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It's TV for your inner developer

September 02, 2007|Melissa Rayworth | For the Associated Press

Here's the thing about home improvement how-to shows: The wallpaper always hangs straight, the tiles interlock perfectly, and nobody ever loses a finger. In other words, things always turn out like they should.

But what if someone added a little drama?

Today, the DIY Network will debut its first "docu-soap" -- a quirky reality series called "Under Construction," which offers an oddly appealing mix of narrative pathos and how-to instruction.

DIY, which stands for "do-it-yourself," normally offers programming similar to that of its sister networks, HGTV and Food Network -- straight-to-camera, with hosts teaching you how to do things. This new show follows the lives of John DeSilvia and John Palanca, two buddies from Brooklyn struggling to run a small construction company.

DeSilvia, known as Johnny D., is the big thinker. He's a risk taker with a hot temper, currently focused on the company's first development project -- a small building with four condominium units, which he's desperately trying to construct on a budget despite setbacks. Palanca is the dedicated one, the sweet teddy bear of a guy who radiates dependability.

In between the drama, they pause briefly to teach viewers the finer points of hanging drywall or selecting high-quality lumber. Using voice-overs and on-screen demonstrations, they talk viewers through projects while pointing out tactics a less reputable contractor might use to cut corners.

It's an interesting premise: Scrappy characters trying to get ahead, plus shots of gleaming bathroom tile and custom-made marble counter tops. It's like reading "Martha Stewart Living" while watching "Ugly Betty."

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