This Old Shelf?


This is reprinted from today's Philadelphia Inquirer -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted on Sun, May. 01, 2005
On the House | Hot off the shelf: Shows that hit home
By Al Heavens Inquirer Columnist
Trading Spaces is in trouble as a result of overexposure, changing tastes, and enough imitators to fill the stands at Citizens Bank Park.
Viewership is way down for the program, according to Dave Bauder, the Associated Press TV writer, especially among younger demographics. That means viewership is down, too, for the Learning Channel, also known as "the life unscripted" network.
If you ask me, the problem is trying to do too much within the confines of a half-hour or one-hour program. Each e-mail or call I get from a reader involves a single question about some household problem. You never ask me how to build a house - well, at least not all that often.
I think things would be going much better for all concerned if the Trading Spaces bunch spent the program on a single task, such as installing a shelf.
So what do you think of these groundbreaking alternatives?
"This Old Shelf." On today's program, Tom Silva and Norm Abram put host Kevin O'Connor through a thickness planer and molly-bolt him crosswise on a living-room wall. O'Connor proves strong enough to hold every tote bag PBS has offered since the 1968 beg-athon.
"Extreme Makeover: Shelf." In the next 24 hours, Ty Pennington and his team of whining out-of-work actresses and bickering designers join 200 contractors to install a wooden shelf for a storage-challenged family of four in Rancho Cucamungo.
Tomorrow, How'd They Do That Shelf reveals the behind-the-scenes efforts of 200 workers to hang a single shelf while they referee fights between the actresses and the designers.
"While You Were Out, We Hung a Shelf." Bill tells Rita that he has a hankering for a ceiling fan, but Rita and the show's crew decide it will be easier for everyone if they just hang a shelf. Bill comes home, sees the shelf, moves to an apartment, files for divorce.
(The divorce itself can be seen at 10:30 a.m. May 12 on Court TV, with reenactors left over from the Michael Jackson trial on E!)
"Men With Tool Belts Hang a Shelf." Today, Frank and Fred install a shelf in Billy's bedroom while cracking every joke written since the 17th century about wood, anchors, levels, screws, plaster and drywall. Example: "I haven't seen an anchor that bent out of shape since Dan Rather left the CBS Evening News."
"Shelftime." On this episode, Dean and Robin install a shelf in the middle of an open field in northern Minnesota, and then build a log house around it.
"What Not to Wear: Shelving." Betty and Reba spend the first 15 minutes of the show making fun of Mary's bookshelf. Mary removes the shelf from the wall and spends the last 15 minutes of the show hanging the shelf on Betty and Reba.
Many of the unscripted shows on TLC started with the BBC. Trading Spaces was Changing Rooms in England. What Not to Wear kept its title when it crossed the Atlantic.
Unlike our TV executives, the British tend not to continue applying the cricket bat to the pony after the poor blighter has expired. The typical British television show is long-lived if it has more than 14 episodes in its entire run. After having lost an empire, the British realize that everything, including TV programs, has a limited shelf life.
Shelf life. Hmm, more material for Fred and Frank.
Some home-improvement shows are as boring to watch as paint drying. Some are interesting and useful, but after a while they become as pointless as the typical Saturday Night Live sketch, and go on just as long.
Will our TV executives ever learn? As long as they have us as willing victims, and an extensive list of British shows to copy, probably not.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it makes TV pretty same-y - with or without Paige Davis as host.
And that's no joke.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "On the House" appears Sundays in The Inquirer. Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or snipped-for-privacy@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/alheavens .
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2005 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.philly.com
Tom Watson - WoodDorker tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1/ (website)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(snip)
Thank you, Tommy. A great way to begin a Sunday.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hit the nail on the head for me, particularly the bit about letting a series run too long. I work in television and that's one of the biggest problems in the industry. No exit strategy.
John
Read his recent

------
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

<snip>
Well that is the problem with all of those shows. It's not about showing you how to do anything. But still, if it inspires people to try doing things that's a good thing.
It's easy to pick on Trading Spaces, but it's not that bad. Now that they've ditched Paige and use two carpenters instead of one, they have time to do a little better in the woodworking department. Faber in particular does some nice stuff given the contraints of the show. You aren't going to see very much of the actual construction, but even with Norm I consider it to be more of a source of ideas than a how-to.
What might be interesting would be to have some spinoffs where they focus on one aspect of the design. At 8 they show the normal show, at 9 you can see how they built the armoire or whatever, etc..
-Leuf
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

    I think Trading Spaces was a much better production before the powers-that-be started trying to broaden their audience by fiddling with the format. The DIY audience doesn't NEED drama and conflict. When the producers have some hair-brained "decorator" slathering white paint all over someone's "off limits" family heirloom piano, they've gone too far.
    I suspect they could keep a limited but loyal audience for years to come if they stuck with a straightforward DIY format.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.