Many years ago, a modern popular music combo called themselves “Pop will Eat itself”, and indeed it has done so. So too has Reality TV. The count of Julie Christo has reinvented herself so many times that all the reality series just morph into one continuous hour long advertisement for placed products. Although the first episode of “The Block” was amusing, with the Wellington couple cheerfully coming last in everything (the Jafas and the money-hungry Trons taking an early lead), and chubby cheerfull Moana more keen to tuck into bed, or tuck into a pie, than do any type of hard work, it has lost its charm for me by the end of the first week. The second week was even worse – just not worth watching. And that’s a shame.

They’ve mixed up the challenges more times than I’ve mixed a metaphor – and heaven only knows I’m bad at that. They’re supposed to be renovating a tip, right? Making it more habitable and easy to sell? And learning a few DIY tips along the way? but somewhere in the “redecorate a new cabinet so it looks old and distressed” routine, this old fish got disgusted and turned off the channel. Sending someone to the shops 3 times, first to buy a length of chain with which to hit the said box, secondly to buy some paint, and thirdly to buy more paint and bling – and then watching as the gambling apes on tv flail around (literally) with the chain until they had started to smash whole corners / panels off the chest was not entertainment, and certainly not a good home decoration experience. Four gormless couples, popping up in every ad-break selling crap coffee, cheap tat, etc, and a presenter who normally does the sports commentary on Prime, does not an intelligent program make. Why do we always have to dumb it down?

By contrast, in the UK they have Kevin McCloud. Sir Kevin now, I believe. Passionate, erudite, well-meaning, clear-talking, taking you through a real renovation step-by-step, with the use of an architect and sometimes even a qualified project manager, the Grand Designs program is a joy to watch. We were heavily rumored to be getting a version of this for ourselves a couple of years ago – they turned me down as presenter, saying that Fish weren’t family-friendly – but we’ve seen nothing of the show on the horizon. Pity that. We’ve got the load of schlock that is the Block instead.

For a start, these weren’t real do up jobs. Clearly they hadn’t really been let go slowly to ruin, due to decades of student flat neglect. Or used as a gang pad for dealing P and giving their Hos the block. That sort of grime stays inset for ages. No, here, four houses, conveniently next to each other on a suburban Takapuna street, had been bashed up by the production team, with every Gib wall methodically kicked in, external brickwork conveniently loosened and removed in strategic camera friendly spaces. It reminded me completely of 1984, with Big Brother firmly in control once more.

The continual advertising, the need for spoilers such as “but the team are in for a big surprise, with an unexpected twist that no one saw coming” and the low-skilled, poorly thought through challenges, just make a mockery of the whole thing. I’m not sure who would really want one of these houses at auction, having seen how roughly bogged together the buildings have been.

Worst. Program. Ever.

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