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Hope for Your Home

The latest addition to the home makeover/real estate genre is, at best, a conceptual fixer-upper and at worst a tone-deaf version of "The Price Is Right" -- with the "prize" being the freedom to stay a while longer in your over-leveraged house.

With:
Host: Kristen Kemp Becker.

The latest addition to the home makeover/real estate genre is, at best, a conceptual fixer-upper and at worst a tone-deaf version of “The Price Is Right” — with the “prize” being the freedom to stay a while longer in your over-leveraged house. Although the show’s educational in some respects given the downturn in the housing market and the rash of foreclosures, it’s hard to escape a queasy sense that TLC is exploiting the situation for reality TV drama purposes by essentially creating “Exterior Makeover: Try Not to Lose Your Home Edition.”

In the premiere, host-consultant Kristen Kemp Becker introduces a family treading water in the face of a $3,825 monthly mortgage. Her solution is to give them $10,000 to maximize the marketability of their house, either to refinance into a lower payment or lift the home closer to its $553,000 purchase price in order to sell it.

Yet what ensues against that rather sobering backdrop, as presented by exec producer R.J. Cutler, is another ticking-clock contest: While Becker stands by looking concerned, the couple (parents to an infant, by the way) race an arbitrary, Chyron-heavy countdown to their next mortgage payment (“9 Days Left!”) and whether they can complete the necessary work (“$4,879 Left!”) without exceeding their show-given budget.

In the final reel, a real estate agent and mortgage lender evaluate the house, delivering the (good or bad) news.

Frankly, it’s hard to think of a more cynical approach to an in-the-headlines topic, given that the goal here is to avoid being booted onto the street. The only compensating factor is that Becker, a Realtor herself, does present valuable tidbits about improving curb appeal, fixing up kitchens, etc., though it’s not really anything that couldn’t be gleaned from a quick Google search.

TLC hasn’t exactly been on a creative roll lately (the net’s last new program, “Ashley Paige: Bikini or Bust,” is just plain irritating), and the Discovery-owned channel’s difficulty in finding its footing triggered a recent executive shift. None of that bodes particularly well for this series.

Real estate may be all about location, but in television, timing can be everything.

Hope for Your Home

TLC, Sat. Aug. 9, 8:30 p.m.

Production: Produced by Actual Reality Pictures. Executive producer, R.J. Cutler; co-executive producers, Tim Warren, Donny Jackson; senior producers, Michael Bernstein, Beth Dewey; supervising producer, Nicola Farris; producer, Mary Lisio; story producer, Chris Rattican; editor, Jim Gilbane.

Crew: Camera, Amos Clarke; casting, Rebecca Lock, Amy Selp. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.

Cast: Host: Kristen Kemp Becker.

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