Do Unto Your Neighbors…
Adapted from the long-running BBC series Changing Rooms, Trading Spaces debuted on The Learning Channel (TLC) in September 2000, with host Alex McLeod (Joe Millionaire) and a bevy of interior designers ready to work their magic. The concept is simple. Every week, two sets of neighbors, each armed with 48 hours, a designer, a carpenter, and a $1000 budget, switch houses to redecorate one room in each other's home. In its original weekday time slot, the show became an enormous cult hit. TLC subsequently opened up a prime time Saturday evening slot for the show where it has thrived, propelling the tiny network—a Discovery Channel spin-off once known for its graphic surgical documentaries—into the top ten cable ratings.
Now in its third season, Trading Spaces has established itself as a nationwide phenomenon, spawning such shows as While You Were Out (TLC), Rock the House (VH1), and more. With the departure of Alex McLeod at the end of the first season, the network hired Broadway actress Paige Davis (Beauty and the Beast) to fill the void and marshal the troops. With Davis at the helm, Trading Spaces has soared to even greater heights and success. The show's rotation of two carpenters and eight designers has made celebrities of them all. If you have a Trading Spaces junkie in your house, I'm sure you already know about all the various idiosyncrasies of the show's cast, as well as their favorite episodes and a list of ideas your loved one now wants done to your home.
This self-proclaimed "Best of the Best" collection takes viewers on a nearly two hour journey through the highlights and lowlights of Seasons Two and Three, with no reference to the 40 episodes of Season One—The Alex Years. Framed by menus replicating the show's trademark style, the material is broken down into four sections: The Best Reveals—Homeowner's reactions to the updated abodes, both good (14 min) and bad (11 min), Meet the Crew—Highlight reels for each cast member (25 min), Best of the Homeowners—Highlights of the funniest participant moments (15 min), and Bloopers—The stuff that didn't make the final cut (11 min).
To be honest, I don't know why anyone would want to own this disc. If you watch the show, you have already seen 95% of this material. If you don't watch the show, there isn't really anything here that would entice you to start. You would be better off catching reruns on TLC.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame format, the transfer is a crisp, digital remastering of the series. The beautiful, eye-catching colors used by these designers jump off the screen. The Dolby 2.0 audio track is functional. This is a dialogue driven show and utilizes the center channel almost exclusively. For those expecting behind-the-scenes insights into the show, you'll be disappointed as there is little in the way of bonus features. A quick text history of the series, rules for applying to be a participant, and rolling production credits make up the bulk, with 15 minutes of deleted scenes from three episodes pulling up the rear.
This court finds Artisan and TLC guilty of collusion—milking the popularity of Trading Spaces by producing nothing more than a highlights show and charging fans $19.99 to watch. It would be different if the disc had been more documentary in nature with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, etcetera. Save your money folks and put it towards your next cable TV bill. This court now stands in recess.
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