Saying Jason Russell just builds decks is like saying that Dale Chihuly just makes glass bowls.
Russell has built a reputation creating decks that erupt with flames, are outfitted with audio and change transformer-style into over-the-top entertainment spots.
Now Russell is taking his talents to TV.
On Tuesday “The Deck Doctor” premieres on the DIY home improvement network. The show follows Russell as he and his team build eye-popping decks for South Sound clients.
“The Deck Doctor” is a play on the name of Russell’s Tacoma-based business, Dr. Decks.
Russell is no stranger to the spotlight. In 2013 he built an “Alien” movie-inspired deck at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show that featured a 5-foot tall black egg for seating, green-lit “Matrix” waterfall and a barbecue that rose from beneath the flooring.
In 2014 he built a Seahawks-themed deck for the show. That deck featured a jaw-dropping water and fire display.
A 25-year veteran of the deck business, Russell builds his decks mostly using synthetic products. They allow him to bend boards into sweeping arcs.
One of the two pilot episodes airing Tuesday shows the construction of a waterfront deck on Vashon Island. Russell installed glass railings, a hidden barbecue, an integrated Adirondack chair that morphs out of the deck at the touch of a button and a retractable gangway plank.
I knew I was creating some really amazing stuff.
Jason Russell, star of the new TV show, “The Deck Doctor”
The second show, filmed in Graham, has among other things a picnic table and benches that rise up from the deck, as well as pop-up gas tiki torches.
In 2013 Russell decided his craft might make a good TV show and began shopping around for a production company.
“I knew I was creating some really amazing stuff,” he said.
Russell eventually contacted California-based executive producer Darryl Silver. Silver helped bring “The Apprentice,” “Survivor” and other reality and feature shows to television.
When it comes to unscripted TV, Silver always looks first for someone with personality.
“Jason is certainly a great character,” Silver said. “But more importantly, I respected the work he does as an artist.”
Still, it wasn’t a slam dunk. A show about deck building?
“My initial response was ‘so’?” Silver recalled. “But when I saw the tech I was sold.”
The two pilots were filmed earlier this year. Russell’s crew includes his brother Kevin, Phil DeLeon, Erin Kinzer and his son Calvin, 21.
Jason is certainly a great character. But more importantly, I respected the work he does as an artist.
Darryl Silver, executive producer of “The Deck Doctor”
Calvin, who previously had no experience building decks, provides comic relief in the show.
“They put me in front of the cameras and then something ignorant happens,” Calvin said of his appearances.
Silver calls “The Deck Doctor” a quintessential build show. But he also calls it the home and garden equivalent of “Cake Boss.”
On that show clients request and get outlandish cakes.
On the “The Deck Doctor” clients request and get fantastical decks.
“Most deck builders just deal with dimensions,” Silver said. “Jason has to create inventions for his decks. People are going to be fascinated by the stuff Jason does.”
Each show ends with a reveal that shows how Russell created the special features.
The Deck Doctor
When: May 17 (check your provider for air times)
Where: DIY Network
Do you have an idea for reality TV?
Send your pitch to Darryl Silver at The Idea Factory: tiftv.com
“We respond to every single pitch,” Silver said. “You never know if you’re going to be the next one on TV.”