Fork In The Road

Britney Martinez back heels her 2,400th goal last Sunday as part of her POV punishment. She also wound up going home four days later.

Britney Martinez back heels her 2,400th goal last Sunday as part of her POV punishment. She also wound up going home four days later.

Before going on with the meat of this week’s entry, I’d like to extend my condolences to Frankie Grande and Derrick Levasseur, as they have each lost grandfathers this week past. Whether they win or lose the game in the weeks ahead, my deepest sympathies go out to them and their families, and I hope the community that follows this show would take a moment to extend their sympathies as well.

This week that went by in the USA’s version of Big Brotherland claimed Brittany Martinez as its fourth evictee, but unlike the dullness that enveloped last week, there were some captivating moments this week, including a moment that will likely impact future events in the coming weeks and months as the season moves forward.

On Monday, then-HOH Cody Calafiore wrestled with the decision of who to re-nominate in lieu of Victoria Rafaeli’s POV win. One school of thought was to put Caleb Reynolds up against Brittany Martinez in the head-to-head vote on Thursday, thinking momentum would gravitate towards Caleb going home. Cody’s game allies, led by Derrick and Frankie, each wanted Donny Thompson up as a pawn to ensure that Brittany would wind up going home.  As the feeds went into “blackout mode” (so that the meeting airs exclusively on the TV show and not the feeds) it appeared Cody was going to shake up the game and put Caleb up, but Cody went with Donny as his renomination pick.

Thursday brought two more pro tempore HOH’s who wound up being Frankie (via most of the house throwing it to him) and Zach Rance.  Zach reminds me of Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman character, played so well in it’s five seasons on AMC by Aaron Paul. He is oil to Frankie’s water, the one who always asks questions and makes observations where others fail, either for lack of courage or an abundance of intelligence. He is unlike any other player I have seen on the North American shows even dating back to 2000 and Will-Mega Collins, as Zach always seems to have a counterpoint to anyone’s other points. You would think his recklessness may cost him his shot at 500K over the coming weeks, but he has executed his strategy well thus far. He might be more of a genius than anyone gives him credit for at this point, if that’s possible.

I haven’t talked at great depth about Caleb and his “nomance” with Amber Bozotra.  Mr. Reynolds vacillates back and forth between liking Amber and hating her, depending on his moods over various days. Recently, Caleb has gotten more aggressive when he likes Amber, kissing her while she slept at one point during the week. Many on social media thought that would be enough to earn Caleb a disqualification from the show, as the action could be perceived as a form of harassment.  Personally, I would be quite all right if either one of them went home in this week coming up, so that one of them makes the jury while the other watches the rest of the game on TV. I wouldn’t even care if production rigged things so this happens. They need to get these two away from each other before something bad can happen.

Saturday, as usual, gave the game a new spin to work on leading up to the POV decision coming tomorrow. Hayden Voss won it, and vowed immediately to grant safety to Victoria, leaving Jocosta Odom up against the replacement nominee Frankie names on Monday. At this point it looks like Amber is going to be that replacement, but Frankie is the type of player who always looks for the way to do something that leaves the best perception amongst his competitors.  Amber could go up, so could Caleb, and even Zach could go up as a pawn or if Frankie gets ticked off at him again.

I know a lot of fans on social media say this has been a boring season. I still consider this to be a very good cast, but keep in mind a good cast needs a good story. The double-decker HOH’s and nominees twist has weeded out players who don’t have the best social games or are weak physically so far. Once we get to the final 11 and beyond and we get to the conventional game, I still expect we will see the intensity ratchet up at last. There are some very good players in there this season, it’s just that they haven’t been challenged yet, and that will change soon.  Hopefully.  Maybe.

Talk to you all next week, and my thanks to the 500 plus followers I’ve gotten over on Twitter. As those 1980’s guys Bartles and Jaymes used to say, I thank you for your support.

Half-A-Millionaire Men’s Club

Brittney Martinez (left) and Cody Calafiore (right) have a heated discussion early Friday morning. Cody would wind up nominating Brittney a few hours later.

Brittney Martinez (left) and Cody Calafiore (right) have a heated discussion early Friday morning. Cody would wind up nominating Brittney a few hours later.

To be totally honest, it was probably one of the dullest weeks in recent show history. The house circled their collective wagons to dispose of former minor league ballplayer and father Devin Shepherd, who’d be the first to tell you about his daughter in his stay in the house. The odds were in favor of the house succeeding, as they often are when it is thirteen against one, and Devin knew he was a goner when he lost the Power of Veto competition the previous Saturday.

I found the feeds unwatchable most of the week, with a no-brainer decision ahead of the house, plus world events (such as the deliberate downing of a passenger aircraft by Russians or their sympathizers) really didn’t lead to captivating viewing. One side of the house, mostly led by men, were running up the score on the inferior opposing side, led mostly be women who have yet to figure out that they need to pool their efforts. It does not make for exciting TV to watch a baseball game in the third inning with one team sporting a ten run lead, so watching a house where one side is in total control is a bit dull. The dominant side of the house, seemingly led by Providence policeman Derrick Levasseur, has grown a bit more arrogant, wanting to break up the rest of the women in the game before they finally realize aligning with each other is in their best interests. The one upside to this group’s now arrogant ways is it will probably led to their breaking up sooner rather than later. I could easily see Zach Rance rubbing Frankie Grande the wrong way (no pun intended) or Cody Calafiore.

The house did have a touching moment or two, however. Donny Thompson, the previous week’s POV holder, made a symbolic move in saving Georgia minister Jocosta Odom from the block. Odom made history in that competition when she became the first nominee in show history not to compete in the POV contest due to exhaustion and dehydration. Donny made no bones about showing Jocosta his veto medallion and making his intentions known as soon as he won. He’ll gain a lot of fans for doing that, but the landscape of the game as it stands now probably means he will go home sooner or later. Being a honest player or a total liar usually sends you home by the more skilled players at neither end of the truth spectrum.

Thursday brought the unique spectacle of the CBS primetime show promising live coverage of the ongoing Head of Household competition that began as the show concluded, then reneging on the promise when the feeds came back a half hour later with winners already determined. To me, it was another “bait and switch” by production who has been doing such tactics for years, who tell you the feeds are 24/7, but reserve the right to interrupt that whenever they chose. It would be nice if the powers that be would air a POV or a Battle of the Block competition live on the feeds at least once a year. As Mike Myers said in the Austin Powers movies, “Throw me a frigging bone here!”

The comp itself was one of those random pairings of two events where one team attempts to complete a task before the other teams do. Cody, the man who would be HOH from the men’s side in week two, and Frankie wound up the winners. The stratagem of putting up nothing but the women was continued in the fourth round of nominations, with Brittney, Jocosta, Amber Bozotra, and Victoria Rafaeli being put up on the block. The team of Amber and Jocosta won Battle of the Block, keeping themselves and opposite HOH Cody safe another week, and thereby keeping Brittney and Victoria each eligible for eviction going into Saturday.

Friday night brought a rather bizarre incident involving Victoria and the Diary Room.  Rafaeli was summoned to the DR repeatedly around 5-6 pm PT/BBT, with Rafaeli distraught every time she reemerged back into the house. When other houseguests asked what was up with Victoria, she told whoever questioned her that the topic was out of bounds. If it came up, the feeds would go to fish for several minutes at a time, re-emerging at some other conversation point. From what I read on social media on Saturday, it involved allegations and violations of rules by Victoria, but that’s about all I could gather.

It was another incident, with all due respect, that shows production’s continuing lack of transparency. Imagine watching an NFL game where a penalty is called, but the referee can’t tell you the foul committed. I realize I probably harp on production a bit too much in my rantings, and that it’s not an easy job to run a house inside of a studio, but if we’re paying over $20 for the feeds, we shouldn’t be crapped upon anytime production pleases.

Yesterday brought word of a “holiday miracle” with Victoria winning POV, and other competitors winning and trading punishments and rewards. That win probably seals Martinez’s fate come Thursday, with Donny the like renom with little chance of eviction. Brit likes to speak about which of her fellow houseguests are the most deserving of being there, something the game is designed to decide beyond reasonable dispute. Much like Devin this week past, Brittney will be reunited with her children sooner rather than later,  and if she can’t win, that seems the most humane fate for her.

Talk to you all next week, and a special thanks to the over 450 of you following me on Twitter.

The Officer Reports For Duty

Devin Sheperd sits at a table alone on July 11th, while a group gathers at a kitchen.

Devin Sheperd sits at a table alone on July 11th, while a group gathers at a kitchen.

As this Sunday approaches, season sixteen is now more than 25% over with. Currently, Derrick Levasseur is the reigning HOH holder, while Donny Thompson has again won POV. Jocosta Odom (who did not compete in the POV competition due to hydration and exhaustion) and Celeb Reynolds are the nominees, with Odom likely to be replaced by Devin Shepherd. Shepherd appears to be on his way out come Thursday, although there is a bit of a move to get rid of Caleb instead as this entry went to press.

Zach Rance lured Shepherd, the previous week’s HOH, into nominating him Monday in an interesting gambit that showed Zach’s pure genius and immaturity simultaneously. A series of arguments immediately followed the POV meeting, in which Rance and Paola Shea (who was evicted Thursday past) each called Devin a liar and a disgrace to his much talked about daughter. The vote itself was academic, with Paola the 10-2 loser, keeping the “model always goes out second curse” alive another year. A brilliant move by Mr. Rance for sure, but that much effort to survive the second week might bite him in the ass later.

The week was made to order for the TV show, but failed to show that Frankie Grande had lobbied Devin to put Zach on the block on Sunday, which is an important point. Without that point of context, TV show viewers thought Zach was the aggressor in the Zankie tiff, and not the other way around. Grande also lobbied for votes to get Zach evicted during the week, something else that went sight unseen on TV. Why give Frankie such a favorable push, and Zach such an unfavorable one? Do they want Frankie fans (and Ariana Grande fans by default) not to be fully informed on how he’s faring? An interesting point as time moves on.

The Team America alliance came together in the form of Derrick, Donny, and Frankie, and they were given the all important mission to…wait for it…spread rumors that a current houseguest is related to a former one, which was kind of mindless. I take that back: it’s ridiculously mindless. As I’ve been saying previously, I’d much rather not see audience participation in Big Brother, and let the houseguests play their own games.  Who knows if Zach, and the allegations of him being Amanda Zuckerman’s cousin, wind up hurting him at some point down the road?

As for the house, it appears at this point that once Devin leaves, the former members of the Bomb Squad minus Devin will be pitted against the six others: Brittany Martinez, Nicole, Donny, Hayden Voss, Jocosta, and Victoria Rafaeli. The Bomb Squad remnants appear more united and aligned than the rest of the house appears to be, but I look for Christine Brecht and possibly Amber Bozotra to emerge as floaters, especially if Caleb’s awkward relationship with Amber goes sour. Brittany should be the most vocal of the non-Bombers, and the most likely to jump to the other side if the right deal is cut. Depending on how the HOH’s and POV’s bounce, I look at Caleb, Victoria, and Brittany to be on the endangered list as the season progresses.

Finally, can we get rid of the whole Have Not business? It’s just not cool anymore, especially with Frankie’s circulatory issues and Christine’s need for gluten-free foods. I just don’t think watching people starve and putting them in rooms that might make them sick is exciting as a case of venereal disease. Talk to you all next week!

Barbarian At The Gate

Devin Shepherd (right) holds a heated discussion on Saturday morning with Caleb Reynolds.

Devin Shepherd (right) holds a heated discussion on Saturday morning with Caleb Reynolds, not pictured.

There are weeks watching this show that there’s very little to talk about. This was not one of those weeks!

Joey Van Pelt, who entered the house first, was also the first evicted, an unprecedented event in US BB history. Scott Weintraub also entered first and left first back in season four, but his departure was an expulsion, not an eviction. Joey’s game seemed doomed from the beginning, as she instantly tried to form an all-gal alliance, and was eventually busted for it by Amber Bozotra. While first cycle HOH “de tutti capi” Caleb Reynolds will get credit for the execution, but give Amber a huge assist, a bit of an oddity despite their relationship mainly based on Caleb’s grossly unrealistic expectations.

Many in social media (and host Julie Chen parroted this Thursday night, a clue that she mails in her appearances on the show and isn’t the most aware of what is happening) thought Joey played a horrendous game. I’m not that convinced. The only people that determine how good your game is are the people you play with. Joey didn’t catch good breaks early, and every move she made thereafter only accelerated her downward spiral. She was probably not the best of the “first out” players strategically (I think Sheryl Braxton and Mike Lubinski deserve that distinction), but definitely one of the most entertaining.

Donny Thompson replaced Van Pelt as a member of Team America, the in-house alliance that “we” vote to control, with two more to follow by the end of the week. As mentioned last week, I feel that these devices that let “us” (note how many times I use certain words in quotes, people) decide what houseguests do are totally unnecessary, as it seems to be open manipulation. Without getting into the various conspiracy theories that I already have in this blog (and one point of fact from BB8), I’d much rather see the houseguests play their own games, such as they are.

Amber and Devin Shepherd emerged as the HOH finalists (I find HOH too broad a team for the supersized structure of the early game, sorry) with Devin going around in the hours leading up to nominations telling certain houseguests who’s going up. The only problem with that is, Amber and Devin found a copy of the rule book and read how telling nominees what’s about to happen is not permitted. Sure enough, three houseguests told what was about to happen were indeed nominated, and production failed to enforce a rule MENTIONED A FEW HOURS EARLIER ON THE FEEDS!

If you haven’t gathered it yet, this is what drives me crazy about the show. A rule one year that’s enforced isn’t a rule another year, and goes unenforced. A fight one year that leads to no ejections (like the Beau Beasley/Janelle Pierzina drunken fight during BB6) is an expulsion another year (Willie Hantz, BB14). I’m starting to think the rules are just devices meant to be bent, as long as no one gets hurt, and when I think about it, there are more precedents of that then there are of an air-tight game, played above board. I mean, imagine a baseball player hitting a fly ball into the outfield, caught by an outfielder,  and the umpires ruling it a home run.

Shepherd emerged as the sole HOH after the second Battle of the Block, and like a few HOH’s in the game before him, he isolates himself to the point where nobody, not even his bestie Caleb, can’t make any sense of him. Devin is an intriguing character, but doesn’t do the stereotype of ballplayers being narcissistic prima donnas any good playing on this particular reality show. Even he himself realizes his time in the game may be likely coming to an end, and that he will not win the season. Probably true, unless a natural disaster swallows up the other houseguests, and Devin somehow survives.

Devin and Caleb got into it when it was suggested that the house didn’t want Brittany Martinez, a nominee along with Paola Shea, to be the one evicted next Thursday, and would get rid of “Pow Pow” instead. Devin reacted like someone ridiculously out of touch with the rest of the house, alleging that Caleb’s friend Amber (which would have been the big story this week if not for this fight) is the one suggesting such treasonous talk. Shortly after that, Devin declared his massive alliance of the Bomb Squad dissolved, fitting for somebody who only seems to know how to figuratively blow up the things around him.

On Saturday night, all was forgiven. But Caleb drops a bombshell on his way out of his meeting with Devin, that members of the former and now current Bomb Squad said they wanted the minor league ballplayer out. With minutes left before the POV competition starts, Devin calls a group meeting, and it doesn’t go well. Other members of the house crash the meeting, and before things could get good, the house is summoned to the competition! (CRUMB!) Looks to me that Devin was saved by the bell there, as the meeting seemed to be turning against him as the feeds were cut. Yet again, Mr. Shepherd catches a break from the powers that be.

Finally, Devin consolidated his power by winning the second POV contest. Shortly after his win, his behavior got even more bizarre, as he negotiated to save the very person who appeared to be his prey this week, Brittany. He had promised to save Paola a few days prior to this, but instead wanted to make a “power move” to advance his purposes in his game. While advancing his cause is what I’d expect to him, how can the rest of the house take him seriously when he speaks of having integrity and carries out the exact opposite?  With another day ahead of him, what other plans will change?

Talk to you next week.