Have you ever started a project and realized it’s become far more ambitious than you realized? With money and time spent, the sunk cost fallacy is too great to back out, so you soldier on no matter what. If you’ve ever felt this way in the past, The Houseboat is the perfect trip down memory lane.
With a sharp wit and four pacey episodes, The Houseboat takes the best parts of home renovation shows and combines that with the banter of Top Gear. The ensuing result is a delightful hybrid of ideas that make this German docu-series well worth a watch.
In its simplest form, The Houseboat follows celebrities Olli Schulz and Fynn Kliemann who decide to buy and repurpose an old houseboat. This isn’t just any boat though, this previously belonged to German musician Gunter Gabriel. With alternate plans falling on it being turned into the museum, the pair set out to renovate this dreamboat. Only, they quickly realize this is anything but dreamy.
With rising costs and dwindling enthusiasm, the duo even contemplate whether to just pack everything in and call it a day. Spread across a two year span, the pair eventually soldier on as they bring in a number of different people to help with the project, including construction manager Max Luth.
In truth, a lot of the heavy lifting here is left to the team behind the scenes. Olli and Fynn obviously pitch in too but their best moments come from when they’re messing about and trading banter. The accompanying talking head interviews are great fun too, and their no-filter conversations help to add a light touch to proceedings.
The pace here is just about right too, with each instalment clocking in at around 30 minutes or so. There are a few moments of mundanity that creep in, especially during the mopey second episode, but the show does do well to steady the ship for the final two.
The final chapter finally brings everything together with a lovely little montage at the end, accompanied by an amusing post-credit sequence that perfectly sums up the experience these men have undergone over the previous two years.
While there’s nothing particularly outstanding about The Houseboat, the comradeship between Olli and Fynn keeps things watchable throughout.
The desire to see the finished project will inevitably spur you on to finish – and the transformation is really quite profound too. If you’re a fan of docu-series or renovation projects, The Houseboat scratches that itch and delivers a decent enough cruise to sit through.
Verdict - 7/10