"The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition" S4 / E12
- B+ Community Grade
Oh no. The gang is going to try to help people. Not out of any altruistic motives, mind you, but because The Secret told them that they have to do good deeds to get the stuff on their vision boards. (Well, The Secret didn't tell them that directly -- Dee read the book and explained it to them.)
The Secret of Sunny, as we all know, is that our heroes are the lowest of the low. They are terrible, terrible people. So their attempt to emulate Ty Pennington (Charlie's hero) and change a family's life through their extreme makeover skills causes nothing but pain. "Maybe by helping other people, we can help ourselves!" Mac suggests. Well, guys, you still have to get that first term in the equation right. Let's enumerate the suffering: The Juarez family terrorized ("their place is a real shithole!" enthuses Charlie). Frank's leg stabbed with scissors ("Corta! Corta!"). Dennis's wide stance. I'm sorry, I've got to stop -- it's too horrible to think about.
Although it loses steam at the end, "The Gang Gets Extreme" continues Sunny's rise toward the slam-bang Night Man/Day Man musical finale next week. It's a near-perfect combination of rapidly muttered improvisation and carefully crafted set-pieces. The highlight of the episode -- perhaps of the entire season -- is the gang's home invasion kickoff of their makeover project. Dressed all in black, they bust into the house at night blasting loud music and yelling through bullhorns, dragging the father out of his beds and screaming him in the friendliest of menacing tones, "Hey! Where's your wife? Where's your daughter?!" The sequence is a masterpiece of horrific comedy, shot like torture porn and completely reckless in its pacing. A close second: Frank tries to hand scissors to the Juarez family so they can complete their vision boards about becoming Americans, gets stabbed, and draws a gun.
Then Dennis and Charlie, supervised by foreman Frank (until he goes upstairs for some shut-eye -- "that broke bastard's bed is soft as shit!"), start by smashing the family's possessions and planning to remove a wall via a "controlled burn." (They do them all the time on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, just off-camera.) Meanwhile, because Mac is too competitive where smashing is concerned ("you wanna have a smash-off?!"), he's relegated to the family makeover team with Dee. They take their task to be extreme assimilation, surrounding the frightened kidnapped family with American flags, lawn chairs, and a standee of Gene Simmons, if I'm not mistaken. In another brilliant sequence, Dee uses her high school Spanish to explain to the family what's happening to them: "Your house is no more. Your life is no more. We are extreme. Like television!"
And the show deploys the secret weapon of Season Four: the extended scene of almost-complete randomness. In this case, it's a discussion between Charlie and Dennis about shorts. Charlie envies Dennis's awesome fray (the secret: buy a pair of jeans that you cut off, not a pair of jean shorts), and Dennis demonstrates at great length the extensive leg movement made possible by cutting them embarassingly short.
In the final act, the big reveal is a bit of a letdown, just because Charlie and Dennis didn't seem to know what to do with their rubble house and rudimentary taco bed. ("She gets to like be in a taco everyday ... she's the ground meat in the middle!" Charlie earlier enthuses.) They stand on the pile and smile wanly. Where's the redefine-the-situation delusions of our heroes? They can't bluster their way through this one? But the kicker saves it a bit, as the whole minor subplot about Dennis and Dee's mansion gets put to bed because a very sitcom-savvy judge awards the Juarezes the house as compensation for their ordeal. "I can't believe their name isn't Juarez," Charlies muses. "Anybody else surprised by that?"
- Charlie's vision board: Pictures of Ty Pennington, so Charlie can have his awesome life. Dennis's: A yellow Lamborghini. Mac's: Impregnating Danica Patrick out in the desert on a dune buggy.
- Frank wants the mansion, and his logic, I think, is unassailable: "The point is, it's my house and I should own it."
- You need blindfolds to heighten the surprise, but Dee substitutes black plastic bags (which it turns out make it hard to breathe). Extreme!
- To buy their $3000 worth of homewrecking supplies at the local big box store, Dennis and Charlie have Papa Juarez fill out a credit card application, thereby doing him a favor by helping him envision crushing American debt. "I'm also envisioning him loading all this shit into the car," Dennis observes.
- What the hell did they do to those women's eyes?!
- "We're performing an extreme home makeover, do you not have a button for that?"