Tue, November 04, 2003

This Old House

I’m sure some of my faithful readers wonder about the eccentric juxtaposition of topics discussed on this site. I occasionally wonder at it myself, but then I run across other truly strange sites and enjoy a good laugh at how odd my site must appear in return. One recent site was The New Wookiee Workshop, a site that combines a love of woodworking, and of the New Yankee Workshop in particular, with Star Wars fandom. It’s a brilliant site that mimics and I’d say improves on the appearance of the original. As they say, it’s “Not Quite the Norm.”

A Sunday family tradition has been to watch This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. We watch it enough that we were quite surprised to see Kevin O’Connor replace Steve Thomas as the host of This Old House. In trying to find out what had happened to Steve, I noticed that Steve was awarded a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997-1998 and has a total of eight nominations for “Outstanding Service Show Host”. How amusing! It always came across to me on the show that Steve was basically incompetent and therefore asked a bunch of questions. Apparently he’s fairly knowledgeable, has renovated several old houses of his own, and just plays stupid on T.V. He sure had me fooled. Kevin O’Connor apparently doesn’t have that benefit at the moment—he’s asking the questions because he really doesn’t know. Although I’m sure he’ll learn over time, it will be interesting to see how a bank vice president approaches the show. I was most struck by how similar he acts and looks to Steve. Perhaps that’s just because he’s been a long time fan.

I found a number of stories about Kevin joining the show and Steve leaving. This Post-Gazette story provides a nice background on Kevin’s hiring. And this North Shore Sunday article talks about the first episode as well as the hiring.

But what about Steve? In a footnote added to Kevin O’Connor’s new host bio, it says that Steve left voluntarily to pursue other creative opportunities both in front of and behind the camera. How will the fans react? As the Post-Gazette story says:

Steve Thomas fans will no doubt be disappointed at his exodus, but the show has weathered a change like this before: In 1989, when Thomas took over after the contentious departure of Bob Vila, Vila’s fans were slow to accept Thomas, who brought a confident manner and an eclectic background as a carpenter, sailor, writer and world traveler to the show.

In the years since, Abrams, Trethewey and Silva have slowly eased into more prominent on-camera roles than they had with Vila. Each one now hosts different aspects of the show, speaking directly to viewers instead of to the host. By the end of the Steve Thomas era, “This Old House” was almost an ensemble piece, sort of a “Friends” with toolbelts.

Yes, we certainly weren’t watching the show for Steve. I’m sure Kevin will do just fine.

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