For all the renovation formats that have come and gone, 2003’s The Block still sits at the top of the pile.
The David Barbour and Julian Cress-devised series regularly topped the two million market week after week. More so, it became a ‘watercooler’ show, generating real buzz, thanks considerably to its astute soapie tone. Since that time we’ve copped every reno-variation inside and out on free to air and subscription television.
Now Cress and Barbour have a ‘love-child’ show of sorts, in homeMADE. However you look at it, a reno-show is still a reno-show. But clearly people love to see a “before / after” transition so the trick is to come up with a point of difference and cast successfully.
homeMADE divides ten emerging designers, mostly young, mostly hot and mostly Anglo, into two teams of five to makeover adjacent houses. Each team has $50,000 and a support team of builders, plumbers and painters as each team member is given one room to completely re-design in 5 days. The residents of the homes become clients, and while the renovations are underway have to pitch a tent in the backyard. No hotel weekends here, and even if its a budgetary shortcut, dramatically it works perfectly well.
Unlike The Block, which saw four apartments renovated over the duration of the series, homeMADE is renovation on steroids. Under pressure cooker conditions tempers flare and cliches are dropped. The clock is ticking, the budget is shrinking, the clients are nervous and the teams have to resist imploding.
Host for the show is design expert David Heimann, who also serves as mentor. Unlike the dashing worker in Jamie Durie, Heimann remains spotless here, commenting from arms-length distance from the safety of a contemporary abode. Many of his points explain the bleedingly obvious -he is better on location inspecting finished results and giving advice. Dressed immaculately, Heimann is even chauffer-driven to the homes.
In the second (and better) episode on Tuesday, three judges will send one of the team home. Reality television without elimination? Not gonna happen.
There’s also a voice over narration, making this show very top heavy in its storytelling.
Product placement is also abundant in homeMADE, with brands and suppliers frequently named and captured on film. No subtlety there.
It would be interesting to know if the completed houses were aesthetically complementary for the families living in them, or whether the end result was a home with five rooms all competing to outdo one another.
In a crowded genre, this is is a format that borrows a bit from everywhere even if it does so with confidence. Time will tell whether names like Richie, Stacey, Chontelle, and Annie can resonate as memorably as Gav and Waz or Phil and Amity. And for that matter whether David can come close to Jamie.
homeMADE airs 6:30pm Sunday and 7:30pm Tuesday on Nine.