Yes, I dreaded this one like the plague. Call it a pure hatred for reality television. But honestly, after starting these episodes, I found myself lending a begrudging respect to it all. If you’re unfamiliar with this enormously popular program, here’s a brief education. Home interior designers Ty Pennington, Michael Moloney, Constance Ramos, Paul DiMeo, Tracy Hutson, Preston Sharp, and a slew of others, who have made appearances here and there, get together and help some needy family realize their dream home in just seven days. As if the simple act of building a house in seven days isn’t enough to get you watching, they usually pick some family that’s been pushed to the limits of what ordinary people can take.
This season of thirteen episodes features quite a few heart-warmers spread across its two discs. The most memorable for me was “The Cadigan-Scott Family,” which involved a family of eight children, who had lost their parents tragically. The mother died of complications from heart problems; the father followed shortly thereafter with a heart attack. The family would have been dispersed to foster care if not for the selfless act of the two oldest siblings. Jennifer, 23, and Janice, 21, became legal guardians for the other six children, so the family could stay together. Not even an iron-clad heart could fail to soften at the sight of over 3,000 Livermore, California, residents lining the streets at the show’s end for the big unveiling. I’ll briefly declare a peace treaty between myself and reality-TV to give this show its due. It certainly knows how to hit all the right buttons.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is presented here in the standard 1.33:1 format, just as it can be seen each week on television. The image itself isn’t much better than what you get on TV, but that’s not a bad thing.
The Dolby Digital Stereo presentation plays well… but again, not much different from TV. The show itself lacks the dynamics to give your speakers a workout. Volume isn’t too high, but the dialogue levels are more than sufficient.
The bonus material doesn’t wear out its welcome. Included in this collection are the following: Rest and Relaxation, a light-hearted segment which features our designers’ antics when the cameras aren’t rolling… except they are; Bloopers and Outtakes, only mildly amusing; and Preston and Paul, a one-time viewing. For me, the show is bigger than the designers, so I just couldn’t get in to any of the hijinks. However, the crown jewel of the bonus material is a featurette on the creation of the show, and how it’s managed to pick up steam to become quite the phenomenon. The Construction of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition contains all these interesting tidbits. It also highlights the crazed risk the creators were taking when they randomly picked seven days as their deadline during the pitch.
Proving no one can simply judge the proverbial book by its cover, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition succeeded in converting this critic, who is so diametrically opposed to its very genre that I want to shoot out the TV screen every time one comes on. Elvis Presley would do just that every time Robert Goulet turned up on one of his sets. Reality TV is my Robert Goulet. Yet this show managed to wiggle its way into my heart, and earn a recommendation without second thought. That speaks volumes for its ability to entertain. If you haven’t yet tried it, you could do a lot worse with your time surfing the channels than settling in for an hour of this series.