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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Big Brother Australia vs. Big Brother on CBS

I expect to miss #BBAU 2014 after its season finale a lot more than I have missed #BB16. These two shows share the Big Brother name and the concept of putting 16 people together in a house for three months with weekly evictions until a winner is selected -- but that’s where the similarities end. Big Brother Australia and the American version of Big Brother on CBS are wholly different shows.

Big Brother Australia logo. Catchy animation on TV, too.As you know, I’m the Newbie Desk writer here, and to date I have watched only three Big Brother seasons: #BB15 and #BB16 on CBS, and Big Brother Australia 2014 (via this YouTube playlist). #BBAU 2014’s season finale airs in Australia's prime time about 30 minutes from when I’m writing this (at about 4:00 AM Eastern). I’ve been promising to write this post since #BB16 ended -- no spoilers here if you’ve been watching #BBAU.

The obvious up-front disclaimer is this: Reasonable people will disagree on matters of taste. That said, here’s my judgment: Big Brother Australia is by far the better show. I’m told that #BB1 (that is, the first season of the CBS show) used a format very similar to #BBAU’s but that CBS judged it needed to be tweaked (*cough* ruined) to be more palatable to American audiences. And then even the revised format devolved over the years into the formulaic #BB16 debacle about which my fellow contributors on this site wrote so much.

#BBAU's auditorium is huge, colorful, and full of excited people. The host and housemates enter through the "eye" in back and walk the catwalk through the audience to the stage. CBS, pay attention. If you're going to bother with a live audience, do it the way #BBAU does.Even if you don’t agree that #BB16 was predictable and boring, perhaps you might think it worthwhile to learn about an alternate Big Brother format which viewers in other English-speaking countries seem to enjoy. So here’s a #BBAU primer. First, let’s talk about the rules of the game. Later, we’ll discuss the content of the show’s TV episodes.

In Australia, the viewers cast eviction votes, not the house guests -- who are actually called “housemates” there. Actually, I’m not saying this correctly. Viewers vote to save housemates every week, so the housemate receiving the fewest viewer votes is the one evicted. During the season’s final week, viewers decide the winner. In this, #BBAU is fundamentally different (and, in my view, better) than the American version. Viewer participation directly affects game outcome each and every week. Contrast that with CBS’s #BB16: Viewers voted on silly “Team America” tasks which gave certain house guests unfair prize money advantages; viewer participation had no meaningful direct relevance to game outcome, and many of us perceived it only as a total waste of time.

Example of a nomination. Here, Sam, as Head of House, has used points to reveal a few house mates' locations on the nomination board.Back in #BBAU, housemates nominate their peers for potential eviction. In private Diary Room sessions, Big Brother gives each housemate five points to split among two nominees, asking “Who do you nominate, for how many points, and why?” The week’s Head of House is the last one called to the DR during nominations. Big Brother gives him or her 10 or 12 points; the HOH may spend points to reveal the positions of housemates on the Nominations Table and may split remaining points to nominate as many housemates as s/he’d like.

All housemates who received at least 5 points are nominated for potential eviction (while those who received 4 or fewer points are safe). Big Brother informs the housemates of who the nominees are and how many points they received (but who nominated whom remains secret). Then, voting is opened. Over the next few days, viewers cast votes via text message and Facebook to save their favorite housemates; during the next one or two live shows, with her characteristic flair and with the backing of an engaged, vocal audience, host Sonia Kruger delivers her signature lines to housemates, telling them who is safe (“The nominee who received the most votes to save them is [dramatic pause] ... Skye!”) and, later, who is evicted (“It’s time to go ... [dramatic pause] ... It’s time to go, Leo!”).

Another stark difference: In #BBAU, discussing nominations is strictly forbidden. Big Brother considers such talk to be collusion; housemates are not permitted the competitive advantage that they’d achieve by talking and strategizing about who they’d like to nominate and evict. And he’s not afraid to meaningfully penalize housemates for breaking that or other rules. For example, on Day 66 this season, Big Brother gave 3 nomination points each to Priya and Skye as punishment for trying to get Travis to reveal information about his Head of House “power play.”

Sonia Kruger, #BBAU's host, is natural and charming. She knows it's entertainment and does it well. Julie Chen should take some pointers from Sonia.By forbidding talk about nominations and by giving viewers all the power as to who stays in the house, the content of all housemate conversations is wholly different in #BBAU than in the CBS show. I find watching their interactions to be much more enjoyable. Because they have been freed from directly discussing the game, housemates often talk with each other as they would in the real world. Friendships and romances emerge; differences, conflicts, and controversies emerge as well. Over the course of the season, we are afforded the opportunity to get to know each housemate as an individual person; viewers grow more attached to their favorites and are thus, at least in theory, incentivized to keep watching and to keep participating.

Big Brother gives housemates a special “task” each week to test their skills, memory, teamwork, and/or endurance. These tasks vary greatly. Just a few examples: They had to run a live radio station; they were split into hotel servants and guests; they had to physically obey commands of a giant VCR remote control (pause = freeze in place; rewind = walk & talk backwards; slow-mo, fast-forward, etc.). These tasks provide interest and humor for viewers and conversation fodder for the housemates. If they pass the task, Big Brother gives them a higher budget for food; if they fail, supplies of luxury food items (and sometimes staples) are constrained. Although these weekly tasks have little relevance on game outcome, they are far more effective than the CBS version’s “haves & have-nots” at providing entertaining content for each week’s TV episodes.

Sonia shows viewers the point spread between their "votes to save."This brings me to the episodes themselves.  I find #BBAU’s episodes to be far less formulaic than the CBS show’s episodes. Although live episodes do have a predictable structure (recap, save some people, evict some people, interview the evictees), I have generally found something surprising and entertaining in each of this season’s 50+ episodes. Each episode unfolds organically based on the events of the day or days covered; the people are real and unscripted; moments of pure joy happen regularly.

I could not say the same about #BB15 or #BB16 on CBS. Episodes focus on competitions (most of which are predictable retreads of those used in previous seasons), ceremonies (nomination, power of veto, eviction, even HOH room reveals), and interpersonal conflict caused by artificial game-based situations. Diary Room sessions are highly scripted; there, house guests serve more as program hosts than players; rare is the genuine personal moment.

The #BBAU house is at the very top; the auditorium is in the middle left; the rest of the Dreamworld theme park is at the bottom.#BBAU’s live shows are a visual feast! Hosted by the effervescent Sonia Kruger, most live episodes begin with a unique, custom-produced open before the up-tempo theme music rolls while Sonia strolls down a catwalk to the cheers of hundreds in the audience. The broadcast originates from the Big Brother auditorium at Dreamworld, Australia’s largest theme park. Dazzling computer-generated graphics surround the audience. Sonia and the housemates enter through an elevated Big Brother “eye” and walk through the cheering fans to the center of another “eye” embedded in the floor of a huge stage backed by a giant screen used for video playback, graphics, and live views of the Big Brother house.

Live shows air twice weekly; there are two to four additional non-live shows each week which summarize what happened in the house since the last episode. It is through these “daily shows” that viewers get to know the housemates so well. Since Australia is 16 or more hours ahead of every U.S. time zone, I could count on every new #BBAU episode being ready for me to watch on-line as soon as I got home from work. It became my daily habit to watch it while making dinner. #BBAU does not offer live Internet feeds, so the four to six weekly episodes became the equivalent.

Although I do not dislike Julie Chen, I find Sonia Kruger to be a far more entertaining host. She handles the large audience with ease. Every interaction with the housemates comes across as natural and conversational. I’m not sure whether this is due to pure talent, the use of a teleprompter (rather than Julie’s cue cards), both, or neither. Sonia’s simply better in this role. (Sorry, Julie.)

Big Brother (and by this I mean the “person,” the all-seeing disembodied voice who controls housemates’ lives) is highly interactive, too. He talks with the housemates, not just at them. He is quick with humor and sarcasm. In the Diary Room, he asks probing questions and responds directly to what the housemates say to him. Big Brother talks to housemates in groups or individually wherever they may be, not merely in the Diary Room. He’s cheeky and highly entertaining. This interactivity is a huge part of what makes #BBAU so fun to watch (and so different, in a very positive way, from the CBS version).

Producers do clearly steer the show in Australia. I get the impression that CBS wants us to think they’re hands-off, but what happens instead is that we see them interfering at exactly the wrong times and for the wrong reasons. #BBAU episodes usually strike me as fresh; significant changes to the game, such as the introduction of “intruders” (new mid-season housemates), are obviously producer-controlled but I felt like such things happened at the right times.

By the way, unlike the CBS house, the #BBAU house itself is not physically connected to the auditorium; it’s about a quarter mile away down a wooded road through the back area of the Dreamworld property. I’m not a good judge of square footage, but I think it’s bigger than the American house —- perhaps significantly so. There’s a large swimming pool (perhaps three or four times the size of the CBS house’s pool) and hot tub in a large astroturf-covered front courtyard, and it’s flanked by a private “treehouse,” gym, laundry room, and outdoor grill. The kitchen and large dining room are in their own annex.

Inside the house, there’s a “lounge” (living room), two bedrooms, a huge bathroom with a 4-person communal shower and several sinks, an adjacent “parlour” (a luxury spa with two soaking tubs and numerous makeover tables), the “Power Room” into which Big Brother invites housemates for special rewards and projects, an adjacent task room which producers repurpose several times throughout the season, and, of course, the Diary Room (which for 2014 has been moved to a newly-built second level, the first time #BBAU's house has had two stories). Connected to the main house via a corridor off of the outdoor courtyard is the Sanctuary, a luxury apartment with its own pool, living/bedroom, and bathroom with soaking tub; Big Brother rewards the Head of House and his/her choice of guest, or some times other housemates, with overnight stays in the private Sanctuary.

Just because I find so much to like about Big Brother Australia does not mean I won’t tune in for #BB17 on CBS next year. But I think CBS could borrow some ideas from #BBAU to improve its own product without making it unrecognizable. How? That’s what I’ll write about next time.

Have you been watching Big Brother Australia 2014? What do you think of it? In what ways do you think it's better (or worse) than Big Brother on CBS here in the States? Comment below or @uselesstraffic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Top Five Big Brother Players of All Time

(Note: This article has not been updated since Big Brother 16 - I have no new names to add with the exception of maybe an 'honorable mention' or 'nowhere near the top' name or two.  Look for an update soon. -Mike 7/27/2017)

There are a lot of Big Brother lists out there and every season I am asked to rank the top players of all time.  For the last few years my answer has been that I had several players that I call my top players – but I do not rank any one above the other.  Here are my top five players of all time, some others who didn't quite make it and a few more that never will.  In the top five all should be considered ‘equal’ there is NO #1, #2, etc and they are listed by chronological order of when they first played Big Brother.

Will Kirby (Seasons 2, 7)

First Season Notes: 12 HGs in BB2, Jury NOT sequestered, no Head of Households (HoH), no Power of Vetos (POV didn’t exist), Nominated 4 times, won 5-2 vs Nicole Nilson (each was allowed to nullify a vote).

Since it was the first season of the format where the House Guests (HGs) voted each other out, no one had a ‘style’ to model his/her game after.  Will’s style ended up being the best by far with as he did a bit of a Survivor Richard Hatch move and implied no one would vote for him in the end and when he ended up reaching the end, turned the tables and said that was the reason everyone should vote for him (also commenting “I hate you all”).  His arrogance and charm and "perfectly symmetrical face" won over the jury and America. Will never won a competition, was generally disliked by the live feed viewers until his showmance, Shannon Dragoo, was evicted and he had distanced himself (mostly by eviction) from the “Chill Town” alliance – the group of House Guests including Justin Sebik, Shannon and Mike “Boogie” that had the negative image the first few weeks.

Second Season Notes: Nominated twice, claimed his mission was to help Mike win the season. A ‘flirtmance’ with Janelle Pierzina and rumored pre-show side deal/alliance with Mike, Erika Landin and others may have helped him get farther than he would have otherwise.

Danielle Reyes (Seasons 3,7)

First Season Notes: 12 HGs in BB3, jury NOT sequestered, POV introduced, only nominated once (technical nomination at final 3), HoH once, POV winner once, lost 9-1 to Lisa Donahue.

Danielle’s biggest move on the season was her secret alliance with Jason Guy, so well hidden that even the live feed viewers didn’t know about it until Julie Chen revealed it on the TV show.  The two kept their conversations limited to an area not normally seen on the live feeds where they would play cards as a cover.  She also had entertaining Diary Room (DR) sessions where she would often mock her fellow house guests.  Danielle is the only person in my top five list not to have won Big Brother.  I (and many others) believe she lost because the evicted HGs were not sequestered while they were waiting for the season to end and thus saw everything the viewers would see including the Diary Room sessions noted above.  After Big Brother 3 the Jury has always been sequestered and not allowed to watch Diary Room sessions or other private conversations.

Second Season Notes: Danielle never really had much of a chance in the All Star season as her previous tactic of deception and sneakiness couldn’t really be used again.  She placed 6th that year while winning one Hoh, one POV and being nominated three times.

With my personal rule that to be in the top you need to have won BB, this is the one exception, and I maintain that if Danielle’s Diary Room sessions had not been exposed to the Jury, she would have easily won this season.

“Evel” Dick Donato (Seasons 8,13)

First Season Notes: 14 HGs in BB8, HoH 3 times, nominated 3 times, POV winner 1 time, beat daughter Danielle Donato 5-2.  Week six used POV on Danielle instead of himself when he was also nominated.

Dick was rude, crude, obnoxious and loud.  Many will argue that he would not have made it past week six were it not for the “twist” where “America” made Eric Stein vote for Dustin Erikstrup to be evicted instead of Dick (Dustin was evicted 4-2).  Dick had blow-ups with many house guests including Jen Johnson who destroyed Dick’s cigarettes (Dick meanwhile had earlier dumped iced tea over Jen’s head).  Somehow through all of that and many other moments, Dick still managed to get to the final three which many will remember started with an endurance HoH competition that Dick lost to Zach Swerdzewski after seven and a half hours standing on to a pedestal while being sprayed with water and holding on to a key (he later won Parts 2 and 3 and evicted Zach).  His strained relationship with daughter Danielle and time spent late at night talking to those watching on the live feeds endeared him to many.  Much like Will Kirby in BB2, there was a bit of an attitude in the house that Dick could be voted out easily, however it proved to be harder than expected. 

Second Season Notes: Dicks second stint on Big Brother was short lived, he left for personal reasons before the live feeds had even begun.  Dick also recently tweeted that he would never be on Big Brother again. Update: Dick has revealed that he left this season after conflicting blood tests he took before the season showed he might have HIV - he has since been formally diagnosed with HIV and is on medication.

Dan Gheesling (Seasons 10,14)

First Season Notes: 13 HGs in BB10, HoH 3 times, nominated 2 times, POV winner 2 times, won against Memphis Garrett 7-0.

Dan’s winning season honestly was not that spectacular in my opinion.  He did manage to manipulate some folks, but I think with his personality and ‘charm’ he managed to manipulate and win over America.  He was “America’s player” and competed a few tasks to win extra money.  One such task involved getting hugs from the other HGs and he often gave a nod & wink at the camera when getting the hugs.  His alliance with Memphis Garrett ultimately got him to then end when Memphis saved him from the nomination block on week 8.  Dan’s 7-0 Jury vote win is the only unanimous victory in the show’s history.

Second Season Notes: HoH once, nominated 3 times, POV won once, lost to Ian Terry 6-1.  Actually unlike all the other members of this list, Dan broke in to my ‘top’ list with his performance on Big Brother 14. While having an advantage of being an alumnus and thus the subject of some “hero worship,” Dan still was able to manipulate the other HGs, especially Danielle Murphree.  His now infamous “Funeral” will remain one of the best known moments in Big Brother, yet he still lost 6-1 to Ian showing that the “manipulation” style of game seems to only works once for any given HG in Big Brother.

Derrick Levasseur (Season 16)

Season Notes: 16 HGs in BB16, only nominated once (technical nomination at final 3), HoH 2 twice (3 if pre-Battle of Block aka BoB HoH’s included), no POV wins, won 7-2 vs Cody Calafiore.

The newest addition to my list, Derrick used manipulation as well as or better than any other previous house guest to keep himself safe and get others in his various alliances to do what he wanted while they would end up thinking it was their own idea.  His game was one of many many small moves, not big bold ones.  Even when something went wrong with what seemed to be his plan, he was able to adjust and move forward.  He worked very hard to keep the drama low in the house which led to a somewhat ‘dull’ season.  It also helped him that Donny Thompson, his biggest adversary early on, was in “Team America” with him along with another strong social player, Frankie Grande.  While we will never know how his game might have been changed without Team America, it’s likely he still would have done very well.  It says a lot for his game that even though he lost Part 3 of the final HoH competition and his fate rested with fellow “Hitman” Cody, he still made it to the final two when Cody picked him over Victoria Rafaeli.

Honorable Mention – these folks are the ‘almost but not quite’ in my list.  If any came back and managed to win either for the first time or again – I might have to move them up.

Janelle Pierzina – With three Big Brother season appearances (6,7, and 14), its hard to not put her in the list, but she never even made the final two (final three twice).  She was a great competitor and a fan favorite.  She was the victim of an unlucky break in Big Brother 7 when she was eliminated from the final HoH endurance competition on a technicality that I still think was a mistake by Julie Chen.  However, she had the opportunity to win Part 2 and lost that to eventual BB7 winner Mike Boogie.

Mike “Boogie” Malin – Another house guest with three seasons (2,7, and 14), I personally wasn’t extremely impressed with Mike’s ‘game’ but others feel he deserves to be considered a top player.  Mike had Will Kirby on both season’s 2 and 7 to help him out and on season 14 he was a ‘coach’ for the first few weeks which gave him the advantage of  the “hero worship” effect seen when alum return by some of the rookie house guests.

Ian Terry – A very good player that won the game in Season 14.  In my opinion Ian was carried along by others in the early part of his season, especially by Mike Boogie.  Ian would have to come back and have a stellar second season like Dan did in order to make my top player list.

Rachel Reilly – (BB12 & 13) I have to admit my bias here.  I was never a fan of Rachel in the house.  I didn’t like her personality while playing so she would really have to do something special to turn me around.  I have always felt that production had a very heavy hand with Season 13 and that this helped Rachel tremendously.  The “Hero Worship” factor again played a role in Season 13 as six of the 14 house guests were very well known alumni.

Nowhere near the top - even though some want them to be, these former house guests didn’t show me enough in their season(s) to warrant being in my list.  Many are just fan favorites, not top tier players.

Jeff & Jordan – They didn’t do anything that spectacular, “America” just loves them.  I do think production wanted Jeff Schroeder to win Season 11 (saved via the Coup d'etat) but when he went out 6th Jordan Lloyd, whom Jeff had been carrying along in the game, became the new favorite to win.  When both returned in BB13, Jeff went out 7th after the infamous "clown shoes" incident, and Jordan followed in 4th.  Nice folks, but not great BB players. Getting engaged in the back yard doesn't move them up my list either ;)

Kaysar Ridha – Another fan favorite that was so well like I think production changed the game in Big Brother 6 to get him back in the house after he was evicted.  He promptly was voted right back out after letting Jennifer Vasquez win HoH following a 14 hour endurance HoH competition (longest in BB history). Came back for BB7 and still did nothing (but seems like a nice guy!).

Hayden Moss – Winner of Big Brother 12.  Simply put, his alliance (The Brigade) got him to the end, it was a total team effort and I thought Lane Elenburg should have won that season.

I could go on and on….. but I won’t.  Sorry if I missed your favorite!

Other thoughts when compiling lists: Lists are always interesting, I know there will be many that will disagree with me and that’s OK.  One thing to keep in mind is that it’s VERY hard to compare HGs across seasons.  Every season has its own dynamics and advantages, disadvantages.  As we discussed on our last Big Brother Gossip Show for BB16, Derrick would have had a much tougher go of it in the BB15 house with the likes of Amanda Zuckerman, Andy Herren and Helen Kim whom all might have seen through his game a bit more than those in the BB16 house.  What was a great game in one season might not be even a good one in another.  Its for that very reason I don’t think any of my top five will ever be able to win another season of Big Brother.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Big Brother 16 Season Finale Results - The $450K Mistake

Cody makes an unconvincing argument to jurors as to why he, rather than Derrick, should win.By ignoring the "rules," Cody lost $450,000 in last night's Big Brother 16 season finale. Let's all turn to page 37 of the handbook, shall we? See right there in the middle of the page? It says "Be loyal to the alliance(s) you've made ... right up until loyalty is bad for your game. When that happens, be disloyal, deceitful, and/or duplicitous. Because this is a game, and you're here to win!"

The only scenario in which Derrick would not have won the grand prize would have been for Cody to become the final HOH and have chosen to evict Derrick. The jury would not have picked Victoria over Cody. Most house guests never especially liked her, and it was obvious to the jury that Victoria was allowed to stay in the game only because she was completely inept at competitions. A couple of jurors might have thrown a sympathy vote Victoria's way, but the majority would have awarded Cody the half-mil. It would have been an easy win.

Cody did beat Derrick in part 3 of the final HOH comp -- it even required the tie-breaker question. But for reasons which evade all logic and common sense, Cody evicted Victoria! And then the jury did exactly what we've predicted pretty much all season: They voted overwhelmingly (7-2) for Derrick over Cody. Derrick won the $500,000 grand prize (not to mention a thoroughly ridiculous Team America bonus prize of an additional $50K).

As the runner-up, Cody won a mere $50,000. Cody, Cody, Cody. What were you thinking?!

Left: Final HOH part 2 comp, a physical + memory test; Derrick needed only 15 minutes, Victoria took twice as long. Right: Final HOH part 3 comp, a mental test; Cody beat Derrick in tie-breaker.

Congratulations to Derrick. He was the master analyst, strategist, and manipulator from Day 1.

By the way, once again this is John writing, not Scott -- so this isn't one of Scott's play-by-play recaps but just a summary of the episode's results.

Julie prepares to announce who won America's Favorite Player. Notice that Media Mogul positioned himself exactly where he'd get the most camera time. Typical.Zach would have been my choice for favorite, deserving of some reward for all the Team American manipulation he unwittingly endured. But I'm not unhappy Donny got it. Good guy.After Julie announced that Derrick won, the only remaining drama was to find out which house guest won America's Favorite Player and its $25,000 prize. Over 10 million votes were cast, Julie said, the most in Big Brother history.

If Julie had one true surprise for us in the #BB16 90-minute live finale, it was this: The three house guests who received the most votes from fans were ... Donny, Nicole, and Zach!

FRANKIE WAS SHUT OUT! I was absolutely astonished! So much for being Ariana's brother! 

With more than 5 million votes, America's Favorite Player is ... Donny!

So that's it! Big Brother 16 is officially over. Not to worry -- CBS has already announced that Big Brother has been renewed for two more seasons.

Meanwhile, want to see how they do it overseas? Big Brother Australia's 2014 season just got started a couple weeks ago. I've been watching #BBAU for the first time and am finding it to be highly entertaining. It's very different from the CBS version -- actually, it's more accurate to say that the CBS version is the unusual one, as #BBAU's format is the one predominant around the world. I'll be writing more about #BBAU here soon, but check out IndyMike's #BBAU 2014 playlist right here.

A couple more #BB16 finale photos:

Newly declared #BB16's winner, Derrick exits the house.Media Mogul realizes that he's not even one of America's top three favorite house guests.Thanks, everybody, for reading Big Brother Gossip all season long! As usual, there will be occasional semi-relevant posts during the off-season. And of course we'll be back for #BB17.

I did appreciate Derrick's game skills. Unfortunately, there just wasn't anybody else in the house who could come close to playing like that! No competing alliances of substance formed. Julie repeatedly asked evicted house guests who was running the house, and time after time (until Donny) they had no clue it was Derrick. This made the live feeds rather boring week after week, and the TV episodes were wholly predictable. My hope for next season is for drama! Several strong, strategic game players to form multiple, competing alliances! NO STUNT CASTING!! Any and all comments about #BB16, #BBAU, and/or your hopes for #BB17 are welcome in the comments below or @uselesstraffic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guide to the #BB16 Season Finale

What Derrick has wanted in this game, Derrick has eventually gotten. Now he wants the grand prize. It's difficult to think of a scenario in which he wouldn't get the required five jury votes. The only apparent obstacle to a #BB16 win for Derrick is Cody, who would have to do two things:

  • Cody has to win part 3 of the final HOH comp, giving him the power to evict one of the two other remaining house guests.

  • And Cody would have to be disloyal to Derrick, recognizing that he (Cody) has a better chance of winning if he takes Victoria to the final two rather than Derrick. (The jury would reward Cody for his comp wins and for being a generally likable guy; they've never been enamoured with Victoria. But Cody versus Derrick? The jury has more reasons to vote for Derrick.)

Cody certainly has a great shot at becoming the season's final HOH. He hasn't shown any willingness this season to make big moves when he had the power -- but evicting Derrick would be the biggest move of all, and doing so would be absolutely essential to Cody's game. Will Cody do it? In a predictable season which revolved around Derrick, which produced no competing alliances (like #BB15's allies of Amanda vs. allies of Helen), and in which the producers' twists resulted in no significantly-changed outcomes, will Cody finally treat viewers to something unexpected in the #BB16 season finale?

We find out tonight (Wednesday, September 24, 2014) at 9:30p Eastern during a live broadcast (tape delayed on the west coast). Here's how the show might play out.

- Julie's brief show intro.

- A couple minutes of clips from the entire season.

- Julie talks about what's coming up during the 90-minute finale while they show the final three sitting in the living room. For at least the third year in a row (I didn’t research further back than #BB14), the finalists consist of two men and one woman.

- The conclusion of Part 1 of the three-part final Head of Household competition (recorded last Wednesday night live on the feeds, and a portion shown in last Friday’s TV episode), with related clips and Diary Rooms. As usual, it was an endurance comp. Victoria lost early on; Derrick and Cody discussed for a few minutes who would have the better chance of winning the next part, and then Derrick dropped off the wall. So Cody won part 1.

- Part 2 of the HOH comp (recorded last Friday), again with clips and DRs. Footage of part 2 has not been aired yet. You know from the Ticker graphic at right that Derrick won over Victoria, likely ending Victoria’s chance at winning any monetary prize. Part 2 is typically a combination physical / mental comp, e.g. hunt for objects representing each house guest, then place those objects in a specific order requiring accurate memory.

- Clips from the past few days of the three house guests posturing and/or scheming about who will be taking whom to the final two. (Cody has a seemingly unbreakable alliance with Derrick. Victoria also believes she has an alliance with Derrick, but only an HOH win would have cemented any real power for her. My dream that Victoria had been throwing every competition all season long to surprise us in the three-part final HOH comp was ... Yeah, maybe in some other universe.)

- Dr. Will returns to host the jury's "round table" discussion. We'll see jury reactions to Frankie's and Caleb's evictions. (Or does the Dr. Will segment happen slightly earlier in the finale? At any rate, Dr. Will, winner of #BB2, makes an appearance with the #BB16 jury.)

- Part 3 of the final HOH competition between Derrick and Cody airs live -- everything is live from this point on. It will be a memory quiz of some sort, and the winner is guaranteed at least second place in #BB16 and a $50,000 prize.

- The HOH winner will evict one of the other two. Derrick and Cody have a “final two alliance” called the Hit Men, so the expectation here is that they will remain (blindly) loyal to it and evict Victoria, regardless of who becomes HOH.

- The evictee leaves the house and is interviewed by Julie.

- Julie introduces each of the jurors as they reenter the studio and talks with them a bit. Julie reveals that Victoria (unless something highly unexpected happens) is the last evictee.

- The jurors chat with the final two.

- The finalists each make one last “why I deserve this” speech.

- Each juror steps forward to say a word or three to the finalists ... and to cast his/her vote. In previous years, the juror inserted one of two keys (each key has a finalist's name on it) into slots in a box to vote; not sure whether they will have come up with a different way to vote this year since they had revamped the weekly nomination “mechanism.”

- We might have a visit from non-jury house guests (those evicted early in the season).

- Then the big moment arrives: Julie reveals each juror's vote ... and the #BB16 winner is announced! Five votes are needed to decide the $500,000 grand prize winner.

- The winner comes out of the house and is embraced by family, friends, and fellow house guests. (And the runner-up comes out, too.)

- Finally, Julie reveals America's favorite house guest, winner of $25,000. We are hoping Zach wins since he so often was the unwitting pawn who helped Team America score some dough. But it’s difficult to imagine that the producers’ stunt casting of Frankie, with his pop star sister’s millions of fans, won’t have caused the ballot box to be stuffed here.

That’s how tonight’s live season finale might go. Thanks very much for reading Big Brother Gossip again this year! We all appreciate that you’re here.

I’m working on at least one more post for this season, coming in the next few days, which compares Big Brother Australia 2014 to what I’ve seen in #BB15 and #BB16. Please stay tuned! Meanwhile, what are your overall impressions of Big Brother 16? What would had to have happened for somebody else to win? Did the season unfold as you expected? Comment below or @uselesstraffic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Night Owl - Eve of Finale

Well, this is it! This is my very last Big Brother 16 blog! I can't say I'm terribly sad about that.  This season has been a long one, and I am ready to go back to waiting for next year.

As things stand now, I cannot foresee a way that Derrick does not win Big Brother and Cody does not come in second, but that's just my opinion.  I'm sure you all know that Cody won the first part of the final HOH and Derrick won the second part, so now we just get to wait and see whether Cody will win the final HOH and take Derrick to F2 or Vice Versa.  I do not believe either of them will take Victoria.

CBS posted pictures of the jury round table discussion today, and I am probably the most excited about this segment as Doctor Will is the host again this year! So, we have that to look forward to.

This post really isn't to update too much information because there isn't a lot to report. I mostly just wanted to make one final post and say thank you SO much to all of you who have read along, commented, tweeted, and chatted with me throughout the season. You all rock and you keep me sane! I hope to see you all again for BB 17. So that's all I really wanted to say. Until next year...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Shade of Reality: Utopia

What say we review Utopia from a disgruntled Big Brother viewer’s perspective? No? What, do you think #BB16 is providing worthwhile live feed viewing today? Okay, gotcha on that one.

This post is long, I admit. But if you’re reading this during business hours, stare at your screen and furrow your brow such that colleagues who wander by will assume you’re very busy with important things.

Consider the very basics: Why do we watch television?

Highly watchable characters, whether or not we like them as people, are what draw us to television. When we identify with characters, we just have to know what happens to them ... so we never miss an episode, whatever the show.

This show's format worked so remarkably well that its characters were interchangeable.TV has also given us formats which are so compelling that we tune in episode after episode even with only tenuous personal connections to the people.

It’s just a few days from the Big Brother 16 season finale ... and I honestly don’t care who wins. The people I especially wanted not to win (Devin, Frankie, and Caleb) got evicted, and the people I half-heartedly followed (Donny and Zach) are long gone as well. No house guest emerged as my favorite this season, and I’m wondering if watching amounted to wasted effort.

What makes any show worth watching? Likable characters and/or compelling formats. Or vice versa. Plenty of shows are highly watchable when central characters are well-written even if they’re people we’d avoid in real life.

It was easy to get invested in Walter White.Think of Breaking Bad's Walter White. This guy was an underpaid under-appreciated high school chemistry teacher with a wife, a kid, a junky car, an ordinary middle-class house in suburbia, and a life savings of only a few thousand dollars. Who among us can't identify with Walter? It made him likable and compelling from the very first episode -- enough so that we wanted to follow his (mis)adventures to the very end, even as his misanthropic selfishness vanquished his humanity.

Or think Tony Soprano. Despite being ruthless, evil, and utterly devoid of moral restraint in the running of his business affairs, Tony's struggle with mental health, his love for his children (misguided though his expressions of love sometimes were), and his intense desire to achieve and gain more (more wealth, more respect, more recognition, more validation) gave us a personal connection to his ... I'll call it his unique humanity. We laughed and cried with him. We rooted for him. We wanted him to win.

You didn't have to like Tony Soprano or his crew. But you couldn't not watch.Or how about compelling formats? Law and Order aired for 20 years and spawned numerous successful spinoffs despite having a revolving cast who played characters with little depth. The format itself proved compelling and long-lasting: Investigate a crime, catch the bad guy(s), take them to court, and reveal the winner (the cops & attorneys or the accused).

Popular daily game shows -- think Price Is Right and Jeopardy -- are similarly compelling because we understand the format and, by playing along, feel like we're part of it.

We have written much here at Big Brother Gossip about why #BB16 was disappointing. House guests who outright failed to play the game (including some who barely understood what was happening), predictable competitions, ridiculous twists which served only to make a tired format even less compelling, stunt casting, etc. #ExpectTheExpected week after week.

Could a new American reality show shake things up for CBS’s Big Brother? That’s exactly what we’re wondering about Fox’s new Utopia. Isolated from the outside world on several acres in the country, 14 people from wildly diverse backgrounds are trying to build a new society from scratch, starting with only a barn, plantable land, a $5000 start-up budget, and no modern amenities (at first, not even a toilet). There are 24/7 live feeds (some free, some paid) and televised recap episodes on Tuesdays and Fridays.

But there are no competitions. There is no grand prize. There will be no winner. That, to me, makes the format questionable. So are the people likable? Is there something which makes this program compelling? If you’ll pardon the Big Brother pun, the jury’s still out.

Utopia's five acre compound.The predominating feeling I had after watching Utopia’s first two episodes was that irrational anger does not make for good entertainment. It was anger loudly on display by unlikable people. It was puzzling, actually. When you find yourself amongst a group of strangers with whom you know you'll be spending some time, aren't you usually on your best behavior for a while? I found myself wondering if Utopia's producers engineered the conflict (a la Big Brother), misguidedly thinking it would make for better TV.

In your face! The majority of the men were arguing, sometimes violently, in the first day they were there.It didn’t. In fact, for me, the conflict had the opposite effect: I might not stick around to find out if anybody is likable / relatable (as Walter White was) or at least compelling (Tony Soprano). Absence of conflict would be off-putting too -- but until we find a reason to watch a show, its characters should avoid motivating us to change channels.

So if the people are (potentially) repelling, is Utopia’s format compelling? Not yet sure about that, either.

Utopia is somewhat like a "My Summer Camping Trip" home movie, albeit one obviously produced with professional-grade video cameras. But who wants to watch camping trips in slow motion on TV? They tried to create drama over the notion of running out of money, but viewers won't care. (Name for me, please, one viewer anywhere who thinks they will be allowed to starve on national television. They've already aired paramedics and doctors visiting on multiple occasions.)

Utopians celebrate newly-run electricity in the barn.Utopia had a beginning ... but there's no discernible middle or end on the way in a few weeks or months for viewers to look forward to. That's a huge problem. We are conditioned by Big Brother (not to mention scripted TV and another major televised competition thing which seems to be catching on -- I think they call it football) to earn the reward of a "winner" when we invest viewing time. And characters (or teams) to root for or bemoan along the way.

There are no Big Brother- or Survivor-style competitions on Utopia. Watching people plant gardens (or not), milk cows, raise chickens (or argue about dead ones), and sit around outside is dull. (Big Brother's annually-repeated predictable comps are dull for different reasons. But each has a beginning and end, loser and winner, enabling viewers to feel like they've accomplished something in the watching.)

It also occurs to me that there is a basic dichotomy between Utopia and the TV network on which it's airing. The Utopians, we are told, are there to build an ideal society from scratch. They must set aside their many differences ultimately to come together in harmony toward common goals.

Hanging around outside.But if there is a major television network (family of networks) whose brand image is the antithesis of societal harmony, which one immediately comes to mind? Right. Fox is entirely about dividing the country, not about bringing us together. Fox fosters the lack of basic civility in our national conversation and then they televise it and profit from it.

Why on earth is this show on Fox? Shouldn't it be on a channel like TLC, Discovery, Oprah Winfrey Network, PBS, or any channel known for documentaries? TLC was once known as "The Learning Channel" before it veered into quasi-reality faire such as Kate Plus 8, Extreme Couponing, Sister Wives, and LA Ink. If they could possibly clear time by canceling drivel like Toddlers & Tiaras and Honey Boo Boo, each of which destroys human dignity in its own unique way, TLC might have a theme-fitting show in Utopia -- one whose premise, at least, is worth consideration.

Indeed, I do find a few redeeming qualities to Utopia. There are people from all walks of life (city, country, presumed varying levels of education and access to money), and many ethnicities are represented. The conflict I've seen so far seems to have been based on their controversial behavior and differences in ideas or their implementation, not on personal backgrounds. That's an important silver lining to Utopia's odd drama.

I like that religion and faith are represented but also that secularism and atheism are there too -- and that while these Utopians are clearly welcome to discover new expressions of spirituality (there was a Christian baptism, for example), the disinterested seem to remain welcome members of the tribe.

It is refreshing that there is a greater (if less than total) acceptance of the human body. Many Utopians have found a European or dare we say aboriginal comfort with the notion that at times clothing is neither warranted nor practical, e.g. when swimming or when neither the climate nor the specific activity requires its protective qualities. American society is paradoxical and puritanical about nudity. We are completely desensitized to death and violence in media ... but simple non-sexual, non-lewd nudity makes people crazy.

Example: Do you remember that when Titanic arrived in movie theaters, Americans made far more of a fuss over their children seeing a momentary glimpse of Kate Winslet's breast than they did over their children seeing graphic depictions of the horrific deaths of a thousand people? I digress, but get your priorities straight, people.

Regardless of Utopia's harmless nudity, media pounced on it as controversial. Fox undoubtedly welcomed the publicity.And although I complain that Utopia is basically "televised camping," the outdoor environment is nice. The setting itself provides a welcome departure from the endless city streets / urban decay / guns / screaming sirens / death / destruction that usually fill primetime television.

I am not convinced that Utopia’s format is fundamentally flawed or that the show will not find a following if Fox sticks with it long enough. But neither the show’s first few episodes nor the network on which it’s being aired bode well for Utopia’s longevity, in my view. Although DVR viewership has helped, ratings haven't been kind so far. Repeats on other networks had more viewers than new Utopia episodes, and Fox could dump Utopia when its baseball coverage disrupts the schedule next month (if not sooner).

Reality fans who like the “isolate people outside of the real world” genre might be stuck only with a 2015 edition of Big Brother’s tired format.

More Utopia reading: A writer got to visit the Utopia compound before the cast arrived. Also,’s Utopia review delves brilliantly into the initial cast and the conflicts of their first few days.

Big Brother Australia just started its 2014 season a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been enjoying it. What could CBS learn from #BBAU? I’m planning to write about that here some time. Share your thoughts about Utopia in the comments below or @uselesstraffic.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Big Brother Gossip Show #414: Finale

Thankfully, this season comes to an end this week, so tonight's show is our big finale. We talk about the evictions of Frankie and Caleb, the first two of three final competitions, along with some overall thoughts of the season.

While all three of us are disappointed with the season, we feel that this is the best season of the Big Brother Gossip Show. For that I thank Colette and Mike, along wth Ash for her help with audio. We all thank all of you for listening to us this season, and we hope we entertained you.

Grab this via my The Ledge app, Stitcher, or iTunes...and leave us a review! You can also grab a direct download HERE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Night Owl - Weds Night

Well, Frankie was evicted on Tuesday's show (technically Monday afternoon) and Caleb followed right after him tonight leaving your final 3 as Victoria, Cody, and Derrick.

Shortly after the live show went off, the HGs started to prepare for the first part of the final HOH comp, and shortly after that feeds cut for a while and then came back to the endurance comp being played out on the feeds. The comp was the wall that Caleb has talked about all season.  He just barely missed getting to play in it.  The setup was made to look like they were hang gliding. Each HG was holding on to a hang gliding bar and standing on a small-ish ledge.  Victoria did not last long at all and was off shortly after the wall started tilting.  Derrick and Cody then started talking about which one of them should win the comp.  Derrick tried a little reverse psych on Cody trying to get him to throw the comp, but it did not work. Derrick told Cody he didn't feel confident he could beat Victoria in part 2 of the competition, where as he knows that Cody knows all the days, numbers, wins etc..  No deal, Cody stayed on and Derrick came off a few minutes later making Cody the winner of the first part of the final HOH.

I'm not sure exactly when the second part of the final HOH will be played, but if I had to guess I would say Saturday afternoon.  I think that's when they usually play it if I remember correctly.  Victoria and Derrick will be facing off, and unless he just really decides he wants to throw it (which I don't think is happening) I'm certain Derrick will win. That will just leave he and Cody to face off on the final part of the HOH comp on finale night, and at this point I am positive both will stay true to each other and take each other to the final 2. 

So that's where things stand right now. There probably won't be much to report in the next few days. At this point I don't see many scenarios in which Derrick will not win the game.  He has played well, and I think most of the jury if not all of them realize that. I will update again after we find out who wins part 2.  Until then...

Big Brother Season 16, Episode 38 Recap

Today was such a beautiful day! The reason for such a perfect day? It really has to be the fact that today is Day 1 AF (After Frankie). Last night, our summer long nightmare finally ended as Cody and Derrick finally had the guts and smarts to eliminate the most annoying presence in Big Brother history. Good job, boys, even if Caleb’s big mouth threatened to ruin the evening.

So tonight we narrow the field down to this season’s final three. Who will survive? We know that Derrick has a place in the finals thanks to his HOH victory last night. Will Cody have called somebody out for the last time this year? Wait, he’s only threatened to do that. Will Caleb go beastmode on somebody’s ass? Will Victoria pull out the most shocking veto win of the season? Let’s find out!

After Julie’s intro, tonight’s episode commences with a look back at the moment Frankie left. They all kind of make fun of him, and Derrick explains that “it was tiem to let him go”. We then see Frankie ask Derrick about whether he’d stay 5 ½ hours before the taping. Derrick tells him that he’s going, and adds he can’t lie to him. Hmmm, complete with “tragedy” music. Frankie begins crying, and thanks Derrick. When told he’s “the best player in the game”, Frankie replies, “I know.” Ugh.

It’s now four hours before the eviction, and all of the boys are telling Frankie why he’s being evicted. Wait, why are they showing this? Our national nightmare is supposed to be over! As always, Frankie makes it about himself and says that by evicting him they have “created the most powerful person in this game”. Oh Lord. He’s being “reconnected with his millions of followers” (wtf?), and the jury. “Let’s face it. Whose the most convincing speaker in this house?” Victoria? Oh, it’s Frankie, who will “singlehandedly pick the winner of this game”. Caleb tells him to shut up, and Cody also disagrees. “You’re not Jesus in this house.” Caleb points out that everybody in the house has also been playing, and thinks he’d “smoke him” if they were the final two. Ok, now this is getting good. Derrick perks up, and says that he respects all of them as players.

We jump ahead to Derrick’s HOH win, and he’s (obviously) “ecstatic”. Back in the house, Cody is frustrated that he lost due to the last question. He just has to win the POV.

Derrick is upstairs, and the hollas begin playing again, including some from his wife and daughter. Cue the piano music! Obviously, he’s a proud papa, and it’s actually a nice moment.

The boys leave, and Derrick tells Victoria that she doesn’t have to campaign to him. He then talks in the diary room about how he has to say the right things to all three of them, as he’s promised final two deals with them all. Derrick reminds her that they still have to pretend to hate each other, and that she has to go on the block again. Victoria is proud of her work as an actress, and is confident that she’s not going anywhere.

Cody then comes up, and Derrick decides to let him decide if he goes up this time. He’s reminded that they have to win the veto to ensure they are final two. Caleb is going to be the target.

Caleb comes up, and he has to convince him to go up this time. “It doesn’t matter who I put up.” This is an unfair meeting of the minds, and Derrick talks circles around Beastmode’s feeble brain. “I don’t care, man”, he finally says. “Put me up if you want.” Ha! That didn’t take long.

With that, we move to the nominations ceremony. Yep, it’s Victoria and Caleb, who pretends to be mad and gives a fake karate chop to Derrick. There’s some dumb speeches, and Derrick tells Caleb to “crush” the veto. Let’s move on to the important stuff.

After commercials, we get some filler idiocy about Caleb. You know, the usual stuff about how he is going to be famous. We then go meet his family. Fast forward time.

More commercials, and we then get the veto competition. Oh wait, it’s the “most important veto comp of the summer”. You know, more important than last night’s, or the week before. This comp is a promo for the upcoming terrible show, Stalker, so it should be a natural for Caleb. They all have a “crime board puzzle”, and they have to match the clues to pictures of the cast. The first to put all the photos in the correct spot wins.

One doesn’t even have to really watch to know what happens here. Derrick is going to throw it, while Caleb and Victoria don’t have the brains to complete it. Yep, this is Cody’s to win...and he does. (BTW, the diary room voice overs are painful to endure.) Caleb, though, still believes he’s safe.

Then there’s another wait to promote the horrific CBS fall lineup before we get to the veto ceremony and eviction. Wait, we get more house footage before that??? Come on, let’s get to it!

The boys jump around in celebration, and Caleb is convinced that he’s staying. Derrick is starting to feel guilty, but he says that the “loves his family a bit more”. Caleb continues to babble on about loyalty after Derrick walks away. Cody says in the diary room that he’s not really paying attention, as Caleb is “no longer needed”.

And there’s even more commercials!!! Hey Ms Chen, can we hurry this along? Ok, here we go. Hahaha, they have audio issues and can’t hear Julie! This is awesome! It’s fixed, and it’s clear that Caleb now understands what’s happening. He’s not happy.

There’s no actual veto ceremony as there’s no replacement nominee available. Victoria is asked if she has anybody left to thank after nine nominations, and she doesn’t quite get that it’s her turn to stand up. It’s her typical useless speech. Caleb starts off by thanking God, and the troops and family. “At the end of the day”...blah blah blah. He talks about loyalty, and how they’re safe because of him. Victoria shoots him an evil glance when Caleb says that she hasn’t had a chance to show loyalty as she has yet to win anything. POW!!!

Cody is then asked to make the sole vote, and he says that both of them have been loyal to him. He then says that Derrick made a final two deal with him on day two called the “Hitmen”, and that they’re decision on who to evict is to help make them get to final two. Caleb is then evicted.

An obviously angry Caleb hugs everybody, and heads out to cheers. Julie asks what’s going through his mind, and Caleb says that you “have to expect things of this nature to happen”. He throws out a “Beastmode”, and Julie asks why he’s most disappointed in Derrick. Again, the answer makes no sense. Julie follows it up by asking if loyalty, including volunteering to be nominated four time, “cost” him the game, and Caleb says that’s possible. He’s also asked if he regrets evicting Frankie, and Caleb (thankfully) says no way, and that he “showed a lot about his character that day”. He “tooted his own horn” the whole game.

Goodbye messages are then played, and Caleb is gone. Goodbye, Beastmode. It’s been an experience.

There’s a few minutes left in the show, so we go back to the house one last time after Julie runs through the schedule of the last two episodes. Oh wait, there’s no chatter, just a camera as they open a bottle of champagne to celebrate making the final three.

So that’s it! Are you happy with the eviction of Beastmode? Were you annoyed that somehow they found room for more Frankie footage? Tell us what you think!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Big Brother Season 16, Episode 37 Recap

Hey kids, I’m back!!! I won’t bore you with the details, but I greatly enjoyed my days away from this mess of a Big Brother season.

It’s not just my little birthday vacation that has me invigorated tonight, though. No, tonight is the night where we are finally rid of the season’s biggest nightmare. It’s going to be glorious to see this person’s entitled ass walk out the door.

In case you’re not aware, this is not actually a live eviction. It was recorded last night in real time, as if it was really live. Let’s clear up why this happened. It’s not to protect Frankie. For almost ten years, the reduction from five to four players has been pre-taped. The reason is simple. After this episode’s HOH competition, they have a veto AND the first part of the finale comps to set up. It is almost impossible to do this in 24 hours. This extra day allowed them to film the veto comp today to air on tomorrow’s episode. Got it?

So let’s get going where we left off on Sunday night with Caleb’s nominations of Victoria and...yes, Frankie!!! Caleb explains that while he loves Frankie, this is a game and he has to “knock him out” before he “swings at me”. Frankie tells Caleb that it was a “good speech”, but says in the diary room that he’s “completely shocked...I feel totally blindsided”. Victoria hugs Caleb, who tells her she “has a heart of gold”. She’s suddenly a bit cocky, bragging in the diary room that she’s going to make it to the final four. Derrick, of course, is pretty proud of how he put that scene together. “Now we have to win the veto, and we can send Frankie packing.”

Caleb now walks into the bathroom and asks Frankie if he hates him. Frankie replies that he just doesn’t understand why he was nominated, and Caleb (stupidly) explains that after looking at all of the scenarios this was his best move. Cody has been on the block for a full week, while Derrick hasn’t been able to play in either of the two HOH competitions. “I didn’t feel it was fair to put him up there.” Frankie counters that by saying that Derrick has never been nominated all season, and I must say that’s a fair arguement. Caleb goes on to say that he needs to win the veto, and that Derrick will then be put up so Victoria goes home.

Meanwhile, Derrick and Cody are talking about the importance of the upcoming veto competition. Derrick says if they win, then the two of them will be the final two. Cody wants to keep the plan to boot Frankie quiet from not only him but Caleb. Derrick then walks out, and Cody begins pumping himself up. “I have to fucking win veto!”

Frankie is now seen playing pool with Caleb. He tells Caleb that he knows he’s being tested by the nomination, and Caleb says that’s not the case. “I have no reason to test you.” Frankie then asks if there’s another reason for his being nominated, and dumb Caleb then tells him about his (or Derrick’s) worry that he would pull down Victoria and put one of the boys up. “I could have done that last week”, Frankie squeals. Caleb then adds that this was the scenario brought up, and Frankie wants to know how this happened. “Just me, Derrick, and Cody talking. Who do we think would make a big move like that, and you were the one we thought would do it.” Dumb Caleb. Dumb Caleb.

Frankie then goes on a pity party about how he’s done so much for them. As Caleb continues on about how it was a “spur of the moment” decision, Cody walks out. Caleb fills him in, and Cody is pissed. “If you want to make a big move, you don’t run and tell the person after you do it”, he says in the diary room. “If Frankie manages to pull himself down, he’s going to be gunning for all of us.” Derrick also joins them, and he’s also pissed as he would definitely be going up if Frankie wins the veto. “Thanks, Caleb.” Derrick does his best damage control as Frankie goes on about how he’s “proven himself...I’ve been nothing but loyal and honest”.

Back inside, Frankie makes a show at using a flour tortilla to study the faces on the memory wall for the upcoming “morph” veto comp. Derrick explains that because it’s a rewind week, they know exactly what to expect and can prep for it. Frankie knows he’s the target, so his “entire game is on this veto comp”. Since he won last week, he’s certain to win again. We then hear the other boys talk about how they have to win before we go to commercials. Meanwhile, Victoria looks at a bag of bread.

It’s obviously now time for that moment of truth. There’s really no need to go through everything that happened, especially the awful play by play, so let’s just go to the conclusion. Cody goes first, and his time is 2:21. Caleb has difficulties, though, because he forgot to turn off some names. Victoria starts off well, but then has trouble (as expected). It’s now Frankie’s turn, and he becomes frazzled on the second morph. His time then runs out, and he says “I’m wrecked”. Derrick is the last one up, and he believes that it’s Frankie that has the low time. He races through them, but runs out of time. He’s now worried.

Everybody heads out, and Derrick finds out that Cody won “the biggest comp of the summer”. Aren’t they all? Frankie knows he’s in trouble, but still has hope that the boys will “keep to their word”. Will they?

After more commercials, it’s time for the veto meeting. Yes, this is anti-climatic, despite some rhetoric from Frankie. Cody keeps them the same. Big surprise. Frankie’s not happy, but he’s “going to preach loyalty the rest of the week. Are you going to choose greed, or are you going to choose honor? The choice is yours. You will be judged” WTF?

Frankie is now shown playing pool with Cody, and says he’ll “never make the mistake of keeping (Caleb) safe again”. What Caleb did was just not cool. Derrick joins them, and asks when they believe Caleb is going to decide to keep Victoria. In the diary room, Frankie says that he’s going to convince the two boys that his target is now Caleb. They simply agree to whatever he says, and we head to more commercials.

Here we go with that moment we’ve been waiting for all season! Victoria gets the first final plea, and she says nothing of interest. Frankie dramatically thanks his family, especially his awful famous sister, before becoming even more dramatic about how he knew he’d be a “huge target”. Sorry, i can’t go on any longer with this. Let’s just get to the vote.

Cody is the first vote, and we know he votes to evict Frankie, as does Derrick. As the WWE yells whenever Daniel Bryan enters the ring - “YES! YES! YES! YES!”

Julie announces the great news, and Frankie demands that they all “line up for speeches”. He returns the king chess pieces to Caleb, tells Victoria to “please try to win something”, instructs Derrick to “please don’t kill my fish”, and tells Cody that “I’ve had better”. He says that he loves them all, and is out the door with a handful of glitter. Ugh, that’s reserved for Colette Lala.

Time to fast forward, as I can’t endure an interview with Julie. Seriously, the little I heard was complete bullshit.

Ok, let’s get to the HOH competition. It’s the “before/after” comp, where they have to step ahead or back depending on the answer. There are seven questions, and the person with the most correct wins. Derrick almost misses the second question, but quickly corrects himself. He then falls behind on the third question, but Victoria gets the fifth question wrong. She also gets the sixth question wrong. For the last question, Derrick is one point behind Cody, who gets this one wrong. It’s now tied, and we get a tie-breaker!Only Colette Lala is allowed to have glitter

The tie-breaker is a number, and it’s the number of seconds it took for the luxury competition. Derrick guess 420, while Cody slowly picks 680. The answer was 462, which makes Derrick the new HOH!!!

After a little bit of nonsense from Julie, the episode ends. We’ll be back tomorrow with another eviction. Until then, let us know what you thought about tonight’s episode! Are you happy Frankie’s gone? Well, that’s all I really want to know about, but you can talk about anything!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday note - POV Ceremony results and Feed downtime.

Hey there,  Another quickie to keep you guys in the loop.

The POV ceremony was on Saturday and Cody didn't use it as we expected.  Frankie is the guys target and even though they haven't told him yet I think he suspects it and as of this writing they plan to tell him shortly before the actual eviction show that he is going.

However, as of now they do not know the show will happen today (Monday), and if Big Brother doesn't warn them he may be caught off guard - of course Derricks style all season has been to let the evictees know they were going, Christine being the one 'blindside' I can think of.

Folks on Twitter still seem very confused with the term "live" as Julie uses it.  This week there will be two evictions, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Both will be called 'live' evictions but Tuesdays will take place today and be taped and shown on Tuesday.  Wednesdays will actually be live as it happens.  This particular format / setup has taken place once a season since Big Brother six (they may have skipped a season in there - I just remember the furor when the feeds were down for an extended period that first time in BB6). Note: This has NOTHING to do with the fact Frankie is the one likely to leave - this episode would have been taped no matter who was leaving.

The HGs have been told then need to get up early today to provide footage for Big Brother After Dark.  That should have been a tip off that something was up but so far they seem to not realize that means the feeds will be off for an extended period or they think the footage will be used later in the week.

At some point today the feeds will cut away and if they follow last years schedule they will not return until Tuesday evening after the taped "live" show airs.  The audience for the show taping tody will most likely be friends and family of CBS staff (but we still got word last year that Andy had won HoH).  When the feeds do return we should then see a house that had been "Frankieless" for about 24 hours and get an idea of who may be going next.

There are only four episodes left.  Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (highlights show) and then the finale next Wednesday after the Survivor premiere.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Big Brother Gossip Show #413: Best of Big Brother Gossip

This week Scott was getting to see his all time favorite band in cocert so Mike volunteered to put together a 'best of' show along with a 'brief' recap of the goings on this week through Saturday.  We will be back live next week for what will most likely be our wrap up show for this season of Big Brother.

Grab this from the usual sources, including Scott's The Ledge app, or...


Thanks to everyone for listening, Scott and Colette for being great co-hosts and as always to Ash for help help gatheiring the audio clips every week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Night Owl - Friday Night

Cody won the veto and Frankie is leaving! I repeat, CODY WON VETO AND FRANKIE IS LEAVING!!! 

Even though Frankie's eviction will come too late in the season to really make us feel much better about it, at least he won't be making it to the final 2.  After the morph comp was played tonight, we learned that Cody had improved his time on this one by more than 10 minutes bringing him the win.  Everyone except Frankie took turns telling Victoria that she is completely safe now and that Frankie is definitely going home. Frankie danced around talking about how he wanted another rewind button and sarcastically talking about how he was "so happy he pushed the button last week."  Frankie has not been officially told he is the target, and he says that he knows that the boys won't screw him over, but I think he probably has a decent idea that he may be the one going home.

Cody immediately wanted to go ahead and give him the "there is no hope" talk (which I thought was a fantastic idea) and Victoria wanted to start telling Frankie off, but Derrick, being the fun police and the drama smasher that he is, doesn't want them to tell him.  He has agreed that they MAYBE should tell him later after the veto ceremony etc.. but he does not want it said yet.  Unfortunately that means we probably won't see them tell him, because the feeds will likely go down Monday morning to record Tuesday's show, and the guys all think they have until Thursday to tell him.

The only other thing worth noting that happened today was a conversation between Frankie and Derrick that implied that if a member of Team America wins the game, they get an additional $50k.  After Tuesday, Derrick will be the only TA member still available to win, but I'm not terribly happy about the idea of him getting an entire second place prize added to his first place prize in addition to his $20K he made from TA tasks and the $5k he won in the comp.  That will give him a $575K total winnings if he wins BB.  I really don't think screaming about fake mice, and making up rumors about HGs being related to other HGs is worth $50K, but that's just me.  In addition to that, I'm afraid that they just won't do America's Favorite Player this year since they are handing out TA money like it grows on trees, and I think it would be kind of sad if we never got the chance to show the HGs who we ACTUALLY liked vs the fact that Frankie and Derrick think they are adored because they are on Team America.

That's about it for tonight though.  I probably will not update again until after the Weds show when the feeds come back as there probably won't be much happening until then.  At that point the final 3 will be in place and Frankie and possibly Caleb if he doesn't win POV will be gone.  As always you guys can follow me @ashes2ashes13 on twitter for more overnight updates. Until next time...


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Night Owl - Thursday Night

Well, compared to past weeks, today/tonight were actually kind of eventful in the Big Brother house! In my blog last night I mentioned that I was not sure what the jurors coming back into the house was going to mean for us.  We found out early today on the feeds.  After a "Time For A Luxury Comp" announcement was posted on the sign in the living room, around 11:36 all the HGs were locked in the HOH room to watch the screen and the jurors were all turned loose in the house and started sabotaging it.

The feeds then cut for the luxury comp.  After the feeds returned, the jurors were gone and the remaining HGs were VERY salty about what had happened to the house.  Apparently the luxury comp involved each juror playing for one of the people in the house (except Christine who did not get picked).  The jurors had to look for a chip in the house that represented 10k and then that juror would get $5k and the person they were playing for got $5k. Hayden won and he was playing for Victoria.  You would THINK that winning $5k would make Victoria at least momentarily happy, but ohh no.  She and Frankie bitched, whined, and complained for hours.  Victoria decided that because the jurors destroyed the house, they must be very very bitter, mean, and hateful.  It never seemed to occur to she, Frankie, or Caleb that they were SUPPOSED to come into the house and do that.  Apparently at some point during the comp, Jocasta poured out trash in the kitchen, some people's personal clothes were thrown around, and Christine stomped on something.  Victoria's name got scratched out in the bathroom, and I'm sure we all have a good idea who did that one.  She is very upset about it, but if I were her I wouldn't be so proud of myself next time I chopped up my own hat if I didn't want any repercussions.

Frankie was very very upset about the whole thing because in his mind the jurors have no business being able to come into "HIS" house and hurt him and the the people he loves by touching their things and taking money from them.  In his own words: "We are the beasts of the house! We have earned our way here and fought our dicks off to get them evicted and now they are taking our money that WE deserve!"  Rants like this went on until it was time for nominations.

Nominations happened and Caleb nominated Frankie and Victoria.  Frankie is the target, but he didn't know that at the time.  After the ceremony everyone was pretty ok about things except for Frankie moping around and telling Derrick and Cody that he was a little pissed at Caleb for not telling him he was going up after everything he has done for all of them.

Caleb and Frankie then played a game of pool together, and Caleb just cannot lie to save his life.  When confronted by Frankie on why he was nominated, instead of just telling him he is the pawn and leaving it at that like he is supposed to, he told him he was the pawn but ALSO got put up because he, Cody, and Derrick had talked and decided that Frankie might use the veto on Victoria if he was off the block, so they decided to put him up.  Frankie then went into self victimizing mode about all he has done for everyone and how he has done nothing but play with honesty and integrity blah blah blah...

Cody and Derrick eventually entered the tail end of the conversation once the damage had been done and Frankie had decided that he couldn't trust Cody or Derrick.  After exiting the conversation, Cody went into the storage room to rant to himself for a few minutes before going and trying to cover his ass with Frankie, and Derrick went and laid in the hammock mumbling to himself about how Caleb talks too much.

So now everyone is awkwardly studying the memory wall for the veto comp and hanging out together.  I think they are all (including Frankie) aware that Frankie is the target even though they are all pretending not to know.  I think Frankie is going to fight like crazy for that veto now that he knows he is really in danger.  It will be interesting to see if he pulls it off or if the pressure of actual danger causes him to actually lose this one.

I think the veto comp will likely be played tonight (Friday night) since the morph comp is almost always a night comp, and they will likely get the veto out of the way and then the ceremony on Sunday before the taping of the eviction on Monday.  So Frankie's possible eviction all comes down to whether or not he wins veto tonight. We shall see what happens.  As always you guys can follow me on twitter @ashes2ashes13 for more overnight feed updates.  Until tomorrow night...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Night Owl - Weds Night

Hey guys! So, it's been a while.  With last week being the week that didn't count, I didn't see much point in posting a lot of "what ifs" and "might have beens", but now, per the rewind, the week has started again and this time it counts.

When the feeds came back from the HOH comp, which was the seeds comp again, we found out that Caleb had won HOH this time instead of Frankie.  Derrick quickly went to work on him trying to convince him that he needs to put up Frankie and Victoria with Frankie being the target.  Caleb shrunk back at the idea of putting Frankie on the block right off the bat.  He wanted to put up Derrick and Victoria first so that Frankie wouldn't want veto as badly (even though he would probably still fight just as hard because he knows he is in danger) and they could backdoor him later.  Caleb then went and told Cody that he would be putting up Derrick and Victoria and then unless Frankie won veto, Frankie would be going up.

Cody went and talked to Derrick, and Derrick was of course having none of this.  He told Cody that Cody needed to go and talk to Caleb and explain how Frankie could use the veto on Victoria and then one of them would be going home.  Frankie had to remain loyal to the 4 last week because he could not play for HOH this week, but now that he CAN play for HOH in the next competition, he doesn't have to remain loyal and could save Victoria if he wanted to and leave Cody and Derrick sitting next to each other on the block.

Ultimately Cody never had to talk to Caleb because Derrick ended up speaking with him and telling him to put Frankie up and if Frankie wins POV and comes off the block, THEN he can put Derrick up beside Victoria and they will all vote Victoria out.  Caleb agreed pretty quickly because Caleb pretty much always agrees with the last person in his ear, so that is where things stand right now.

Unless Frankie pulls something major out of his butt tonight or in the morning, he and Victoria will be the nominees and Frankie will be the target unless he wins the Morph comp again.  I do not know exactly what Julie meant when she said that the jurors would be returning to the house.  At first I thought maybe it would be as a distraction in the veto comp or something, but according to what she said, the veto comp will not be aired until Tuesday on the eviction show, and the returning jurors thing was said to be happening Sunday. Whether we will see whatever it is on the feeds or not is completely unknown to me, but I sure hope so.  It would have to be better than the "rat in the house" task of the "dog for a day" thing.

Derrick has assured Victoria that she should relax because he is winning the veto comp this week, and they have all been studying the wall for the morph comp.  If Frankie wins, Victoria likely goes. If Frankie doesn't win, he will likely be evicted. As always you guys can follow me @ashes2ashes13 on twitter for more overnight updates.  Until next time....

Big Brother Season 16, Episode 35 Results

Caleb won HOH after the Wednesday live show, and this time it counts. That is the one and only thing which happened during the last six days which wasn't meaningless, insulting drivel.

By saving the "Rewind" twist for this late in a season so thoroughly dominated by one house guest who has never even been nominated, CBS pretty much hocked a loogie at all Big Brother fans, both new and long-time. Why would you tell viewers in advance that there will be absolutely nothing happening for a week which will affect the game's outcome?

Do you think the remaining house guests are interesting enough to watch just because it's fun and we like them? It isn't and we don't.

Why should anybody have bothered to watch these last Sunday and Tuesday episodes? Honestly, why should anybody bother to watch any more #BB16 at all. Except maybe the finale.

Executive producer Allison Grodner, you should be ashamed! The international editions of Big Brother are so much more imaginitive and entertaining than your show. I'm still a newbie ... but determining that, say, Big Brother Australia is superior to the CBS version requires only to watch one episode on-line. Your "most twisted season ever" has been exactly the opposite. Dull, predictable, boring. You re-use so many competitions from previous years that the #BB16 house guests know exactly what's coming. The "Rewind" twist might have stirred things up, but you brought it on about four weeks too late.

Oh, and please skip the gimmicky former house guest interviews and engagements. You wouldn't need filler if your formula wasn't broken!

By the way, this isn't Scott writing this -- it's John. My fellow contributors Scott and Ash are the "A team" around here. But what's left of this season is not deserving of the efforts of Big Brother Gossip's starting players. They have more than earned a respite from this nonsense.

Déjà vu all over again.So I'm just providing the results of the Wednesday live episode, not a play-by-play recap like Scott writes. In a nutshell, here's what happened:

  • Julie called for a live eviction vote. But just as Derrick was about to enter the Diary Room, a klaxon sounded and the lights flashed.

  • Julie explained to the house guests that the last week was meaningless, Victoria and Cody were no longer on the block, and the game would rewind to last Thursday's HOH competition ... which would be repeated. The very same "Seed Saw" comp. Derrick would again not be eligible to compete (since he was outgoing HOH last time around).

  • Cody will have to wear the dino-costume again since he was still wearing it a week ago.

  • The repeat "Seed Saw" competition began during the live show and was in progress as the episode ended. When the live feeds came back about 45 minutes later, we determined that Caleb won HOH.

Upcoming schedule:

Sunday's episode (Sep. 14, 2014) starts at 8:30p.

Next Tuesday (Sep. 16), there be a special eviction episode. (It won't be live.)

Next Wednesday (Sep. 17) will be live with another eviction.

There will be an episode on Friday (Sep. 19) but no episode the following Sunday (Sep. 21).

The only thing left after that is the live season finale on Wednesday (Sep. 24) at 9:30p.

If #BB15 last year when I was new had been as much of a yawn-fest and as poorly-produced as #BB16, would I have stuck around? Hell no! I am astonished that the ratings have apparently held up this year. It is disheartening, to say the least. I hope that Grodner (or some future executive producer) changes the formula before the show tanks ... because it will, sooner rather than later. And ... that's all I've got. Comments welcome below (or don't bother, since this season just isn't worth it) or @uselesstraffic.