The BlockSun 6:30pm/Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch9

"I once caught a fish that was THIS big..."

“This week The Block has been an absolute punish for our teams,” says Scotty. If only that were the only thing ‘punish’ in that sentence. The teams have been forced through the wringer with challenges and challenges and a 24 hour marathon challenge that hasn’t left them a whole bunch of time to complete their rooftop terraces and upstairs room. Add in the pressure of next to no money, and, well… let’s just say everyone’s getting on everyone else’s nerves. Even Dan & Dani are fighting – and nobody expected that. They’re usually so respectful and appreciative of each other’s efforts. Here comes another one… BOOM!

The sun breaks across another morning on The Block, and the contestants appear on their terraces to greet the morn like meerkats expecting danger. Everyone’s put in an all nighter, and Brad & Dan take time to reflect on how lovely Melbourne looks at 7am after working through the darkened hours.

“Hey,” says Dan.
“Yeeeeep,” says Brad.
They are such the sparkling conversationalists after no sleep.

Mike & Andrew are in the worst position – they’ve been up all night and still have far too much to complete before reveal, but they’ll push on. Lara tells us she and Brad have been up all night painting the deck with heaps of things to go so she doesn’t have time to talk to the camera about it. But she just… let’s chalk it up to fatigue.

Dan lists his and Dani’s overnight workload as if reciting his account of their war heroics: “We’re under the pump, we’ve not slept, we haven’t eaten, we’ve had about 15 coffees…” “No we haven’t,” interjects Dani. The cracks are starting to show already. The most important thing is who needs an exercise regime on The Block when you’ve got three stories of stairs to climb. Andrew even attempts them for the millionth time to avoid talking to Keith. Andrew knows he’s got 3.5 hours until reveal, but admits he could do with another day. Like the day that was stolen off him for the 24 hour challenge. Sophie complains about walking up and down the stairs all day, which is rich considering that’s all she does.

Dan & Dani's Study - The Block 2012

The brothers have opted for a “more is more” approach to their upstairs room by not only having a laundry and fridges upstairs, but they’ve added a mezzanine bed too. “We’ve got enough room to sleep 10 people at any one time,” boasts Mike proudly. “If you slice them thinly enough.” Two and a half hours to go, boys. So Mike may as well go shopping to get the styling items, including everything they need: Champagne, glasses, sheets, giant balls of sticks. Even Scotty is incredulous but surely even he recognises the need for stick-balls about the house. It’s just more fuel for that insurance fire the first owners are planning so they can re-style the house the way they like.

Finally the real Dani is revealed. The delirious one. As she sits and watches Dan work (fancy that), as he announces he’s going to sand the deck she giggles. “Why does that sound funny?” she says, laughing. I’d say the pressure had gotten to her, but – what pressure? It’s not like we see her work very often.

Brad & Asho are squeezing every inch of storage space they can out of their room. Dale & Sophie are doing the same with their study by fitting in their custom made desk which, on arrival to the room, is now 5mm too long. With 50 minutes to go. Some kind of building witchcraft will be required to make the room larger in time (or they could just sand 2.5mm off each and and be done with it). WHAT WILL THEY DO?!

Point of order with regard to all these top floor “laundries”. Wouldn’t you want the laundry to be closest to where you have your washing line? Nobody has installed a washing line on the roof, so why make people carry all their dirty clothes upstairs to wash, then back down again to hang out the back on the washing line? Where will they hang their sheets? WHO WILL THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! Quick, someone call the ACL.

Everyone’s rushing to get everything done in the very limited time remaining. Dan’s outdoor table won’t fit up through the internal stairs so it has to come up via block & tackle system over the side of the house. Dale & Sophie have opted to make their bar and fit it so that there’s no worry getting it upstairs and it’s a cinch to fit in place once on the roof. Until they get their outdoor furniture there and they’ve put one of the legs to the bar in the wrong place and now the chair doesn’t fit. Oops. And by ‘oops’ they mean ‘shit’. Sophie looks on in disgust, which is the most effort she’s mustered in 4 hours.

It’s all happening for Brad & Lara – they’re kicking goals. Mike & Andrew, on the other hand, don’t have enough space to fit all their tradesmen while trying to complete the room. Pretty much EVERYTHING still needs to be done. Even Keith, the ever-present ray of optimistic sunshine that he is, doesn’t think the brothers will be finished in 20 minutes. “It looks like a dog’s breakfast,” he says. And Keith would know.

Brad & Lara's Wet Bar

Within the four houses there’s vacuuming, painting, cleaning, dusting, desk-fitting, primping and finishing. And Andrew is now looking to fit the glass hangers even though the window in their utility room is missing at least one architrave. But no – the glass racks must be hung. At one rack a minute that should be… interesting. Brad & Asho decide that the last 90 seconds is best spent hanging three pictures in the utility room while Lara cleans furiously around them. It turns out exactly as you’d expect, but I’ll leave that for the judges to describe.

The seconds tick by and things are placed and other things remembered that they’ve not been done. Just as Mike & Andrew’s apprentice goes to fit that architrave… Scotty whistles for tools down. It doesn’t get done and the boys look to be the first contestants to not entirely complete a room on The Block ever. If only it wasn’t for those pesky glass racks. All eight contestants are shattered – they’ve crossed the finish line for the week and everything catches up with them. Time for a bex and a nice lie down, I’d say.

The teams assemble out the back to meet with Scotty before being dismissed for 100 hours sleep. The host announces the end of the toughest week on The Block, and audible sighs are heard from all four teams. “I think you told us that 3 weeks ago,” says Andrew. The sleep count is as expected: zero for everyone except Sophie, who got a “few hours”. Even Dani did her part by staying up all night and berating Dan for his lack of quality workmanship.

Mike & Andrew admit to not finishing, though Scotty reminds them that they do have 2 bonus points. Dale & Sophie and Dan & Dani both have one in the pocket as well. Poor Brad & Lara. “I think you can safely say we’re out of the running,” says Brad. He’s such a realist. He went through a bit of an expressionist phase this week, but Lara saw an end to that pretty quick. OK teams, sleep now.

Entre Neale, John and Queen Shaynna the Divine, starting in Dan & Dani’s place. The couple are very happy with what they’ve delivered, though they weren’t very nice to each other this week. Highlights include Dani shouting down the phone at Dan in her best condescending tone: “Don’t talk to me in a condescending tone, Daniel!”; and the classic “Shut your f*cking face, uncle f*cker!”.

Mike & Andrew's Bar Bed

The judges are a lot less sweary in describing what they think of the room. “Grey and orange – it’s about as cool a colour scheme as you can have,” says Neale, barely containing his contempt. John likes that they’ve turned the utility room into a useable space, though nobody has noticed how dirty the window is that they look out when seated at the desk. UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN! Queen Shaynna notes that while it’s a study the couple have omitted to include any storage at all, thus rendering the space slightly useless. Neale thinks they’ve over-styled a little, and John pipes in offering it’s consistent with the rest of the house so he’s pleased. They all agree the deck feels unfinished with too much going on. While the couple were looking to leave the deck open for the new owner to change as they see fit, the judges feel the styling is rushed and incomplete.

Over at Brad & Lara’s place the couple admit it’s been the toughest week yet. They normally get on really well but the couple have had their share of blow-ups, as is displayed in their reel. “I guess I’m missing boyfriend Brad,” says Lara. She really shouldn’t have traded him in for competition Brad at the start of The Block then. But they came out on top and are both confident they’ve delivered a solid couple of rooms for the judges.

The judges are taken with the laundry/wet bar concept that Brad & Lara have delivered. The stainless steel bench that runs to the sink is a highlight, as is the underbench fridges. All 3 judges see the practicality of the bar area servicing the deck and Queen Shaynna loves all the storage, if only for places to keep dissenters. Brad’s tipping they’ll get slammed for their artwork, which they do. That they don’t line up annoys John (but that doesn’t take much) and the lack of styling in the room is noted but all is forgiven once he turns up the tunes via the supplied iPad and they alight to the deck. They discover the speakers are hidden in the storage boxes around the edge and the entire look is a win for the judges. The under-deck storage is discovered and appreciated, and the inclusion of the BBQ is considered to be smart. When Queen Shaynna summarises that she loves the “laundry bar” John pulls her up on it, but she explains that, “Sometimes doing the laundry makes me want to drink so I think that’s a great place for it.” Just another way that Her Majesty keeps in touch with the common folk.

As the judges head for Mike & Andrew’s place, we get to reflect on the week they’ve had. A crazy one, and that’s saying something for the vampires that live in house 2. The judges first impression upon entering the utility room: “It’s very Boys.” I’m not sure even they know what that means. They do notice the missing items to complete the room – *cough* architrave *cough* – and despite the brothers hoping the judges will see the effort they’ve put in all the trio of terror can offer is criticism. Reasonably so, too. Neale does like the splashback, but there are limited options positive to negative, and even moving to the deck it’s no better. Everything is too heavy and cluttered. Spotlight bad. Squeezy space bad. More thought required – pretty clear the boys won’t come up winners.

Dale & Sophie's Study

Dale & Sophie both admit they’ve struggled to get through the week but remaining flexible has ensured they “survive”. One thing that catches the eye of all three judges is the timber feature wall. Queen Shaynna loves it. The bench is great and the judges agree the entire house is coming together – but John thinks that’ll shrink their market. He also has a closer look at the feature wall and discovers the timber is actually wallpaper. Neale doesn’t believe him and has to touch it for himself (doubting Thomas). He agrees the look isn’t for everyone but now knowing the timber is wallpaper (and therefore easier to change) he thinks it’s genius. The couch is too big for the room and the bar fridge stands out like a sore thumb. When they get to the deck, however, the judges are taken by the couch area, the bar and the view. It’s not the biggest of decks but they’ve used it and dressed it really well. “The inside was good, maybe not great, but this outside area is great,” says John. Who knows with these people any more.

The teams assemble, and Scotty’s well pleased to welcome the teams and remind them just how much fun it is to have a normal life. The team’s don’t care – they just want $5,000 for presenting the best room(s) this week. It’s straight into the judge’s feedback because there’s so much of it…

Dale & Sophie: The study is fresh and different. Execution = excellent. All the judges loved the shelves and timber desk, and were very impressed with the feature refurbished chair. The wallpaper gets a special mention BUT they’re concerned it may polarise some buyers. The couch didn’t feel right (too big), but outside they loved it and the couple have totally won over the judges with their quirky style.
Mike & Andrew: Starting with the good stuff: The judges liked the bar fridges, splashback and choice of fixtures. And that’s it. Inside the judges thought the layout of the room needed more thought. They’re off market with this one and they didn’t like the colour scheme at all. The Mezzanine area doesn’t work and is wasted space. Both inside and outside it was clear they ran out of space, they lacked styling and the furniture choices were too big for the space. This week the boys have lost their mojo and take another look.
Brad & Lara: When the judges walked in, the rooms put a smile on their faces. Everything has been thought of but the team should be braver with their styling. Maybe a poster? Generally, you are both on fire.
Dan & Dani: The light, the carpet, the chair, the shelves – all fantastic. The colour palate of grey and orange is the hottest thing right now. The judges loved the Florence Broadhurst print BUT the rooftop really needed some more thought. The layout felt wrong and the judges expected more from a carpenter.

Oo-er. It’s about time the judges were more direct with the teams and didn’t beat around the bush. A little too late in the competition to start but here we are. Scotty launches straight into revealing two of the judges scores, and by the end of it the leaders/losers are clear if only from the feedback above: Brad & Lara lead the pack on 15.5, ahead of Dale & Sophie on 14.5, Dan & Dani 13.5 and Mike & Andrew 12 – but the leaders don’t have a bonus point to spare. After taking instructions from the other contestants that do and recording and tallying the final scores, it all comes out in the wash like this:
(Shaynna; Neale; John; Total):
Dale & Sophie: 7.5 + 7 + 7 = 21.5.
Mike & Andrew: 6 + 6 + 5 = 17.
Brad & Lara: 8 + 7.5 + 7 = 22.5.
Dan & Dani: 7 + 6.5 + 6 = 19.5.

Look at the scoreboard!

Congratulations Brad & Lara for a big win, just ahead of Dale & Sophie (if only they’d used their bonus point!). The couple are shocked, not expecting to win at all. “I thought we were Chumps, 100% Chumps,” says Lara. Next week the teams will be delivering their living area. Full stop. Plus all the fix ups and finishes and changes from other rooms they’ve been wanting to complete and haven’t had the time, of course. Mike & Andrew are presented with the new Chump hats and don them with pride. They don’t really care as having won $7,000 in the challenge this week PLUS having 2 bonus points in their back pockets means they’re in a great position for the coming weeks.

Everyone retires to Brad & Lara’s deck for celebratory drinks (Dan & Dani’s reaction to the wet bar is priceless) and it’s a great moment to relax… as tomorrow night, no one has any money again and it’s bickering and tension all over again. At least Shelley proves money can grow on trees. Oh, and there’s a twist. WHAT?!