The Block All StarsMon, Tue, Thu 7pm, Ch9

"Is it OK if I say this?" - Dan to Dani

“Is it OK if I say this?” – Dan to Dani

Oh, we’re back people, and this time we know the culprits. Scott welcomes us all back to Bondi and reminds us that an “epic battle is about to take place”. Not sure what show he’s been watching. The houses look like the disaster zones we (and they) would expect, there’s chaos with the budgets, and there’s even a trip to hospital for someone. ALL THIS AND THE SHOW HASN’T EVEN STARTED YET!!!

We also get to welcome back the judges with the sharpest eyes in the business: Neale Whittaker, Darren Palmer and HRH Queen Shaynna, she of the Throw Cushions. There’s so much they’ll have to do… and only six weeks to do it in.

HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE!!!… (and it feels so good to be back.)

Scott finds it hard to believe it’s been 10 years since The Block started back in Bondi – so we remind him by showing some footage of Jamie Durie hosting the show. What memories! So many Blockheads we no longer hear from. They never write, they never call…

Just up from “Glamarama” Beach the houses have been found, but this time there’s some surprises – starting with the teams being in charge of the project from start to finish. Sticks of timber, number of bricks, how many people they started with – so many things to count Dan is gonna run out of fingers.

It’s nice of Scott to show us around the places. He takes far too much joy in pointing out the houses are heritage listed. He knows the pain of renovating heritage listed houses – from the tiles to the cornices to the stained glass in the front windows, everything has to be AS NEW. To explain it simply: if the teams were to renovate Scott Cam, all the grey chest hairs would have to be replaced by hand with new chest hairs from a donor with brown hair. Pubes too. IT JUST GOT BLOODY IMPOSSIBLE AND VERY ICKY UP IN HERE.

Two bed, two bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, two living areas & gardens front and back – and only six weeks to deliver it. They’ll need to be All Stars to even get close to finishing it. I hope they picked the good ones. Time to meet those silly enough to step back into the nightmare.

Welcome back Phil & Amity (2003), Mark & Duncan (2010), Dan & Dani (2012) and Josh & Jenna (2011). Bondi Icebergs seems to be the place to meet to lull them all into a false sense of security and suggest it’s gonna be just like they expect. The voiceovers from Scott introducing the teams is very, very kind. “Hugely popular” is such an elastic term.

"Umm... we have to what?" - Amity and Phil

“Umm… we have to what?” – Amity and Phil

10 years since we’ve seen Phil & Amity. They’ve got kids, a mortgage & an edge on the other teams: they’re a Chump-free zone, unlike the other three teams. I’m sure that’ll be solved week one. They’re all reminded it’s no beach holiday, & Scott reckons they’re nuts (like he cares, he goes home to a comfy bed at night).

Sponsor Vitaras ready to go, the teams are sent packing. M&D race to the lead, while P&A are just happy to be the “taurus & the hair… the torpise and the hairus… the… something.” Amity’s adventure in motherhood has indeed reaped rewards. At least she knows which Thing to ask when cleaning an ink stain from Mother’s best dress.

They all pile into their cars and follow their GPS units to the site. Phil notes they don’t have any kids with them and tries it on with Amity, and Josh is so nervous he has to poo. At least Mark & Duncan won’t have any sexual urges they’ll have to deal with between each other – or will they?

We’re back with one of the first surprises – the car they teams have chosen will determine which house they get. Cue Mark & Duncan’s package(s), with them reminding us they’re not as stupid as they look. M&D have watched the subsequent episodes of the Block to make sure they’ve boned up and are ready and they’ve also included their wives to help them fix their styling disability. They’ve no problems with their sense of direction though, arriving at The Block first.

As J&J arrive the four of them look at the exteriors and all seem relieved – they don’t look as bad as they expected. Dani & Dan aren’t too far behind, fighting; neither Phil & Amity. “They all looked pretty good so maybe they won’t be as bad as we first thought,” offers Amity. Famous. Last. Words.

Scotty rolls in on a motorcycle (“a large, throbbing thing between his legs”) and proceeds to lay out the expectations on the couples. LOTS to do. In six weeks. As if the gods are watching, the heavens open and force the Blockheads inside – each team to their houses based on car number. It continues to rain. Scott has no idea what to do so he stares at the jib camera.

Cue integrated promos for ISP and Channel 9’s two screen app.

Time for Phil & Amity’s (second?) package, reminding us life now it totally different, if only for the fact they’ve retired to Adelaide. They’re bringing the kids up to Sydney with them so they can see them daily (the kids will stay with the grandparents). Because they’re out of touch with renovating they take the chance to visit a Mitre 10 and reintroduce themselves to “tools”. Then they leave the bathroom and mirror area and go have a look at the sanders and grinders and stuff.

On entering House 1, P&A inspect each room as they go. In House 2 M&D consider their place a five-star hotel compared to last time. In House 3 J&J are taken in by the amount of light the missing roof allows in, while over at House 4 Dani & Dan are fighting about arches.

The reality of their situation is starting to sink in… there’s gotta be a catch. The rooms so far haven’t had any real surprises yet, so something’s coming. In the ‘formal lounge’ there’s a collection of tools, vouchers and a smiling picture of Scotty. It’s a positively buoyant experience for all the teams. Until they open the back door.


"We're not as stupid as we look..." - Mark and Duncan

“We’re not as stupid as we look…” – Mark and Duncan

The door told them through the door was the kitchen, another living space and more. Everyone’s a little overwhelmed. D&D see potential (“ocean views!”); Amity just needs a cup of tea. The three recently experienced teams converge out the back to plough through their plunder but Phil & Amity are still indoors. She wants her cup of tea, while Phil uncovers a safe behind the picture of Scotty – A BIG SECRET. Tea has been secured and so all is well with Amity’s world.

P&A pop over to talk dinner plans with M&D while Phil scopes to see if there’s a safe behind their picture of Scott. There is, but Duncan laughs it off saying “There’s no safe behind there”. Poor, deluded Duncan.

The teams in Houses 3 & 4 have already jumped into cleaning up, prompting the other two teams to get into it as well (at least it will reveal a useable bathroom). This rolls into the night, and the couple all reflect on day one – all in all, they’ve fared better than they hoped and the toots are clean. Luxury…

Day 2 on The Block for the All Stars comes all too quickly – especially for Dani & Dan (who start by arguing about being woken up by the film crew). Cue package of D&D fighting but they love each other and that is the most important thing. $448,000 of the most important thing. After separate holidays they now have established their own renovation/interior decoration company “Just Say No”.

Noting it’s all too quiet on the Ponderosa, the teams are summoned by Scotty and his whistle out the back where he fills them all on on the heritage listing of the houses. “I’ve never heard a heart sink before,” says Mark, “But I heard eight of them do it out the back.”

Scotty presents the teams with the heritage listing guidelines they have to follow – a massive 500 page tome each. Out the back they can do what they want though, so they’re not limited by the guidelines there. Then the bombshell is dropped: for the extension out the back the teams have to manage it all themselves – from tradies to materials to the whole damn thing. Sucked in, kiddies!

Did you know Jay La’gaia was the father of eight kids? Busy man. He’d never have time for The Block.

Scotty welcomes everyone’s old mate Keith the Foreman to the game with the plans for the shells out the back of their houses. Keith’s all-knowing, all-seeing eyes are acknowledged and feared. He laughs menacingly and, somewhere in the distance, a child cries for no reason. He is Keef the all powerful. He shall not be mocked.

Just as Scotty shoos everyone back to their houses, he offers a sideline “Oh, and by the way – Bedroom 1? Sunday.” Now it’s game on. The once sleepy four houses now turn into a hive of activity as the four teams scurry about and take in the impact of the heritage-listing on their plans and assess the imperfections they were once planning to putty over that now need to be restored. Insert evil laugh here.

M&D are all over it and head off to Sydney’s biggest retailer of heritage gear and solve some problems. J&J welcome their builder to site and walk him through. D&D have started into stripping out the paint in the bedroom and announce to all of us they’re not bringing in a builder and, instead, intend to go it alone and will be winging it. All for our amusement, one would suppose. Even M&D are bringing in a builder!

M&D have decided to take down the painting of Scotty as it has a Sauron-like feel and reveal the safe. They laugh knowingly at their own stupidty. Oh, how they laughed.

The official vitamin of The Block is Swisse, so presumably Ellen will be visiting later this year. And before the ep has even finished there’s a promo for tomorrow night’s ep. Must be big news!

"We're just really happy and ready to kick everyone's arse" - Jenna and Josh

“We’re just really happy and ready to kick everyone’s arse” – Jenna and Josh

Josh & Jenna get their package displayed for all to see, and the highlights of 2011 include: Jenna swearing, Josh pouting and everyone being reminded they were the youngest contestants on the show. Oh, and they got married after Josh proposing during the finale of their first series which made the night perfect for Jenna – from one loss to another. They now run their own renovating company and hate every minute of it until they finish it. Natch.

J&J are already committed in Bedroom 1 and have their plan ready to go, stripping as they tell us. D&D also have a plan, and in typical Dani fashion she’s already selected a painting from an artist that nobody has heard of. M&D are acid-cleaning the paint off their door furniture, and Phil is continually setting off the fire alarm as he strips the paint from the now burning wood in their room. It takes a little while for Phil to make the connection that burning wood and smoke alarms don’t mix.

D&D are sharing their heritage expert with J&J while M&D are sharing their “stop setting off the smoke alarms” secrets with Phil. Everyone has great suggestions for Phil as to how to solve his smoke alarm problems, and Phil takes it all with good humour and aplomb. On Day 2. It’s gonna be a long six weeks for everybody.

Tomorrow night, Phil takes his fascination with fire one step further and tries to burn down Ronald McDonald House. Way to win friends and influence people, mate!