Picks and Pans Review: This Old House

UPDATED 08/01/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/01/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Check local listings)

A

It is the original and still, by far, the best. In their 10 years on PBS, contractor Bob Vila and his trusty master carpenter, Norm Abram, have supervised the restoration of about 18 homes. What's great about This Old House is that it is real: the homes, the owners, the bills, the hassles. Not everything goes smoothly with these projects. The boiler needs to be replaced; the sewer pipe is clogged with roots; the money is running out. But it's nice to see these real owners living with such headaches, for it's comforting to know that you're not alone. Over the years, Bob and his homes have grown fancier. Used to be, he would point at a new wall and say that it would be painted white or something. Now he brings in a wall-covering consultant (there's a job). But still, Bob has not forgotten the secrets to his popularity: honesty and simplicity. He shows you how some projects, no matter how simple they seem, can turn your house into Son of Money Pit. He gives you great little hints and shortcuts for jobs you can do yourself, like laying floor tile or wallpapering. And most important, he shows you how a job should be done so you can tell whether you're being ripped off by the people you hire to do it. And on top of all that, this Old House is wonderful entertainment. It has all the suspense of a game show—with just as much money at stake.

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