RECAP: THE BLOCK

Gather ye round Block heads ... The Block

Gather ye round Block heads ... The Block

Previously on The Block: The teams survived "Hell Week" and knuckled down into "Purgatory Week" (at least things are looking up). Stuff got built, a charity benefitted, fun was had, tempers frayed and people didn't sleep, but the The Block waits for no man, woman or Sophie. Rooms must be renovated and arguments with Keith must be had. It's just like the schoolyard with less pashing and more random power tool usage. Tonight though, the teams have to deliver the upstairs bedroom AND bring the downstairs powder room home to roost. Dani worries about things being too big(!) and Sophie cracks it over Dale doing some work. The one thing that always remains consistent on The Block: Dani and Sophie must only shop and do ABSOLUTELY NO RENOVATING. Here comes another one ... BOOM!

It's an early morning looking at shots from the latest Victorian Tourism commercial: rowers on the Yarra; Punt Road with traffic moving on it; a St Kilda local heading out to pawn their first flat screen TV for the day. Everyone's had a late night painting, so everything should run smoothly this week given how "on target" everyone is. Enter: Keith. "We've got 4,000 bricks coming this morning," he says. "That digestive biscuit really worked a treat."

The brick truck arrives - an hour early - and everyone puts down their tools and races into the street to celebrate the miracle. SOMETHING RELATING TO BUILDING A HOME THAT HAPPENED BEFORE WE NEEDED IT TO! Then Keith commandeers some of the tradies to help clear the site so the bricks can be put onsite, much to the disgust of the the tradies. Andrew & Mike's builder has words with the site foreman after he asks for some help to clear the place up. Supreme Warlord Keith wins. Natch.

Brad and Dale sit down to dinner on The Block

Brad and Dale sit down to dinner on The Block

Dani's on the warparth after their site has been disrespected, leading to their yet-to-be-installed downstairs toilet seat getting cracked, thanks to carelessness from random tradies. "It's not good enough," she says, "But on the plus side I get to go shopping again." Mike and Andrew's mirror copped a battering as well so they'll have to replace that too ... at some point. To make matters worse, one of the key features of the brother's bedroom - the marble desktop - looks like it won't make it this week either. "20 hours to go and we don't have a desktop for the desk," says Mike. "Of course that's our cunning plan, but Andrew made me promise not to tell you. S--t, I've done it again, haven't I? This is why I don't do many of these pieces to camera."

The wardrobe at Dan and Dani's place is progressing, the sparky is all but done, the plumber is due in an hour, and Dani's out shopping. "It doesn't get any better than this, does it?" smiles Dan. Dani arrives back and she's in quite the rush, and a filthy mood to boot. Her detailed eye is unhappy with the way the wardrobe is installed, and she can't find Dan (who's out the back sucking on a sponsor's shake) in order to complain. Then she does, lucky Dan. Dan offers to fix all the issues Dani has identified, but that's not enough to soothe this savage beast. Heaven forbid the room start to look too small.

Everything's falling into place for Brad and Lara - painting's almost done, carpet's being laid, basically finished bar a few final touches. "I *think* we might get some sleep tonight," says Lara. She's encouraged Brad into a health kick to improve his fitness (as he used to be a first grade rugby league player but his fitness has fallen away somewhat since retiring), and has secretly arranged for him to take part in a training session with the Melbourne Storm NRL club. "I hope he's excited - they're turning it all on for him: they're giving him a full outfit, he's getting a tattoo sleeve, and the team are arranging private kickbacks from sponsors off the books so that they remain under the salary cap." Brad has a great time, but on The Block there's always renovating to be done. Besides ... not even once did Brad get an offer to join in any form of wildly inappropriate group sexual encounter.

Brad and Lara's room around a bed head ... The Block

Brad and Lara's room around a bed head ... The Block

The interesting thing about Dale and Sophie's bedroom is they're sticking with their trademark 's--tty chic' look, so naturally Sophie's out shopping for chic s--t. Dale, meanwhile, is back onsite contemplating a table Sophie found. She expressly told him she didn't want it sanded back. "If I'd have wanted a new table, I would have gotten a new table and distressed it so that it looked like an old table," says Sophie. NO. SANDING.

So he sands it.

Oops. Andrew's forgotten to arrange the holes in his glass desk backing for power and data, so he asks his sparky to move them and another set of points pretty please. "Just another day on The Block, really," says the Electrician. "If only I was charging them what I charge you lot, they'd be reconsidering all these last minute changes." At least he realises he's only being asked at the tenth hour and not the eleventh. That's when the going get tough and the tough get invoicing.

Mike and Andrew's room goes vertical ... The Block

Mike and Andrew's room goes vertical ... The Block

In an attempt to smooth things over, Dan has decided to arrange a romantic dinner for he and Dani. It starts with Dan doing what he does best: hunting and gathering. "Me find meat. Me pleased," grunts Dan after he tracks down his triceratops rib for the special dinner. He also smashes through a flower shop and somehow walks out with flowers stuck to him in a manner that might look appealing when arranged in a box. "Dani like?" Dan asks the cameraman. The camera shakes and Dan blunders off into The Block.

Sophie's back from shopping with a boot full of firewood. "It's to go above the bed head to create an extra fire hazard within the house," she offers. "It'll also come in handy if the prospective buyers belong to the local witches' coven." Inside, Dale is busy sanding back the table that must not be sanded. She who must not be named is gob-smacked he's gone against her wishes and suddenly, "Avada Kedavra!" - a green bolt of lightening streaks across the room and strikes Dale dead. In Sophie's mind at least. "It's just the top, it's not the end of the world," offers Dale with a verbal shrug. "Sophie couldn't know anything, could she?" Sophie mumbles rhetorically as she storms upstairs. At least we agree on something.

The glass arrives for Mike and Andrew to place on the wall behind the desk and it fits a treat. They've also received word their marble bench top will be ready and delivered two hours before room reveal. That's cutting things finer than Andrew's grasp on reality.

Dale and Sophie's twiggy themed room ... The Block

Dale and Sophie's twiggy themed room ... The Block

Dan's hard at work, focused on fixing the things Dani has found wrong with the room so far. So he's only fixing EVERYTHING. Dani, meanwhile is ... where is she? No, that can't be right, she never does that! Who woulda thunk it: Dani's out shopping! And spending $1,000 on a high-backed armchair for the room!!! "There's no stop-ping us right now," she sings on the way back in the car. There are many ways you could be stopped, Dani, not least of which include explaining that credit cards are not a recognised tool or asking you which end of a paintbrush you hold in your ungrateful hand.

On Dani's return, the room lights are up and Dani is concerned that everything is too big - everything except her demands. "It won't even fit the $1,000 chair I've just purchased to go in here that I haven't told you about," she offers with a sigh. Perhaps she could shove her chair somewhere else? Any ideas Dan? No? Nothing's going Dani's way, so Dan hopes more than ever that his romantic efforts will pay dividends. Good plan, just as long as she doesn't act like the rest of her species does and rip the head off her partner after mating. "It's like we're being punished," says Dani, now so beaten down that even a ritual sacrifice couldn't perk her up. Well, not a standard ritual sacrifice anyway. Remember Sophie's got some wood to start the pyre.

Dan has managed to drag Dani offsite so that his partners in crime, Dale & Brad (aka Dumb & Dumberer) can set up the big surprise dinner. They're consummate romantics. "He must be strugglin' if he's gotta pull out all these stops," says a wizened Brad. "Yeeeeeah," expands Dale philosophically. They set up the table, flowers, champagne & candles, and role-play what will happen when Dan returns with his partner. Brad (playing Dan) leads a blindfolded Dale (playing Dani) in to show him all he's prepared for her. "I can't believe I'm sharing this with the paintball champion of The Block," says Dale/Dani. The boys embrace and hold a lingering stare into one another's eyes. They know this is a special moment only they will share. Finally Brad and Dale kiss, tenderly, with only the chorus of bleating sheep on the mountain to seranade them. An unexpected love amidst the chaos of renovation. Coming soon to theatres - Block-back Mountain.

Dan and Dani's blue room ... The Block

Dan and Dani's blue room ... The Block

The team from House 4 return and Dan surprises Dani. "What is this?" she asks bewildered. "Did you go shopping without me?!"

"Dan hunt and kill for Dani. Dan king of House 4," he says.

"Awwwww," says Dani, revealed there was no purchasing involved. Dan reveals the steak he's arranged for someone else to prepare for her and she asks "Is that a whole animal?". What a perfect couple. They enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner, then after a not-at-all-awkard nor heavily-if-inaccurately-promoted moment in which Dani asks if Dan is going to propose, and he points out that would be a decision above his pay grade in this relationship, the couple excuse themselves and race upstairs. 5 minutes later cigarettes are lit by satisfied looking silhouettes seen through the front curtains and a muffled voice asks, "wanna go round again?" Mission accomplished.

The scores ... The Block

The scores ... The Block

The morning of Delivery Day and it's situation normal for Mike and Andrew - no sleep last night and minimal the night before - and Mike is flying around the bedroom believing he's a hummingbird. Andrew's in flatpack hell but is confideng in the knowledge that he's got 2 hours to finish that, dress the room, write a speech for the King of Finland and make his next move in the ongoing game of Risk that is African politics.

STOP PRESS: Dani is seen ACTUALLY doing some renovation-type work within their house. She's touching up the paint on the ceiling. At least it *could* be her. The grab was so quick it just as likely could have been a production assistant standing in while the camera operator sorted out the focus. Allegedly she's only had a couple hours sleep (said the priest to the nun... eh? eh?!) and there's still so much to be done in their rooms. Like change all the things Dani doesn't like about the bedroom this morning.

Brad and Lara are woken by Mike fixing something into their shared brick wall, which they later discover to be a fold-out toilet. That bodes well for future acoustics!

It's frantic froofing and tjuzing across all four houses. Andrew reveals their secret weapon for the week - a four year old called Milan they bought on eBay. Andrew has indentured her into the slave labour camp they call House 2 so she can help finish the room, and Milan starts by finger painting on the wall. "It's really quite lovely," says Andrew, "and though we've been guaranteed an excellent buy-back price for her, I think she'll make a nice permanent addition to the room once we freeze her in carbonite." Thank goodness for the internet.

With 10 minutes to go the marble desktop the brothers have been sweating on arrives and gets installed with literally 300 seconds to spare. Or hours. The editing just might have added tension there. With everything in place and wiped twice, Scotty sounds his whistle to indicate "tools down" (while sonding remarkably like his call for a site meeting) and the teams assemble on the street. They're so well trained, though Dale still needs a whack over the nose with a rolled-up newspaper from time to time. Scotty greets them with a smile and a chipper "Good morning!" and then sends the teams off for a sleep. How is this allowed to happen? Surely sleep is for the weak and will only lead to sensible decision making?

The judges are welcomed to The Block and this week John's back to join Neale, but WHERE HAS QUEEN SHAYNNA THE MAGNIFICENT GONE? She's been usurped by the Editor-In-Chief of House & Garden magazine Lisa Green. This treason shall not be tolerated. I'll bet it was that McGrath fellow ... he looks to be a shady character AND he's a real estate agent to boot. Who can trust them? I mean, really.

Starting in Dale and Sophie's bedroom, the judges are impressed with the marijuana garden the couple have started in the bookcase. "I think the room has a nice feel," says Neale, "which is enhanced by just how cooked I am after rolling my own spliff from the accoutrements available." The woman usurper says something but no one really listens. Conveniently the room "feels restful" which therefore makes it an accurate representation of a place to sleep. The desk isn't a winner with any of the three judges. They stick their nose in on the powder room and disturb a random young starlet bent over the vanity. The contestants concept of "powder rooms" took a big shift after they attended the Logies. At least the starlet wouldn't have cost much. Neale manages to contradict himself from start to finish - not liking the room at the start and then seamlessly adding at the end that it's smart and functional (It's just a toilet, Neale). "Man am I ever hungry," says John. "Got any cheezels?"

Moving into the Kid's room that Mike and Andrew have created the judges think it's a hit. That's a MASSIVE TV in the kids room and all John can do it stand two feet away from it, stare and say "Woah". The TV allows the room to adapt as the child matures from a socially withdrawn toddler into a teenager in coke-bottle glasses who hates the world and only wants to sit in their room playing World of Warcraft. There's lots of nice touches they judges are taken with and very few negatives. The downstairs powder room is in keeping with the ensuite the boys delivered upstairs last week, though the finishing touches are lacking by comparison (the mirror being the most glaring of ill-fitting items). Mike flys by in full hummingbird mode. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

The House 3 Green team have pulled everything back after a roof debacle and a briefly revisited WWIII with Keith over the powder room vent. They managed to deliver their rooms and the judges think they're pretty good, though John isn't taken with their half wall, half bed head. The walk-in robe is considered a smart idea to use the space, though the dressing of both rooms is adjudged under-done ("needs more books"). The room finishes are a success by consensus due to their high quality, though John is sitting in the corner, eyes glazed, sniggering at the way the sheets are folded. The smart toilet in the powder room with integrated sink above the cistern draws strong praise in these water-efficient-if-impractical-to-use times. Don't let Sophie see it - she'll freak out having to stand over the toilet to wash her hands.

Over in the love nest that is Dan and Dani's house, the guest bedroom has been met with a determined positivity by the judges. "The wall colour, even though it's closed it in, has given it a real richness," says Neale, who is taking all sort of risks and liberties with his temporary freedom from Her Majesty Queen Shaynna. The styling helps set the room off, and Neale indicates he'd like to jump into the bed - no mention of who with. The prospect rapidly drags John out of his haze and he smiles politely while declining Neale's offer. Dan and Dani's toot adds to the overall picture for the couple and John admits that this, like every other week, is a tough decision so they should all nick off to The Press Club to discuss it over lunch on Channel 9's coin. Without the leadership of Queen Shaynna this group of "judges" are rudderless and insipid, so how they actually made a decision is beyond this commentator.

The bells are rung, division is called and an undisclosed amount of time later the teams assemble above Scotty's Workshop to hear the feedback from the so-called judging panel. The winners this week get the "quality" award and $5,000 towards their budget for the remaining rooms. The notes given are generally encouraging:

Dale and Sophie: The room is friendly and happy, and they all like the bunny light, BUT the judges felt the room was overstyled. The powder room was considered strong, functional & able to lift it's own weight in toilet paper.
Mike and Andrew: Very clever use of space in the bedroom, using both the horizontal and vertical of the room yet somehow completely forgetting the Z-axis. The big TV was risky, though it paid off, BUT the marble desk was "an odd choice". The powder room lacked the final detail of other weeks.
Brad and Lara: It's a boutique hotel, and the walk-in robe is any woman's dream. The bed head to divide the room is risky and won't appeal to all buyers, least of all nudists. The water-saving loo with built-in basin was a great idea and theirs was the best finished powder room of all teams.
Dan and Dani: The colour choice was a bold move that added a cosy feeling that was loved by the judges. The bedside table was excellent BUT the room would have been better with tables plural, oh and a complete re-design. Everything was too big, especially the phallus John found in the bedroom wardrobe but he thanked them nonetheless for the surprise. The powder room was considered efficient and well presented.

In line with Scotty's trademark ability to draw out the scoring beyond what anyone bar a network executive seeking to ensure the show overruns considers reasonable, he delivers Neale and John's scores publicly. At that stage Mike and Andrew and Dan and Dani are tied on 15.5 points each, followed by Brad and Lara on 15 and Dale and Sophie on 14. Then Scotty goes dark, and after some kidding around and what felt like could have been at least one ad break, he steps back out to ask if those with bonus points want to use them. Dale and Sophie opt not to, but Dan and Dani *DO* use their bonus point. They're nervous and don't want to lose, particularly if it only comes down to one point they explain in a moment of exposition that is pointless even by this show's standards. After adding the point to the score which takes a length of time that reflects poorly on his mathematics skills, Scotty spins the board to reveal the scores (Neale; John; Lisa; Total):
Dale and Sophie: 7 + 7 + 7.5 = 21.5.
Mike and Andrew: 7.5 + 8 + 7.5 = 23.
Brad and Lara: 7.5 + 7.5 + 7 = 22.
Dan and Dani: 8 + 7.5 + 7 + 1 bonus point = 23.5.

Congratulations to Dan and Dani on their win this week, and deft use of their bonus point (gutting for Mike and Andrew to lose by half a point). If looks could kill, Mike and Andrew's laser eyes would have sliced Dan and Dani in half. "We've got the best room this week, hopefully potential buyers will see that and that will translate to a better price at the business end of the competition," says Andrew. "That, and I'm going to visit Dan and Dani in their dreams tonight."

"You little beauty!" says Dan to camera afterwards, showing the trademark humility he's demonstrated in this competition before. Dale and Sophie are awarded new jesters hats as this week's Chumps ("The Chumpions") and take it well in their stride.

Next week the teams are working on their master bathroom "and... good luck with that". Guffaws all round until the contestants realise that this won't be a walk in the park - and it'll likely cost a bomb, too. The teams head back to get started, knowing full well that any momentum they inadvertantly establish will be swiftly interrupted by the most inane of day long challenges plus numerous interruptions by Keith, poking his meddling nose in. In a shock twist Sophie is expected to use power tools and, shrugging off any help from Dale, manages to hurt herself. Go figure. If only people listened to little old Sophie.