Atlanta: Highlands Trace

December 22, 2003 AD*

(*Date of rant, not episode. No, really, that's the name of the place.)

Half a heart: Yes, this is the Hildi Cardboard episode. I didn't want to do a synopsis of this episode, mostly because of Hildi's abomination of a room - in a recent report, the homeowners claim to have heard estimates in the $3,000 - $4,000 range just to put their room back to livable.

But.... I really liked Frank's room. And I feel it deserves some attention. So I'm gritting my teeth and charging forward. Catch is, if I start talking about Hildi's room too much, I know I'm going to rant. So please forgive me if I skimp on discussing her scenes. Long story short: Liquid nails holding cardboard. Onto wall. Onto ceiling. Onto everything. All the furniture was replaced with cardboard furniture. Candles were strategically placed so as to create a fire hazard. I'll explain the homeowners later.

When castmembers attack: During the meet-the-cast opening, with Frank holding a 'possum (nasty little buggers, those things are) and Ty tapping a beaver on the a nose with a carrot (instead of, say, feeding it), I'm surprised this was still Trading Spaces and not When Animals Attack Part 43.5: When Publicity Shoots Go Horribly Wrong.

And the first set of victims.... Suzie and Doug, who will be working with Hildi. Frank will be working on their bedroom.

Limp to it! Elise and Sam will be working with Frank while Hildi attacks their guest bedroom. Sam's at a bit of a disadvantage, with a leg brace-type affair. Notice they never get people with broken arms?:)

Elise doesn't want Hildi to do something that will ruin walls. Uh-oh.

What have you done with our Frank? Frank's thinking Bavarian Inn. Which means minimal arts & crafts. I'm impressed.

Paige Davis was found dead today.... The room-clearing shows Paige lying under the now-matressless bed, with what looks like some kind of painter's tape 'chalk line' around her. Good thing Sam seems easy-going; with all Paige's mimicing and teasing of him and his bad leg, a less-stable person might help her try out that role for real!

Lawful neutral: Frank's colors are all neutral or subdued colors: Brownish for the roof, beigeish for the walls, whitish for the soon-to-be-installed wainscotting.

Chaotic neutral: Hildi is using a yellowish for her trim. During the painting, Suzie mentions that Sam's mother-in-law uses the room. It takes a few seconds for her to puzzle out that that's Elise's mother. I guess Hildi's used to polygamy, or something.

Neutral evil: Frank asks Sam and Elise what the worst-case scenario for their room is. Frank! Winding the homeowners up? I thought you were warm and caring, and now you're doing this! I'd expect this of Doug (the designer, not the homeowner) but not you! How could you do this after all we've been through?! That's it! I'm going home to mother.

(Blinks.) Er, yes, well, ahem. What I mean to say is... er....

Anyway, Sam thinks the worst-case would be red paint. You foolish, foolish man.

Elise hits the (liquid) nail on the head with a crazy wall treatment that can't be removed.

CRUSH HER! CRUSH HER! STREET PIZZA! Hildi and Paige are helping Hildi's friend Chris back up her truckload of cardboard. Hildi keeps telling him to back up even when Paige thinks its a bad idea - mostly because the big Trading Spaces truck is only a few feet away, and Paige and Hildi are in the space between the two vehicles. As much as I'd like to see it, Paige and Hildi crushed between two large pieces of metal and plastic just isn't the sort of thing TLC's willing to show. Yet.

Paige is surprised and mildly horrified that cardboard will be going up on the walls.

Shhhhh. Frank wants Ty to make a silent butler. (Think of a chair with a tall back and a built-in coat hanger. Surprisingly, Ty misses making a wiseass procreation comment, instead, making a burning-cigarette comment.

The bed of Penncrustes: Ty fares worse with his plans for Hildi's bed. She doesn't think the color will go well with cardboard.

What color does go well with cardboard walls? "Homeless drunk" isn't a color. At least, I hope not. "Y'all, this isn't green, it's 'homeless drunk'."


Frank continues his descent into the Dark Side: While showing Sam how to dry-brush some of the accessories (pillars, vases), Frank asks if they want stuff glued to their walls.

Meanwhile, Suzie and Doug are asking Hildi how their neighbors will remove the cardboard from the walls if they don't like it. Hildi basically says she doesn't give a damn if it is possible. Oy.

Yeah, his wife. Cope, people. Frank mentions getting his wife to overnight some doodads for the room that he had bought but not decided to use until he saw the room in person.

Darth Carpenter: While Ty might be right on the wainscotting being better left natural (I don't know, I don't like wood that much), it was incredibly evil of him to tell Sam (for benefit of the cameras) how impossible it is to remove liquid nails (such as Hildi's using on the cardboard). Ty, I thought you were warm and caring, and now you're.... Oh, wait, no, I didn't think that. Sorry!

Gum in the hair, version 2.0: Hildi, showing her expertise with a caulking gun, not only covers the wall in liquid nails, she almost covers the seated Paige in it as excess (from firing the gun one too many times, methinks) starts shooting out while she's busy pontificating. But Doug snatches it away, saving Paige and instead (judging by how the liquid nails move) sticking the cameraman to the floor.

Fabric vs. condiments: Frank has some nice red fabric for the bed, and some brown for the pillows. In contrast, Hildi's painting a red-and-yellow cardboard "art project". It looks like someone coughed up ketchup and mustard on the wall. Paige recalls some of Hildi's earlier fiascoes, like the straw/hay on the walls.

Homework: Hildi wants her drones to finish putting up the cardboard and painting the trim (and a cubbyhole). Plus, they need to polyurethane the bed Ty's been building.

Frank wants two coats of paint on the wainscotting and some basic finishing tasks.

Day two-faced: Doug expresses the sentiment that he had high hopes for the cardboard when he saw it. Paige - the one who was acting shocked and horrified about the cardboard yesterday - tells Doug that she had high hopes as well.

Does this come out of Ty's paycheck? Yesterday he left Suzie alone with a router while working on the bed for Hildi. Now, he's left Elise alone with a jigsaw working on the silent butler for Frank. The saw suddenly starts making a different noise. Elise stops and realizes that she's cutting through the wood for the butler and the work table.

Phrozen Phood Poisoning: Sam's using a bag of frozen vegetables as an icepack for his leg, with the KEEP FROZEN UNTIL READY FOR USE warning neatly visible for the Paige Cam to find. Well, I suppose it's a use....

I thought butlers were supposed to look good: The silent butler cost a grand total of $10. And it looks it. Perhaps with some paint....

Speaking of furniture, Ty tries to help assemble the cardboard furniture. Suzie points out that the first piece he grabs is "phallic". Kind of a... limp... phallic....

Ty's various hijinks with the cardboard furniture were, to be honest, the best part of the whole room. (Talk about damning with faint praise....)

Though it says something about gender relations when Ty's ready to try various tape-and-shim tricks to make the shaky cardboard chair more stable, while Suzie realizes that they just didn't follow the directions properly and fixes it herself.

I think that's why there's two genders: Differing viewpoints. If there was only one gender, we'd never get anything done.

While on the topic of gender relations, let's talk about beds: Ty's having an easier time assembling the bed he made. Over at the other house, Frank and Paige have a confusing altercation (well, Frank's fine, it's Paige's ranting about "Too little too late!" that I fail to understand) that ends with the family dog getting a bed made of the same fabric as the cover he made for the person bed.

Bad puns and brutal honesty: From Paige's final teaser before the reveal: "When Doug and Suzie see Frank's new bedroom, will their excitement wane, or will their faces be coated in smiles? Will Elise and Sam savor their new cardboard confines, or will they just HATE it?

Bad 'til the last drop: I notice they did Hildi's reveal first. I thought they'd do it second to beat this particular horse to death.

Hildi talks about how this guest room will be great for the mother-in-law. If you want to get rid of her quick, sure. All I'm gonna say about the cardboard is that it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen, except for the wall-flowers from days (and Hildi rooms) gone by. It's not even put on evenly (I blame the medium more than the homeowners - this stuff wasn't made to be glued to a wall).

Price: $993.84, which strikes me as about $970 too much. The bed Ty made ($350) is nice-looking - except for the ketchup-and-mustard bedspread - though it's probably hard as hell.

Elise and Sam's reaction starts with laughter, quickly descending into nervous laughter and then stunned silence. Elise says "I don't hate it!"

When Paige asks how Elise's mother will like it, Elise says "I think she'll stay in our room." She makes a few comments like "A for originality!"

Frank made his $994.86 go ten times as far. I like it. The room has a real elegance, and I'm not just saying that because of what it's up against. I'd like it a lot even countered with Vern or Laurie's work. (Laurie, at least, is consistent.) Even the silent butler, which I was suspicious of from the start, fits in the room. It's like it all makes sense now that the room's assembled. (I know the designers often say something like that - Hildi did this episode - to cover for ugly items, but this time it was genuinely the case.)

Sadly, the designer chat with Frank is mostly focused on how much Hildi's room sucked, no thanks to Paige repeatedly bringing up the subject. Which is a shame, because they could have focused more on this room. This room is the sort of thing I want to hear more about. Two minutes of Frank discussing this room would have been an actual design moment that I would have enjoyed.... Wait, I'm ranting. Breathe... breathe....

The homeowners love it. But... when the two sets are brought together, Elise's "I don't hate it" comments turned more into "How could you do this to us?!" rebuffs of whatever Suzie says. Elise tries to be civil, but this entire scene has the edge, like it could devolve into a screaming match at any moment.

Final verdict? Ehhh. Frank does something entirely unlike his stereotypical folksy work and triumphs, and no one notices - not even me during my first viewing, I admit - because Hildi's turning another room into something from the dungeons of her obsidian palace on the Styx. Bah. It's bad to screw over the homeowners, it's worse to screw over the audience, but now they're screwing over the cast. Shame.

Go back! Back I say!

Beat a hasty retreat to the main page.
Run along home.

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Trading Spaces is owned by these Banyan people, or something. TLC's got something to do with it, too. I don't own those. If I did, I'd probably fire Hildi. From a cannon. Images used without permission, so I'm going to Hell.
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