<i.The Block</i>.

The Block.

Channel Nine, 7pm

And they're off. Eight teams of hyped-up home renovators prepare to face brutal deadlines, rigid budgets and relentless competition as they vie for the $100,000 cash prize and glory that could shine on the victors come auction day. As The Block's fifth season begins, we are introduced to 16 people destined to run like lunatics through hardware shops, paint 'til they drop and bicker about bed linen. Host Scott Cam announces that the task ahead will be ''the biggest challenge we have ever set'', declaring that the goal this time will be to create ''four-bedroom, three-bathroom masterpieces'' from the decrepit 150-year-old piles of rubble in South Melbourne. The opener suggests the new season will again offer the white-bread types traditionally favoured in this contest, and that the producers will again lavish screen time on their sponsors. The first week brings a round of elimination challenges as eight teams are whittled down to four. Cam's advice to the hopefuls? ''Treat every hour like it's your last: urgency is the key.'' Well, the illusion of urgency is certainly one of the keys for Channel Nine, which once again wants us to believe that, for the next three months, this will be the most exciting game in town.