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Series / Catch a Contractor

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Why don't you just have a seat over there...
next to that unfinished kitchen.
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A Reality Show on Spike TV that aired from 2014-2015, hosted by comedian/Podfather Adam Carolla.

The premise is former carpenter/construction worker Adam, along with a husband/wife team consisting of a licensed and bonded contractor (Skip) and his private investigator wife (Alison), visit the homes of those who have been screwed over by a Crooked Contractor. The team then tracks down the crooked contractor, confront them, and shame/threaten/force them to come back and fix/finish the job, or face legal action.

The show is currently airing its third season, all shot in the Los Angeles area. It's meant to be a feel-good revenge show, with the little guy who has been taking advantage of others getting comeuppance from those that have wronged them, with Adam providing humorous commentary along with his own home improvement expertise. Its name is a play on To Catch a Predator (although the "To" part was dropped due to legal issues).

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This series provides examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: Oh Manny. Manny, Manny, Manny. The only "contractor" to show up on the show TWICE, having not learned his lesson the first time. Only the second time he was screwing over a friend and fellow Marine and his family.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Most people see Adam as just a goofy comedian, and a few contractors have gotten near physical with him. Anyone who knows Adam's background knows this would probably be a BAD idea, as he's a former boxer. He usually just looks amused whenever people try to threaten or intimidate him.
  • Blatant Lies: Some jobs are unfinished because the contractor ran out of money for the clients (usually due to their own incompetence and having to redo things), at which point they've promised to come back and fix/finish...and then disappear. One episode had a high school friend of the family lie about his credentials (forged a contractor's license), estimate (not even close to what the actual cost should have been), ability to do wiring, carpentry, well, every aspect of the job. It was pretty obvious he was scamming his "friends." In the end, after stammering and making excuses the entire time redoing the their kitchen with Adam and Skip, he finally broke down in tears and admitted to the family that he was completely full of shit about everything.
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  • Cluster F-Bomb: A few of the caught contractors have incredible potty mouths when confronted. Adam, who usually tries to watch his language (being on TV and all), completely flips and drops a bag of Cluster F-Bombs on a completely inept contractor who refused to own up to his mistakes or apologize to the family he screwed over, even after a week of being schooled by Adam and Skip.
  • Creator Provincialism: The producers and Skip have expressed interest in wanting to do the show in other cities around the country; however, due to Adam's insane schedule with his podcasting and other projects, leaving the LA area isn't feasible for him.
  • Crooked Contractor: The show looks to bust those that practice this:
    • The Criminally Lazy: One contractor left the job with the sewage relief valves uncapped, and the mother and son had been breathing in toxic fumes for nearly two years. Adam points out that even if he was legally free to leave the job because they ran out of money as he had claimed, he would still be legally liable for such an egregious action.
    Adam: There's such a thing as just being a decent human being.
    • The Plain Criminal: While some of the botched/unfinished jobs could possibly (if sleazily) be argued as within the contract, many are beyond a doubt illegal, and often, criminally negligent as well as civil.
    • One of the worst examples of this is a contractor that was putting in a roof vent for the family's heater. The vent didn't even make it outside of the roof and the family didn't know about the problem. If it remained unaddressed and the family used the heater for an extended period (like on a cold night) they could have all died from carbon monoxide poisoning or it could have started a fire. The usually defiant contractor changed his tune immediately after learning that his negligence could have killed the entire family.
  • Defiant to the End: Some contractors refuse to admit any wrong-doing, even when shown their shoddy work, contract and code violations, and even after deciding to fix or finish the job.
    • One insisted he did a good job, despite Adam and Skip pointing out exactly the shoddy work right in front of him, and was mad they were going to rip it all out and start over. He left and decided not to help finish fixing it, which earned him a lawsuit (simply manning up and helping Skip's crew finish would have avoided this, as the show pays for all the work).
    • Another, after he agreed to come back the next day and didn't show up (Adam and Skip tracked him down to a hardware store), not only got himself a lawsuit but was reported to the state licensing board.
  • El Spanish "-o": One of Adam's favorite gags is to speak like this, especially on the episode with the contractor that only spoke Spanish.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: One contractor only spoke Spanish, forcing the production to bring in a translator. While they tried to give him the benefit of the doubt during the process due to this, it became apparent he was a complete jerk, along with being an incompetent contractor, regardless of the language.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes titles are plays on famous phrases or songs.
  • Informed Ability: Due to most of the homeowners having little knowledge of construction and carpentry, they take a lot of contractors at their word that they know how to do a lot of specialized work. This usually (at least on this show) turns out to be false, as most of them are general contractors (when they're not lying about their actual qualifications as a contractor) and should be subcontracting to specialists (flooring, roofing, wiring etc), but attempt to do the work themselves (to keep the costs down and overestimating their own abilities often, if not straight skimming off the top) and end up doing a poor, if not criminally liable, job of it.
    • One general contractor attempted to install a sunlight roof into a home, and his result showed he obviously had no idea what he was doing. He put the water sealant on with double sided tape.
    Adam: I wouldn't use this tape to hang a "Kiss The Cook" sign in the kitchen.
    • One "contractor" was in actuality just an employee of a real contractor, and attempted to take a job that was waaaaay out of his scope to tackle himself. Always ask to see their qualifications, folks.
    • And another was a neighbor the family had assumed/took at his word was a contractor; in reality, he was a handyman with no license.
    • One "contractor" in Season 2 had a license, but after working with Adam Skip, he showed zero knowledge about anything. Adam surmised he memorized the answers to the contractor test but had never actually done any carpentry or construction ever.
    • One contractor didn't understand how fractions worked, and couldn't figure out how many thirty-seconds are in an inch.note 
  • Mermaid Problem: One contractor (who wasn't even licensed) painted an unwanted mermaid mural in his customers' bathroom for no apparent reason (and charged them $2,500). Despite charging them for it, he calls the painting a gift, and claims he was doing a "colonial-Polynesian fusion" and that more contractors paint mermaid murals than one might expect. Adam muses that he couldn't do anything with a mermaid because she would be half-fish.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Lamont, a crooked contractor from the third season, at first appears to be just like most of the others; a blatant liar, putting the blame on everyone but himself, unrepentant for anything he did (he even says as much), etc. And then Skip starts tearing up the floors and walls to reveal that his "work" led to the home being completely infested with black mold (thanks to leaky plumbing). Lamont immediately drops his facade and admits he's completely full of shit, and steps outside to talk with a producer about what a horrible thing he did and that he should be arrested (on the verge of tears, no less). After the house is fixed, Lamont gives the family what is probably the only truly sincere apology in the show's history. Even Adam and Skip are impressed.
    • To a lesser extent, Vic, the contractor that only speaks Spanish, has a moment like this when he sees his horrible work with the family's heating vent. He still tries to blame other people for the work, but is visibly disturbed with the news that leaving the vent in disrepair could have killed the family with carbon monoxide or started a fire.
  • Never My Fault: Many of the contractors on the show never like to take the blame directly for their shoddy work and often try to push the blame onto the homeowners, sub-contractors, or their own employees. Many also fail to realize that even if it was their employees or sub-contractors who are responsible for messing up they are still responsible for ensuring the work is done correctly and can be held liable if something bad happens as a result.
  • Not in My Contract: The standard excuse why a job wasn't finished or done correctly. As a rule, the money ran out and the contractor skedaddled. If the show doesn't teach anything else, it's that you DO NOT GIVE ALL THE MONEY UP FRONT to a contractor.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction of several of the contractors when their shoddy work is presented to them.
  • Plot Twist: One episode starts like any other, with a family complaining and showing seemingly bad/unfinished contract work on their house. When they confront the contractor, he seems competent and reasonable, and the family appears to be more in the wrong in their deal (mostly stemming from them refusing to sign a stucco waiver, either from not understanding it or just stubborn obstinacy, or both). In the end, the contractor still agrees to finish the job, and comes out more the good guy than the family. Adam stated on his podcast that the producers didn't want to use this episode because it didn't follow the formula, but he convinced them otherwise to prevent the show from becoming predictable and formulaic.
  • Product Placement: Fairly open. Sponsors' products are used often when they fix the work of the shoddy contractors and are called out by name and acknowledged as such.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Only a few contractors have outright refused to come back and help. Adam and Skip generally hound them until either they come to the job site or it becomes apparent they have no intention of showing up (and thus, earn a lawsuit they could have easily avoided).
  • Snowball Lie: The contractors usually fall into this trying to justify their actions. Often they attempt to bullshit Skip and Adam, who then point out they are not hapless homeowners, but experienced builders who know exactly what they're talking about and it's not going to work on them.

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