The BlockMon-Fri 7pm, Ch9

Meet Lara & Brad - the pretty ones

Last night, our retinas were permanently damaged when we first saw the Red House. Whose idea was that anyway? And all that fake grass? It’s just crazy. But tonight, we get to experience battle of epic manufactured proportions – the Block’s State of Origin battle.

Tonight, Brad & Lara (NSW) are up against Larry & Jessie (Qld). With grabs from audition videos we get to pick up on a little of the team’s back stories – including the sad realisation that Jessie is competing with her Dad because her Mum sadly died in a plane crash 5 months ago. That’s the way you do it, people… get your dark secret out early so that we all have sympathy from the get go (OK, so it may be overly cynical, but this is what reality TV has done to us all).

Same rules as last night: The each team has a white room to renovate in 24 hours with a $5,000 budget, and the judges have left them an identical item of inspiration that must be included in the design of the room. The room determined by Queen Shaynna and her minion judges to be the better room wins. Get to it teams!

The teams go into their rooms and open their parcels and find what looks to be a horribly worn rug, so much so that Brad & Lara consider using it upside down. Scott pops in and sets them straight, alerting them to the fact the rug is worth $5,000(!). I’d be straight onto eBay with that sucker and using the extra money for the room. B&L quickly decide to turn their room into a guest bedroom and are straight out shopping.

Across the hall Larry & Jessie are caught in the ideas vortex – where nothing seems to feel right no matter how hard you thunk it. It raises tension levels, particularly for Jessie. If only she had a large, worn-looking expensive rug to use as a key item of inspiration… Amazingly L&J get their act into gear and end up at a very clean, well-signed and easy to find local Mitre 10. Sponsor, schmonsor. They puzzle over their choice of white and accent colour and confuse everyone, even the poor paint guy.

Meet Larry & Jessie - the pretty ones

When Brad & Lara turn up to pick their paint colour, somehow – AMAZINGLY – they pick exactly the same shade of off-white that Larry & Jessie had just chosen. That, or there was a special on that shade of off-white that day in that particular mocked-up Mitre 10. What a crazy co-incidence! Almost as crazy as none of the Mitre 10 staff showing absolutely any butt crack.

Larry & Jessie have gone shopping for a couch, while still yet to decide what their room will be. After some forced discussion they agree it should be a reading room and pick a couch straight from a dominatrix’s dungeon. Although Brad & Lara also went shopping they realised they probably should get back and start painting – with 4 hours down in the challenge and nothing started back on site, it’s not a bad idea. Larry & Jessie get the same nudge from producers and head back too. The boys start painting (though Jessie feels she needs to change the colour of the room now that they’ve found their couch) and the women be shopping. Again.

Brad’s concerned that the white paint they’ve picked is “too white” so rings Lara and asks her to get the other paint they were looking at. Jessie rings Larry about priorities when he tells her to get the new colour, and she tells him there’s 3% of her mobile battery left. What a great object lesson in how differing genders communicate in different ways. Lara returns with the new paint for Brad who then tells her “it was only optional you know… like if you have time to get it”. Lara insists he uses it but that looks highly unlikely.

Jessie gets to Mitre 10 for the new paint and it’s shut. She walks around the back and sees the yard gate is still open and begs to get her new paint mixed. They staffer looks at her and knows if he says no this woman will go banshee on him, so quickly says yes and motions for her to come inside. Jessie’s stoked – next to no furniture or soft furnishings purchased, but she’s bought two tins of paint. Back at the Red House, Scott recaps for us. “After 12 hours of competition, the teams are basically back where they started – painting rooms the same shade of white,” he says. What a riveting battle this is turning out to be.

This Mitre 10 guy had no choice BUT to help Jessie... or she'd eat him alive.

“Get to know this year’s couples, get to see their rooms in detail, and have more targeted sponsor advertising pop ups and rollovers get in the way of your enjoyment of our website. It’s all waiting for you at”

Day 2 starts exactly the same way Day 1 commenced – A big Red House in the suburbs of Melbourne with two white rooms needing to be renovated, though the time remaining is significantly less than the previous day (6 hours). Scott is so taken with the concept he even makes a joke of it with the teams. Oh how the teams tittered nervously. Tittered, I tell you. They’re let loose on the their rooms again and it seems like the teams have plans for what they need to achieve today.

Lara goes shopping while Brad assembles the bed for their room, waiting for the flooring guys to get their job done. Larry & Jessie go shopping together for their bits – they found a coffee table really quickly, but are struggling coming to agreement on a side table. Everyone’s stressed. Jessie is buying now, thinking later. Lara is getting what she needs and trying to ship the stuff back to Brad in a taxi so he can put it up… if the taxi will ever turn up. Can’t she just put the stuff in a tram? It is Melbourne after all.

Larry & Jessie make it back with two hours to complete their room and are hard at it when Scott pops in for a sit down and a chat, and asks what they’re doing for a window covering. Larry is adamant, “No curtains, we don’t have time.” Scott is fairly insistent – which makes it look like there’s drama being created where there was already enough happening. Jessie caves and ducks out to find some kind of curtain. Meanwhile the taxi arrives for Brad and it’s like Christmas as far as he’s concerned. Lara’s racing back and realises she hasn’t got curtains, so rings Brad to tell him they won’t need them. MORE DRAMA THAT WE WEREN’T EXPECTING CONSIDERING THE DRAMA IN THE OTHER ROOM OVER CURTAINS!!!

The curtains and carpet don't match.

Lara arrives back at the Red House with 30 minutes remaining on the challenge. She and Brad are fussing over getting their massive mirror hung when Scott arrives to ask about window coverings. “My tip of the day,” says a gently forceful Scott, “Is to make sure you’ve got curtains on that window, even though there’s only 30 minutes left in the challenge. That’s my tip of the day.” More like cat amongst the pigeons of the day.

Continuing with his ‘helpful’ streak, Scott drops in to see Larry and remind him that not only does he need to have the room finished (now) in 22 minutes, but his team mate/daughter needs to be in the room also. Jessie’s got the curtains and now some flowers(!) and races home with 10 minutes left in the challenge to get the damn curtains hung. “What about… can we just nail the curtains into the thing?” she asks.

Minutes streak by like Sarah Hanson-Young’s run at Deputy Leader of the Greens, and as Scott counts down the final seconds both teams manage to complete their rooms (though Brad & Lara did opt for a student-chic “bedsheet as a curtain” motif to appease the annoying Scott). It has proven to be the most disappointing State of Origin battle yet – not one person was sent off for a dodgy tackle, not one beer can was thrown on the field at the ref, and not once did Martin Bella play the ball in the wrong direction on field.

“It’s just completely up to the judges now and I just hope we’ve done enough,” says Brad matter-of-factly. In one short episode he’s become bloody good at stating the bloody obvious. Larry & Jessie are really pleased with the way they executed their ideas, despite the fact they didn’t solidify their ideas until 4 hours into the competition AFTER choosing the paint colour. In preparing for the judgement of their room, Brad & Lara get conscience pangs over the sheet being used as a curtain. “One little sheet may have cost us one hundred grand,” says a wistful Brad. Methinks he’s overstating his position this early in the competition, don’t you?

You can never have too many throw cushions. Until you do.

The judges – Neale, John & Queen Shaynna – are back and ready to look through the two rooms. Starting with Brad & Lara’s guest bedroom the judges are underwhelmed, but not completely dispirited. Queen Shaynna notices the sheet curtain and the positioning of the towels immediately. Basically it’s not horrible, but it’s not brilliant. Moving onto Larry & Jessie’s drawing room the biggest criticism is that the team have tried to pick up on too many colours in their rug and consequently the judges feel the room is too busy. But to insert coin and ADD MORE DRAMA.

Like all good State of Origin battles they end in the backyard. Scott compliments both teams with some feedback from the judges as to their use of the inspiration item in the finished product. But there can be only one team going through to the Block proper, and this time it’s Brad & Lara. BOO! BOO TO THE JUDGES! Another example of the producers getting who they want not who was better in the execution of the brief. A bed sheet curtain is good enough to help them win?!?! That’s outrageous! BOO!

Larry & Jessie are very gracious in their defeat and scurry off into the night pretty quickly. Lara’s gone all sooky-la-la, so much so you’d think she’d won the damn thing already. The realisation of what they’ve just gotten themselves in for has gotta smack the successful final four in the face sooner or later. Brad & Lara are pretty smug about it, that’s for sure.

Tomorrow night it’s the “newlyweds challenge” – Dale & Sophie (Vic) up against Brendan & Michelle (Vic). Both teams recognise that one false move and their dream of moving onto the Block could all be over. Over, I tells ya.