STUDIO: Disney
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 385 Minutes
The construction of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Rest and relaxation – Witness the hilarious antics and hijinks on the set during down time
Bloopers and outtakes
Preston and Paul – Watch an entertaining montage of your favorite on-set designers’ banter

Hi, I’m Ty Pennington. This is Extreme Cornhole – Prison Edition and the reaming starts now…

About a year or so ago, something clicked on in my brain; I became addicted to shows about fixing up and building cars and motorcycles. Overhaulin’, Pimp My Ride, American Chopper, Monster Garage, and pretty much anything on the Discovery Channel. I dig the hell out of all of them. With the exception of Amazing Race, that’s pretty much the only “Reality TV” I watch anymore. I also started watching a few shows about fixing up homes; those are pretty fun too. So I had the chance to grab Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and thought it’d be a nice change of pace from movie reviews. After seeing it, it’s pretty much like many of the other shows of its type…almost.

The only thing more impressive than the extreme makeover they did at Iwo Jima…

The Show

Before I get to the aforementioned “almost”, allow me to provide you the quickie version of this show for you: a needy family applies to the show to get their home made over, meaning that they’re hoping to get potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of modifications and additions to their shithole dwelling. Fine. I’ve got no problem with that. Wanting something for nothing is pretty much the American way these days it seems. Pimp My Ride and Overhaulin’ do exactly the same thing, only on cars. Hell, I’ve got a ’64 Plymouth I’ve had for 10 years that I’m dying to fix up (Chip Foose, if you’re reading this, I can play dumb for purposes of the show…).

…was that remodeling job they did at Disneyland…

Anyway, the host of Makeover is model/carpenter (that’s gotta be one of the newest slashes in Hollywood) Ty Pennington, essentially Bob Vila if he were cranked out by the Barbizon School of Modeling. Pennington is a gung ho, positive thinker type with a loudspeaker, hammer and soul patch. He and his team of designers arrive in a bus that’s got to cost more than any house they remodel…even after they remodel it. Pennington gets them outside with the loudspeaker, the family screams, they show him their dwelling, Pennington ships them off to Disney World or San Diego spa or wherever and an army of contractors demolish the house and rebuild and furnish it in a week. It’s the boilerplate formula of many of these fix-it-up shows that I like.

"So we’re here on this strange 24-hour-a-day sunlit planet making over an old geologist’s ramshackle dwelling. This place was really in need of some TLC because it looks like nobody’s been here since the last eclipse 22 years ago…"

Pennington’s team consists of Paul DiMeo, a carpenter, Preston Sharp, a landscaper, Tracy Hutson, a (hot) shopper/designer, Constance Ramos, a builder/planner, and Michael Moloney, the standard gay interior decorator. They’d switch out people here and there, but that was the basic crew, at least starting out. They’re all lively sorts and seem to click well on the show, even when they’re occasionally squabbling to notch up the drama. You’ll generally see a wider demographic on Makeover than you will on most reality shows (I think there’s been barely enough black people on The Bachelor in eight or nine seasons to get a starting line-up on the stereotypical basketball team). The families they help range from white suburbanites to Hispanic families and a community-oriented black lady in Watts named “Sweet” Alice. Of course, in that Watts episode, there was the dubiously-timed switching out of Sharp for Dawson Connor, a black landscaper. Coincidence? You tell me.

Jacob Singer’s buddy will definitely be interested in this cap…
(click for link)

Nevertheless, to the credit of the designers on the show, the transformations they do on these houses are nothing short of amazing. One such makeover includes adding on a second story to a tract house for a mother of three and completely converting a house to be user friendly for a young man who was injured in a car crash and wound up in a wheel chair. That makeover encompassed adding automatic doors throughout the house as well as a working elevator. They also theme certain rooms to the tastes of the people, mostly the kids, that are going to live in the house. They did a fairy princess theme for one young girl, including building a faux tree in the corner, painting the leaves on the walls and ceiling, and having a round hanging bed for her. Another girl got a Little Mermaid theme for her room and another got a giant dollhouse with a secret passageway to her parents’ room. A young man who was into rap got an underground club theme in his bedroom, complete with mixing table and disco ball. And another got a jazz theme complete with a converted baby grand piano for his bed.

It wasn’t a pretty sight when a jealous Bob Vila slipped onto the set and pulled a little Jeff Gillooly move on one of the designers…

Pennington himself always has a “secret room” that he designs himself and for all of his surfer dude, pretty-boy looks and infomercial-hyper intensity (you know, the guy that’s always screaming about his product), he designs some pretty incredible stuff. Yes, the show is definitely doing good work for good people and overall, it’s a pretty fun and uplifting watch. The remodels that they do in only a week and the logistics of how they do it are nearly mind-blowing. It’s one thing to redesign a car in a week like Overhaulin’, but to do a house in the same amount of time is impressive.

Caption A: Uhm, so how do I go about signing up for Habitat for Humanity?
Caption B: What the carpenter on the left really wanted to be nailing…

But here’s where the “almost” comes in for me though and the show veers away for me a bit from what I really enjoy about other shows like it: it’s the Oprah/Dr. Phil version of makeover shows – car, house, people, whatever. Everybody is crying on this damn thing. The designers cry when they see the application videos of the families; the families cry when they see that they’re getting their houses made over, and again when they actually see the houses; the designers cry again when they see the families’ reactions, the builders cry when they realize how little time they actually have to accomplish what they signed on the dotted line to do; and Pennington cries when he runs out of hair mousse… The point is is that the uplifting spirit of the show, although coming across as very genuine, nonetheless just turns my lights off. If I feel like crying I’ll watch the last two minutes of Rocky II. Or if I want to be uplifted, I’ll where a bra (I’ll let you decide if I’m serious or not). I prefer the other shows I’ve mentioned because they’re much shorter on the drippy, coma-inducing sentiment. But I suppose that’s just my own personal preference about the show. If you can get past the tears and Pennington’s sickeningly upbeat attitude, you’ll probably like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

7.0 out of 10

Okay guys, you’re really going to find the video of our next family interesting. Not because of their application but because of the hidden cameras we stashed in their bedrooms…

The Look

The look of the show is fine and the transfer certainly looks better than what you get on regular TV, which is what the aspect ratio is on this presentation also. The tears come through nicely.

7.4 out of 10

The Noise

Dolby Digital Stereo. I thought I heard one of the builders crying. I hope he didn’t mash his thumb with a hammer or something…

7.2 out of 10

Sharp was more than a little surprised to find out what DiMeo’s idea of "redoing the bed" turned out to be…

The Goodies

The construction of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – A not bad 13-minute piece on how the show came together and the behind-the-scenes logistics of how the show is produced as the house is produced. I was looking for a little more on the designers’ backgrounds and how they came to the show, however. Because a few of them have some acting credits and I’m wondering if they wandered into the auditions and suddenly became “designers”…

Bloopers and outtakes: Six minutes of guffaws, although I don’t remember guffawing very much.

Rest and relaxation: Witness the hilarious antics and hijinks on the set during down time – It’s basically three minutes of the crew sleeping. Add however much time I was sleeping afterwards…

Preston and Paul: Watch an entertaining montage of your favorite on-set designers’ banter – Two minutes of these guys acting gay and laughing. Uh…

5.5 out of 10

Considering that everyone was sick of his nauseatingly upbeat attitude and overindulgence with the loudspeaker, it was no surprise when Pennnington turned up in a shallow grave one morning…

The Artwork

I cried just looking at it.

6.0 out of 10

Overall: 7.1 out of 10