Monday, 15 September 2008

Television Review: Extreme Makeover Spinoffs

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a highly popular American reality TV show, the spin-off of Extreme Makeover, a show in which hideously ugly people were bullied by family members into having plastic surgery. The weekly episodes of Home Edition usually follow a similar format: Someone contacts the show because their family of 300 are forced to live in a stripper’s g-string in the bottom of a vat of acid. They can’t even afford the rent on the g-string because the head of the family (usually a soldier or a priest, or – even better – both) has been forced out of work due to his legs having fallen off while saving a kitten from death at the hands of a combine harvester. One (or all) of the 160 children in the family has a very rare disease that means they can’t come into contact with anything made of an odd number of atoms, and they all need to be permanently attached to giant medical machines that are so big they can’t be moved. The team of architects and designers then send the family to Disneyland, destroy the old living area and build a palace of luxurious proportions big enough for the population of a small nation, replete with specialist medical facilities (and staff) for the diseased children and enough bedrooms to make Bill Gates blush. The houses are built and furnished by companies who consider such generosity to be a small price to pay for being mentioned repeatedly by a popular prime-time show.

The popularity of this programme has led to several new spin-offs of the Extreme Makeover format. I had a look to see what they were like, and hoped that the unconcealed hatred I displayed in the previous paragraph didn’t affect my judgement.

Extreme Makeover: Personality Edition will begin in November, and will be hosted by Dr. Phil. Participants in the show will be nominated by their friends, relatives, coworkers and people who just happen to encounter them on the street. The criterion for inclusion on the show is that the participant must have some outrageously annoying personality defects, which the programme’s team of psychiatrists, psychologists and lifestyle consultants will attempt to fix.

The pilot episode featured Dave, an advertising salesman from Detroit. This man had so many personality problems that after ten minutes his very appearance on the screen made me want to kick the television. He finished other people’s sentences for them, laughed nervously at everything he said, made awkward comments to strangers and picked his nose on public transport. He was also so arrogant that Dr. Phil nearly punched him. The end of the show saw the experts make so little progress with Dave that they were forced to resort to making him watch a video of some kittens playing for eight hours, in a scene reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange.

From this first episode, Extreme Makeover: Personality Edition is a surprisingly satisfying show. It’s really worth it for the final few minutes, when a practically lobotomized Dave is revealed to his friends and relatives, now a much more agreeable individual whose sole personality flaw is the unfortunate tendency to drool slightly.

From next year, viewers will get to watch Extreme Makeover: Cockatiel Edition. It’s a common problem: You buy a cockatiel, you enjoy it for a few weeks, and then you start to get bored with it. Well, this is the show for you. People with dull avian pets can have bird and image experts redesign their cockatiels to make them much more interesting. The first episode had Minxy, a two-year-old female owned by Gordon Sludge of Brampton, painted blue and given a trendy Mohawk haircut. She was also given bionic wings so that she could double up as a cooling fan on hot days. I predict big things from this show.

Finally, Extreme Makeover: Makeover Show Edition has got the TV industry in a spin. Reality show producers with staid, unimaginative programmes and no inspiration can get their productions improved with help from the Extreme Makeover team. I didn’t like this show, because I felt that the people giving advice were bullies. The poor reality show makers were being forced to make conceptual changes to their programmes that they weren’t comfortable with. An example from the early episodes is a fashion makeover show specialist being forced to supervise in the building of a new lighthouse. And I couldn’t help but feel anger towards the expert who made a restaurant makeover show production team start creating makeover show makeover shows. For one, that episode was just confusing.


ÄsK AliCë said...

I'm pretty excited for Extreme Makeover: Personality Edition.

Just to see Dr. Phil get so wound up he almost punches someone. Clasic.

Mo said...


You know, I actually had a cockatiel for...oh god, like fourteen years or something, and while she really was the most awesome, lovable conglomeration of feathers I've ever known, she didn't sport bionic wings or anything nifty like that. I'll have to be much more selective next time I go birdie shopping...

Anonymous said...

I'm excited for the Extreme Makeover Cockatiel edition. They won't be baking or roasting any of them will they? Also, does honey mustard or bbq sauce go better with it? I can't wait for these answers!

words...words...words... said...

Why has no one yet thought of "Extreme Makeover: Hollywood Tramp Edition" yet?

Anonymous said...

IR - Your Photoshop skillz are getting better and better!


The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Alice: Yeah, he gets pretty upset. There are a few rumours around that later in the series he kicks a man to death in a furious rage. That'll probably make it to the series DVD.

Mo: You'd be surprised how far selective breeding has advanced the avian kingdom. I recently saw a parakeet with eight wings.

Suze: Cockatiels are best broiled with some teriyaki sauce and tarragon. For some great recipes, see Martha Stewart's forthcoming book, Cook Your Pet.

Words Words Words: You just did! Quick! To the Fox Network!

Martin: Many thanks. I hope you're not being sarcastic there. That damn bird took ages to cut out properly. Extra points if you can tell where the eye came from! (Hint: It's from a film!)

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'm not being sarcastic - you are getting better.

Terminator 2! What do I win? What do I win?

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

I knew you were going to say Terminator 2! Wrong!

It's Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. You win mockery.

Falwless said...

I can't get past the first sentence I am laughing too hard.

...a show in which hideously ugly people were bullied by family members into having plastic surgery.

Goddamn that was funny. Okay, back to read more.

Falwless said...


I can't get past the first paragraph now!

This is one of the funnies things you've written.

I will be back when I read the whole thing (I keep getting interrupted by this shitty "work" thing).

Falwless said...

Pure brilliance, TIR. Pure brilliance.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Falwless: I can tell you're a fan of the show, aren't you?

katrocket said...

Awesome! I would totally love to see a show where Dr. Phil just punches people - punches all their flaws right outta them.

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