people planning, doing and completing weekend home-improvement projects. This series follows such do-it-yourselfers as apartment-dwellers, homeowners, couples, singles and families through the stages of a project to its successful (or even unsuccessful) completion. The focus is on the enthusiasm and the experience of the participants as they improve their home on their own."

Okay, so I think I can do everything, too. Just like these people. Sometimes they get in over their heads. That makes me feel less like the idiot I am, to watch others make mistakes also. But I think I know the feelings of these people. Doing something yourself makes you appreciate it more. And in the end gives one a feeling of accomplishment.

By the way, if anyone knows what the heck "cinema-verite" is, let me know.

Designer's Challenge
Description from the HGTV website:
"Wouldn't it be great to choose from different plans offered to you by three design experts for your real-life interior-design project? This weekly half-hour series follows one homeowner per episode through the exhilarating decision-making process of selecting from among three designers' room renovation plans, created just for the homeowner. Viewers watch as the chosen designer brings about a fabulous new look for the room. Hosted by Chris Harrison."

This is exciting for the opposite reason of Weekend Warriors. Because these people actually know what they're doing! The creativity of these people is something at which I marvel. Usually a stunning look results from their designs. But of course, I have a question. How do these people afford this stuff?

House Hunters
Website description:
"House Hunters, hosted by Suzanne Whang, takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples and families learn what to look for and decide whether or not a home is meant for them. Focusing on the emotional experience of finding and purchasing a new home, each episode follows a prospective buyer and real estate agent through the home-buying process, from start to finish."

Having lots of experience at this makes this show fun for me. But it's also great because of the unintentional comedy provided by the usually wooden personalities of these realtors and their clients.

In fact, I have a hunch that there is only one soundtrack for this series and they play it for each episode. The reason I think this is because this is the dialog for each episode almost verbatim:
Realtor: Let's take a look in this room.
Client (walking in): Oh, it's nice.
Realtor: There's a lot of space in this room.
Client: Yes, nice.
Realtor: Very nice.
Client: Yes. And it's bright.
Realtor: Yes. Very bright. Nice lighting.
Client. Yes. Really nice.
Realtor: Yes. It's nice.

Hey folks, there are other words in English besides "yes", "nice", and "bright". But it's funny because I remember saying the same things to my realtor in our house hunting.

Debbie Travis' Face Lift
"Host and designer, Debbie Travis, secretly works with a relative of an unsuspecting homeowner to make over a space that needs help. With the family member as an accomplice, hidden cameras record the homeowners' complaints about the room. And while the homeowner is away, Travis, the Facelift crew and family member/accomplice goes in, renovates, redecorates and reinvents the room in a day, a weekend or a week. The show's finale is the dramatic unveiling of the makeover and the cameras capture the homeowners' live response."

I don't know where to start with the next two programs because I love them both a lot. But here goes.

The accent has got to be part of it. I love the way Debbie Travis talks. There's just something about an English accent. Everything sounds better in an English accent. You say something intelligent, that's fine; but say something with an English accent, and it makes what you said Nobel-worthy. It's like authoritative. And it works for humor, also. Say something funny, you'll get a few laughs. Say the same thing with an English accent and paramedics will be carrying people out on stretchers, passed out from laughter-induced oxygen deprivation.

So, you've got this English chick on your TV telling people to do things they would not have the guts to do if it weren't an English chick telling them to do it. Like painting their kitchen lime green. Or taking an antique piece of furniture, PAINTING IT some wild color, and then taking something and FLOGGING the furniture to give it that "weathered" look.

Horrified bystander (wide eyed with voice raised): Woman, what the crap are you doing?
Family member: Why I'm beating this old antique that I just painted this psychedelic color.
Bystander (voice raised and perplexed): WHY?!!!!
Family member: That English lady over there told me to do so.
Bystander: Oh, okay. Why didn't you say so? Can I help?

But I am always amazed at the outcomes. This woman really is the "Queen of Paint". Incredibly talented. And fun to watch.

Debbie Travis' Painted House
HGTV Website:
"In each episode, interior designer Debbie Travis comes face to face with every style of home and every type of homeowner. From bachelor pads to RVs, family rooms to penthouses - no project is too small, no job too big. The Painted House takes decorating to an all new level as Debbie delivers humor and home decorating in one uproarious package."

Not much else to say. This lady really is talented. And very funny. Very entertaining show. See above.

Landscaper's Challenge
HGT says:

"Three professional landscapers face off and "take it outside" to find out whose plan will best meet the outdoor design challenge and win the homeowner's vote. The winner installs the plan, and cameras document the process and the owner's reaction. Hosted by Marianne Curan."

I'm not sure what Marianne Curan has to do with this show other than providing voice over. She doesn't interact with anyone.

If I had to do it all over again (which is a ridiculous thing to think about, I know), I would be a landscaper. Maybe if I decide to quit doing what I do, I'll landscape. I can't think of anything I like to do more than totally changing a landscape and watching what happens. Which is why I like this show and this next one:

Curb Appeal
Website comment:

"Get great ideas for how to make the most of your home's appearance!
Curb Appeal will help you look at your home with a fresh eye and offers up tips for turning great ideas into reality. Each episode features a real house and homeowner with guest experts who discuss the owner's needs and propose projects to improve the home's appearance. A "virtual makeover" then shows how to further increase the home's curb appeal."

At least in this show the host actually interacts with the subjects on the show, which is always more entertaining. And he usually interacts in a humorous way. I get delusions of grandeur watching this show and thinking what I might want to do with my humble abode. And it involves not just the landscaping but the entire exterior of the home. I'm sure my wife at some point will desire to write letters recommending cancellation of this program.

Design On A Dime
HGTV says:
"Design on a Dime makes over a space for design-conscious home dwellers who want lots of style but may not have lots of money for the project. With a budget of just $1,000, a design team tackles a problem area such as a boring bedroom, lackluster living room, cluttered dining room or outdated office space. Together the team transforms the ordinary into the awesome. What a dramatic change! And what fun to see the residents’ reaction to their new room! The budget isn’t big, but the payoff sure is."

My favorite, mostly because this show is actually realistic. I know a lot of the projects of other shows on this network cost 10, 20, 30 or more thousand dollars. But these workers come in under budget with only a thousand to play with.

So there they are. My favorite HGTV shows. But I do have one other request. Why not combine HGTV with SCTV, my other favorite network? They could have call it HGSCTV or SCHGTV. And they could have shows like the following:

Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Designers:
"Dr. Tongue invites Debbie Travis, Marianne Curan, Suzanne Whang, Rick Spence and Kristan Cunningham each week to sit at the SCTV studios on Sammy Maudlin's set and show their designs in perfect 3-D technology."

I can just see it now. Dr. Tongue holding up a can of Debbie Travis' paint, saying in that Eastern European accent of his, "would like to see my new paint", while moving the can in and out, in and out, toward the camera. Like they always do in those 3-D movies.

A number one ratings smash, to be sure.

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