Are you tired of your plain looking house? Do you want to impress your friends with a sick pad? Is an aesthetic right out of a theme park or miniature golf course your ideal vision of a home? If you said yes to all of these questions, I have a show for you to check out. It has the fitting name, Monster House.
When most people think of that title, they usually think of the 2006 mocap animated movie. While that movie is remembered occasionally by some, I’ve never heard anyone besides my brother talk about this show. It’s one of those shows that just took up air time, was watched occasionally by someone flipping through channels, then turned off and left in the undesirable landscape of forgotten television. That is a shame, because this show may be generic, but the episodes that I watched were interesting.
Created by Thom Beers, who also created Monster Garage and Deadliest Catch, hosted by Steve Watson and airing on the Discovery Channel from 2003 to 2006, Monster House sees a lucky family get their house completely renovated with a certain theme. These include the likes of science fiction, Vikings, Australia, and Las Vegas. Watson and a couple other people plan out the key features of this new “Monster House,” hence the title, and five more people build it to win new tools from companies that may have funded the show. That’s entirely speculation, but it’s plausible.
Here is where the formula gets interesting. In other shows with similar premises, like Pimp My Ride and Tanked, each project is usually tackled by the same group of people. We see these people interact and get a feel for their personalities, which can make the shows more fun to watch. West Coast Customs and Acrylic Tank Manufacturing are memorable names as a result. This show’s company, DamonStern’s House, which I guess is only called that since it contains the word “monSter,” uses various workers to get the job done, and these are different in every episode. It adds a sense of variety and unpredictability, which is welcome, so it is not necessarily a bad decision.
Most of the entertainment value of this show comes from the interactions between the workers. They could be working harmoniously, or they could be at each other’s throats. The “Hollywood House” episode has this old guy lamenting about how he helps his arthritis by “taking some serious drugs,” which feels so out of place for a show like this. It’s bizarre. Occasionally, the build team has one asshole who puts in either little effort or almost no effort into the job, which can lead to some understandable conflict. The episode that embodies this the most is “Dog House,” which is a two-parter with five of the most controversial members from previous teams coming together to make a decked out dog house. It may be long, but it was by far the most entertaining episode that I watched. The unpredictability of the makeshift teams really makes this show.
Steve Watson, however, is in every episode. I have nothing against this guy, but I feel he could have done a little better of a job as a host. A television host should come off as either enigmatic, friendly, or cool. Watson doesn’t really come off as any of those things that much, but he’s not a jerk by any means. He just seems like a regular dude just hanging around and occasionally helping the workers. The viewers’ attention is not gravitated to him, whereas other reality or game show hosts like Xzibit or Anne Robinson of Weakest Link fame naturally get that attention. Watson really doesn’t have many memorable jokes or notable moments by himself, but he’s not a bad person (at least I hope not). Other people may get more mileage out of Watson’s presence, and some did back in the 2000’s, as he later hosted the HGTV series Don’t Sweat It.
Rounding out the essence of Monster House is the soundtrack by Dan Mackenzie. The end of several episodes contains an original song about the theme of the new house. The instrumentals to the songs are nice, if not generic, but there’s no point complaining about the lyrics. Mackenzie may have had very little time or resources to make these songs, so I won’t be harsh on them. Interestingly enough, while reading the show’s Wikipedia I found out that the theme song actually received an Emmy nomination in 2004, which, before writing this, I did not know they gave Emmys to theme songs. It lost to Randy Newman’s Monk theme. It didn’t stand a chance.
I will mention this other song that plays in some episodes, called “The Pressure is On.” The acoustic guitar riff is nice, and Mackenzie clearly sounds energized while singing here. It’s a memorable tune for what it is.
After the build is complete, the family is shown the new house. They’re always ecstatic, but one has to wonder how fast the novelty of these houses wears off. Imagine ten years after the episode airs, the family has some guests over and they see stuff like this:
I guess it doesn’t wear off for some, since the owner of the Mad Scientist house appears to have uploaded the episode to YouTube and said in the description that most of it is unchanged!
Monster House is an alright show. All aspects of it are at least passable, but to be remembered, you need to be more than that. You need to stand out, and the show doesn’t really do that. The houses are silly, but the pictures I showed you will probably be forgotten by tomorrow. Some of the interactions among the build crew are entertaining, but they’ll also be forgotten. Steve Watson has been forgotten for years. I know I’m repeating myself, but that’s what this show is: forgotten. Not terrible, but forgotten. However, there’s a slight chance it may not be like that forever. Apparently, Monster Garage is getting a reboot. If that succeeds, could that mean its sister show here also gets revived? We’ll see.
Before I go, I need to mention one more thing. I couldn’t find any episodes from the final season, but after reading this, I really wish I could. This sounds like some life-changing material.
Thanks for reading!