Nashville: Murphywood Crossing

January 5, 2004 AD*

(*Date of rant, not episode. Kyrie Eleison.)

A brief note: All I've heard about Rick Rifle, one of today's designers, are bad things. I won't let that taint my opinion (much) but this is the first time I get to see him in action. Let's see if there's a smoking crater or a nice room when he's done, shall we?

Y'all count part 1: Paige, in her opening, used the phrase "Howdy y'all!" Using that on an episode with Laurie Smith. Hmmmm. Let's see who's more Southern, shall we?

Of course, she also uses the phrase "Wrangle the refurbishing of these rooms." which isn't so much Southern as it is, er, wince-worthy.

Get me an electric guitar, I need to exorcise this damn thing: The homeowner pairs are Kendra and Taurus on one side, and Misty and Phillip on the other.

Taurus. Whenever I hear that used as a name, I think of the short-lived Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers parody/ripoff The Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills, since one of the heroes was named Taurus. A preppy-ish white guy, incidentally; the obligatory token black guy was Apollo - yeah, you heard me, Apollo.

Problem is, when I think of that show (which was actually funny at times), I think of the theme song. It had one line: "We're tattooed teenage.... We're alien fighters.... We're tattooed teenage alien fighters from Beverly Hills! We're tattooed teenage alien fighters from Beverly Hills!" Repeated over and over and over.

You get that stuck in your head, it ain't coming out for days.

Excuse me, I need to put some metal on. Let's see what's in the Falconer playlist tonight.... Chapters from a Vale Forlorn.... The Clarion Call. Yeah, this will do it. I'm gonna leave this puppy on the rest of the episode.

Who is right and who is wrong, whose side is God really on: Except now they're showing Rick Rifle, Laurie Smith, and Amy Wynn Pastor in the designer introduction. From here it looks like they're dancing to The Clarion Call, which is about a violent and incessant civil war. Amy Wynn's almost moving in time with it, too. Maybe I should skip the metal.

EYES UP YOU BASTARD! UP! UP! (Looks.) Hey, whaaa? Rick, she's married. You can't have them, so stop looking quite so intently at them.

(Yeah, the shot's a little out of context. But it's not as fun if I show the shot where Rick's looking at the wall and Laurie's looking like... well, like something less disconcerting. This shot gives me a mild case of the creeps. And isn't that why I include most of these things? I have to control myself, or the page would be some sick shrine to Laurie variously grimacing, whining, and doing this weird kind of silent scream while she was painting the ceiling.)

Have any of these people seen the show before? Kendra and Taurus don't want a theme room. Taurus uses a football theme example. Well, maybe he's mistaken Laurie (who'll be working on the room) for a man of Asian descent named Vern. And Paige for a guy named Joe. And this for another episode. Of another show.

Over on the other side Misty (not thinking of the Pokemon theme song... not thinking of the Pokemon theme song...) and Phillip don't want a theme either, and Phillip also mentions football. What is it with these people? Why all the theme paranoia all of a sudden?

Phillip also mentions wanting a Scarface poster, which he claims is romantic because it 'keeps him going'. Yeah, nothing conjures up romantic thoughts in my mind like gunplay and the Energizer Rabbit.

He HAS seen the show before! Kendra and Taurus already have a backup plan for if they hate the room. Well, at least with Laurie you're not likely to need to remove anything from the walls, unless she goes for another Wall Monolith with Faulty Wiring.

Oh, the rooms. Kendra and Taurus have a yellow living room up for the sacrifice to Laurie's dark gods. Man, she's gonna look silly if she covers the walls with another shade of yellow.

Misty and Phillip have a room that's your average generic white/beige bedroom. Huh. Rick has a blank palette to exploit. I'm actually slightly scared.

Wall? Laurie wants to build a sheetrock wall ("With an opening", like she has to qualify that they're not sealing it up entirely.) to hide the treadmill the homeowners have in the room. Of course, it's also going to cut a window off from the room entirely, shrink the room, and make this small niche that's only good for the treadmill.

Laurie's building walls while Rick's talking "architectural". Amy Wynn's gonna have her work cut out for her.

Y'all count part 2, sort of: Laurie, grunting and almost going cross-eyed as she lugs in a large container of paint (larger than a can), she says "Have you all ever heard of..." and goes on to explain how to get paint cheap by buying incorrectly-mixed paint.

I'm not counting that. "Y'all" is one word.

What is the paint? It's almost exactly the wall color and it's for the ceiling. I'll be damned. Laurie's not painting the walls.

(Rick is using almost the same color, a bit darker, over on his room.)

The dangers of the evil double negative ensnare Laurie and refuse to let her go: She gets lost in grammar and says this is the first time she's never not painted the walls. (Shaky grammar aside: Never not painted -> ever painted -> First time she ever painted the walls.)

Programs! Programs! Can't tell a Rifle from a shotgun without a program! Paige attempts to enter the room Rick's working on. The door falls over, lacking hinges. Despite Rick mocking her, she turns on Taurus when Rick points in his direction.

I'm confused.

Sheetrock and rolled paint: Laurie, using her little finger to point at her drawings as always, lets Amy Wynn in on her sheetrock fantasies.

Rick similarly has a lot of plans. However, he's volunteering to cut the MDF needed for one of them, since he feels he's overloading Amy Wynn. Woah. I wanna see Laurie have a go at that sheetrock, then.

In a later cut to this same scene, he does the little-finger-pointing trick. You know, if it wasn't for the hair on his arm, I'd have mistaken it for Laurie's.

No wonder she normally keeps her hair kinked: Laurie's missing a piece of fabric. A yard and a half of gold mohair for pillows. Last time I remember Laurie having her hair straight (which, to be honest, looks gorgeous on her) she didn't get some light fixtures or something.

Laurie tells Paige to call her fabric people (back in Jackson) and tell them to overnight the fabric. Paige asks, "What if they say 'we sent it'?"

Laurie says "They know not to mess with me." then does her 'I just said something evil.' cutesy laugh.

How not to be romantic: First the Scarface thing, now Phillip wants Yankees stuff in the bedroom when he gets back so he can go to sleep (and wake up) thinking of the Yankees. Way to earn points with the new bride, man.

His beloved wife asks if he loves the Yankees more than her. He says "No." without a second's delay. Well, he's at least got that down. He's been trained well.

Tie me up, tie me down: Laurie, a bit later, has Misty and Phillip wrapping the coffee table's horizontal supports in sisal rope. Since it was halfway there before she started (ropeish pattern on the legs, not the other supports), this is a good idea.

Back with Amy Wynn, Rick's still explaining his plans. His night-table idea is actually sounding interesting.

Semireal Wood: Rick's using oak for his headboard, but staining it a dark walnut. As Kendra cuts the wood (with Rick's assistance) Taurus watches from his perch in the bedroom. He calls out "I love you!" even though she can't hear him. Awwww. Now this is a guy who knows that Scarface isn't going to go over well in a bedroom.

Later, Kendra stains the furniture dark. Taurus apparently "couldn't hack it" so she's doing it alone. Ah, the "I love you!" was an investment against getting out of chores later!

Sew faster, darn you! Laurie and Phillip pinned up the slipcover, now they're working on sewing it. Evidently feeling his manliness slipping away, Phillip mentions his wishes for a design featuring Scarface, the Yankees, and, as someone I know calls them, The Hated Raiders. Laurie's as disapproving as I am. She even gets in a small dig in about Phillip working on the slipcover. Good girl.

This ol' house: Amy Wynn explains the logic of the rather illogical wall to Misty and Phillip. Elsewhere, Rick and Taurus wear masks as they mix metallic powder into whatever they're painting some of the furniture with. Taurus is wearing a full-fledged air filter with the two protuberances from the sides of it, while Rick's wearing a surgical-type mask. Well, it was nice of him to use the weaker of the two. If he comes down with dyspnea, I'm sure Taurus will be grateful.

Though, in a later scene, Rick's still wearing his mask while Taurus isn't wearing his. Okay, so maybe if Taurus comes down with dyspnea, he'll know who to blame.

Laurie's actually looking worse than Rick. Uh-oh. While Rick volunteered to help Amy Wynn, Laurie's asking her to add more to the header that Laurie designed, because now that it's up, lil' Ms. Smith doesn't like it.

Paige, ever-mercurial, first sides with Amy Wynn, but then switches over to Laurie's side.

Not her day: Taurus. The name evokes images of a powerful, muscular, manly man, right? That's why he helpfully stands by and watches Amy Wynn struggle with some wood until she almost drops it.

Fair and Balanced. Oh, damn, I'm gonna get sued now. Having sided with Laurie once, Paige now criticizes Laurie's design, saying that the TV's on the opposite side of the wall from the treadmill, and she watches TV while exercising. Laurie invokes designer prerogative to shut Paige up, but still can't get the doubt out of her mind.

My solution? Chainsaw. We know where the studs are, so just let that baby rip. Hell, I'm surprised Phillip didn't leap out from off camera brandishing a running saw, screaming "SAY 'ELLO TO MY LEETLE FRIEND!"

And Paige goes unbalanced: Paige-Cam and Misty discuss Laurie. Paige says "She does has money left in her budget, which I'm, like, shocked to even admit, but it's true."

Misty lets Paige in on a secret - there's a tiny old TV lying around. We get to watch Misty's backside as the Paige-Cam follows Misty up a flight of stairs to a room full of teddy bears and one lone television. Paige objects at taking the kid's TV, but Misty reminds her that they don't have kids, the room was like that when they moved in.

Why keep all those stuffed animals around if you don't have kids? Surely someone can use 'em. Awww. That's sad. I need to hug a teddy bear all of a sudden.

Rick uncensored: Rick discusses how his duvet can be stuffed and made nice and warm, or left normal. "With all the heat in the world, sometimes you can freeze your... tail off in these places."

Lies and the lying Lauries who tell them: Laurie, her hair up for the second time today (and thus only the second scene where she's not constantly pushing it out of the way) is brandishing a can of blue-gray paint. Ice blue, she calls it.

She slaps a bit on the yellow wall that she said she wasn't painting, and then reveals that - Ta-da! - they've got to paint that wall plus the sheetrock wall for homework.

Page pops in to say that Laurie's fabric store is overnighting the fabric. Laurie calls it "My trusty... Jackson... fabric store." Looks like someone didn't pay for product placement!

Oh, and Amy Wynn did fix Laurie's botched header, despite being strapped for time.

Rick wants more oak and MDF stained for homework. He's exceedingly polite about it. He compliments the homeowners on their quality work.... Man, is Rick just the victim of bad press, or am I holding Laurie to too high a standard, or is Rick improving, or what? Because he's coming off as the nice, thoughtful designer this episode.

Looks like someone ELSE didn't pay for placement: Day two dawns and it turns out that Laurie didn't buy enough blue paint: the existing wall she wanted painted is done, the front of the new sheetrock wall is nine tenths done, and the back is... completely undone. Since they have plenty of ceiling paint left, she tells them to use that on the back of the wall. She also shows them her recent purchase of a TV wall mount.

One frame back.... The wall mount scene is rather amusing - while it contains what looks like a simple cut to a closeup of Laurie holding the box, it was shot at a different time from the audio. Laurie's hand, in the 'instant' between the wide-shot and the closeup, moves a full five inches to conveniently cover the company logo on the box! (She also moves two feet to the left - you can see the back yellow wall just over the "V" in Vector in the second shot.) These two shots are one frame apart with no break in the audio track. In case you're wondering, the word-logo she's hiding is "AVF".

... and one frame forward. Of course, her utter lack of surprise at the cameraman hiding on the far side of the sheetrock when she leaned back to check the (nonexistent) paint job makes me wonder if that shot wasn't staged as well.

Whatever happened to "problems"? No one has "problems" anymore. As Laurie and Paige decoupage their way through an art project, Laurie mentions she's having "sinus issues" but can still smell the less-than-ambrosial glue.

Later, they stuff some pillows with the newly-arrived overnighted fabric. Er, no, wait, lemme try that one again. They stuff some pillows made with the newly-arrived fabric. Even Laurie's not nutty enough to use fabric for stuffing. Paige - already mildly amused by Laurie's histrionics over a yard and a half of fabric - asks what else is being done with it. Laurie responds "This is it."

Laurie begins blathering on how important the fabric is to the room, the design, and, dare I say, the entire space-time continuum. Paige shoots Laurie a look of disbelief and then settles in to enjoy the madness of it all, acting like she understands. Laurie doesn't even seem to notice the look from Paige, as she's too enchanted by her own voice.

Elsewhere, Rick and Kendra assemble the headboard out of the various bits of wood that were stained and metallized the previous day. Taurus joins in.

You remember what happened last time you got a bright idea involving lights? No, thought not. Laurie, obviously succumbing to the madness again, tasks Amy Wynn with converting the world's ugliest light fixture (think of a wicker - except really really cheap - globe about two feet in diameter with a naked bulb in the middle) into an end table. By my math, that means it'll be the world's ugliest end table.

In a startlingly honest (or accidental) move, Laurie says "It's not even really gonna be functional...." Alas, the editors cut away the instant after she says it. They must have been desperate not to end the scene on this note, since the next cut moves backwards in time.

Before the cut, there's two mysterious wood pieces lying around - one on the ground next to Laurie's feet and another on a workbench. After the cut, they're back as one piece - albeit a piece with a saw cut through the middle of it - which Laurie separates, placing the top half on the bench exactly where it was in the 'previous' scene.

Incidentally, the wood thing is a damaged stage prop - a giant candlestick. Amy Wynn comments that it looks like a chess piece. No, it reminds me more of something from another game.... Which one.... Oh, Clue! The candlestick! Oh, wait, er, never mind.

Even more incidentally, foot fetishists will be enjoying Laurie's sandals and pedicure. (Hey, there ain't much else to look at on the ground while watching the tape for the third time to check the candlestick, I got bored.)

Less incidentally, some pieces of wood are going to be stuck to these things to provide a flat surface for glass from the homeowner's existing end tables. Okay....

Crazy, crazy art. Call Blue Man Group, at the Briar Street Theatre. Rick's newest idea, which I'll admit isn't bad: A black canvas, four different colors of paint, and ten minutes to paint something. Each non-Rick person present (Paige, Kendra, and Taurus) gets a ten minute stint.

Rick gives a glib-tongued introduction and rule rundown as Paige does a Vanna impersonation in the direction of the canvas. Unfortunately, he trips over "ten minute increments" and never quite recovers his momentum.

Rick sets the clock and pushes the homeowners away as he springs the final surprise on Paige: It's her turn. First Paige will paint something, then Taurus will modify it, then Kendra will finish it. Paige, left alone with her thoughts and a camera crew, seems shocked that Rick was serious. You think he gave that speech for nothing...?

Paige, continuing to think out loud for the benefit of the camera, says she's going to do tree-branches. That's good, with the shape of the vertical sine-like curve she was doing, I thought she was going to draw a woman.

Fleece mark it: To go with the "funky flea market find" nonfunctional end tables, Laurie has two flea market chairs of indeterminate funkiness. She puts some ugly-looking polychromatic (green-, red-, and yellow-striped) cushions of her own creation on them, taking them out of the realm of 'good flea-market finds' and into the realm of 'the sort of thing you'd expect to find at a place named for bugs'.

Thufferin' Thuccotash, Thinthetic Thithal! Laurie goes back indoors to show off her newest fabric du jour*, synthetic sisal weave. $40 a yard. 3 yards. That's what, 12% of her budget?

* Though, with Laurie, "fabric de l'heure" would perhaps be more accurate. Maudit de dieu.

You can tell he had too much fun saying that: Taurus, showing uncharacteristic glee, charges up to Paige and says "Time's up!" Paige's artwork is not looking entirely unlike a bunch of pink and red kelp, floating serenely in the water. Taurus immediately starts painting over it with black.

Y'know, if you'd told them this last night, maybe they wouldn't've run out of paint: Laurie's covering a full third of the "ice blue" sheetrock wall with the pseudosisal and some wood.

Well, not Laurie. Amy Wynn does the grunt work, Laurie points at things and talks about "my baseboard" and "my wall". Laurie needs remedial grammar, since she seems to think that "We" means "Not me".

After her decoupage is up, she says how great it is. I don't know. It's okay, but it looks like a stained-glass window that shattered and was hastily stuck back together.

VENGEANCE IS MINE, PUNY HOMEOWNER! HA-HA-HA! Paige brings Kendra around to push Taurus away and finish the painting. As it is right now, it still looks like kelp. Kelp that's emanating from some hellish pink explosion, that is. Exploding pink hellkelp, floating serenely in the black water.

Kendra adds some white horizontal sine waves.

Then she takes black and paints over the whole damn thing.

When she's done, all she has on the canvas is a white snaky thing, which looks like the epitoke of a palolo worm. (Yep, detached water worm genitals.)

A shouting match breaks out over the setting of the timer, and Rick jumps around gleefully, "This is what we're looking for!" Wow, maybe Rick is an imp of Satan.

He follows this line with, at the end of the room-refill, "I'm pleased to announce that your time with me is over." After slapping the homeowners with that comment, he soothes it over by telling them that he really loves them, and "I know you love me!"

Finale: Rick's room basically went from generic as hell to, well, not generic. While I don't like it much - red and brown don't do well with me - it has some esthetic value, and is by no means a disaster. The night tables - which are attached to the wall and not touching the floor - are gorgeous, though. Price: $999.53. Rick makes a bit of a deal about coming so close to the cutoff, but Paige tells him it's perfectly acceptable for him to get this close, to spend exactly $1000.00 if he can.

And Rick loved the carnage he sowed with his little painting game. He's already at work on the next one. I guess that means he bought the rooster he'll need to sacrifice to contact the Dark Lords of Homeowner Strife.

As for the reveal.... At first Misty refuses to open her eyes. When she does she screams, but it seems to be a good scream.

Meanwhile, Laurie's room looks like, well, like she took a room and filled it with crap. I'm sorry, but she took a decent-sized living room with a sane traffic pattern and chopped about two yards and a window off it for the sake of a two-foot-wide treadmill, then put two large, ugly, and - by her own admission - nonfunctional end tables (which are really semi-functional, at least) in the two-yards-smaller space along with the couch and other items.

I am impressed with how the ceiling paint matches up with the existing wall paint, though. Cripes, the best thing I can say about the room is that Laurie used yellow paint. Someone shoot me. Or shoot her. I'm not picky right about now.

Laurie, of course, loves the room. So much so that she looks like she's about to cry at the glory she has wrought. Judging by her expression, on the 'unmitigated joy' scale she's hovering somewhere between 'orgasm' and 'vision of Christ'.

Best quote: "It's just so fresh and now, and I loved pulling the ice blue out of that pillow." Like she stood before the pillow and screamed "COME FORTH, I COMMAND THEE!" and then all of a sudden the wall was blue. You're a designer, darlin', not a thaumaturge.

From close-up, the decoupage looks like weird pop art. Laurie's excited about it and a bit puzzled that no one else is sharing her excitement.

The rope on the coffee table looks great, I'll admit. And I do like the slipcovered couch. For looks, anyway. But what's that gold thing on the floor, about the size of a light switch panel? Seems like some kind of switch box that the homeowners used to have hidden under a couch or other such thing. But thanks to the revamp, it's in a nice spot to stub one's foot on as one sits down. Open-toed sandals and Laurie didn't nail herself on it once. No justice.

And beating out Rick's $999.53, is Laurie with $999.76. Paige mimes nail-biting and tells Laurie that "You really are at your limit." The slight disapproval runs counter to her explicit approval of Rick's budget-scraping. But hey! It's Paige! Wouldn't be an episode if she wasn't at least slightly two-faced.

The reveal is, er, interesting. Standing in the treadmill tunnel, Taurus and Kendra don't seem to comprehend that there's a new wall there. Perhaps Rick's painting game fried their depth perception.

So Paige leads them into the rest of their room. They seem genuinely appreciative, though Taurus keeps looking at the wall like it's a cardboard mockup or something. He's really glad the couch is gone (don't tell him it's slipcovered).

They like it. Or they will until they turn on the TV in the treadmill niche and learn that it's not hooked to the cable, anyway.

There's much hugging and joy when the two sets of homeowners are brought together. Aww, happy ending. Which is what we haven't seen in weeks. For that, and that alone, I give the episode my nod of approval.

Y'all count part 3: Oh, and one last thing: I listened to most Laurie segments twice (a test of my patience such as I have not seen since I had her "Chiquita Banana" song from a college episode stuck on continuous loop) and she did not once say "Y'all" or any other southern-type phrases. Yes, folks, Paige actually used "Y'all" more than Laurie this episode.

Laurie used the word "literally" (talking to Amy Wynn about the sheetrock, talking to Paige about the missing fabric) more than any particular Southernism. In a Nashville episode, no less.

So, lemme get this straight: Ms. Hickson-Smith straightened her hair, dyed it a slightly more sensible red, lost her gimmick expressions and most of her accent... simultaneously. It's like there's a Jackson Laurie and a New York Laurie, and the Jackson one was bound and gagged in a closet somewhere during the taping.

Hmmm. You think that dummy wall is big enough to hide a corpse...?

Go back! Back I say!

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

This site and everything on it are Copyright (C) The Archon 1999 - 2005, unless otherwise noted. So there.
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 subject Laurie to hideous tortures unless she promised to keep her hair like this. I like it. Images used without permission, so I'm going to Hell.

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