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'Treehouse Masters' Doesn't Get Off the Ground
May 31, 2013  | By Eric Gould  | 40 comments

TVWW's been more or less enthusiastic about all sorts of oddball subjects, from documentaries on the history of plastic to the migrating habits of eels. So when Animal Planet's new series on treehouses arrived we were all in, thinking it might just be a series as offbeat and unique as its subject, presenting all manners of hanging out, or getting hung up, in the branches.

Unfortunately, Treehouse Masters, premiering Friday, May 31 at 10 p.m. ET, doesn't get off the ground at all. It's got an earnest but cornball host, Pete Nelson, who presumably makes a living traveling all over the country constructing custom tree houses. His debut adventure takes him to Waco, Texas, where he builds a $100,000 folly suspended above the grazing plains for what looks to be a wealthy ranching family.

All apologies to Animal Planet, but they just happened to get the show in front of a TV critic who also happens to be an architect, and, in all honesty, the maiden Treehouse Masters project is pretty much an affront to architecture — and to tree houses, for that matter. It's an overblown mess of a ranch house, meant to be a family hangout to watch football, and not very imaginatively done.

True to the show's concept as an MTV Cribs for Arborists, or a Lifestyles of the Rich and Nesting, the Waco treehouse has a tiled bathroom, is fully electrified, and has a flat-panel TV screen on one wall. It's little more than a mini-McMansion that happened to get snarled up in a small stand of trees overlooking a pond. There's nothing magical or unexpected here, except maybe the overblown ideas of the Treehouse Masters producers or the bad taste of its owners.

On the upside, the B-story of the premiere episode has Nelson taking a side trip to Uncertain, Texas, to help repair a suspended fishing cabin that looks a wreck, but has had the tender care of its owner. He and his fishing-buddy group look as weather-beaten as the cabin itself, but there's a real spirit to their camaraderie, and the cabin has the authentic charm of an old lake house, with peeling paint and the mis-matched furniture you would expect.

Given the subject, you might expect the mojo and mystery of all kinds of eccentric designs built by people inspired by such structures — maybe a journey to where someone is living the Tarzan and Jane dream from the old Johnny Weissmuller movies (left).

The opening titles of Treehouse Masters tease and show glimpses of fairy-tale looking structures, and one that looks like a suspended white polypropylene pod with a mechanically telescoping trap-door stair as the only way up into it. Nelson's own treehouse is a rustic wood-and-glass box suspended outside his Seattle headquarters, so you know he's capable of much more than the cheesy ranch house in the sky.

Episode 5 (2-4 were not sent for review) gets us a little closer to an adventure, showing a writer's retreat built on an upstate New York farm. It's themed on a Thai Spirit House and has some genuine whimsy and heart. So maybe there is more branching out to come on Treehouse Masters.

For now, we're left with our introduction to the show via the Texas clunker, a bad idea tricked out to the max. And we're also still stuck with Nelson's cutesy nonsense as he closes with "people want to be in trees, and I really believe trees want people to be in them."

Yeah, maybe the trees do, but I'd like to have gotten their thoughts when the flat-screen arrived.
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Haha guess your wrong. Show is still going strong 5 years now. Ill watch for your reviews so i can ignore them
Sep 5, 2018   |  Reply
Ed Girard
seriously? Around 4000 sq ft? In a tree. I nearly pi$$ed my pants..
Aug 23, 2018   |  Reply
Ed Girard
Funny, 5 years removed and this show is still as popular as ever. It’s great that stuff like this review never leaves the Internet.
Aug 23, 2018   |  Reply
Phil Longee
I love the show. I rent but I'd buy a tree just to put a treehouse in it! My favorite is the beehive treehouse. So simple, organic, and in one tree. All of the treehouse look awesome. With all the silly flipping shows going on, its neat that people still have fun building something so essentric and different.
Mar 29, 2018   |  Reply
cynthia ellis
envy isn't pretty but Nelson's builds are.
Mar 22, 2018   |  Reply
This writer is obnoxiously an ass. He probably lives somewhere is the city wishing he could have a treehouse. Pompous ass
Mar 3, 2018   |  Reply
Despite attempts to turn like or dislike of 'Treehouse Masters' into run-of-the-mill political trolling, the view here is that it is -- (still!) -- lightweight confection, and maybe misses the mark of true adventure in outdoor life, culture and design. We checked again on the show this year, and the original opinion here on the premiere episode is basically on the mark, although we certainly do not wish to deprive anyone of their fave TV interests and delights. We also recognize, and appreciate, that TVWW has become an ersatz 'TM' bulletin board. So, keep them coming. Last I checked, I have the body-part described above, plus all the other necessary ones. –EG
Mar 4, 2018
I have always wanted to tell Pete & his great crew that because of the show I sleep better at night! I have acquired a bit of anxiety over the years with all the evil & bad behavior in humankind and watching the show before I turn in brings me peace and I imagine my own tree house far removed from the maddening crowd! Thank you Tree House Masters!
Aug 12, 2017   |  Reply
Treehouse Masters is the most warming and down to earth show in decades. Pete Nelson maybe cornball but he's for real! He's loveable, warm, original and like the comedian of every family in The U.S. He's quick and wonderfully intelligent. He can whip up a design in minutes. This is one of, if not the favorite show, I watch on TV. What are you, jealous? I look forward this every Friday night. The crew and his family are about as American as they come. Thank God he has the ability to be himself in front of the camera as well as everyone else on the show. Tory is great. She instinctively knows what makes these designs work.
I have never enjoyed anything so much in my life!!!!
Aug 12, 2017   |  Reply
debbie Lang
Pete; Please Come Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Miss you and the crew and Family...........You are the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 10, 2017   |  Reply
Gayla Myers
I am the grandmother to 4 Autistic grandchildren (from the same family) and I was wondering if you could highlight the sensory concerns/needs of the Autistic who are hungering for the input of nature to their senses. I have 5 acres of land, and would love to contribute the best tree(s) I have to create a treehouse appealing to the needs of this community. I would love to have our acreage to be a showcase for a project geared towards the growing numbers of families who have such children. Please contact me if interested. I so believe in the restorative and beneficial effects that nature (trees) could be for these youth. What a unique and innovative way to allow these children (and Adult Autistics) to commune without the cacophony of city life with its bright lights/sounds/busyness that is so often disturbing to them living a "normal"life. Let nature help them heal and deal with the world!
Jun 3, 2017   |  Reply
If by "cornball" or "goofball", you mean a polite, ernest, salt-of-the-earth family man, the kind we could use a whole lot more of, then I agree. Pete, if you ever happen to read this, don't listen to the negatives on this site. You and your crew are doing great (and skillful) work and bringing happiness to many, keep up the good work!
Feb 2, 2017   |  Reply
"Cornball" was included in the review. "Goofball" has been mentioned by readers here. As the review indicates, TVWW and the author remain as enthusiastic as Animal Planet and their host about the subject of their show. We look forward to continued discussion here about "Treehouse Masters". –TVWW
Feb 7, 2017
I love this show and I think Pete is adorable! Maybe you should read a few memes that say don't be afraid to be weird, just be you. Sure he's a little goofy, but that is who he is and I happen to like that better than a stuffy writer who thinks he's better than others. There is no reason to insult this show. It's a fine show.
Feb 2, 2017   |  Reply
Randy Metris
Really enjoy the show but one thing bothers me especially when you showed your workshop with the kids you taught them how to use a circular saw the wrong way you should never cut with the motor on the side that's going to drop off the motor should always be on the solid side of the pice you are cutting for a smoother cut
Jan 29, 2017   |  Reply
Rodal Trent
Pete can you tell me where you got your magnet glasses, I want to get a pair like them, but don't know where to go. anxiously awaiting your reply.
Thanks Rod
Nov 20, 2016   |  Reply
Almost every boy(and girls) dream; Pete Nelson helps make that age old dream come true, and he does so with style, imagination, instinct and the latest technology in the construction and human arboreal industry !
ow dare any of you jealous and vain ivory tower critics attack him; this man has integrity and talent. ALSO, I like his throwback to childhood mannerisms, as they are clever and the stuff of which dreams are made !
Oct 21, 2016   |  Reply
This show is incredibly boring and a waste of a good time slot. Pete nelson makes the show hard to watch. This guy is the biggest goofball I have scene on tv. Just listening to him talk makes me want to punch him in the face.
Aug 22, 2016   |  Reply
Denise Mays
Oct 20, 2017
Lee browning
The fact that you feel a need to punch someone in the face just because you dont like the way they talk speaks volumes of the type of person you are. I hope you are not married for the sake of personal safety to the spouse. Grow the fuck up!
Jun 29, 2017
With so many struggling to acquire and maintain shelter (housing) it's hard to have anything but disgust in a show portraying such an early juvenile fantasy of living out of a tree by a bunch of yuppie wastrels with far more money than sense. I can't imagine anyone watching such drivel compare to say, the real lives of those in "Yukon Men" or the "Last Alaskans". I hope to see the disappearance of the stupid tree house show ASAP.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
This is a creative thinking show.
Sep 4, 2016
-Jeep-USN. Ret.
Get a life for Gods sake! It's a great show & if & when I hit that Lotto, I'm callin' Pete, his crew & the beautiful & talented Tory Jones to add the finishing touches. And STOP ALL THE WHINNING ABOUT THE POOR PEOPLE "STRUGGLING TO AQUIRE & MAINTAIN SHELTER!" They'd probably piss any money away on booze, drugs & useless bling! Grow up & face reality liberal!!!

-Jeep-USN. Ret.-
Aug 24, 2016
Even after all that has been written, I still LOVE this show !! Maybe ppl should just watch for the entertainment factor ? I'm a Pete fan, and love his goofiness! And I love all the different workers ! Hope it stays on the air a long time !! :)
Jul 23, 2016   |  Reply
Dona P
My experience with Treehouse Masters was not a good one! They state they will build any tree house! This is not true! Pete came to our property in which he spends 3 hrs, that cost you $1500.00 prior to his arrival. During the 3 hours he views the property, they take videos. Then sits with you to do rough drawing. After showing him pictures of treehouse we liked, and talked budget. All seemed to be going well until Pete, said so the size your thinking about is appx. 600sq' @ a cost around $150.000. We corrected him by explaining we planned to live in the treehouse appx 60% of the time, the size we are looking for should be appx 4000sf'. Things still seemed on track, until we received an email telling us that Treehouse Masters couldn't do the job because of the size and the amount of time it would take to build it. So bottom line if you want a prefab that can be thrown together in a week or so Treehouse Masters is for you!
Jul 22, 2016   |  Reply
You're ridiculous. 4000 square feet for a treehouse??? Is that even safe to build? Why wouldn't you just contact a contractor that builds McMansions?
Jan 28, 2017
4000 square feet ??? JEEZE ! Why not just build Walmart in a pine tree. That is a ridiculous request . . . RIDICULOUS ! R I D I C U L O U S ! ! !
Oct 21, 2016
bob randall
Tory Jones is so talented. Is she married?
Feb 21, 2016   |  Reply
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