Tumbling down the badly wallpapered rabbit hole

<i>The Block's</i> All Stars are once again making a pasting of home renovations while host Scott Cam (centre) watches on.
The Block's All Stars are once again making a pasting of home renovations while host Scott Cam (centre) watches on.

Is there any more intoxicating event in television than a "Big Reveal"?

No matter what the subject matter, the sight of someone showing us something that we hadn't been shown previously is what truly makes us feel alive in this world, and The Block: All Stars is no exception.

Indeed, some would argue that a Big Reveal by All Stars is even better than a Big Reveal by ordinary people. Tonight we'll see if this is true.

We begin by seeing what happened previously, which mainly involved some sheets and a safe, where Phil and Amity stumbled on the proceeds of a drug deal gone bad.

We then see what's about to happen, which mainly involves disaster striking. Despite knowing what is about to happen, however, we are apparently still expected to sit through an hour and a half of Block.

Opening titles and then cut to a bird on a wire, which might be a metaphor for something, or just a sign of creative bankruptcy.

And then we're off to Bondi, 48 hours away from the first-ever Block All Stars room delivery, which Scott Cam seems to believe is a much more important-sounding event than reality would suggest.

Jenna and Josh are having an intense conversation about spraying. Josh is a fervent believer in spraying, but Jenna dreads spraying.

The problem, however, is that Josh can't roll, and by this time it is fairly clear that this is a sex thing. This is even more apparent when Josh promises Jenna she won't be getting much sleep.

Cut to Dan and Dani, who are sleeping and staring tearfully into the middle distance respectively, that harsh mistress Madame Renovation having taken her toll.

Dani explains how Dan needs to do something incredibly boring with a door.

In contrast, Phil and Amity have hit the ground running in their patented parachute-renovation technique, and Amity has her mojo back to such a degree that she can't really stop saying the word “mojo”.

She also explains that she was on fire yesterday, possibly as a result of some poor soft furnishings decisions.

Meanwhile Mark and Duncan are determined to make amends for past failings and for causing everyone to call them fat tradies.

A flashback to 2am reveals that Duncan has been up all night obsessively wallpapering in a dizzying spiral into madness.

At six o'clock he began harassing his friends by phone, asking his wallpapering friend to rescue him from the wallpaper vortex he has sunken into.

Once again The Block raises the question: what on earth is the point of wallpaper?

A few shots of walls and boxes and other boring stuff, and then Josh tells a dull story about an artist he knows.

He has a painting.

“A bit abstract,” he says admiringly, not knowing what “abstract” means.

Dan and Dani haven't bought a painting; they've kidnapped an actual artist, as apparently The Block is a competition to see who is the best at hiring other people to do things for you.

The artists wants to create something that makes people think about the relationship of the front to the back, because artists are wankers.

Back to Duncan, who has gone shopping and is lost, or possibly just drunk.

To emphasise his incompetence the producers chuck in a honking sound effect. Luckily Duncan's wife is stalking him and knows where he is.

Duncan, however, has no idea where he is and it slowly becomes clear that it would've been better to send a flock of pigeons to do the shopping.

Cut to a parrot eating seeds.

Josh and Jenna are cheerfully continuing their passive-aggressive mutual abuse as they engage in some kind of completely bizarre 2001: A Space Odyssey parody that may be the least necessary thing ever to happen on Australian television, apparently premised on the fact that both astronauts and Block contestants wear outfits.

Josh tells Jenna her nickname is “Old Yeller”, because she always yells at him, and also he thinks she's a dog and wants to shoot her.

Meanwhile Phil is getting reacquainted with his old friend the drill, who has developed an intense hatred of Phil in the intervening years.

Luckily Phil and Amity have hired “Brad” to do their job for them, a valuable lesson for any aspiring renovator.

“You know what they say: give a man a fish and he'll eat for a week,” says Scott's voice-over, blissfully unaware that nobody says that.

Phil has noticed that “Brad” can't do everything, which is an issue because Phil can't do anything.

They are having trouble hanging a hideous mirror on a wall, ignoring the old maxim: “Ugly mirrors are a bad idea”.

Phil believes the ugly mirror is an important feature of the room, since “ugliness” is their theme.

He raises the possibility of Amity wanting the mirror hung higher, in a tone of bone-chilling terror that speaks volumes about Amity's capacity to punish anyone who hangs mirrors in the wrong place.

Meanwhile Duncan is in a shop or something and Led Zeppelin's D'Yer Mak'er is playing because he's shopping for reggae CDs I suppose.

No, he's shopping for a giant propeller. Maybe the producers think D'Yer Mak'er is a sea shanty.

Back at Bondi, viewers must ponder whether the fact that Dan is a carpenter is, technically, cheating.

He's doing something with a door. He's also talking about the door, and saying “door” a lot.

He's a bit over it, and finally we have a cast member we can really relate to.

Duncan is still wandering aimlessly around the suburbs, depending on the kindness of strangers to keep him alive until his wife can find him.

He buys a fan in an unbelievably riveting bit of television.

He then shows Mark the giant propeller and Mark punishes his recklessness by making some puns, and the producers punish us all with some stupid music.

Mark and Duncan say some things but it's hard to concentrate because I've just realised that Duncan is the gay florist from Six Feet Under. This could change everything.

Cut to Dani saying “beautiful” and “stunning” seven thousand times, waxing orgasmic over some big blue splotches of paint that are being blu-tacked up on her walls.

Duncan's wallpaper saviours are here to save his wallpaper.

“Wallpapering is not my thing,” he says, although actually this is probably his one redeeming feature.

Meanwhile, Dani is having a whinge.

“The worst decision we made was to strip back all the paint off the window and skirts,” she says, perhaps overlooking the decision to be on the Block in the first place.

It's while watching Dan and Dani try to fix the horrific shambles their room has become that it becomes absolutely crystal clear: renovating is actually a very, very uninteresting thing.

Cut to Duncan, seemingly naked, pulling nightmarish faces. He has lost his mind. As have we, just 17 hours into this 14-week episode.

Dan is lectured on positive thinking by Mark and Duncan, who then begin babbling about rectums as the entire show starts to circle the drain.

No time for frivolity though, as Josh and Jenna have a milky stain on their floor! The news crushes them. This is truly the moment that The Block: All Stars lost its innocence.

Dan and Dani, though are milky-stain-free, and reflecting on the surprising fact that building a house can keep you quite busy.

Scott informs us that Dani has just been to Mitre 10 to buy some paint and “bits and pieces”. The bizarre thing is that Scott says this in a tone of voice that suggests he finds this somehow entertaining.

The audience is forced yet again to have a long hard look at itself and question just where we went wrong as a society to have reached the point where we're watching strangers buy paint for our amusement.

We learn that Amity and Phil are going for a light and breezy beach feel, but neglect the obvious solution of chucking it in and going to the beach. Not so surprising though, after Amity admits how much she loathes being at home with her children. They may never go home.

Yet they may have to, as disaster strikes – there is something wrong with their window mechanism! I'm not sure what it is – it sticks out or something. Oh no!

And the mechanism that doesn't stick out Phil just gave to Duncan, who is about to sell it in the belief that the competition will be won by the team who can make the most money selling garbage.

Frankly this is a situation the gravity of which I am going to have to take Scott Cam's word for.

Anyway a quick break to view thirty or so commercials leads us back to Dan bitching about everything and Mark laughing at what an idiot Dan is.

Dan is fantasising about juvenile delinquents vandalising his window.

Meanwhile Josh and Jenna have discovered that the half a day spent sanding their milky floorboards were wasted, as the floorboards are still milky.

Jenna points out that the bed will go over the stain, meaning the whole thing has been colossally futile.

Back to Phil, who is pow-wowing with the Russian mafia and babbling insane theories about lowering the floors.

Amity arrives and is worried that Phil's mad attempts to get the wardrobes to fit have put the surly mobsters offside, but Phil reassures her that everything is fine and then dissolves into maniacal laughter.

The mobsters question the desire to put a TV in the room, and suggest that Phil and Amity are not enjoying the intimacy they perhaps once did. Phil dissolves into maniacal laughter again.

Now it's time to return to the Adventures of Duncan's Wallpaper, and really by any objective standard we have spent far too great a portion of our lives looking at wallpaper by this stage.

Night falls, and Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know plays, foreshadowing the ruined relationships and shattered lives that this series will leave behind.

Succumbing to Builder's Madness, Dan and Dani snipe viciously at each other. Dani even seems to swear, although there is a genuine chance that the bleeping noises are coming from her own mouth.

Phil and Amity's relationship is in a slightly more robust condition, as Amity scoffs her dinner and watches her husband doing all the work with an air of refined amusement.

Over at Josh and Jenna's, their mutual hatred is more obvious than ever. Their musical theme is Forever Young; that's how depressing it is.

Forever Young continues to play as we move into Mark and Duncan's house, which is less depressing and more sarcastic. Their fan is up, and they are happy: perhaps Duncan will even have more time to go hawking rubbish about town or stealing parts from car yards.

Back to Dan and Dani, who are swearing like sailors and suffering simultaneous nervous breakdowns. Dani is in tears over the fact that their room looks the same as their room from last year and that she lives with Dan.

Jenna reassures her that everything is fine, in a disgustingly cynical attempt at sabotage. She returns to Josh, and they bond over the slightly less dysfunctional state of their relationship compared to Dan and Dani's.

After some moving faux-amateur footage with that red “REC” in the corner because obviously when you use a handheld camera there's no way to remove that from the screen, morning has broken, which can mean only one thing: Welcome to the Jungle playing for no reason.

Dani tells us there was “no R-E-S-P-E-C-T in this room”, but unbeknownst to her, the audience can spell - we know she means respect.

Also a dance remix of Aretha Franklin plays in accordance with the iron rule of The Block: everything anyone ever says about anything must be matched with an appropriate song.

But enough of that, it's judging time!

The judges are a bald guy, a not-bald guy, and Shaynna Blaze who claims to be a real person.

The first to be judged will be Phil and Amity, who have attempted to capture the spirit of Bondi by filling their room with sunshine, sand and European backpackers.

“There's a lot to take in,” lies the bald guy.

Shaynna hates the mirror, because she has eyes, but on the bright side the bald guy loves what they've done with the windows – the decision to make them see-through has paid off in spades.

On to House Two, and Mark and Duncan's room.

Scott Cam tells us it is “Alice in Wonderland-inspired”, which is one of TV history's more baffling moments.

As the judges enter the room, Bittersweet Symphony, one of the best songs ever written about renovating tradies, plays.

“It's very Alice in Wonderland,” says Shaynna, who was obviously tipped off beforehand because there is literally no reason to think that this room has any connection to Alice in Wonderland whatsoever.

“Look at this clock!” exclaims the bald guy.

“That's so Alice in Wonderland!” exclaims Shaynna Blaze, who is either of the belief that Lewis Carroll was the inventor of the clock, or has invested herself so heavily in the fantasy that the room is Alice-themed that she must bellow it at herself every ten seconds to prevent her faith wavering.

The judges also like wallpaper, so really who can believe anything they say?

Off to Josh and Jenna's room, which we are told says a lot about “who we are now”.

We therefore must assume that Josh and Jenna are people who enjoy sleeping in beds and putting vases on shelves.

The judges enter the room and instantly love it.

They then proceed to describe in detail why they hate it. They then decide they really love it again.

The judges are indecisive, which is probably why the not-bald guy didn't finish dressing himself that morning.

It's Dan and Dani's turn to have their failings forensically analysed, and Dani is preparing herself for judgment by developing a bizarre tic in her right arm.

The bald guy and the not-bald guy love the room, but Shaynna Blaze has noticed that she has seen the colour of the walls before.

Her disappointment is palpable. She was expecting Dan and Dani to have discovered a completely new colour unknown to man.

The judges have also noticed that literally everything in the room is awful. Shaynna is so disgusted she can't even look at it; she rushes outside to vomit violently on the footpath.

Dan and Dani's chances, frankly, seem to have taken a dive.

And now it's time for Scott Cam to tell the teams of the judges' decisions.

Scott begins by explaining the rules to them in case of renovation-triggered amnesia.

First, Phil and Amity, who wish we could all stop living in the past. Scott details the judges' opinions, such as “they liked the mirror over the fireplace, but felt it was a bad choice for the room”.

The judges have started speaking in riddles.

Scott tells Mark and Duncan that Shaynna felt she was in Alice in Wonderland. Probably this means she felt she was “in Wonderland”, given being “in Alice in Wonderland” would involve some unpleasant anatomical contortions.

Still, it means that the gamble on finding the only person on earth who would think “big chair plus big clock equals Alice in Wonderland” has paid off.

Scott tells Josh and Jenna that the judges think they've grown up, because the judges haven't met them. Josh and Jenna also think they've grown up, despite the fact Josh still doesn't own a hairbrush. There's not much else to say because Josh and Jenna's room is boring.

Scott tells Dan and Dani that they are crap at everything. Their hope that the fact they left the door off the room would be so awful it would distract the judges from all other terrible incompetence on display has not panned out.

“We're not trying to please the judges,” says Dan, completely misunderstanding everything.

Score time, and Scott puts on a CD of the Tron soundtrack to get everyone in the mood.

He shows off his clever rotating blackboard as if he's just invented vulcanised rubber, and marks down the scores.

He then whistles, and we cut to Dan and Dani telling us that Scott has just whistled. (The best thing about this show is the way it clarifies everything beyond doubt.)

Anyway the scores are read out and Josh and Jenna have won and everyone claps.

Second were Mark and Duncan.

“It's not often we're speechless,” says Duncan, and indeed today is no exception.

Next are Phil and Amity, who are filled with self-loathing, and coming last Dan and Dani, who have come to terms with their lack of ability with cheerful equanimity.

Scott presents the “Chump jackets” to Dan and Dani – the last-placed team will don these jackets as a message to all other teams that this show isn't just about renovation; it's about humiliation.

And with that, this very special six-month-long episode of The Block: All Stars is over and we can begin to piece our lives back together.

Next week, more people will build some things and probably everyone will cry. Can you even wait???

This story Tumbling down the badly wallpapered rabbit hole first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.