Okay, so this week opens and the first thing I think is Who went home last week? I seriously couldn't remember and then it hit me: Dan. I mean, how am I supposed to remember him? There was one cute ass shot and BAM he's gone. Dan. We hardly knew ye.
So, this week, we we find ourselves greeted by amateur designer and professional annoyance, Gee-You-Really Bored-Me, er, Genevieve Gorder, at the Fire Fighter's Training Facility in New york City. Michael tries hard not to squeal like a girl, but that big man-eating grin on his face betrays his emotions. Especially when Gee introduced Chief Ciarvino, who will help judge their finished projects this week. Michael instantly pictured the chief in leather chaps and a harness. Or was that me?
Gee also announces that this is the week to mess things up, uh, shake 'em up, and she creates a Blue Team of Michael, Alex, Emily and Casey. Michael instantly dogs Alex as the snoozer of the group.
The Red Team will be Hot Tom, Curious Courtland, Nina The Bitch and, oh yeah, Stacy. Nina instantly dogs out the Blue Team as the team of crazy.
Nina? Honey? look in a mirror if you're lookin' for crazy.
The challenge this week is to design a common space for, as Vern will continually remind us throughout the show, REAL firefighters in REAL New York City firehouse. The chief tells the designtestants that the common space is a place to relax, exercise, watch TV, and hold firefighting classes and instruction.
Gee also tells each designer is to incorporate their SIGNATURE element into the team design, and I see Nina's brain twitching as she thinks, oh, I don't know, mural? Art piece? Uh huh.
And, to give the designers a sense of what firefighting is like they dress them up in firefighter regalia and then set Nina on fire and give each designer a thimble and access to a hose. Nina, unfortunately, goes up in flames.
No, they take them into a simulated fire so their can feel the heat, which will give them a sampling of what it will be like facing the judges at the end of the challenge.
THE RED TEAM
They get Engine Company #5, and meet cute fireman Chris, who sends Nina into a dither because she talks about "well good desgned" rooms. Chris ignores her, and advises the group that they would like an exercise area, a training spot to review their work and study new firefighting techniques, and a place to relax.
Nina says, "Like a spa or a clubroom"
Fireman Chris sets her on fire again. Spa? Yeah, Nina, firefighters want a mud bath and shiatsu massage and a facial after a hard day on the job. Someone get me a match and some kerosene.
Their room is actually two small rooms, with a dropped ceiling hiding a centuries old tin ceiling. Tom pees on it and claims it as his signature piece. And he wants to paint it black because, being so old--not Tom, the ceiling--it has many imperfections. And besides, black is slimming.
Nina puts herself in charge of ordering furniture because, as she tells us, she "knows better than anyone in her group and they can learn from her."
Still waiting for that match!
Tom, perhaps feeling the machismo of doing ceiling work, now wants to tear down the wall between the two rooms. Courtland, who we will be told over and over again, is a guy's guy, a man's man, manly man, goes berserk. A severe case of “Quien Es Mas Macho” ensues until Tom swears, causing Courtland to faint. Swearing in a firehouse? Have you no respect? I mean, firefighters and swearing do not mix. Anyone knows that, especially a guy's guy.
Nina, again unable to look in a mirror, calls them crazy.
The next day at Red Team Engine Company # 5, Sears shows up with exercise equipment and a 30-inch plasma TV and a 50-inch plasma TV--firefighters don't wanna miss HGTV. There is also a large leather manly sofa, and a chair and a recliner and so forth.
Stacey's signature piece is inspired by the fire pole. Stacey, a former stripper--Okay, I may have made that up--finds the pole, in all it's brassiness, encouraging and she finds a bell-shaped brass lamp, with some brass chair rail detail, and a brass painted circle with the number 5 on it.
For Courtland's signature piece, he decides to build an entertainment center, employing the Nina Method of repeating something you did in the last challenge. But he makes the mistake of making it look like charred wood when he stains it. It literally looks like he scorched it and I'm thinking firefighters don't wanna see scorched wood after a day on the job. But Courtland reminds us that he knows the mens and knows what the mens likes and he's making a manly man cave for the men.
For Nina's signature piece, she decides to tale a "singular moment in art"--for the third, fourth or fifth time. I think by singular moment, she means, I can only do one thing and I do it badly. She, um, takes a cork board, paints it white, cuts it in squares, and mounts in on the wall.
But then she tells that she has placed the squares in the shape of Braille lettering that spell out the firefighter motto of Pride, Commitment and Service. She explains that doing it in Braille shows the rest of us the things we can't see in the work of firefighters......IF we can read Braille.
Seriously. Braille art screams firehouse, dontcha know! And we should know because Nina reminds us that things should be visually understanding: It is what it is.
And it's crap. I understand now.
THE BLUE TEAM
Their firehouse is Engine Company 18, and they are lead upstairs by a different Chris The Firefighter into a large spare blank windowless featureless room.I smell tragedy. There is nothing to work with and when there's nothing to work with nothing can be done.
This Chris says they use the room for drills and instruction, relaxation and studying. I say the room is used to torture bad firefighters with it's school cafeteria turquoise linoleum. Michael calls the floor "unfortunate" which, according to my Gay-To-English dictionary, means "ugly".
Their first task is to lighten up the room with a coat of blue paint, and then double coat the linoleum. They want to put a thick coat of polyurethane on the floor in order to keep it from peeling off, but at the end of the day they have no time. So, Day Two will have to be poly'd and then they'll have to stay off the floor for four hours.
Again, I smell d-i-saster.
Well, the next day Casey and Michael get on the floor....not like that, he's a homo...while Alex helps Emily with her signature piece which will be a coffee table. Emily has never built anything in her life, and mutters about not wanting it to look like a a child made it. I don't know where the designers shop for their egos. but I want an account there. To tackle something you've never done before in a matter of hours takes extra large cojones and I don't know if Emily has them.
Alex, on the other hand.......I digress.
Casey's signature piece is a silhouette of a firefighter in full gear, and I'm thinking it's a big cheese mural until I see it in the room. It's red and bold and graphic, and I like it.
Alex, also apparently channeling Nina Of The Murals, announces that he has invented the plastic shoe so he can walk on the not-yet-dry polyurathane'd floor and paint his own picture on the wall. His will be a cityscape of New York, and again I'm thinking cheese, and again, I'm subtly impressed.
Michael decides to build a desk as his signature piece and he has even less experience with building things and with power tools than Emily. This shows itself when Michael nails his thumb to his desk. He doesn't shriek, he scarcely screams, but he does ask for all the firefighters to come to his rescue. I can't help but think that Michael has always wanted to get nailed in a firehouse, but not like this. An ambulance is called and Michael disappears for the remainder of the challenge.
Alex, and remember Michael called him a non-designing snooze, takes over and finishes Michael's desk, even though nothing matches and everything is cut wrong.
The judges walk through the Blue Team Room and the first word they utter is Wow!
They love Alex's cityscape; they love Michael's desk that Alex built; they love Casey's Firefighter silhouette, and they kind of like Emily's very childish looking coffee table.
Vern's only criticism is that they should have hung it on the wall and placed an ottoman in the room.
As they view The Red Team Room, they like the exercise section, but wish there was a mirror on thew wall. Apparently, Chief Ciarvino wants to watch himself as he works out. Gee-You-Really Bored-Me--apparently a former working girl--says she'd want to watch him, too.
They like the lofty club room atmosphere, but are confused as to Nina's piece. Do you need to see it up close? From far away? On your head? On fire?
The wall causes some stern looks and the ceiling seems to inspire fear.
And Vern is dismayed that the furniture is so large that the recliner cannot recline.
Downstairs, the teams gather and the winner is announced.
Team Blue! And Casey's art piece is the overall winner.
Team Red, in shock, must now film their host presentations.
Candice, who missed most of the challenge because she was off filming her own highly successful HGTV show, joins Mini-Me and Gee in the Judges Chamber. Vern starts off by lulling the Red Team into a false sense of security when he tells them that the firefighters loved their room. He asks the designers if they like what they did and they all stupidly say, Oh yes, Vern, oh yes.
But then he drops the bomb. He calls their room a Big fat zero......I wanted to vomit. And Gee says the room made her physically angry, which she shows by smiling just a hair less than normal. Candice, who has seen their taped pieces, is slightly kinder when she says they missed the relaxation aspect and added to the chaos.
They bash Tom for the black ceiling, asking him what it reminds him off, in relation to a fire. Um, Tom, how about that training room? You know, the one with the black ceiling burned by, um, fire?
And then Courtland gets jabbed for the charred wood wall paneling. Gee even says that most designers, when they walk into a room, would take down paneling, not put it up.
They give props, albeit mild props, to Stacey's brass inspirations, but wish it had made more of a statement.
Nina's Braille piece is carted into the room and the judges spend about ten minutes hurling tiny corkboard squares at her head. Okay, maybe that didn't happen but it should have. Gee: All I saw was cardboard put up like a bad eighth-grade craft project. No offense to eighth graders.
Nina then tries to save herself by announcing that she was solely responsible for the furniture, and has the pair of Brass Balls--inspired by Stacey, I think--big enough to admit she bought the recliner.
Doh! Vern tells her the recliner literally did not work. Literally.Did.Not.Work.
Courtland and Nina.
As for their hosting, Nina forgot all about the room and talked only about what she had done in the room, which were the two worst things in the room. Courtland goes all manly, talking about men and wood, and men getting wood, and men giving him wood. He was jittery and nervous, and twitchy and queeny.
It isn't unanimous, Gee wanted her to stay because she hoped next week Nina might create an art-piece out of tin cans that spells I'm a bad designer in Mandarin. But Nina leaves with her head held high and her ego in her luggage, reminding us all that:
I have a lot of charisma, a lot of personality and a lot of people can’t handle that. But in my life, in my world, I’m living in the Nina show.
I kinda wished she'd said it in Braille.