Nothing more comforting than other people’s misery. Is it in Help my husband is a handyman (RTL4) usually the man of the house who makes a mess of the house, in the new RTL5 program Emergency service in and around the house is the vermin (on two and four legs) that cause inconvenience, large and small disasters that spoil the living pleasure or simply bad luck or an accident. So calamities that no dear family man can do anything about. RTL5 taps into a new category of ‘heroes’, the ‘specialist calamities’.
In the first episode we leave early in the morning with sewer cleaner Clarence to Uithoorn, where odor nuisance makes life miserable for the residents. At first it started to smell “musty” in the toilet, says the homeowner, but now the air is no longer hardenable when they are eating at the table. The hatch in the floor under the dining table opens. Clarence hangs his head in the crawl space, the house cat watches with interest. Is it a coincidence that his voice sounds exactly like that of the handymen in the animated series Neighbour and neighbour?
“An open sewer,” he observes, which, combined with the flying moths, makes him suspect that the problem is somewhere in the pipe system under the floor. He uses heavy artillery. First a vacuum truck comes to suck up 16,000 liters of water, then men in protective suits crawl through the crawl space in search of the leak. Meanwhile, the residents are on the edge of the couch watching the work. The leak is found and plugged. And that’s it.
The voice-over sounds almost triumphant as he takes us to the “chic and dúre Amsterdam South”, where rats have taken up residence in the crawl space of an American resident of the neighborhood. She has lived in New York and India, she says, but she has never experienced anything as bad as rát in the house. Pest repeller Gregoor does not use traps with which you grab one rat at a time. On a previous visit, he placed a plastic barrel against the outside wall, from which he now scoops the rat bodies with a slotted spoon. A tangle of four pairs of pink legs and four pointed noses disappears into a plastic bag, hopefully nobody from the Party for the Animals is watching. Pied Piper Gregoor fills his trap with fresh bait. “Ginger nuts?” The resident asks eerily. No, fish food.
The drama that hit the owner of a jewelery store in Rotterdam is of a completely different order. During the ‘corona riots’ against the introduction of the curfew, her shop was looted and demolished. No glass plate is intact anymore, no wall is still standing, and what the looters also did very meticulously, is to take the gold jewelry with them and leave the silver. The owner’s howl – she fled the war in Iraq – is raw when she looks at the images from her surveillance cameras: “They run like animals.” The ’emergency specialists’ sweep the shards together, then it is the turn of the insurer. Another job done.
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Sometimes the accident ignites in a small corner, especially when a battery is charging there that spontaneously catches fire in the middle of the night. House uninhabitable, and all things smeared with soot, smoke and powder from the fire extinguisher. There are also specialists for that. The household effects are transferred to the headquarters of the emergency service in Almere and meticulously brushed and polished by a cleaning specialist and then returned to a spotlessly clean house. It is actually a pity that for such a major turn an emergency is needed first.
Rinskje Koelewijn replaces Arjen Fortuin until May 7.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad of April 30, 2021