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Canada’s Handyman Challenge, Episode 5 recap

By Matthew Pioro February 8th, 2012

Canada's Handyman Challenge

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The second round of Canada’s Handyman Challenge will see the elimination of two more contestants, bringing the pool from eight to six. Last week, four went home: Normand, East Coast Todd, Carl and Kyle. Before the show, I posted on Twitter the two I thought would be eliminated. In the end, I got one right. Not sure I should be calling my bookie just yet.

The show opens with the contestants getting into their black SUVs for their commute to the jobsite. After the last round of eliminations, I’m sure there is more shoulder room inside the vehicles. At the site, they all do their best Reservoir Dogs walk to their stations.

The first challenge is to make a bunk bed in two hours. The bed will be judged on its structure, safety features and portability. This challenge has a bit of a twist: each bed will be built by a team. The group of eight are split into twos and I have given them team names:

Andrew and Dana (Team David and Goliath)
Frank and Todd (Team West Coast)
Maggie and Mark (Team Alliteration)
Brad and Greg (Team Polo Shirt)

Stressing the importance and efficiency of team work, judge Bryan Baeumler says, “It would take one guy three days to do what two guys could do in half a day.”

What?! Two guys can more than halve the time of a project. I’ve been working with the wrong people.

With Team Polo Shirt, it seems Brad, the policeman, is in charge…sort of. Greg starts doing his own thing as the two seem to have different visions for the project. But as Team Polo Shirt continues to work, the two gel. They get further ahead in their project than the others. The only hitch: their bed is too high for an 8’ ceiling. At judgement time, Mike Holmes says the bunk bed was quite appealing. He calls Team Polo Shirt the A Team. I guess that Brad would be Hannibal and Greg would be Face.

The members of Team David and Goliath, Andrew and Dana, get along well. They keep their design simple and strong.

“I knew ours was built like a tank,” Andrew says.

However, like Team Polo Shirt, Andrew and Dana build their bunk bed too high. It’s also not very portable. Bauemler guesses one would have to remove 110 screws to move it. But in the end, the members of Team David and Goliath are safe.

“We should be able to rock this one. Get ‘er  taken care of,” says Todd of Team West Coast. Throughout the building process, it seems as if Todd is yelling at Frank, but he’s simply talking over his earplugs. Host Jillian Harris stops by and wonders if the bunk bed is crooked.

“It’s an optical illusion,” Frank says without missing a beat.

In the end, what the judges see doesn’t impress them. The mattresses, and by extension the sleepers, wouldn’t be well supported with 3/4″-thick strips and 3/4″-thick plywood the team used.

“They really picked us apart,” Frank says. “I felt we could be on the chopping block.”

Very prescient words those.

Team Alliteration can’t get things together. Maggie says Mark didn’t want to work with her. Mark thinks she’s not terribly handy. Designer Mark comes up with a cool but overly ambitious design for the two-hour challenge. As they run out of time, they get really sloppy. It doesn’t look good for each contestant, which is in contrast to last week’s episode, especially for Mark, who seemed to sail through the challenges. When the judges evaluate the team, the three pros ask the pair about who was responsible for what elements. Maggie points to Mark regarding the design decisions. Both admit they made mistakes while pressed for time. Although Mark says he’d happily work with Maggie again, he also subtly throws her under the bus when he tells the judges “I’m a little better with tools.”

The judges decide, however, that Team West Coast was the worst. They’re going back to B.C….or are they? No. There is one more challenge in which the two teammates have to go head to head. As with the Thunderdome, two men enter [the challenge], one man leaves [for home]. Frank and Todd each have to paint a bull’s eye, quite the physical symbol for what is metaphorically painted on their backs.

“When I saw what the challenge was, I went ‘Oh crap!’” Frank says. “I’m not a very good painter.”

Frank opts to paint with a sponge roller for better control. Todd, on the other hand, is quite comfortable with a brush and he attacks the task. He later claims that his wife wants a new colour for their bathroom every two months, so he’s had a lot of practice. At the end of the contest, it’s clear: Frank is headed home. Todd is bummed for being the one to send his pal packing. Frank gets pretty verklempt.

The final challenge for the episode is wiring an outlet and fixture to make a wall sconce. Maggie, who has very little experience in the electrical department, is sure she is going home. Greg, although a wireless technician, will have home-court advantage.

“This is really simple,” Holmes says. “Install your boxes. Drill your holes. Run your cable. Attach your switch. Tie it in to power. Put on your light.” While the overalled one rhymes of the steps, animated illustrations flash by too quickly to he helpful.

Remember folks, not all provinces and territories let you do your own DIY electrical work. You may not be able to try this at home.

Before the contestants start running wire, Baeumler tests out the challenge himself while Holmes and Scott McGillivray sit, watch and heckle. Host Harris joins in, too.

“You know Jillian, this is harder than it looks when you got these two staring at ya,” Baeumler says, slightly contradicting Holmes’s earlier claim of simplicity. Still, Baeumler finishes in a little less than 15 minutes. The contestants get 30 minutes to complete the task while the judges hover.

“It’s like having three inspectors on your jobsite, while you are doing the work,” McGillivray says. “That is a stressful situation.”

During inspection, Holmes recites code like a grade-school French teacher running language drills. Wires must be neat. Each box must have a clip within 12″ of the box. Almost everyone, even Greg, has some kind of code violation. Maggie seems to struggle the most, but ultimately her light bulb lights when the switch is thrown. The same goes for everyone else’s bulbs. So, the judges have to figure out who did the sloppiest job. They have to look at all the nitty-gritty details, or as Baeumler says, “the minutiae.” Yes. That’s right. He said “minutiae.”

In the end, it’s Maggie with four errors and Todd with five. Todd, who I had dubbed Confident Todd at the beginning of the show, is headed home. Remember how he smoked the competition in B.C. when he built a gate and had time left over for a sandwich? Mark is now the only one left from the West. Next week, he’ll be up against two from the East (Maggie and Greg) and three from Ontario (Dana, Andrew and Brad).

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Feb. 8, 2012

6:22 pm

Is it just me or does it seem that the contestants are more worried about completing the task (no matter the mistakes) as opposed to doing each step correct and not getting it all done? Is it not more important to get it done correct first then move on? Might explain why it takes me so long to get things done. :) - Jim

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