Welcome to The Mansion
! This season, eight contestants from around the country will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, as they compete to first remodel, then to win a historic mansion! But the remodeling will be the least of their worries. Will they destroy the house before they destroy each other? Loyalty will be tested, and egos will battle. Passion will erupt, and there's bound to be an explosion. They'll be tempted by decadent luxury...how far will these eight be willing to go to be the one that walks away with the keys to the mansion?
As the premiere episode opens, we're swept away to Cincinnatti, Ohio, where we see the house
for the first time, and where we meet Jeff
, the first contestant to arrive at the mansion. Jeff is from Cincinnatti, and would love nothing more than to win a dream house in his hometown. Amanda
is the next to arrive. She describes herself as a "very forceful person," admitting "you'll either love me or hate me." The next car brings Elvis
to the mansion. Elvis is also from Ohio, and is determined to get his name on the mailbox. Kim
pulls in next, excited about the opportunity even though her husband warned her that she may be "chewed up and spit out" if she's too nice to everyone.
arrives in the next car, and he may be the most excited of all the contestants. He shrieks with glee when he views the mansion for the first time, and admits he'd "crap [his] pants" if he won. Sandi
might have different plans if she wins the house. This California girl admits that this is the perfect time in her life for such an experience. Andy
from Bethlehem, PA arrives next, and states that he's ready to play the game. The final contestant to arrive is Michele
from Brooklyn. She confesses that she's "completely invested" in this experience, and is "willing to go all the way." With a group as diverse and enthused as these eight contestants, there's sure to be some fireworks right out of the gate!
Now that the contestants have all arrived, they get to meet the host, Mark L. Walberg
, who gives them a brief introduction to the historic home they'll be living in and working on. "Pretty impressive, isn't it?" The contestants are definitely having trouble taking it all in, as Mark takes them through the house. They gasp and coo, impressed with the intricate woodwork, the massive rooms and the elegant chandeliers. They're less than impressed with the outdated kitchen, however. Michele thinks she could fix it in a jiffy, but Dan isn't so confident in her skills.
As the group moves through the bedrooms, Mark asks the contestants what they would do with each room. From the start, they disagree. Elvis wants murals in the bedrooms, Michele wants to rearrange the floor plan of the bathrooms, and Kim just wants the projects to be done by the year 2008. While most of the group is looking at the house, some of the contestants are admiring each other. "It's a beautiful house," Andy says. "And there are beautiful girls on the show. There's a 99.9% chance to meet somebody and hook up."
Next, Mark takes the contestants to the carriage house to meet the tools, see the awesome SUVs they'll be running their errands in, and, oh yeah, to learn the rules of the game. "Each week, we'll meet here and I'll tell you what your renovation challenge will be." Mark states. "I'll tell you how much money you have, and how much time you have. When time runs out, our experts--three judges
--are going to evaluate your work, and they'll reward you up to ten thousand dollars as a payday for your labor." All of the contestants' ears perk up at this. "They're going to look at your design, your workmanship, and your degree of completion," Mark continues. "If they don't like what you've done, they will take money away from that ten thousand dollars."
Soon, Mark gives the group its first project: remodeling the west wing. Yes, the whole wing--the four upstairs bedrooms, the bathroom, and the sunroom. And the contestants have to remodel everything, from floors to ceilings. Even the plumbing in the bathroom has to be in working order when the project's done. Why these rooms first? They'll become the bedrooms for the contestants for the rest of the competition.
The contestants have five days and $35,000 to complete their first project, and the job starts with electing a leader. The leader of each project will be in charge of all aspects of that project. Mark informs the group that there will be seven projects and there are eight contestants, so one person will not get to lead a project while on the show. The contestants all seem both eager and reluctant to take on the leadership challenge (if that's even possible). They start by talking about which person they don't
want to be in charge, and they unanimously choose mild-mannered Kim as that "least wanted" leader. So who becomes the first foreman? Kim, of course!
The contestants split into smaller groups to look over the rooms and make some plans. While most of the group wants to tear up and totally change the bathroom, Andy and Jeff see it as a mission impossible. Will they be right, or can the group accomplish such a big job in five days? As the group argues over the plans, Amanda predicts failure from the beginning. "We planned to fail," she states. "We failed to plan."
On day one of the project, the contestants jump into the demolition phase of the job. The west wing starts to come down, brick by brick. Some of the workers hit the hay around midnight, after a hard day of swinging sledgehammers, while a few others stay on the job until the wee hours. The late night has some people on edge the next morning (Michele) and others sleeping in (Jeff). Kim, meanwhile, is trying to keep them all together through the massive workload, despite Amanda's constant questioning and resistance.
On day two, the team handles the electrical, completes the drywall, and begins painting. The goal was to get the wiring done in time for an inspection, but the inspector won't be out for another day or two. This means that they can't close up the walls, pour the concrete, or finish out those aspects of the project. This sets Elvis off, but he turns his anger into motivation, pushing the team to work a long night, as if the inspector is still coming as scheduled in the morning.
On day three, Amanda has decided to be proactive, and not just sit back and worry about Kim's management skills. She comes up with a guide that lists all of the tasks and materials that the group needs to set its sights on. While she works on the list, Kim works on pairing up Andy and Sandi. While both contestants find the other attractive, they both admit they're too focused on winning to be distracted by romance at this stage of the game. Amanda interrupts the matchmaking long enough to share her list with Kim, who lets her usurp some of the authority. "I love her momentum," Kim jokes.
Kim ushers in day four with a group meeting, where she finally puts her foot down. She assigns the contestants to different jobs, putting her stern face on, and berates the team for stopping and starting and having "too many chiefs." Michele is impressed by the new Kim, but Amanda still isn't convinced.
Soon, host Mark interrupts the work to give the group a chance to increase their funds. He's taking two contestants with him, by chopper, to the nearest casino, where they'll put half of their $10,000 on a single bet. If they win, they'll go into the judging with $15,000. If they lose, the judges will have to deduct dollars from a mere $5,000 for any mistakes they find. Kim selects Jeff and Sandi to take the bet, and the rest of the group returns to work.
Jeff and Sandi bet on blackżand win! But Mark gives them a choice. They can either take their winnings back to the house, or bet double or nothing. Unfortunately, they take the bet, and lose their money. The group back at the house doesn't need any more bad news, as they're already fighting over the bathroom. Apparently, after deciding to remove a perfectly good toilet and replace it, Kim ordered the wrong size. Amanda and Elvis are both at wits' end, while Michele is also feeling the strain. When the gamblers return to the house, the mood only darkens.
Day five sees the group kicking into a new gear. Everyone comes together to try and knock out whatever they can finish. The bathroom's looking like a hopeless case, but the furnishings Dan purchased help enliven some of the rooms. And the group comes in under budget by more than a thousand dollars, which they get to keep for their next project.
The judges soon arrive to tour the west wing with foreman Kim. The judges are, well, judgmental from the beginning, attacking the group for a lack of accessories in the rooms. They declare the first bedroom as unfinished, because of the lack of "lush lifestyle pieces." The next room gets even more criticism, for having "loud" yellow walls and bright magenta curtains. The judges finally find something they like in the third bedroom, complementing the fact that it's been accessorized. Unfortunately, they notice Jeff's rough patching job on the ceiling, and aren't impressed. The final bedroom gets points for the wall color and furnishings, but the bad floor staining sets the judges off. And then, there's the bathroom.
The biggest complaint the judges have, which is emphasized in the unfinished bathroom, is that the group took on projects that were too big and beyond their skill levels. From the plastering to the staining to the plumbing, the judges suggest that a simpler approach by the foreman would have made the projects come together better. They even point out that the tile in the bathroom was extremely valuable, and should have never been removed. They also strongly dislike the "boom-boom room," and head off to discuss the scoring after berating Kim for not planning well enough.
The judges soon send their payday amount to the contestants, after Mark tells them all that the money will go to the foreman to either keep or distribute. They only receive $1850 for this job, in the form of checks, which Kim hands out to the group. Most of the contestants are fine with what they receive, but Andy ($93) and Jeff ($37) are both very unhappy. Jeff states, "To get a check for $37 when there are checks for hundreds of dollars, that's more insulting than getting zero." Meanwhile, Kim claims she gave Andy the check for $93 "because [she] knew he'd understand." Andy obviously doesn't "understand," and is ticked about the amount. But there's one more twist involving the checks--one of them contains a certificate for $10,000 worth of Hitachi power tools, which go to Elvis.
As the contestants head off for some food and rest, Amanda has a positive attitude about the remaining competition. "This is the first project," she states. "And now we know what went wrong, what we need. I will get elected next foreman, and we will kick ass!"
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