Renovate My Family 10-4 Finale Recap: The Long Kiss Goodnight
Finale. It’s a lovely word, isn’t it? Just rolls off the tongue. I’m glad we haven’t Americanized the Frenchy-ness of it. But even if we did go around saying “fie-nail” in a really nasal tone, it would still be a beautiful word today. Why? Because FOX has thrown in the towel—not a difficult thing to see coming, what with the empty, echoing vault of the Renovate My Family Forum testifying to the lack of veiwership. And given the obvious size of the budget…well, plasma TVs don’t grow on trees, people.
Of course, since it is the finale, we have two long hours to slog through together. Long is the key word. I’ll try to keep it concise without missing the highpoints. Highpoints! Ha ha ha. *sniff* *wipes eyes*
Meet the Blanketrips
Tonight’s lucky family is the Bunkerhips of Sugar Hole, Georgia. (I’m not sure I have all the names right, the FOX site is behind and there is no way I’m watching that tape again. If I get something wrong, feel free to send me a long, involved email about it. Title it “Mistakes in your recap” so that I’ll know to delete it without reading). Well, the Bachandchips aren’t technically lucky; their last house burnt to the ground in a hideous, raging inferno which claimed the life of something named “Duke,” who I’m assuming is some kind of animal, since he/she got buried under a makeshift cross in the backyard. Or maybe you can bury people in the yard in Georgia. I’ve never been, and I can only guess at the quaint local customs.
The Blanketyblanks include Dad Ken, Mom Leslie, Oldest Daughter Alexis, Only Son Colin, and five-year-old Dakota Fanning look-alike Bailey. I think I should mention that the Blanchmange family may just be the very nicest family I’ve ever met through the medium of reality television. They are down to earth, polite, articulate, attractive, endearingly humble, and loving. Though they do need a new house more than any other RMF family to date, they really don’t need the rest of the renovation package. Being the insightful pseudo-shrink that he is, I’m sure that our host, Jay McGraw, will realize this and concentrate on the rebuild. Suuuuuuuuuure he will!
Jay gives us the schpeil: the RMF team will makeover they way the Blackenedpips look (why?), repair their relationships (why?), and rebuild this house (ok). In just seven days! (At this point, it is very clear to me the direction young Jay’s television career will take after RMF floats quietly to the bottom of the pool of dead primetime dreams: infomercials. Expect to see him soon, at 3:00 in the morning on an extended cable channel, hocking food processors that will makeover the way you look, repair your relationships, and rebuild your house in just seven days.)
Do they have AA for horses?
Let us proceed with the “We spent the day with the _________’s” portion of the show.
We get a tour of the modest farm where the Barmydips were living the American dream, though only just making ends meet. The focal point of the tour is the blackened husk of the farmhouse, which is clearly unsalvageable.
We meet Alexis and her horse, and, after rewinding twice to listen, I swear she said his name was “Boozer.”
Ken gives us the story. They’d been in the house for three years, and it was their dream come true. Then on April 29th, an electrical short turned their dream into a nightmare. Leslie was doing a nightshift at the hospital where she works as a nurse, so Ken had to rescue the children by himself, towing Bailey out first, and then running downstairs and punching Colin’s door down to get him out. The mysterious Duke is mentioned as the only life lost. But every picture, every memory was destroyed. Ken tells us that it felt very personal, and they all wondered what they had done to deserve this.
Colin says they are living in a rental house, and no one wants to settle in. Alexis adds that the rent is only paid through October, and there is no way they can rebuild their house that fast. (Haven’t you heard Alexis? The very best houses are built in just seven days! )
“Okay, here’s how this surprise is going to work!” – Jay McGraw
Let me guess, Jay…is this surprise going to work just exactly the same as every other surprise on this show? No one cares where the cameras are hidden, you fool.
The Ken, Alexis, Colin and Bailey have come to the hospital to meet Leslie for lunch. In a desperate and vain attempt to be cool, Jay jumps out of the back of a sirens-blaring ambulance to shriek, “Burninglips family, you’ve been chosen!!” at them.
A huge crowd of hospital personnel appears to cheer frantically. Jay assures us that every single person at the hospital is in on this. (Really, Jay? Even that vegetable guy on the forth floor who’s only being kept alive by machines? You made sure he was in on it, too? )
Jay launches into the codependent begging for drama which has become a staple feature of this show. “What did you think when I jumped out of the ambulance? What are you thinking now? What can I say that will make you cry?” Ken admits he was stupefied. Leslie says she was thinking “how wonderful you are!” Jay beams and slips the writer a twenty.
If it ain’t broke, go ahead and confront it anyway
Jay asks the B family (yes, I’m tired of typing it out and I’m sure you’re more than tired of reading it) if they are ready for “an experience.” How ambiguous. He promises that everything will be new and different at the end of the week, but that it will be hard work for them (<-- remember these lying words).
Step one in Jay’s plan to bleed every teaspoon of emotional response from this family, excuse me, to heal this family, is to have them confront the ruins of their home, and the design team, too. (I know it’s a bit late to start drinking games, but we really should have had a shot every time Jay used some form of the word “confrontation.” Yeah, all three of us would have been sloshed!)
The family is obligingly saddened by the sight of the charred remains of their home, but Jay is not satisfied. He forces them to walk through the rooms and recreate the night of the fire, and little Bailey’s eyes get more and more traumatized. This situation just screams “emotional damage/malpractice (practicing psychiatry without a license) lawsuit” to me.
“People don’t heal in three weeks, they don’t heal in three months,” Leslie tells us. That’s right Leslie. People heal in exactly seven days. No more, no less.
Ken leads us through the living room “where we used to all hang out and watch TV.” Such poignant memories. Jeopardy. The Brady Bunch. Temptation Island. Are You Hot?... The list goes on and on. “But the TV just melted,” Ken whispers in a heartbroken voice. Wait a minute…did the B’s affectionately nickname their TV “Duke”? Is the mystery solved?
They move on to the kitchen, and I wouldn’t bother to retrace each step like this except that I can’t believe the conversation here. Jay keeps badgering Ken, “What do you feel? What do you think? Can you squeeze out a tear in the direction of the camera? Can you see the flames?” <-- Jay truly said that last one. What a freak.
The rest of the family suffers their way through the house, yada yada yada… a few things are recovered, like a trunk with Grandma’s antiques… Jude makes Alexis cry and then talks about how hard this was for “me.” There is much grief over the loss of their ancestral home of three years.
The Last Word
Since they can’t have all the crew and equipment show up to surprise the family while they are packing this week, they herd the B fam into the barn so that they will be surprised. I’m sure the place has soundproof, solid cork walls, and they were successful. The B’s are eventually released, and they are greeted by two lines of hardhats, matching triplets, and the giant claw thingies.
Jay claims that it is important to him that the B’s get to give the order to begin demolition so that this time, they are in control…but he can’t stand it. After the family yells “Fire ’em up!” he runs in behind them squealing, “Let’s-go-guys-tear-this-house-down!”
“This is one of my favorite moments,” Jay says as the family watches their home being destroyed…again. Is it just me, or is Jay getting kind of ghoulish? Maybe it was the Cole-Reimer experience that changed him.
The family stays long enough to give a few good “breakdown” shots as the claws do their merry work of destruction, and then they are whisked away in a hummer limo. The limo ride seems to be just what the doctor ordered. They all perk up.
The Price of National Advertising
Since the real point of this renovation is the house, and everyone knows this but Jay, Foreman Scott gets right to work. At two in the morning, the crew discovers that the old foundation was just a slab without footings or rebar, so it has to be replaced. The crew makes up time by framing the walls to the side. And the team is not just renovating the house, they are renovating the whole 3.6 acre farm. Oh, will they finish in time? <-- FOX’s attempts to create suspense are just as lame, I assure you.
Kahi is hoping to save the few things that were salvaged from the house. Enter well-known local artisan, Muddy Waters (yeah, with a name like that, being “well-known” is a given). Out of nothing but heartfelt compassion for the B’s loss, in exchange for nothing but the good feeling of helping out a neighbor in need and national primetime television exposure, Muddy has offered to create a memory cabinet to remind the B’s of where they come from—in this case, a charcoal briquette.
Scott muses, “Ken likes the history of his family.” Insightful. Oh, well…he’s still pretty.
Cue the Puppies
The B family is settled in at a nice cabin on Lake Lanier. Jay is going to bring happiness and joy back to this poor family that has lost all hope. Not to say Jay is overstating the case, but for a family with no hope, the B’s seem pretty chipper.
It is now revealed that Duke was not a much beloved television set, but a dog. More particularly, pretty little Bailey’s dog. Jay has a solution to her pain—simply replace her old, dead friend with a new, live one! I’m so glad she didn’t lose a grandma. (This reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters II—timeless classic—when Egon is working in a research lab testing emotional atmospheres: “Let’s see what happens when we take the puppies away…”)
Bailey, being five, is thrilled by the litter of puppies Jay produces. She picks her favorite and Jay dislocates his shoulder with the frantic self-patting of his back.
Only the Lonely…Watch RMF
FOX now confirms that they know no one is watching this show (besides me) when they replay a Scott clip from the Rosiers episode: “You have not seen what my guys can do in 12 hours.” C’mon, FOX. Did you think I wouldn’t notice? I take notes.
The house flies up in fast forward, looking similar in shape and size to the original (or what we could see of it). Scott informs us for the first time (unless you watched the previews at the beginning) of Hurricane Ivan’s imminence. He wants to get as much done as possible before the rain starts.
The triplets “work.” One of them shows us the special concrete siding that will make the house more fireproof. She brags that the team is going beyond the norm in their attempts to give the B’s peace of mind. Attention Cole-Reimers: Watch it with the open flames.
Kahi envisions open spaces so that Leslie can see her children at all times—again for the peace of mind. Colin will get a baseball theme and his own bathroom. Bailey and Alexis will share a communal bathroom so that Bailey won’t feel too alone. Kahi will try to balance Alexis’s love of horses with her need for a grown up, teenager room.
Hey, battah battah, sa-wing battah!
It’s time for more of that hard work that Jay promised the B family. The hard work of joy and happiness, that is.
It seems little Colin is a pitcher. “A world class pitcher,” Jay says, and then adds, “in his own league.” That’s a big league. In a very make-a-wish-foundation moment, Jay takes the fam to Turner field.
The rest of the family watches as Colin gets a one-on-one pitching lesson in the Brave’s bullpen from no other than John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves, with Eddie Perez catching. Colin is understandably enthused. Smoltz and Perez praise his arm. Then John Smoltz has Colin visualize pitching for the last inning of…some big game against…somebody famous—they sort of lost me with all the dubbed in crowd noises and the sepia wash over the slow motion shots. Yeah, it was lame. But Colin said he was waiting to wake up from the dream, so maybe Smoltz’s hypnosis works better in person.
The family gets tickets to stay for the game and all are tickled. Colin says they needed this break. Ken says this was their best day as a family ever.
The Joys of Anticipation
At the house, friends and neighbors show up in droves
to be on TVto help paint the barn. Jay puts in a gratuitous appearance to paint a stripe of green on the barn. Scott thanks the crowd, “None of this could have happened without you!” I guess his guys can build a house from the mud up in seven days, but not paint a barn.
Since Jay is there, he decides he might as well do some whining. The house is all exposed and the storm is coming. Somebody do something! *stamps foot*
Things start to get hectic on day four. The rain is coming and Scott wants the house sealed up by nightfall. Because, in his words, “Ivan is headed directly through our path.”
Feel the fear. Smell it.
What Goes Around
The family takes a peaceful boat ride on the lake. The point of this? Merely to build tension by having them discuss the coming of Ivan. Ken worries about the safety of the crew. He talks about how hard it is to watch the videos of the hurricane damage coming out of Florida, because he knows how it feels to lose everything.
Enter Jay. He knows* that the B’s have been just aching for a chance to give back, since their community helped them so much. RMF is going to give them the chance to return the favor. This is not a half-bad idea, so I’m sure Jay didn’t come up with it.
*because he is omniscient
Ken and Colin are put on a plane to Panama City. Why just the men? I don’t know. Hurricane preparedness is apparently men’s work. Maybe the gals can help out later by cleaning or cooking or bearing children.
They meet the Bothelo family; Mr. Bothelo has a back injury that has kept him from readying the house for the storm. And of course the wifey couldn’t nail down the plywood—she was busy with the sweeping of floors and the birthing of babies.
Ken goes right to work and it is clear that he knows what he’s doing. He grew up in New Orleans, it seems, and it all comes back to him. The male Bothelo children lend a hand, and—through the magic of editing—the work is soon done. Ken is thrilled to have had the chance to help.
Jay notices Ken rubbing his eyes a lot, and confronts (*swig*) him about this on the way back. He is stunned to learn that Ken was diagnosed with a severe eye disease, Keratoconus (I google because I care) and expects to lose his eye sight. Jay thinks this is “huge news.”
Cage Match with the Dahms
Day Five. Scott opens by telling us that Colin is “something like” the third best pitcher in Atlanta. (I’d like to point out that I am something like Tyra Banks—we are both female, and (sometimes) we both have dark hair.) But Colin still needs to work on his hitting, so the crew is putting in a batting cage. An oddly un-introduced crew of professional batting-cage-installers shows up, and the Dahm Triplets are quick to scent the fresh meat.
The cage is installed quickly and, though the fear of the approaching storm is dwelt upon fulsomely, the crew takes a break to try it out. That’s right, Ivan—screw you!
Colin’s entire baseball team is brought in to use Colin’s new toys before he can.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Jay is so happy to be able to confront something. As soon as they’re back in Atlanta, Jay hustles Ken in to see “world renowned” eye specialist (man, everyone is world renowned these days!) for a second opinion.
At the TLC Eye Center, Ken is put through a wide range of tests, and, like every other RMF guinea pig, he is frightened. He thinks about all the things he wants to see his kids do as they grow, and he gets depressed.
We are shown wantonly overlong shots of Leslie waiting anxiously in the waiting room. Then we watch Ken and Leslie wait together. The doctor arrives, and things move in slow motion with extended dramatic pauses. Doc Occ confirms that Ken does indeed have Keratoconus (and Ken’s family optometrist breathes a sigh of relief). Jay looks severely disappointed that his healing hands have not worked their magic.
There is good news, though. Ken’s condition is not progressing; he is not going to go blind. With glasses he will be fine. Ken and Leslie are very relieved.
The Perfect Storm
Tense music greets us at the B house. The rain has started. The hillside is wet. The patio is setting and cannot be walked on. The huge door frame hangs in the air as they try to come up with a way to install it. Yes, they work hard to create suspense. They fail.
The door goes in. The sod gets laid. The rain falls. Jay shows up to whine and quiver in terror. The triplets are determined to finish the pond before the rain run off makes that impossible. “They just would not stop,” Scott tells us. So, to keep their eye candy from drowning, the whole crew wades in and gives them a hand.
The storm gets fiercer. An unnamed old man (“Hey, everybody! An old man is talking!”) tells Scott that “this isn’t good.” A small branch falls within meters of striking a power line, and Scott tells us he had to “literally” reevaluate. As opposed to figuratively reevaluating. The old man assures him that the worse is yet to come, and Scott shuts down the site. He has serious qualms about finishing on time. Serious qualms. Not like those lighthearted qualms he had about the Bigginses, or the Rosiers, or the Cole-Reimers…
Ivan to Get Back to Work
I am so sorry. I’m so tired.
Scott returns to the site as soon as the rain has slowed to assess the damage. Other than a runoff trench through the clay, his is unable to wow us with any massive destruction. Mother Nature wasn’t as furious as they thought.
Inside, the paint and drywall (there’s a misleading name!) can’t dry. But the York guys, in exchange for a few additions to Scott’s script about his love for York heaters, make a special trip out and get the heaters thrumming. The day is saved.
Taking Coal to Newcastle
It’s makeover time. Did I mention that the B’s were fairly attractive people? That hasn’t changed. But Jude has a contract, and he gets his airtime!
“Say goodbye to your old look, and each other…forever!” Jude didn’t add the “…forever,” but it would have been funnier if he did. He splits up the B’s and gets to work. He tells the nervous Leslie, “Don’t worry—you’re going to look completely different!” Comforting words…if you’re Quasimodo.
Alexis’s only request is that she doesn’t end up looking like Sharon Osborn, and, as she is a fourteen-year-old blonde girl with braces, her request seems easy enough. Ken is another one of those vile self-hair-cutting freaks, and Jude vows to remove the bowl cut. Colin embraces his highlights. Jude says that Bailey is a Scorpio like him—they are both born to be princesses. Give that man a tiara!
Everyone looks great, though much the same (except for Leslie, who is now a hot brunette) and we get to hear them all say, “I like it,” one after the other, five times in a row.
We take a quick peak back at the house. Kahi and Scott squabble scriptedly (<-- new word! Use it five times today. Or not.) over what time she can to get to work. She starts to move in the furniture, with much help. And on we go.
The Last Billboard
Jay stands before the giant picture of the B’s house, and I wonder if he knows it’s his last. Poor Jay looks oblivious enough. I wish he were here now so that I could ask him, “How do you feel? What are you thinking? Do you see the flames? What can I say that would make you cry? How about: infomercial?”
The limo arrives with Colin and Bailey. Colin looks great. Bailey is almost illegally adorable. The crowd of neighbors hoping to get on film cheers.
Alexis is next, with her fluffy hair now sleek and straight. That will last through precisely one drop of water. Trust me. I know.
Ken shows up with his bowl-less head, and he looks really great. I am strangely reminded of Adam West in his batman years, and I can’t explain why. He screams and flaps his arms. It is disturbing.
Leslie is last and she looks pretty and too young to have teenagers. Everyone hugs and kisses and much joy abounds.
Jay asks if they are ready, and then screeches his signature, “Blankenships, welcome home!!”
What We’ve All Grown Accustomed To
The house is gorgeous. No surprise there. You know, it might have been refreshing to have one crap job. *sigh*
The family first explores the large front deck, and Bailey screams with delight when she sees the fishpond. Jay points out the fire-proofing and security features. Leslie rings the dinner bell, a survivor from the first house, and then we are allowed to go inside.
The front room is long, high and wide—a “great room,” as promised—and charmingly rustic. The light gold paint is a departure from Kahi’s usual red, and it looks nice. Leslie reads her lines about the cathedral ceiling with exposed beams, so we are sure not to miss that. You know the plasmas are there.
Ken says the personality of the house is exactly who they are. Leslie is overwhelmed.
Jay shows them the memory cabinet or hutch (no one seems sure which it is). The B’s glance briefly at their old, smoky stuff and then hurry to the kitchen.
The kitchen is all state of the art (light woods, big island, yada yada), and the crown jewel is a microwave that has a pen to scan barcodes and then automatically sets the cooking time. But how does it know if the item is out of the freezer or the fridge??? HOW?
Family pictures line the stairway. Just about every week, RMF manages to do something that pierces my protective, waxy shield of cynicism and brings moisture to my eyes. This is that thing. They gathered these pictures from friends and family to replace all the pictures the B’s lost. Leslie says some of these pictures she’s never even seen before. The RMF team also was snapping pictures all week long, so there are new memories as well. Good work, (*choke*) guys. Ahem. <-- just clearing my throat there.
Yada, yada, bedrooms
Colin’s room: Baseball theme, of course, but very cleverly implemented with a wall-sized mural of Turner field. The clever part is that they put the plasma TV just where the Jumbo-Tron is at the park. There is also a case of baseballs—signed by the entire team of the Atlanta Braves, and a glove from Rodger Clements. Colin thinks the best part of the room is the Jumbo-Tron TV. “If I can figure out how to use it.”
Alexis’s room: I’m not sure how they balanced the horsey-thing with the teenage thing, but there are pictures of horses, so maybe the horses just won. I hope Kahi put her money on the right horse. Har har har. I’m just entertaining myself here, people. Alexis loves the new saddle, and is moved to screams by the scholarship to a horse farm’s holiday camp.
Bailey’s room: Bailey has forgotten her trauma, and is a hyper little bundle of blond curls as she explores her new room. Lots of dolls and pink and purple and a big canopy—Leslie says it’s “princess’d out,” and Alexis says it’s the girly-est room she’s ever seen. Bailey finds her new puppy in the corner, and she is complete.
Master suite: It’s a big, airy room with a king-sized bed that Leslie calls “romantic.” She thinks the décor is romantic, too (Ken has to like the emphasis on romance), and soothing. “This is so perfect for me,” she cries. “And you,” she adds, remembering that she has a husband.
Jay makes a big deal about Leslie getting her own bathroom, and I’m thinking his-and-hers bathrooms, but there’s just one. So they must have been sharing before, but no one told us that, so pardon my confusion. Leslie says this is the biggest bathroom she’s ever seen, so I guess she missed the Biggins episode. There are candles burning—what happened to fire safety? Blow. Them. Out.
The End Has No End
On to the backyard, where that special surprise for Colin awaits. Is anyone else thinking, “Why Colin?” First John Smoltz, and now this. Where is the balance?
Colin loves the batting cage, naturally. Scott plays with him and the parents watch from their balcony, thrilled. Colin swears he’ll use it everyday, even if he has to drag Bailey down to put the balls in for him.
Jay calls the family out to the barn, and Scott races around so he can meet them there, out of breath.
There is a big “Cotton Creek Farm” sign arching over the entry. It looks pretty cool, and the family loves it. They also love the new paint job on the barn. Jay promises that everything that can be done to make a barn fireproof has been done. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the B’s lost this house in a flood? I mean, I don’t want that to happen or anything, but it would sure be paradoxical. After a really poorly dubbed in comment that “it’s all from Smart Home,” we move on to the chicken coop, which Jay claims was built by the triplets. But that’s not why all the chickens are dead. (I kid).
The Balance I Was Seeking
Alexis gets a new riding arena, lessening the injustice perpetrated in Colin’s favor. Though Bailey still just gets a puppy—probably a mutt, too. RMF is lucky she’s five. Alexis’s new arena has the same jumps as the U.S. Olympic team. Leslie says she loves the new arena almost as much as her new hair. Alexis seems to like it, too.
Pimp My Ride gets shortchanged again (though I’m not sure they really mind that FOX hasn’t ripped them off as thoroughly as other shows). Like the Cole-Reimer episode, we are told that the triplets have pimped the B’s truck and horse trailer, but we don’t see any of the pimping done. Coincidence? Right.
Ken: “Our spirit has been renovated.”
Alexis: “This meant the world to our family.”
Colin: “Five months ago we were at the lowest point we’ve ever been, now we’re at the highest point.”
Leslie: Well, I’m sure she said something, but I didn’t jot it down. Same for the little blond kid.
I admit, this sweet, deserving family and their new house made me a little teary. But I watched it really late at night.
Next week…on Renovate My Family
Wahahahaha! Wah! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Want to cry about the demise of RMF? You might find a more sympathetic shoulder elsewhere, but go ahead and email me if you want: firstname.lastname@example.org