Eye Diy

Canada’s Handyman Challenge, Episode 2 recap

By Matthew Pioro January 18th, 2012

Canada's Handyman Challenge

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After last week’s episode in Vancouver, the host and judges are in Halifax to find the East Coast’s top four handymen. As with the West Coast competition, the Halifax event started with a group of approximately 50 folks presenting their projects made from one 4×8 sheet of plywood. In an interview this past summer, Mike Holmes said that he expected to see a lot of lobster traps.

“But I was blown away,” he said. “Halifax had more talent than Vancouver.”

Scott McGillivray characterized the projects in Vancouver as more artistic, while those in Halifax were more functional. I wonder if the judges are trying to foster some regional rivalries?

In last week’s recap, I kept a close eye on the groan-worthy puns that came from Bryan Baeumler and McGillivray. I will continue that exercise once again, as well as keeping tabs on how many times the judges find themselves “blown away.”

Anyway, on to the show…

As with last week’s episode, we see a bunch of projects and meet a bunch of contestants, most of whom we know will be in the final ten. Jeffrey, an I.T. technician with the RCMP, is the first to meet the judges with his folding stepstool. It’s quite intricate and strong.

Next is Maggie, an account representative who made a wine rack. Her project is solid and she’s quite confident.

“If we see you again, those should be full,” Baeumler says of the empty rack.

“Red or white?” Maggie asks.

McGillivray wants red.

“See you tomorrow then,” she says with a sly smile.

A gentleman named Glenn comes to the judges with an ambitious project. He tried to make a soccer ball from his piece of plywood. However, it hasn’t been completed. McGillivray figures the curved ball parts could be used to cover the domes of his balding co-judges.

“This show should be called The Bald and the Beautiful,” McGillivray says. “You dropped ball on this one.” (Zing!)

Another handyman brings in a project that gets the judges guessing. It’s a pedicure stool.

“Oh, this is for Bryan,” McGillivray says without missing a beat.

Baeumler tells the camera that he is blown away by Halifax. (That’s one.)

Holmes tells the camera that “after the first 10 that showed up, we’re like, ‘Oh no! We’re in trouble.’” I’m pretty sure he said that exact phrase last week when they found themselves overwhelmed with the quality of the projects. Maybe, this reality show is taking some cues from sitcoms and giving its characters some catch phrases.

Speaking of characters: next, Jillian Harris, the host, makes her way through the line of potential contestants and their projects. A man then wheels her in his wheelbarrow.

“Am I heavy? Because I had a few beers last night,” she says then continues to ham it up with others in line.

Back with the judges, a retired gentleman named Bruce shows his piggy-bank bookshelf to the judges, who are impressed. There’s a spiral table, a workbench and a slatted bench that all three judges squeeze onto.

“You guys are way too close,” Holmes says in the middle.

The other two each put an arm around Holmes.

“Let’s make it right,” McGillivray says and then Holmes stands up and out of the cosy formation in a hurry.

Next up is Normand and the incredibly detailed scale model of his house. He admits that it took him 250 to 300 hours to make, or close to four weeks. (He’s between jobs and used to work in the aerospace industry.)

“You are either uber-brilliant or crazy stupid,” McGillivray says.

An actor named Keith shows his night table with a false drawer, which, alas, only hides a wooden replica of a bottle of whisky. Jason, an I.T. project manager, demonstrates the portability of his excellent campaign chair. Todd, a telecommunications technician, says his chuck wagon could also be a Maritime-beverage holder.

“I’m blown away,” Holmes says. (Two.)

With regards to choosing the top 10, Holmes says sarcastically: “Oh, this will be easy.” His words are followed by a montage of the three judges saying “no,” “yes” and “maybe.” When I spoke with the judges last summer, they said that there was a lot of negotiating at these sessions. “If I let you have that guy, then I get this guy” kind of thing.

It’s up to Host Harris to deliver the judges’ decisions to the hopefuls.

“I’m going to do the dirty work,” she says to the contestants. “Those who don’t make it, remember that I’m only the messenger. For those who do, you can take me out to dinner tonight.”

The final 10 are Jason (campaign chair), Todd (chuck wagon), Carrie (a sales consultant who built a bench with matching stool), Jeffrey (folding stepstool), Bruce (piggy-bank shelf), Richard (night table), Normand (scale model of home), Greg (a wireless technician who built a rolling work cart), Keith (booze-hiding night table) and Maggie (wine rack).

Next, it’s on to the first challenge. The handyfolks have two hours to build a seat, but not just any seat. Each contestant has a “table” to which he or she must match the seat. The types of tables include a cable spool, a metal barrel, a wooden barrel, a wheelbarrow and a crate. The judges will be looking at seat’s height, structure and degree of comfort.

“I want to see thought and precision,” Baeumler says.

“I want to see if the contestants really know what they are doing. ‘Can you still bring your A game?'” McGillivray wonders. He wondered about “A games” last week. I suppose that’s his catch phrase.

Maggie’s table is an antique carrying box. She is quite ambitious with her seat and starts cutting many angles and then is not sure if the thing is going to work. She didn’t know if she would have the legs attached by the end. And yes, folks, she is wearing pink Moxie Trades boots. In a separate competition, she was judged (and Mr. Baeumler was on the panel) as America’s Moxiest Woman. I’m not sure if these boots are here through sponsorship or if Maggie’s cool fashion sense led to bigger things.

Jason built a campaign chair so one would think this competition is up his ally. He has a cable spool for a table. This item inspired him to design a chair that is like a spool turned on its side, with the base and back square for stability and support. Bruce goes for an ambitious bench to match his low wheelbarrow. Jeffery thinks he might be in trouble having to design something curvy to go with his wooden barrel. Greg has to make a wooden seat to match a steel barrel.

“I got it in my head that I was going to buckle down on my own project and not worry about what anyone else was doing and make sure I finished,” says Todd of the chuck wagon. What is it with Todds and confidence? Last week’s Vancouver Todd was also very sure of himself. Parents, if you want your son to be handy, name him Todd. (We still need to do some more research on the handiest female name.)

Normand decides his folding picnic table needs a bench. He goes for it without making any plans. Carrie builds a big Adirondack chair that may or may not have arms by the end. Keith’s project seems to go off the rails. At the end of the two hours, Greg is happy with his project. But as he looked around at the others, all he saw was stiff competition.

Now it’s time to bring in the judges. The trio walk up to the contestants as if the judges were facing a showdown at the OK Corral.

On sitting in Richard’s chair, which looks very much like a cable spool, McGillivray says, “It’s like someone punched you in the back.”

Keith admits of his own chair, “It’s the worst-looking chair I’ve ever made.” It’s rickety and uneven. Things don’t look good for Keith.

“That’s really uncomfortable,” Holmes says when he sits in Greg’s chair.

Of Greg’s chair, which complements a metal barrel, Baeumler says, “I like the look of what he built, even if it needs a few tweaks.”

When it comes to Normand, McGillivray can’t help but remark that the builder is a bit of a freak for creating such a detailed replica of his house for the plywood challenge. However, the freak gets props from the judges for his bench.

With Confident Todd’s project, Holmes liked the way the chair was braced.

“Honestly, it was pretty good,” the often-overalled one says.

When Holmes sits in Carrie’s big Adirondack chair, his feet don’t touch the ground. McGillivray remarks that Carrie’s design isn’t bad, just not finished. He isn’t sure if she’d be moving on.

“For someone who’s never built a cabinet before, Maggie blew me away [Three.],” Baeumler says.

The three judges sit on Maggie’s bench, Holmes in the middle again.

“It’s a love bench,” Maggie says.

Holmes bolts.

When McGillivray sits in Campaign-Chair Jason’s spool-inspired seat, the judge’s feet don’t touch the ground. The structure was odd to boot.

“You didn’t want us to look up your skirt, did ya?” Baeumler says as he looks under the chair. (Zing!) But the hahas come to an end rather suddenly. It seems Jason knows he’s in trouble and in an act of desperation, he starts talking about how he’d do things differently at his home.

“I don’t care what you’d do at home because we are not at your house,” Baeumler says, shutting down the contestant.

Like Jason, Bruce doesn’t do so well. His bench was low and made for kids, but the structure is dodgy with screws sticking out.

At the end of the first competition, it looks like Bruce and Jason are out. For the third: either Carrie or Keith is my call.

With the 10 contestants gathered in front of the judges, Baeumler mentions that a lot of their plywood projects blew the judges away. (Four.) The compliments get dolled out first. Todd, Maggie and Normand are all commended. Then, the bad news.

“I didn’t even think I was in the running,” Keith says to the camera. “Let’s just get this over with so I can get on the road because I have a five-hour drive to get home to Fredericton, N.B., tonight.”

Bruce and Keith are out. As for the third, McGillivray says it was a tough decision and not unanimous. It’s between Richard and Carrie.

“Carrie,” McGillivray says, “please say goodbye to Richard [slight pause because we don’t know why…] because he’s going home.”

“That was kinda heart-wrenching,” Carrie says to the camera, “but somebody had to go and I’m glad it wasn’t me.”

McGillivray asks if everyone is ready to bring their A game from here on in.

The next challenge for the remaining seven is to install a toilet (“john, loo, porcelain princess,” recites Harris) in 45 mintues. In the lot, each contestant is set up with a structure that has what seems to be a 5′ x 5′ floor and one bare-stud wall. The handyfolks have to cut a hole in the floor, install the proper flange and ring, and then the rest of the throne. As with the crown-moulding challenge last week in Vancouver, the judges roam among the contestants as they struggle to complete the project. It’s never clear if the judges presence is a help or a hindrance. I can only imagine (but dare not type) the nasty puns that will come out of this challenge.

“It shouldn’t be difficult,” Baeumler says. “The instructions are on the box.”

It turns out Confident Todd owns a campground so installing a toilet should be simple. However, he did install the wrong flange at first. Jason found a broken toilet right out of the box.

“Are you going to be No. 1 in the No. 2 department?” McGillivray asks of Jeffrey. (Zang!)

One of the things to remember is that the stud wall is destined to have drywall on it. Handyfolk need to keep this feature in mind when setting the hole in the floor. Carrie installed the toilet 10″ on centre, too close.

“I knew it was done,” she says to the camera. “I knew I was baked.”

Cut to a shot of a wax ring going on.

“Wax on. Wax off,” McGillivray says channelling Mr. Miyagi. (Pow!)

Cut to a shot of a contestant tightening a bolt to the base of a toilet.

“One too many turns and it’s a crappy day,” Baeumler muses. (Kapow!)

And the time is up. All the contestants then pose sitting on their thrones before the judges perform their inspections.

Maggie is first. She factored in the missing drywall, but the question remains: will it work? Water is poured into the tank and then flushed. It runs out from beneath the structure along the ground.

“Was that supposed to happen?” Maggie asks.

Yes. And her toilet doesn’t leak. All good.

Jason of the broken toilet has some other problems. His toilet is 1′ from the wall and leaks. He forgot to install the rubber gasket on the tank. Although Normand forgot to account for the drywall, his install is a success. Jeffrey had his confidence shattered as he knew he was making mistakes. He scratched the bowl and put the toilet too close to the wall. Still, it works. Confident Todd picked the wrong flange at first and this whole toilet is loose. However, it works.

“I knew before they got there, [my chances were] in the toilet,” Carrie says.

McGillivray lifted the poorly fastened thrown from the floor.

I’m guessing Carrie and Jason are going. Not sure about the third. Jeffrey?

“The whole idea of this challenge was to flush out three of you,” McGillvray says. (Zap!)

“We’re just going to go quick and clean and just flush it, OK?” Holmes says. (Please, make it stop!)

It’s Carrie, Jason and Jeffrey who are eliminated. We’ll see Greg, Maggie, Normand and Todd in two weeks when they face the four handymen from Vancouver and four from the Toronto group, who we’ll meet next week.

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