the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: reality tv

Really Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

BEFORE the arrival of ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Life has never been easy for the Wilson family.  After she lost her job at the auto plant and her husband was killed in a freak explosion at an Office Depot, Deborah Wilson and her seven children, three of them disabled, became homeless. 

Deborah remarried, but her new husband — an alcoholic, abuser, and wife beater — ran away with Deborah’s sister, leaving Deborah with three of his children.  Two of his children suffer from a rare untreatable skin disease, and the third child, alas, was recently mauled to death when a Burmese tiger escaped from his cage during a class trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

The Wilsons now live in a tiny shack in the poorest section of Phoenix.

The arrival of ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Ty Pennington and his design team roll into town from Los Angeles.  They have decided to build a new home for the the family because, frankly, the Wilsons are one unlucky, miserable bunch of losers.  The Wilson’s shack is bulldozed and three hundred construction workers, whose boss wants to be on TV, quickly build the Wilson’s new 5000 square foot home.  

Every room is equipped with the latest appliances from Sears (the show’s official sponsor).  There is to be a plasma TV in every room (from Sears).  An elevator to the second floor is installed for the disabled children.  Special space suits are developed by NASA to be worn by the children with the rare skin disease.  The new house has a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a huge kitchen where Deborah can further her dream of becoming a gourmet chef.  And to help her further her goal, ABC has convinced famed Scottsdale Chef Anthony Dematto of Anthony’s Bistro to give Deborah a job as an assistant chef.


After the house is built, the design team cries.  The Wilsons cry.  Three hundred workers cry…  because their boss, who got his 15 minutes of fame, "volunteered" them all for this grueling ordeal for no pay.  A beautiful new home has been built for the Wilsons — a family desperately in need of help.  The show returns to Los Angeles — a job well done.

Three months after the airing of  ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Life has never been easy for the Wilson family.  Deborah has been fired from Anthony’s Bistro after she accidentally poisoned a customer and famed Scottsdale Chef Anthony Dematto called her "an absolute moron." 

The Wilson home has been robbed three times in the last three months by neighbors who resent a fancy house in the middle of their ugly impoverished neighborhood.  All of their plasma TVs have been carried off by angry mobs. 

Deborah’s youngest son is beaten up in school every day by bullies.  Another child is mocked as "Ty Pennington’s Love Slave."  The elevator in the house broke, and no one from the show returns the phone calls, so the disabled children haven’t been able to leave the second floor for two months.  One of the children with the rare skin disease suffocates to death in his NASA space suit. 

The wife beater who ran away with Deborah’s sister returns for the funeral service of the child he left behind.  He reveals some more sad news — Deborah’s sister has bled to death after she cut off her finger to try the "sue Wendy’s because there is a finger-in-the-chili trick."   But the car broke down while they were stuck in Houston rush hour traffic, and the finger ended up getting lost somewhere in the engine.

One good note — after the funeral, the abusive, cheating, alcoholic, child abandoning wife beater decided to stay in town, so he’s now living with Deborah again!  They couldn’t afford the upkeep of the new place, so they moved into another tiny shack.   It  feels more spacious this time around, because they had to leave some of the children behind.   The elevator on the second floor is still broken.   So, everything is fine!


UPDATE:  A network memo on The Smoking Gun shows that this post is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Beverly Hills Doctor


Living in Los Angeles does have its perks.  Today I went to my doctor for my yearly checkup, hoping to be told that that my cholesterol went down.  As usual, Doctor Fishbeck kept me waiting in the examining room for a half hour while I looked through his Golf magazines from 2001.  The door opened and the doctor bounced in, seeming to be in a better mood than usual.

"Well, hello Neil!  How’s the blogging going?"

"Very well, Doctor Fishbeck." 

"How are you?  How’s your golf?"

"Excellent, excellent.  I’m so glad you made an appointment for today.  You see, you’re here on a very special day. "

"I am?"

"Absolutely.  I’ve been invited to participate in a new reality show for the Discovery Channel." 


"It’s called "Doctoring with the Stars."  Seven celebrities are teamed up with seven Beverly Hills doctors, and each week the celebrity becomes "the doctor" and his work is judged by two prominent surgeons from Cedars Sinai and UCLA… and the third judge is the guy who played a doctor… on that TV show, Saint Elsewhere… he’s also a comedian…"

"Howie Mandel?"

"Howie Mandel, right."

"Let me see if I get this.  You’re teamed up with a celebrity, too?"

Suddenly, a man with a familiar face entered the room.  He was carrying a huge basket of Mrs. Fields cookies.  On the side of the basket, it read "from your friends at Pfizer."

It was Donny Osmond.

"Two lovely girls just brought this to you, Doctor Fishbeck," said Donny Osmond.  "They said for you to remember lunch tomorrow… and something about meeting your quota with the Prozac."

Doctor Fishbeck laughed uncomfortably.

"Ha ha ha!  Those jokesters!"

Donny Osmond looked concerned on moral grounds.

"Doctors don’t really push this stuff just because of these cute sales reps, do they?"

"Of course not."

Donny Osmond sighed, in relief.  But I was getting concerned.

"Doctor Fishbeck, didn’t you tell me the last time I was here that I should go on Prozac because I was having sinus headaches."

"No.  That’s because you were depressed, Neil."

"But I’m not depressed."

"Are you back yet with Sophia?"


"Get a good job yet?"


"I just read about that blogger Opinionista, who revealed her identity and now has a book deal.  Do you have a book deal?"


"You know, Neil.  You look depressed.  Let me write you out another prescription for Prozac."

"I didn’t like Prozac.  It made my penis numb."

"Are you having any sex lately?"


"So what’s the difference?  Prozac it is."

Donny Osmond claps, impressed with the doctor.

"I’m so lucky to be teamed with you, Doctor Fishbeck.  I’m learning so much about being a doctor.  Alyssa Milano really hates the doctor she’s been teamed up with."

"Donny Osmond, meet Neil Kramer.  He will be your patient today."

"Uh, nice to meet you Mr. Osmond, but I’m not really sure… how much training have you had again?"

"Three days.  It’s just episode one.  The finale is an operation.  But that’s a few weeks away.  Do you by chance need an operation?"

"Don’t worry about the operation, Donny!," said Doctor Fishbeck.  It will be a breeze!  I’ve seen you as host of Pyramid.  Cool as a cucumber. "

"Thanks for the confidence, Doctor Fishbeck."

"Neil, I’m going to leave you with Donny Osmond.  I mean Dr. Osmond."

As Doctor Fishbeck exits, two cameramen and a boom operator enter the room.  Donny Osmond takes out a notebook, reading from it.

"OK, Neil, take down your pants and I’m going to ask you to cough."

"Is my HMO going to cover this?"

"What’s an HMO?"

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