PAT CLARK: Sonora's Jeribai Tascoe is in the hunt to be 'HGTV Star'

pclark@modbee.comJuly 16, 2013 

Final four, baby.

That's where Sonoran Jeribai Tascoe finds himself — at least until Sunday, when the next episode airs of the competition/reality TV show "HGTV Star."

And that's pretty darn cool.

Tascoe, a self-described jack-of-all-trades when it comes to interior and graphic design, has survived as six other contestants have gone home from the competition, which will reward the winner with their own show on the HGTV channel.

The four left really are the best of this season's bunch.

Tascoe, a married father of two young boys who lives and works in Sonora, has done consistently well while vying this summer for his chance at stardom on the home and garden channel.

In fact, this past Sunday's episode was the first time he was anywhere near the chopping block, albeit only because his team fell short of winning the week's challenge. Happily, Tascoe survived, but ominous comments from the judges while they deliberated call into question his actual chances at winning.

One judge called him "middle-man Jeribai."

Ouch.

Her point was that he's not shown them much when it comes to actual design skills. Instead, Tascoe kind of has been relegated to handyman status, doing a lot of hands-on work (sometimes, but not always, by his own choice) during the team challenges that have taken over the show since the first episode.

(Note: his design skills in the first episode's individual challenge were praised, so take that, judges.)

Clearly, I'm rooting for the hometown — OK, home region — guy. But I think I would be even if he wasn't from our community. There are things about all the other remaining designers that leave me if not cold, then at least cool. To wit:

Brooks: The nutty professor (he teaches college-level interior design) is a likeable guy, but his aesthetics are too over-the-top quirky (read: ugly). He's also too quirky for TV and his camera challenges (short design tip snippets filmed and judged for their content and hosting style) have been train wrecks right down the line. That said, the judges seem to be in love with his style. Still, he just isn't good TV material; he doesn't appeal to the masses. That may be disappointing for folks who yearn to see something different on their tubes, but if you're hiring a new TV host, you're going to go with the person who will draw in the most viewers. That's just good business.

Anne: She's kind of ... um ... well; she's bossy and pushy and not what one would call particularly pleasant. Even when she smiles she seems to be slightly snarling. It's not that she's mean or awful for the others to work with or anything; she just isn't warm. Her design skills are solid, although nothing to write home about so far. But a TV host needs to be inviting and she's lacking in that department. Can she win? Probably. The judges seem to really be in her corner. Would I watch her show? Probably not.

Tiffany: Cute and bubbly, she has warmth to spare. Her designs are fine but sometimes just miss the mark of looking complete or, well, interesting. She hasn't had anything particularly interesting to say, either, during her camera challenges. But if anyone other than Tascoe were to win, I'd pick her to watch over the other two remaining competitors. Faint praise, that.

Jeribai: Well, of course I want him to win. The question is, can he? Maybe, if he focuses on highlighting his design skills, which have been clean, sharp and masculine-bent in the couple of challenges that he was able to show them off. Also important, he still needs to bring up his energy level in the camera challenges. He's likeable and has gotten better with the smoothness of his delivery, but he hasn't exactly been a ball of fire.

The problem this season with "HGTV Star" is that it's kind of lackluster as competition/reality fare goes. But the issue's with the challenges more than the contestants. The design tests leave almost no room for showing off any true creativity. Adding to the problem is that all but one of the challenges to date have been team challenges where the designers have had to work with at least one other person, so their own individual talents and flairs aren't on display.

And the season is woefully short — there were only 10 contestants, total, and they sent home two in one episode. More episodes, more individual challenges would translate into more interesting television.

No matter all that, if Tascoe were to win, it would go down as the best competition/reality show ever — at least in our little extended region.

Tune in Sunday night on HGTV to see if he makes it — fingers crossed — to the finals.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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