Second only to the \u2018procedural cop show\u2019 is the \u2018backyard makeover show\u2019 in terms of formulaic predictability. As you might imagine, I began watching The Autistic Gardener with considerable skepticism. Unfortunately my reservations were mostly confirmed but there were some glimmers of imagination and interest in this show. And there\u2019s the larger question of whether a show like this should be judged according to others in its category or overall as a piece of entertainment. Despite my preexisting irritation with the genre, I was quite intrigued by the title and concept before I watched Wednesday\u2019s episode. When you explain the show\u2019s premise to someone it\u2019s easy to make it sound intriguing because we\u2019ve all seen or heard of amazingly detailed paintings, musical compositions, or inventions crafted by people on the spectrum. But the show doesn\u2019t seem to offer any of these super-human challenges or opportunities to its amateur autistic gardeners. They touch on and explain the skills and traits that they have but don\u2019t really put them to the test. Instead they labour their social challenges. There may have been good reasons for this at some point during the production process but it feels like they\u2019re contriving conflict rather than celebrating uniqueness. The host, Alan Gardener, fits the show well. His voiceovers had moments of brilliant self-awareness, eg: \u201cThis is the bit they tell me we\u2019re supposed to recap what\u2019s happened so far\u201d. But hanging over his head like a wet sponge is a format that hasn\u2019t adapted to the concept. They\u2019ve just plunked a group of likable autistic people in a traditional backyard makeover show and watched them try to fit into it; providing frequent moments of tension, both social and otherwise. This gives viewers the sense that something is at stake, which is often important for shows in this genre, but doesn\u2019t capitalise much on the premise itself. The interludes in which Alan describes the science of autism are actually really interesting and make me think the show would have worked better as a documentary rather than a cheesy half-real reality show. We want to see the talent, grit, determination and struggle but not within the confines of \u2018Ooops-style\u2019 twinkling background music and obvious close-ups.