Big Brother

Baker’s Dozen: 13 Points on the Big Brother 14 Premiere

A recurring guest blog by Rob Has a Website contributor, Andy Baker

As I wonder how much it’s gotta hurt to be evicted only a few hours after you walk in the Big Brother front door, here are a few thoughts of this season’s first episode (which was epic and awesome and awesomely epic – and I say this as a BB fan who had gotten a bit bored with the formula):

1) Like everyone else watching the show, when I heard that the Coaches were fighting for a $100k prize, I instantly thought: “That’s not enough.” Might as well say they’re playing for a chance to be a P.A. on Jeff and Jordan’s new internet show – it’s just as believable. Let’s just admit it now: the producers have found a novel way to get some of their favorite past players back into the game. The only question is how long they’ll be protected by their “coach” status (I’m guessing there will be some nominal danger, i.e. if all of your players are evicted, then you’re gone too). While I don’t think this inevitable twist is fair, it probably will be entertaining – which in the end is all CBS really wants.

2) Speaking of the Coaches, a few quick thoughts of their early game performances: Loved that Dan swiftly approached Boogie and asked about the potentially volatile Janelle/Boogie relationship, and while he drafted poorly, I think he’s ended up with two players who could float and flirt their way deep into the game (would be interesting to find out if that’s what he was planning)… loved Boogie’s team assembly, and was impressed that he and Janelle talked about Slick Willie being a Hantz… Britney’s logic for making Willie HoH was sound, although I can’t help but wonder if Allison Grodner was giving Britney orders through an earpiece (“PICK HANTZ OR DIE”)… and Janelle, who knows what the hell she’s doing?

3) Fortunes rising: Ian. Before the season started, I wasn’t a fan – in a game that’s all about fitting in, he seemed to be all edges and irritation – but he had a spectacular first hour. To whit: During the opening cast intros, he’s the only player who wondered why he didn’t get a key, he knew within minutes that Slick Willie was a Hantz, and he did surprisingly well in the challenge. Add to all this the conspicuous absence of the nervous ticks which characterized Ian’s pre-game interviews, and you’ve got quite an auspicious beginning for the UberNerd SuperFan. (Am I the only one who can’t wait to see Ian rupture with rapture when Ashley flirts with him in the hot tub?)

4) Fortunes falling: Joe Alternate. Everything about this guy screams, “I’m trying too hard.” During the obligatory champagne intros, everyone gets excited when Joe Alternate announces he’s a chef – and then he ruins the moment by saying, “We’re going to eat well up in here!” There is little worse in reality television, and perhaps life, than a 40+ year-old man trying to sound like a teenager. Might be forgivable if it was a one-shot thing, but Joe Alternate gave it another try during his one diary room moment (during which he was totally hammered). Joe, I’m sorry, but you’re not long for this hizzouse.

5) At first blush, I rank the teams thusly: Britney’s, because I have a feeling that in the early going we’re looking at team veto power, and the combo of Shane and Slick Willie will be hard to beat… Boogie’s, because Frank and Ian are perfect players for his system… Dan’s, because the two houseguests he has left have battle-tested skill sets (they’re both power floaters)… and in last place, by a wide margin, is Janelle’s squad: Joe’s annoying, Ashley is already in serious contention for dimmest BB player of all time, and Wil is clearly a drama diva. Ugh.

6) While I hated the challenge (rotating beds and teddy bears? that’s all you could come up with, Grodner?), I love how much it mattered. In the past, the first HoH competition has often been bad TV; when just about every houseguest is trying to throw the competition while not seeming like a liability, you get a big steaming pile of mediocrity. This time, no one wanted to have a one-in-three chance of going home before the game had rightly begun. When in doubt, raise the stakes – well done, producers. (Poor Jodi. She spends months going through the casting process, and then her journey ends the first night. Truth be told, she had no chance to win this thing, but man, being evicted that way has got to hurt.)

7) Having Kara do a cartwheel in a bikini and then tell the audience that she’s looking to hook up in the house was utterly shameless. But that’s what we expect from our reality TV, no? Better Kara doing gymnastics while nearly naked than a pregnant Snooki, amiright?

8) While I agree with Rob C. that lying about your job is usually pointless, in the case of Danielle, let me take a contrarian point of view. One facet of her overall strategy is shaping a persona to sell to the other players: The Dim Debutante. Saying she’s a kindergarten teacher fits that far better than letting everyone know she’s a nurse, methinks. And unlike Holly on Glass House, who thinks Dr. Phil is a psychologist, it’s doubtful that Danielle will have a hard time faking her false profession. “Yeah, I teach little kids. Prove it? Um, they like Dr. Suess, cookies and recess.”

9) Uh-oh, an uneven first episode from my boy Frank. He made a bad first impression when he admitted he’s unemployed, but counterbalanced this by crushing the challenge and showing viewers a strong understanding of the game in the diary room: Frank was the first to articulate that the Coaches twist means there will be two distinct games being played, and he correctly identified Britney as the least strategically adept of all the coaches. If he can avoid being an early target – which may be hard, given that he’s the strongest player on his team of three – he remains a contender.

10) Ashley had a hell of a first episode, don’t you think? First, she stuns the room into silence when she announces she’s a spray tan technician (and stares vacantly while everyone expects her to clarify or at least add to her bio). Then she tells us she wants to team up with a My Little Pony (Jojo) and a Barbie (Kara) – how much you wanna bet she has these toys back in her apartment? And lastly, she claims she finds Ian cute; there are a lot of adjectives that can be used to describe Ian, but cute isn’t one of them. Something tells me that the BB producers are going to showcase Ashley’s idiocy all summer long. And as uncomfortable as that sort of mockery can be, I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to Ashley’s performances in challenges which involve math and/or spelling.

11) Wil had the line of the night, when talking about his and Frank’s flowing locks: “This is the year of the hair.” I doubt Wil is going to last long, but I have a feeling that we’re going to love his diary room confessions.

12) When the season finally starts and the houseguests walk and talk and transform into people, I start to notice the little things: Jojo’s visually disconcerting cheek piercing and snaggle-tooth canine, Ashley’s melting nose, Kara oddly indented tooth, Shane’s pit stains (now there’s a Twitter handle for you). The more I notice, the more I think maybe it’s a good thing Big Brother isn’t in HD.

13) Prediction time: Rather than nominate two houseguests from the same team, I’m guessing that Willie’s going to target the strongest player from two different trios. That way, two teams and two Coaches have to come to you to make deals. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Britney and Janelle are going to team up against Boogie and Dan, which means that Willie’s gotta nominate Frank and Kara. Yep, my boy Frank’s in some serious danger this week if he doesn’t win PoV…

Back with more next week!

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