The Block All StarsSun-Fri 7pm, Ch9
Time for another episode of The Block: All Stars, the show that never fails to leave me wondering, “Why the heck am I watching The Block: All Stars?”

As the episode opens, Scott reminds us of Mark’s emotional exit from the show and the toll that it had on the other Blockheads, especially Duncan. Duncan hopes that he’ll be able to continue the contest with a replacement partner, but doesn’t yet know who. Channel Nine could spin this off into a whole other show! You go onto a reality show to be chosen to be in another reality show. Then the winners of that show get to be the judges on The Voice. Just imagine Duncan, floppy hat and floppier moustache, slamming that button and spinning around in that crazy chair!

Sorry. I just got really sad for a moment that the show I described above doesn’t actually exist.

So Scott then catches us up on the week’s big challenge; it’s “the big kahuna”, the kitchen. Josh has apparently been up all night laying tiles, to prepare for the kitchen to be installed.  It all seems like a lot of effort, and I’m left wondering what exactly is wrong with just leaving a fire pit in the middle of the room and going old-school on your food preparation. The judges will call it “rustic”!

Dan then explains he and Dani’s strategy for winning the energy-conservation challenge. They’re not using any power at all, instead siphoning electricity from Josh and Jenna, who are intentionally throwing the challenge. Dan and Dani will then use their advantage against one of the other houses. It’s all very Machiavellian, except I’m not sure whether anyone involved would know how to use that word correctly. Although, to be fair, neither do I.

Then Scott notifies them of another challenge taking place today, which will require them to wear stylish clothes. None of them have stylish clothes, of course, because they’re on The bloody Block. They DO have a lot of paint, though, so I can think of a pretty quick way to get their dirty clothes looking schmick.

The contestants all head to the Trio Apartments in Sydney. They’re about to get the rundown on today’s challenge, when Scott shows up to reveal Duncan’s new partner – it’s a commercial break! No, wait. Give me a couple of minutes.

…it’s Dale! I don’t know who Dale is, but everybody is very excited. Dale has a backwards cap and lots of tattoos, meaning that he is the “Bad Boy” of The Block (I guess). What kind of trouble is he going to stir up? Will he jump his motorcycle over all four houses? Will he start a food fight at the sock hop?!

Once Dale joins the line, we’re back to today’s challenge. It’s apparently “The Ultimate Super Styling Real Estate Challenge”, which sounds like the worst X-Box game since Kevin Rudd’s Leadership Action Showdown.

There’s five grand up for grabs. Each team gets a penthouse. Each penthouse has a differnet layout. They have to style the kitchen and dining areas in preparation for an open house. Forty prospective buyers will be visiting in the coming evening. The teams will be judged on how well they style the apartments, how well they sell, and how well they entertain the guests. Yes, entertain. Apparently they have to provide canapes as well as demonstrating actual skills, because Channel Nine are getting in on the cooking show craze by just subtly sneaking cooking challenges into other, unrelated reality shows.

Aaaaand… go!

Dan and Dani immediately call a catering company to get the stupid canapes thing off of their to-do list, because they’re not complete idiots.

Duncan and Dale, meanwhile, get started in the dining room. They’re probably planning to just put out some corn chips and salsa.*

*I’m not knocking them, by the way. Corn chips are literally my favourite snack food.

The couples are visiting stores that have offered to loan them furniture and decorating needs, and are also offered a team of movers. So… sourcing the furniture is taken care of, as is moving the furniture? What are the contestants actually doing? Standing next to the furniture and waving their arms with a flourish, a la Adriana Xenides on Wheel of Fortune?

Dale and Duncan are let loose in their chosen store, and Duncan immediately gravitates towards a huge model boat. Maybe the prospective buyers can “sail” into a new penthouse apartment on a “wave” of excitement! Or, you know… not.

D’n’D then head to the local sushi place and buy a few pre-made platters for their canapes. But guys, what about the corn chips?! That’s it. I will be taking my two and a half million dollars elsewhere.*

*Yes, making fun of TV shows on the internet pays that well.

D’n’D (I am finding this nickname a lot of fun. I am not going to stop with it anytime soon) also arrange a bagpipe player to entertain their guests tonight. It’s at this point that I begin to suspect that Duncan is just messing with us all, and is some kind of elaborate performance art character. I love it!

In the building’s carpark, Dale accidentally throws the keys to he and Duncan’s car under a fence, and the show gets a good seventy or eighty minutes of suspense about how they’re going to get them out.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Dan and Dani are arguing over the placement of a painting. In a way, it’s good that the painting is there, because otherwise they’d be arguing over a coffee table, or whether there is a god, or whether Argo really deserved Best Picture. They argue. This is what they do. As the sun must rise, and the grass must grow, and people in Melbourne must complain about the weather.*

*Speaking off… it’s too darn hot today! Like, right now, I am too warm, and it’s TWELVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING.

The guests start to arrive. John McGrath, some kind of real estate… guy… is watching how all of the teams do from a creepy control room, like a Bond villain.

John comments on their furniture and decoration choices, all while sitting in a dark room with all of the curtains drawn. Check yo’self, Mr McGrath!

In the apartments, John’s secret spy is grilling the Blockheads about things like floorspace. Ask the tough questions! How many bodies will the bathtub hold? How loud can the sex get before the neighbours hear? Where are the corn chips?

Of Josh and Jenna’s furniture choices, John says, “They’ve got a really sophisticated sense of furniture. They understand less is more… they probably could have put a little bit more in.”

John is keeping the contestants on their toes, and they don’t even know he’s there! The man is a wizard!

Eventually, all of the guests leave, and the contestants are gathered in the penthouse courtyard to come face-to-face with John McGrath, who – I’m pretty sure – just lives in the walls of the building. Watching. Waiting.

John announces that Dan and Dani are the winners of today’s challenge, and Dani totally freaks out. John offers to visit their Block house the next morning to offer them styling tips, which – I imagine – will consist of things like “More secret hidey holes!” and “More hidden cameras!” and “More darkened rooms in which you can watch people without them knowing!”

Oh, McGrath. You terrify me.

Dan Hall is a frequent TV watcher who’s taken to keeping notes on the shows he’s watching. You know, like a crazy person. He can be found on twitter at @danieljohnhall