Picks and Pans Review: Going to Extremes

updated 02/21/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

One ABC Makeover leads to another, but three's a crowd

Extreme

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Home

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How'd They Do That?

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Brand extension is big at CBS (three CSIs) and NBC (soon a fourth Law & Order), so ABC has a right to two Extreme Makeovers. In fact, the radical residential renovations on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Sundays, 8 p.m. ET) are more fun—and less yucky—than the cosmetic surgery on Extreme Makeover (Thursdays at 8 p.m.).

But the network pushed the franchise too far last month when it slapped together a spinoff with the unwieldy title Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How'd They Do That? (Mondays, 8 p.m.). Toss this one in the Dumpster.

The original EM turns me off even when it has a powerful story to tell. The Feb. 10 episode featured a man wrongly convicted of murder and stigmatized as "the snaggle-toothed killer" who wanted doctors to give him a new look after his exoneration and release from prison. He was probably entitled after all he'd been through. But his case had to share time with a makeover that included a "Brazilian butt lift" for a mother and a breast enhancement for her daughter. "We were able to achieve cleavage," the surgeon reported proudly.

Despite blatant plugs for a sponsoring department store, Home Edition deserves credit for helping people who truly need transformed living space. When a sick child can't survive in her family's house unless it's rendered germ-free and handicapped-accessible, you applaud Ty Pennington's team for going the extra mile. But if he keeps bellowing at his crew through that bullhorn and wearing out the word "awesome," even his beneficiaries might want to have him arrested for disturbing the peace.

How'd They Do That? rehashes a previously aired Home Edition and adds a few details that weren't worth including the first time. Why'd they bother?

REALITY

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