Channel Surfing With C.T.

Every single summer, when the first episode of CBS’ warm-weather guilty pleasure BIG BROTHER begins, I tune in to check out the contestants and swear that if they’re not an interesting crew, I’m not going to watch. And 30 minutes into each and every season, I say, “Yeah… I just don’t care about these idiots.” And then someone does something so shocking that it becomes clear I’m gonna have to devote three nights a week to this hot mess. Last night, it was Joe announcing to his housemates that ex-boyfriend Dustin had given him gonorrhea. That certainly woke up the home viewers… which was definitely needed, since up to that point, the proceeding had been fairly snooze inducing. Unlike past seasons in which the show threw a few older players into the mix, this year’s edition might well be titled THE BUFF & THE BEAUTIFUL. There are, of course, the stereotypes one expects to find: the gay exes are, of course, of the flamboyant variety. The blonde bimbettes are, at this point, pretty hard to distinguish from one another, as are several the of manly meatheads. The two “older” contestants – self-dubbed “Evil Dick” and MILF Kail – are not as far removed from their housemates as such past contestants as Chicken George or season four’s Jack as to set up a generation gap. One interesting twist – introduced at the end of the episode by host Julie Chen (and really, how does she keep this job? Surely there is someone – anyone! – more vibrant available for the position!) – revealed that nebbishy Eric is, in fact, “America’s player”, which basically means that viewers will instruct him on everything from who to vote for come eviction time to who he should make out with. Hey, that’s what Julie said! In other words, by the end of the hour, I was, as always, hooked. How hooked? Read on, my fellow addicts…

So this morning I got up to watch BIG BROTHER AFTER DAR, a three hour live feed available on ShoToo, Showtime’s companion network, which runs nightly from midnight to 3 a.m. Upon hearing this, I said to my gal pal Nina, “Good Lord… three regular episodes a week, plus three hours a night of live feed? There’s not enough hours in the day to watch this!” Fortunately, the live feed turns out to much ado about nothing. Oh, sure, it’s the place to be if you want to hear X-rated talk (let’s just say I learned a new term – two dogs in a tub – that will stay with me all my days) and see just how boring being trapped in a house 24/7 really is. AD does occasionally offer up interesting insights into the rules of the game (the contestants are heard discussing what producers told them could and could not be said), as well as a chance to compare the “characters” crafted by the editors to the actual human beings residing in the house. For example, Thursday’s primetime episode of BB left the impression that America’s Player, Eric, is just a dorky everyman. But AD revealed him to be a foul-mouthed critter with a bit of an inferiority complex (which explains why, when hanging out with the beefier boys, he tries flexing for the camera, only to fail miserably). AD can also prove to be tough to watch thanks to the fact that it reveals twists not yet shown on BB. Who knows why Nick’s fingernails are painted jungle red, or what “sunglass incident” Amber and Dustin are overheard discussing. If somehow I’ve made any of this sound interesting, I apologize, because it’s not. More than anything else, AD goes to show just how important editing and the occasional subtitle are in turning actual reality into watchable reality television.

Just to prove that I do still watch the occasional non-reality program, let’s discuss the season finale of HIDDEN PALMS (which was, in all likelihood, the end of not only its summer run, but the show itself). Anybody else find this warm weather offering surprisingly satisfying? Cheers to The CW for sticking by the show despite less-than-stellar ratings and allowing all of the episodes to air (unlike show-killing FOX). PALMS offered up a juicy little mystery which it actually resolved in the final episode, giving viewers the satisfaction of an ending while still managing to offer up a little cliffhanger as well. (Anybody else get the feeling that cradle-robbing Maria might have been getting frisky with her own son, the late, lamented Eddie? No? Okay, guess I’m alone in that pervy thought). For my money, any show that gives me a fun serialized story, weekly cliffhangers, a part-time drag queen and fantastic actors (including Sharon Lawrence as a boozy socialite and Tess Thompson – ex VERONICA MARS – as an alcoholic teen) chewing up so much scenery I worried they’d wind up with splinters in their mouth will always have a spot in my heart… or at least on my DVR.

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  • Christina

    Julie Chen shouldn’t be replaced; Julie Chen IS Big Brother! I wouldn’t watch if she weren’t the host. (Actually, I probably would, but it would be less fun.) What’s Big Brother for if not for watching Julie wear ridiculous, unflattering outfits, precisely sit/stand/pivot on cue and with the camera change, repeatedly say “but first” the exact same way every time, and closely resemble a skeleton on a diet? It’s all part of the fun.

    Honestly, Eric didn’t come off as a dorky everyman on the actual show, either.

    Some mistakes in the post: “several the of manly meatheads”, “BIG BROTHER AFTER DAR”, “turns out to much ado about nothing”.

  • I am a BB addict. There are 2 ways about it. I get the live feeds and watch the show. The show is nothing compared to what goes down on the live feeds because the feeds cannot be edited.

    Eric drops the F bomb like he gets paid for each one he lets fly. Jen wore a swimsuit last night that looked like it came from the children’s department. She was literally falling out of it. Nick’s nails were painted because Daniele did it. Nick is very ambiguous sexually and he creeps me out. Zach is intense. Wait for him to blow up when the situation presents itself.

    And Evel Dick is far and away my favorite HG. He is gold on this year’s feeds.

    I won’t post anything about what went down that is relevant to nominations or vetoes, but one person has already earned the kiss of death from me in terms of not wanting them in the house. They won’t campaign to save themselves. Those types of HGs are just taking up space for a player that would actually play the game.