Brad Cranfield and Lara Welham, winners of The Block.The Block contestants, Brad and Lara.
Brad and Lara’s bathroom on The Block
Brad and Lara’s bedroom
Brad and Lara’s hallway.
Brad and Lara’s Master Bedroom.
Brad and Lara’s “cool” laundry.
Brad and Lara’s second bedroom.
The Block, the Grand Finale … the helicopter hat.
Wow, it’s the finale approximately two million official Australians, plus the countless others watching bars and live sites around the country (oh wait, I think I’ve misunderstood the term Block Party) have all been waiting for, and to start we get a close-up of a helicopter hat. That and Scotty Cam’s intellectual summary will leave no one wondering, this certainly is real estate renovation for the lowest common denominator.
The show starts with a brief summary of what we’re about to see, like a For Sale sign right outside the front door of this episode – “One up, three down” it might read, “renovator voyeur’s delight”.
The Block bobble head opening titles kick in and we journey back in time to the night before the Block’s open for inspection as the neighbours are invited in for a look and an opportunity to sign a waiver stating they won’t complain about the hordes of Block-heads set to descend on their street tomorrow.
One of the neighbours, Maria, tells us of how her father bought the Sophie and Dale’s house 45 years ago only to sell long before Nine paid through the nose for four run down dumps. Oddly she wishes she still owned them, so that she could have received some of Nine’s nose money.
Justine who lives right next door to the Block assures us that everyone who worked on the site was amazing, and polite, and now having spontaneously and voluntarily informed us of this she is heading off on a Getaway trip around the world that she won by complete coincidence last week.
It’s the next morning and the street is blocked off, possibly by the council, possibly just by the sheer quantity of sponsors tents, cars and detritus that is blocking the road.
Sophie and Dale’s real estate agents have concluded wisely that it is likely to be younger people interested in their home, so they’ve taken to this new found gadget “teh interwebs” to promote the house. On the site they interviewed tradesman who are willing to attest that some of the renovations on Dale and Sophie’s house are sound / cheap to fix / easy to remove. Dale and Sophie’s For Sale sign also states I Can Haz Cheezburger? because that’s how they roll.
Then Dale and Sophie head out to meet the crowds, wearing sunglasses because they are famous now. The other couples come out to meet the fans, except for Dan and Dani who mistakenly walk out into their back yard and try to see what is happening from there. Dani has a good idea though, what if they went out the front to where the crowds are? They could see a lot more AND be yelled at too, not that they’ve been cast as the villains of the piece or anything, though one production assistant does hand Dan a waxed moustache and Dani an actual witch’s hat on the way out.
Scotty complies with the standard council terms and conditions and gives the mayor some free publicity … sorry screen time. Then the thousands of Melbournians who believe a game between Collingwood and Essendon is happening in the backyard flock inside. Their disappointment has only just begun.
Dale and Sophie’s house gets the first up close inspection. A montage of clips show their kookiness as well as their improvement over the course of the series from inept amateurs to quite ept amateurs.
And now a meander down memory lane with Dale and Brad’s bromance, including hand holding, couples skateboarding and the ever famous MasterSex moment. If only the producers had invested in a The Block After Hours late night series so we could really see how these boys handled their tools.
Dale and Sophie reminisce that “it” has definitely improved their relationship, though it is unclear if “it” is competing in The Block or if “it” is getting away from the place, getting some sleep and obtaining a restraining order on Brad.
Thousands (ok tens) of people are then seen trampling, ogling and deflowering the house, before the extraordinary revelation that kids love Sophie and Dale’s house, in which every room was designed with a care-free kid-inspired touch with kids in mind. Extraordinary. A collective of parents quietly approach the producers to see if they could all chip in 10% of the purchase price and just move their kids in, with the cameras left in place to act as babsysitters. As the producers mull over the possibilities of The Block Junior meets Big Nanny we go to an ad as a member of the Victorian constabulary chooses to mock-arrest Dale so she can get into mock-trouble when she gets back to see her mock-superiors.
It’s time for the brothers time in the montage-light; Mike and Andrew, the only pair to have obtained matching sponsored hoodies. Their house is inspected by the die-hard Block fans who want to touch, operate and write on everything, before every girl who walks on to the roof spontaneously tells the camera that the cushions could be arranged differently in response to the question from the unseen producer “Would you do the cushions differently? Or do you have no taste?”
Flash back time, with a montage of zero sleep room reveal days, chump hats and styling dags – concluded by the boys telling us that they wouldn’t change a thing about the house, nothing at all, except the styling. Then we see how the experience has brought the boys together and how they’ve really synched up, so much so that Mike’s offer of a high five is instantly reciprocated by Andrew’s proffered hand for shaking. Just before the next ad, the boy’s real estate agent reveals that two buyers have registered interest in buying the house. Two whole couples. Enough for a feverish mad minute of bidding later. The ratio of two from a 20,000 crowd really builds a sense of imminent success.
Brad and Lara are up next and Lara is giving a talk to a pre-school class who may have misunderstood what sort of Blocks were being discussed. Then the montage proves they are a couple very much in love and very much abysmal at styling, before Lara proves to be a woman of tears and tremendous work ethic, able to build a deck and shed a tear. She is the perfect modern man – in female form.
Brad then reveals that he won’t be proposing at the auction night finale, mostly to avoid any heated jealousy from Dale. We don’t hear anything about what the lucky few who inspected Brad and Lara’s house thought of it, probably because it was their nap time.
Back outside, the crowd is getting restless as they realise they’re not going to get in, so they take part in the world’s first relationship counselling flash mob, with thousands of people offering to donate a spine to Dan. Dani tells him he’s not allowed one though so once again the hoard is disappointed.
Once the few select fans are allowed in, it comes as little surprise to discover that the sheer craziest of Block fans really love Dan and Dani. One fan tells us he travelled from the Gold Coast with his sons to visit the set of the “Dan and Dani Show”, while another tells us she actually won the first room because some time in the early 80s she lived in this room, or at least in a room, somewhere. She also won Gold at the Olympics because she visited Homebush in 2003.
A montage of Dan and Dani reveals that they fight a lot, however that wasn’t their fault, it is the fault of the restrictions and resentment cast upon them after they cheated, which was … well their fault. Also we learn that Dan is hairy, Dani is a grammar nazi and even edited very tightly Dan and Dani have spent hours and hours just yelling at each other.
We follow that up with a montage of real estate agents talking to their clients and it is very revealing, as the agents break stereotype entirely by telling their clients exactly what they want to hear based on events, opinions and facts that have mysteriously managed to evade being accurately recorded by the multiple cameras that have never left the premises. The montage has to be quick though as none of the agents are willing to demonstrate their hypnosis techniques on air for fear the people at home may accidentally sell their homes in the ad break.
It’s time for the reserve price reveal, with the all important numbers in being delivered by an armoured car, which makes sense to … someone presumably. Someone who doesn’t understand how reserve prices work and assumes they are traditionally expressed as piles of cash. Or someone who would love to see an impressive action film where a complicated plot sees eleven mastermind criminals contriver and counter-contrive to swindle a billionaire out of four empty suitcases containing numbers printed on sheets of plastic. I just hope they registered the script idea before this went to air, I mean if they’re willing to make Battleship imagine the studios jumping at Numbers In A Case.
Dan and Dani tell us they hope their reserve is a million because they’re sure their house will go for $1.1 or 1.2 million, and if the reserve is high they think they’ve got a good chance of winning, which demonstrates a profound understanding of the rules of The Block and the concept of subtraction.
Comedy antics (TM) then occur as Scotty deliberates over whose reserve to reveal the reserves:
MIKE AND ANDREW: $970,000 (less $4,000) = $966,000 DALE AND SOPHIE: $985,000 (less $10,000) = $975,000 DAN AND DANI: $1,000,000 (less $8,000) = $992,00 BRAND AND LARA: $1,120,000 (less $6,000) = 1,114,000
Then after a brief chump pun, Scotty suggest the teams work out between themselves the auction order and the teams meander off trying to work out what difference it can possibly make, given that the registered bidder system makes it unlikely that any one bidder is even able to bid on multiple houses even if they wanted to. Still, perhaps there’ll be a spontaneous argument between the couples, or a manufactured one. Either way is good TV, right?
Negotiations get off to an awkward start as the couples all go into their own homes, refusing to even relinquish home ground advantage in this vital and utterly meaningless question.
Lured by the offer of some aggression inspiring anti-pasto, the teams come together allowing Dan and Dani reveal a cunning plan. While no one wants first or fourth, they, with their bang-in-the-middle reserve price, suggest the order go highest to lowest reserve or lowest to highest. Gosh. How generous! After an hour of equally inspired strategising that would leave Baldrick scratching his turnip in jealousy, Scotty arrives with the sorting hat, which tells them they’re all muggles and places them into the following order:
Brad and Lara Dan and Dani Dale and Sophie Andrew and Michael
The teams then gather in front of another crowd, on some other day, just around the corner, to be cheered and celebrated … and in one case rewarded with a car. The contestants given the Best Sports on the Block award by the home viewers are Brad and Lara, while Scotty is awarded the Leg of Ham award for terribly unconvincing disappointment at handing over of “his car”.
Brad and Lara’s real estate agent then participates in Agent Stereotype #2 by suddenly changing his tune on the day of auction, lowering expectations and insisting that the auction order is awful, that the weather isn’t right and that the team should accept any offer they can get. It is then pointed out that the teams actually have no role in accepting bids or lowering reserves, which leaves the agent feeling redundant in this whole exercise. Imagine that.
We return from the ad break to the strains of the Eurovision winning entry, just to emphasise the important, serious and entirely unrigged nature of this competition. The couples appear relatively calm, however Scotty and Shelley do their best to wind them up, leading to the shocking revelation that the youngest couple, Dale and Sophie have never sold a house at auction before and that Brad and Lara are, wait for it, anxious to find out the result. This is the stuff of Logies people.
The auctioneer unravels his usual banter with a side of patter and launches the auction asking for $50,000 bids from the starting point of $1 million and it soon rockets to $1.2 million before we have our first TV Auction moment when he reveals we are “probably maybe on the market”. A new entrant comes in at $1.3 million and as it moves to $1.34 million Brad makes mention of his sheet full of holes and the auctioneer reveals the house is now totally and utterly on the market, which is good because houses with a bit each way just confuse everyone.
At $1.36 million Brad and Lara move to take the record profit margin in Block history and by the time the bidding reaches $1.4 million Dani hopes “this happens for everyone” while crossing her fingers that everyone doesn’t actually include the other couples, and the editors furious cutting requires an ad break to prevent a national epilepsy incident.
After the break the bidding races to $1.52 million at which point Lara expresses her disbelief as to whether “this is real or not” before being crash tackled by contract waving producers. The profit margin of $406,000 has the pair feeling happy with their time spent.
As group hysteria kicks in the bidding reaches $1.6 million. The auctioneer then tries a perverse tactic of saying he “knows how much they paid for it and how much they paid for the renovations and it’s still below cost” at which point the room is stunned into silence as people wonder if he knows this whole renovation process was televised and know exactly how big a lie that is.
Finally the property is sold for $1.62 million, giving the couple a $506,000 in profit, which is the block of land in Maitland they’ve always dreamed of. Dani is reduced to tears of genuine joy for Brad and Lara who point out that what they hoped would provide a deposit has instead provided an entire purchase price, that went up in increments of “my yearly wage” for Lara or “advertising units in this finale” for the network.
As the second house goes to auction, Dan and Dani sit down to freak out while the other three couples break out the champagne. Dan and Dani are told they need $1.498 million to win and Scotty points out a genuine buyer who was in the previous auction and who puts paid to my theory that the order doesn’t matter. The drama of the moment then evaporates as the opening bid of $1.22 million from another repeat-bidder kicks Dan and Dani straight into profit, Dani into hyperventilation and the show into another ad break featuring a truly surreal ad for Farmer Wants A Wife.
Our auctioneer reveals himself to be a man with a different style, throwing order and the ability to follow what is happening out the window and endeavouring to wrap the auction up quickly by threatening to end it every second breath. He takes the bids in $10,000 instalments which rotate around the room rapidly until we reach $1.44 million from the tall guy at the back who lives next door. Having learnt his property skills playing Monopoly he’s quietly assuming he can build a big red hotel here if he gets two more houses.
That leaves Dan and Dani with a final profit of $448,000 and the previously incredibly competitive pair wash down the acid of not winning with their near half a million pay day. Dan then tells us how the experience drew them together and that the cash is just a bonus and we realise she was swapped out for a double by producers after the whole “is this real?” gaffe.
As we prepare for Auction #3, Brad and Lara predict that Sophie will be losing it, before Scotty asks Sophie how she’s doing and she confirms she’s a wreck, this in turn confirms that Sophie has apparently been a wreck all series as she looks exactly the same.
The auctioneer gets in on the stereotype act by drawing matters out with the phrase “I’m not going to draw it out” before he finally starts proceedings only to discover half the people in the room want to open the bidding, which rapidly raises to $1.325 million. And there it stalls. Finally an adventurous suspect ups the bidding by $1,000 before it advances again to $1.33 million where it is sold for a $355,000 profit.
After Scotty and Dale have a chat about how much this all means, Sophie turns out to actually be wrecked as she endears herself to Australia by just shaking her head, unable to speak. After a brief moment of celebration with the other couples (Dan and Dani distinctly the last to be hugged) Sophie and Dale take a moment to point out that a $355,000 cheque will really knock the edge off not winning and allow them to buy their first house, or if they pool together with Brad and Lara, to buy Greece.
We return to a montage of people using their mobile phones, high heels, drinking and other signs that Australia’s economic downturn may be a reality but certainly isn’t Reality television, with three teams having cleared well over $1 million in combined profit already.
As Michael and Andrew sit down, the auctioneer waffles for a moment and then the man who has been standing in his branded t-shirt down the front for every auction so far opens the bidding (over the top of another bid of $1.2 million), with a bid of …
The auctioneer desperately hopes for someone to up the bidding before he has to repeat that bizarre number, before finally reading it out from a note provided, before he is instantly upped to $1.31 million by a man who just liked to see him squirm, at which point it gets WEIRD.
WEIRD is a bid for $1,311,104.28 which the auctioneer refuses to take. It’s almost like the guy bidding is here just to get a mention of his T-Shirt. The auctioneer duly states the name of his organisation and accepts another bid from the man, however a second individual who is entirely lacking in novelty bids takes it swiftly to $1.33 million.
T-shirt-teaser then takes it to 1.357 million “and a bit more” before some more … errr … sane people take the bidding to $1.366 million. T-shirt ups it to $1.367 million. His competitor takes it to $1.37 million before T-shirt approaches normality with a bid of $1,371,100.00. The auctioneer then looks for a bid from space, before someone points out that the bids are actually coming from the internet and his future clientele run out the door to an auctioneer who has joined the 21st century.
Then … oh bugger it, it’s kind of bizarre television but makes for terrible text. T-shirt versus the internet, it could be the name of a spoof horror film, instead it is just one man’s effort to make the Chk Chk Boom girl look like an intellectual as he bids like some deranged random number generator.
The boys make another mention of T-shirt’s promotional opportunity of choice, yet as they’re doing it another room he doesn’t know to reward them with another bid so it is finally sold at $1,400,001.01 to a man I fully expect to sign the real estate contract with a false name using a pen with disappearing ink, however, if and when the novelty sized cheque from ACME bank clears, it will mean a profit of $434,001.01 for the boys.
The party of nouveau riche couples then moves “next door” to yet another venue (not the fifth newly renovated house which gets no attention at all) where family and friends await, and the boys get to pick up their mum in a very cute moment. Brad and Lara are anointed winners of The Block 2012 and Scotty announces the twist for The Block 2013, it’s to be an All-Stars Block, which sees Dale propose a union with Brad.
The proposal they promised would never happen has actually happened, The Block really is full of twists.
Right, that’s yer lot, back to The Big Bang Theory.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.