advent 7 – TV – Mad About The House & The Family

Tuesday night is a good night for TV.
Mad about the house on BBC3 is everything that reality TV should be, real, dramatic, demanding emotionally involvement and it does it really well. The basic conceit is simple, A couple are given £10,000 and three weeks to make up their house. Easy right. The Catch is the female part of the couple have to leave the house and have no contact with their partner, their house or the ongoing work. The added secret catch is the female works with a designer in London and a life size replica of the property, and unlimited budget and creates a show home which they unveil to the male a couple of days before the three weeks end.

This week “Free spirit Mark prefers surfing to DIY, but his picky girlfriend Nicola is sick of living like a student. Can Mark and his mates give Nicola the chic, grown-up flat she craves?” The key to the programme is really the drama between, Marks’ vision for the change and the way Mark attempts to work out what Nicola would let him away with. Yet this is balanced out against Nicola being encouraged to dream for herself. Quite often you see Mark have a , ‘I want this but I know I will get killed if I do it’ moment. Yet Nicola is saying “Oh I like that, He better buy me this, I love this.” In many ways the realtionship is built up unnaturally in a picture for Mark always giving and Nicola always taking. I don’t think thats an accurate portrial of a good relationship.Does he get it right? I think he does really well to be honest. Tonight had laugh out loud moments, moments of shouting no don’t do that, it is remarkably engaging.

It is good television. The guy either mostly gets it right, or is supremely over confident and over estimates what can be done on budget and in time. But you generally get a feel for the guy and and the result at the end of the programme with the girls reaction is usually bang on in relation to the picture the programme gives you about the guy. I am unsure of the programmes history but it does bear a very strong resemblance to “don’t tell the bride” also on BBC3. a programme where an engaged couple are given £12,000 to make their dream wedding, but the catch is the guy had to buy and organise everything, (dress and all). I suspect the programmes are linked. to be honest i think “Mad about the house” is a the zenith of the format.

The Family on Channel 4
I really struggle to like this programme since they played with the format.
Series one was stunning. just unedited action from the house of the Hughes family.

There is nothing like it on the TV it’s brilliant. And it was stunningly different for TV. it had no voice over, no recorded peices to camera. just voyerism. pure voyerism.
The episode which ended with Simon, the dad, getting very angry and going round the house kicking things and turning off all the cameras, one by one so he could be angry without anyone watching, was one of the scariest, most affecting pieces of TV I have ever seen.
The scenes between Jane, the mother,  and her 14 year old son, Tom,  were pure joy.
Emotional, engaging, edgy and fragile. It was real life.

Series two featured the Grewal family.
I didn’t like it as much. I couldn’t put my finger on why not but i just couldn’t get into it as much.
The family were great, life was engaging, and in many ways it was bigger and more than Hughes. The dramr was more pronounced, and the family had more obvious issues bringing weight on the relationships.
Yet i struggled to connect with it.

Series three and The Adesinas.
Tonight’s episode focuses on the female members of the family how they find their place and their relationships within this large house. It is still dramatic, and with moments of joy and fun and like all families distress and friction.

I can’t get it, yet i think i know what the problem is. The problem is the occasional talk to camera. you will see something happens. Then up pops a brother delivering a “talking head” analysis of the relationship/situation. Its totally frustrating, let us watch whats happening or give us a propre voice over. The talking head thing has ruined it for me.
The thing the first series did well was it didn’t explain the obvious. It was better for it.