By Ken Tucker
Updated April 20, 2009 at 01:17 PM EDT

Since I never identify with Kate Gosselin more than when someone invades the family’s domain to make a repair or do some renovating — all that mess! all that ceding control to outsiders! — last night’s special Jon & Kate Plus 8 Go Green! was highly satisfying. With the help of Steve Thomas, host of Renovation Nation and formerly of This Old House, the Gosselin clan had some energy-efficiency added to their new house. Solar panels, stuff attached to the roof to heat their water — I’m not going to pretend I understood much of it; I’m not a “handy” guy.

But the interaction between man-of-action Steve and woman-of-caution Kate was priceless. Coaxing her up into the “lift” to see the solar panels being installed, Steve seemed disappointed that Kate was (a) not “excited about seeing a solar panel” and (b) kind of afraid of heights. Me too, on both counts. When Steve extolled the virtues of eco-economics, Kate pointed out that his spiel was so dull, most of it would be edited out… and it was! She was right. “It’s more fun to mock you, to be honest,” Kate said. Honesty is her finest virtue. Her jokes are better, too. When Steve told Jon he was going to be the project’s “stud finder,” he actually seemed disappointed that Jon didn’t snicker at that old home-improvement chestnut.

For a special that could have been deadly dull, Go Green! was rendered fun by Kate’s skepticism and the kids’ reliable adorableness. Hearing little Leah singing to herself, eavesdropping as the kids called the cherrypicker in their driveway a “blueberry truck”: this is the stuff that Jon & Kate does best. The work Jon did alongside Steve Thomas’ crew didn’t look like easy stuff, either. All in all, it made me look forward to a season of new, “regular” episodes.