Everybody Loves (To Hate) Elissa

My Big Brother Defcon System..

My Big Brother Defcon System..

I did something Friday night I have never done in all the years of following Big Brother since it began in 2000.

In the late afternoon, I grabbed by Bank Of America handy dandy debit card and bought a month of the live feeds. If any of you out there have never watched the feeds, a simple suggestion:


Have you ever watched the movie Apocalypse Now? When you’re not watching the feeds, you’re Martin Sheen’s character, Ben Willard. When you are watching, you turn into Marlon Brando’s character, Colonel Kurtz. A few hours later, your face is covered in camo face paint, and you find yourself mumbling the same two words over and over: the horror, the horror.

What a cast we have this season! Some of you out there will find this cast unbearable, some of you will find the cast adorable. It is both a train wreck and a hot mess. But it is a cast carefully assembled to for one reason: to make Elissa Slater look as good as possible.  A control freak willing to cheat on her boyfriend inside the house here, an thirty-something housewife there, a pizza boy from somewhere else cast as the next Ian Terry, and suddenly Elissa looks much more presentable in comparison.

In another time in the annals of history, Elissa would be a human being who would only get anywhere by arranged marriages and/or deaths in the family that would place such a woman in a position of prominence by default. Everyone in that house despises Mrs. Slater.

But here’s the thing: half of the group wanted her gone yesterday. But the other half of the group wants to use Elissa to further their purposes and progress in the game, using her as a shield until Slater’s popularity runs out. The MVP vote and win for Elissa may or may not have been a setup to give her instant standing in the house she wouldn’t ordinarily have. If it were a setup, it was one with enough logic to pass as a legitimate event to the Big Brother fans worldwide following the live feeds on the social media.

So, if half the group doesn’t want Elissa gone just yet, someone else will have to exit the game Wednesday night.  Enter the follically unchallenged David Girton, the surfer dude who was caught Saturday afternoon changing shorts, apparently unaware that the cameras were recording every contour of his buttocks and privates for a few moments. David’s hobby in the house seems to be cavorting with the younger and more bossy Aaryn Gries, who spends countless moments brow beating the young lad and not allowing him to think for himself. David’s nomination was, naturally, done in secret by Elissa, who was the first MVP of the season.

The house goes on these cycles were they assemble in small groups and plot their treason every few hours or so. David appears to be the favorite to go at this time. If that takes place, Aaryn and Elissa will butt heads, probably leading to a more concerted effort to get Slater out in week two. But with three nominees to vote from, it won’t take much to redraw the battle lines once more. And even if Elissa should go, who is to say she will not come back into the game in a few weeks?  At this point of time, she is the star of the show, and I don’t think production will discard their investment without a fight of some kind on some level.

I feel they need Elissa around long enough to establish the other houseguests new to the public this season. Amanda Zuckerman, for example, is establishing herself as the next femme fatale in the lore of the series. “Handy Mandy” has gravitated to the throne of initial HOH McCrae Olson, the young pizza dude from Minnesota with a deep knowledge of the game. You would think Mr. Olson would have the smarts not to align with the Long Island born South Florida realtor with loads of street smarts and personal skills. But Zuckerman has two things going for her fanatical self: opposites attract anywhere, and some men think with their little heads as opposed to their big ones.

More in a couple of days. Right now, I gotta get back to eavesdropping on the house.

Version 3.0?

Julie Chen welcomes us to season 15 of the US Big Brother...

Julie Chen welcomes us to season 15 of the US Big Brother…

The lid was lifted off of the fifteenth season of Big Brother last night, marking the earliest a season has ever begun here in the United States.  The sixteen newbies (including the sister of a former winner) entered the house, with McCrae Olson becoming the initial Head of Household (HOH).

But as is usually case with initial episodes, there are twists and surprises.  The houseguests were told that this year, three nominees each week face eviction instead of the customary two.  Two will be placed up by the HOH as is normally the case, but a third nominee is put up by a new roleplayer, the MVP, or Most Valuable Player. Theoretically, this means a nominee could be MVP (since Julie Chen didn’t say it could not happen), and that any eviction vote can wind up in some sort of tie.  Two-way ties could be possible any week, three-way ties also seem be possible.

Will this mean that the last HOH competition will now take place with four competitors instead of three?  Will the final vote have three finalists instead of two, much like what Survivor has recently done?  Can an HOH also be an MVP?

The opening show was probably better than half of the BB opening episodes to date put together.  Julie Chen gets to operate from a much more spacious front of the house set normally seen in the versions of the show outside of ours, like Canada and Australia’s.  It was nice to show getting away from the robotic openings usually seen in the first episode of a given season.  So far, no concerns or worries.

Julie’s only faux pas of the night was mentioning that three nominees is something new in the US Big Brother, which is not accurate.  Season one could have two nominees or more if there were ties for second place in nomination votes, or if there were three way ties or more.  You’d think someone who hosted that show would remember that.

With all the changes this season, Big Brother seems to have entered version 3.0.  I consider version 1 the first season, version 2 being the last thirteen seasons, with version 3.0 being this year.  Maybe.  Possibly.

As I said in a post last year, I thought the ABC look-a-like Glass House would make the Big Brother franchise a better product.  So far, that’s exactly what happened.

The Quest To Pick A Winner

God help us...it's another Reilly invading the BB house in the form of Elissa Slater.

God help us…it’s another Reilly invading the BB house in the form of BB13 winner Rachel’s sister, Elissa Slater.

Another year, another time to make predictions as to who will win Big Brother 15.

Last year, my picks to click were Ian Terry, Kara Monaco, and Jenn Arroyo.  Didn’t do too badly with Ian’s pick, Kara was a total bust (no Playboy model pun intended), and Jenn made a respectable fifth place finish.

This year, after carefully handicapping the entries, my three picks are Howard Overby, Spencer Clawson, and McCrae Olson.  Thinking season fifteen may wind up being another “Year Of The Bros” like season twelve was.

I’m not really seeing a lot of “talent” in this year’s horse race, if you will, beyond Howard, Spencer, McCrae, Helen Kim, and Elissa Slater.  A lot of people are going to hate Elissa mainly because of her bloodline to Rachel Reilly, but I can’t underestimate her chances at winning out of hand because she may get production help. Production aiding contestants, by the way, is a topic I do NOT shy away from, so be forewarned about that as the season progresses.  But there a lot of “nags” in this year’s race, compared to the proven thoroughbreds we had last season.

AARYN: I see her as the model that goes home early, a yearly tradition in the most recent seasons.

AMANDA: Could be a dark horse pick, will depend on her social abilities.

ANDY: A contender to at least make the jury, will need luck to go farther.

CANDICE: Could be the Danielle (of BB14) of this season, doesn’t seem afraid to spin lies, probably not going to be popular in social media circles.  Another mid-pack projection.

DAVID: I don’t usually make fun of people’s appearance, but what is up with that hair? Seriously.  Probably will at least get to the middle of the game, maybe deeper, but shouldn’t.

ELISSA: She’ll make the final five, but goes farther if Grodner and company want her to.  See Rachel’s win on BB13 as to why.

GINAMARIE: This year’s Jojo, don’t see her going past the first few weeks.

HELEN: I see a lot of Danielle Reyes in her.  Has drawbacks, namely that if she was allowed to have a watch in the house and someone asked her for the time, she’d tell you the history of time pieces.  Boom or bust pick.

HOWARD: I see flaws in his social game, but might be a competitive beast based on his football days at Southern Miss.  If not gone by the jury, he goes all the way.  My pick to win.  Needs to make friends and use them as “shields” like Dan Gheesling did in his seasons, and his Bible Belt upbringing may provide that.

JEREMY: If he can’t make friends, he won’t go far.

JESSIE: Ditto.

JUDD: Ditto again.  Who lasts the longest between these three “J’s” would make an interesting “prop bet” somewhere.

KAITLIN: Has what I call “Janelle potential” in that she could be a competitive sleeper and make for good drama in the house.

MCCRAE: Loves the Hamster Watch website, so I already know this kid is a good egg. Social game and seeming easy going nature may be his ultimate strength.

NICK: A guy with too much going for him for his own good.  Might turn off his fellow HG’s quickly.

SPENCER: Don’t think he is another Adam of BB13.  More like a Roddy Mancuso from BB3.  Think he has enough social skills to go deep.


My challenge to CBS...doubt they take me up on it.

My challenge to CBS…doubt they take me up on it.

Tomorrow (the 20th of June), the cast will be revealed for the 15th season of Big Brother, beginning a week from tonight.  Maybe it’s just me, but the earlier the normal start for the season is creating a lot of palace intrigue, a buzz, if you will.

Two changes in game play have already been revealed.  This year, instead of two players being nominated for eviction, we’re going to see three nominees each week. That’s a twist that’s been floated around among fans for several years, ever since Gerry Lancaster floated the idea one day during season three.

The second change strikes me as even more confusing.  Each week, fans will vote for a “Most Valuable Player” who will have special powers yet to be announced, with the vote commencing when the cast is revealed tomorrow.

So you the fans are allowed to vote for the MVP (and I assume future MVP’s), but the producers aren’t revealing what exactly the MVP’s powers are.  This sounds a lot like last season when the fans were “asked” (I put that in quotes because in the history of the show, the voting on a specific question has never been independently audited, like you would see during the American Idol finale, for example) about coaches re-entering the game.  I thought the question was misleading, because it wasn’t revealed how the poll would be applied into the live show.

Like all of you, I’m eager to see how the promised changes factor into the season.  On Sunday, I’ll give my prediction as to three houseguests to watch in the new season.

Meanwhile, Over In The UK…

UK Housemate Sallie Axl can barely contain herself.

UK Housemate Sallie Axl can barely contain herself.

While we wait for the US Big Brother to begin in less than two weeks, the UK version of Big Brother began late this week, and sparks have already flown between Sallie Axl and Gina Rio.  Late in the second day, Rio attacked Sallie briefly, leading to a formal warning from show producers, a step shy of a DQ.

I can’t help notice that the producers across the pond have probably watched a few of our seasons. Their new season subtitled “Secrets and Lies” has generously borrowed from our version of the show, not that I mind watching a UK spin of something the US has already done.

For instance, in the cast they have a set of twins, which was done in season five in the US with the not-so wonderful twins of Adria and Natalie.  The boy twins Jack and Joe (one is gay, the other is straight) play as a single entry.  A mother and daughter duo in the house, however, play as separate entities.

In the first eviction round, one of the housemates entitled a “Head Housemate” is the only person to nominate three people for eviction.  Boy, does that sound familiar.  He is also a “people’s puppet” which is a play of what Annie Whittington’s role was on Big Brother 12 here state side.

There are differences, however.  In BB UK, the public votes out the housemates, not those inside the house.  Their show never got “Survivorized” as the US version did. Housemates getting DQ’ed is a very rare event, with housemates quitting more likely to take place due to burnout or injury. Replacements usually go into the house if that occurs.

With the diversity of the cast and the many twists BB UK uses in their nominating procedures, it’s hard to predict who’ll win a given season, much more so than the US version.  If I had to guess at this point, I’d keep my eye on the Jack/Joe tandem.

The Great Gambit

Hard to believe three Sundays from now I’ll be talking to you about the first few days of Big Brother the 15th, but yet here we are.  Bless those of you who have already bought the subscription to watch the season.  As for me, I like to know WHAT I am buying before I buy, like what the casting twist is this year.  I follow the old adage of never buying a pig in a poke.

The rumors of what and who the casting twists are fill the Internet like mold on a carpet. Until we know, we do not know.  What we do know, however, is the season is likely to be the longest in US history, surpassing the first season under the International format (houseguests choosing two people for eviction, audience decides who goes) that went 88 days.  CBS is promoting a “100 day summer” with very credible sources saying the show will last 13 weeks at least.

I am not convinced a longer show will make for a better show.  The reason I always thought the seasons were lasting generally less than 80 days was mental fatigue both of the audience and the houseguests kicks in at around 60 days.  BB2’s Nicole and BB3’s Marcellas having the most notable breakdowns in judgment for all the world to see. (Dingo over at Hamster Watch reminds me that Jennifer “Nakomis” Dedmon had a legendary breakdown before she left the house after 75 days in BB5.  Good catch.)  Also, when the show hits September and football season rolls around, the audience that watches these shows usually goes with it.

But without so many of the reality shows the started in the 2000’s on a downturn (Survivor, for example) and the Big Brother franchise threatened by an imitator last season over on ABC, it would only make sense that CBS would make some moves to shake things up. Then again, how many times over recent years has Grodner/CBS/et al promised big changes, but the changes turned out to be merely temporary and cosmetic?

More next Sunday.  Finally, a programming reminder of sorts: I will be doing commentaries this year on Sundays only, unless events warrant.  Until then, drive and live life safely.

Switching Channels

It was announced over the past week that TV Guide Network (now owned by CBS itself) has acquired the rights to air the late night program Big Brother After Dark, freeing Showtime’s menagerie of networks to go back to airing late night soft-core porn, I suppose.

At first, I thought the move was tremendous for CBS, despite the show being reduced from three hours a night to two.  While TVGN doesn’t air on my basic cable outlet here in Pinellas County, that can’t be said for most cable systems across the country. It seemed to many Big Brother fans in the Twitterverse as a move backwards, however.  They pointed out that TVGN’s content does not air in high definition as the bullet point to show that this was a regressive move, not a progressive one.

Now that it’s been revealed that CBS has bought TVGN, I would simply say not so fast. There’s more of this story that remains to be played out, including how the season will be shown online, as CBS.com takes over from Real Networks providing their video content. Stay tuned.