What a joyous night of television. Between the launches of The OC, Reunion, and the NFL season, old summer stalwart Big Brother 6 almost got lost in the shuffle. Almost.
Of course, you can never forget about Big Brother because it’s turned out to be the most unpredictable, exciting, addictive, and riveting television show of the summer — and dare I say, year. Okay, I won’t get carried away because in all truth, I have not had the hindsight or frame of reference yet to make such bold statements. By late December, however, don’t be surprised if I’m still singing the praises of this latest BB season. At the very least, it’s been a hell of a lot more enjoyable than The OC this year, and that definitely includes tonight’s season premiere. But I’ll let J-Unit regale us with his thoughts on that. In the meantime, join me as we remember all the wonderful moments of tonight’s live Big Brother, including the biggest Summer of Secrets revelation: THE GOTHBOT.The show began just the way every Thursday episode begins: with the Chenbot lovingly standing on her studio lanai. And keeping in line with last Saturday’s outfit, Julie came to us wearing a classy, if not sparkly, shirt and pants combo. Apparently the wild days of super-tasseled mini-coats were behind her. However, while The Chenbot may have seemed glamorous at first glance, it became wildly evident that this wasn’t the same old Ju-Ju. No, Ms. Moonves had been replaced with a darker, edgier prototype; one that wears black lipstick and listens to The Cure. Ladies and gentlemen, the Gothbot has arrived.
Who was this evil hostess? And what had she done with the Chenbot? Would she force Marilyn Manson upon us? Would she down a goblet of lamb’s blood in worship of Lucifer? Or would she simply draw a mighty Pentagram on the Big Brother front door?
Actually, neither. Turns out the Gothbot is just an all-dark version of the Chenbot. It wasn’t a major shift, but it was enough to startle loyal Chenbot enthusiasts such as me. I mean, she was one eye-patch away from being pure evil.
Nevertheless, after a spirited “But first!”, the Gothbot whisked us back into the Big Brother compound where we happily caught up with our feuding house guests. Once again, we relived the wonderful veto ceremony this week as Janelle took herself off the block, precipitating April’s first nominee experience. “What a cute pawn!” said Howie, trying to lift her spirits. Yeah, she’s very cute. Sort of the way Sophia on The Golden Girls was cute.
After the veto ceremony, Janelle and Howie retreated to their Gold Room lair and tried to plot their next move. In their minds, Ivette’s best strategic move would be to take one of them to the final three because she’d never be able to win against April or Maggie. Unfortunately, Ivette’s brain doesn’t always process things like “logic” and “common sense” or “anything mildly intelligent,” so while I enjoyed this scheming, I still could not believe that the Sovereign Two would be able to change the game. That didn’t stop Howie from being optimistic though. After all, as he noted, we’ve seen major betrayals before. Lest we forget the clones turning on the Jedis? Yes, this was all like a Star Wars movie, claimed Howie. Yes, a really lame Star Wars movie. Well, more like another really lame Star Wars movie. Although… now that I think about it, considering this season of Big Brother has been more exciting than the last three Star Wars combined, maybe I should re-assess that “lame” comment. After all, this season’s had all the things we want from a Star Wars movie: an epic battle between good and bad, amazing special effects (making 31-year-old April look 93 was genius), and of course a new C3P0 prototype in the Chenbot. Take heed George Lucas. Your next trilogy is upon us!
Nevertheless, Howie brought his scheming to an end, saying it was time to go to the dark side of the force. The producers then froze the screen and quickly erased Howie’s light saber in a low-budget attempt to make him look like a young Jedi knight. I told you this show had great special effects, and I’m not even talking about that sweet-ass light saber transition we saw about three seconds later. Man the editors must be bored.
Later, Howie and Janelle cornered Ivette to talk strategy, making April extremely nervous up in the HOH room (she was spying via the TV). What happened next was extremely disturbing. Howie actually spoke clearly and coherently. Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? I don’t know what had gotten into him (maybe the Dark Side suited him), but Howie laid out a plan for Ivette in a straightforward and Kaysarian way. He presented her with logical arguments as to why she should keep him and Janelle, and had I been watching the show for the first time tonight, I would have thought Howie had been the mastermind behind the entire season. Alas, despite this winning performance, Howie’s deft use of logic was obviously lost on Ivette as she quickly retreated up to The Friendship to report everything. Honestly Howie, you did a great job, but trying to talk strategy with Ivette is like trying to speak French to a seal: nothing’s gonna get through. And you might smell like fish afterwards. But that’s neither here nor there.
Well, up in the HOH room, Ivette announced, “They’re trying to work every angle they can.” And with Ivette, you know there are a lot of angles to work. Wide angles, if you will. Nevertheless, a nervous April suddenly blurted out, “Everyone in this house deserves the money. I have credit cards. You can’t sit here and say that someone is in more dire need than anyone else.” She then added, “I mean, I lost my life savings in The Great Depression, and you don’t hear me complaining.”
Moments later, when April had left the room (probably to take her afternoon Geritol), Ivette confessed that she wouldn’t be happy if April made it to the final two. Uh oh. Might this be the first signs of a Friendship betrayal? Or just more slick CBS misdirection? We’d have to wait to find out because we then returned to the Gothbot who was happily awaiting us in her studio. You know, in the wake of all that Star Wars talk, maybe the Gothbot is just the Dark Side version of the Chenbot. Dark Sith Lord Julie Chen, if you will. Call her what you want, our robotic hostess faced her first malfunction of the night in a glorious manner. “Hello everyone!” she robo-chirped to the house guests, but only a cold silence hung in the air. Meanwhile, inside the Chenbot, red emergency lights flashed while an urgent alarm blared at full volume. Hold onto your seats. This baby’s going down!
An exclusive peek inside the Chenbot.
Yes, a technical gaffe had derailed Julie Chen as the house guests could neither hear nor see her on their living room monitor. Instead, all they had to gaze upon were some placid clouds floating by, kind of like what you see on an airplane before the safety video comes on. In stark contrast to this calming image was the Chenbot, who had now expelled a flurry of sparks, not to mention a large plume of smoke.
“Helloooo house guests?” she asked, as the self-destruct sequence in her CPU clicked past the thirty-second mark. Meanwhile, the CBS camera men had already bolted for the nearest fire exit, only to find they had been locked in the studio, sure to meet an untimely death unparalleled since Chernobyl.
With little else to do but try one last time, Julie borrowed a line from Verizon and asked, “Hello everyone. Can you hear me now?” Suddenly the living room came to life as the house guests all responded, sending a wave of emotions — equal parts relief and victory — over Julie Chen. It was as if we were at the climax of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, and Nicholas Cage had just cut the correct bomb wire.
Click here to hear the whole awkward ordeal.
Once order had been restored in the Cheniverse, we were able to resume where we had left off: idle chatter with the contestants. I don’t remember much of what was said, but I do know that at one point, Julie asked Howie how he enjoyed being the one guy left in the house. The aspiring weatherman said it was great because they were all like family, noting, “They’re like step-sisters really, but non-blood-related.” Yes. That would be the definition of STEP SISTER.
Julie then pointed out that April hadn’t smoked in over a month, prompting the question as to whether or not she would keep it up after the game. “Uhhhh… yes. Absolutely,” replied April. Oh shut up. Don’t lie to us. We just heard you say “Uhhhhh.” You’re gonna smoke like a chimney, just as you have for the last fifty-four years. But April had more delusions for us: “I came in here– I wasn’t really a true smoker, but yes, I smoked.” Not a true smoker? You make Tom Waits sounds like a British choirboy. (I was going to make some vague comparison about coal miners and castrati, but I think Tom Waits really does the trick.)
Anyway, after April was done telling us how much she doesn’t smoke, Julie took us to the commercial break, asking us what will Ivette’s mother and girlfriend think of how she’s played the game. I WONDER. Actually, it was pretty interesting. When we came back from the break, we met Ivette’s mother who looked like the bizarre hybrid of Horatio Sanz, Wendy the Snapple Lady, and Gene Wilder. We also saw Ivette’s girlfriend for the first time since the premiere episode, and yes, she still looked amazingly like the hybrid of Piggy and… Piggy. Yeah, she was all Piggy.
Shockingly, these two women were awesome. Piggy earned instant bonus points by saying, “Nothing against Cappy because I don’t know the guy. I don’t really like him. I hate Ivette’s obsession with him. I can’t stand it. It drives me crazy.” Uh oh. This will be an awkward Thanksgiving. Maybe Piggy was just a little jealous of the trollish cue ball firefighter. But no, Momma was upset too. “She forgot her Beau a lot of times!” she pointed out, as we saw footage of poor Beau sitting alone at the hot tub. Awww. Everyone forgot about Beau-Beau! Either that or they were just avoiding his piercing caterwaul.
The best part about this little segment though was how badly Ivette’s mom wanted her to betray The Friendship: “You didn’t go there to make friends. You went there to win. To win at a game. Not to make friendship.” Translation: VOTE THAT BITCH APRIL OUT!
Meanwhile, Piggy continued to endear herself to America by commenting, “As Ivette’s girlfriend, it’s probably not right for me to say that A) I do like Janelle. I like Janelle in the game. I think she’s a great player. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s witty… She’s charismatic. She’s got all these great qualities.” So basically, um, these two will be broken up about thirty minutes after the season’s over. Man, why couldn’t Piggy have been Ivette’s secret partner?
Anyway, this segment wrapped up, and then it was time for Julie to ask Ivette a few questions in the privacy of the HOH room. This was a fairly humdrum interview; so I’m not going to really get into it. Afterwards though, we got to take a trip to the sequester house, and I still don’t know why CBS doesn’t dedicate even a half an hour to this parallel world. Nevertheless, things were tense in the Sideways house, although you wouldn’t know it if you saw the silly footage of Rachel and Jennifer feeding fish in the lake below. I don’t know how Rachel and Jennifer managed to co-exist alone for a full week, but luckily their hellish world expanded by one as James showed up with a middle finger in tow. “I really am disappointed to see James here. I was really hoping for a spicy Latina,” remarked Rachel. But Rachel, everybody loves a spicy Latina! I mean, it says so on the shirt… that Ivette wears every. single. DAY. (and Johanna from Real World too.)
Well, the addition of James was more than enough to bring this fish-feeding household from the doldrums to the, uh, not doldrums. He and Jennifer immediately went at it as they watched the videotape of the last week, and at times they even crossed the line from being PA to full on A (that’s passive-aggressive and aggressive in TVgasm slang). “We know what Busto’s plans are,” said James as he relived the past week.
“You’re such a jerk. Get over it,” said Jennifer, annoyed at the April insults. Hey Jenny, you might want to develop a thicker skin before you leave the Big Brother bubble. Let’s just say your biggest fan site is Jenvasquezsucks.com. By the way, if Jennifer’s still cheerleading for the Dallas Desperados next Spring, I’d totally get a group together and boo her. That would just be funny. Pathetic, but funny.
Best jury house EVER (despite being in stupid wine country).
Anyway, the Jen/James rivalry was beautiful to behold, and it was great to see that the anti-April crusade hadn’t died either. “America hates you April!” shouted James. “I’m just kidding. No I’m not. America hates you.” Man, this show is awesome.
Later, Beau and his new trucker cap joined the jury house, but his arrival yielded little drama, as usual. James seemed to pick up where Howie left off, giving Beau two kisses and even carrying him into the house as if he were his new bride. And with that stirring image, we returned to the Chenbot who faked us out with a “For now” instead of a “But first!” Listen writers, don’t get all cutesy with us. We want our “But first” and we want it NOW.
Anyway, we watched a few clips as Maggie and Janelle deliberated on who they’d vote for. Of course, the cult of The Friendship was in full effect as Maggie explained, “Turning your back on someone in The Friendship would pretty much seal the deal on you not getting anyone in Friendship’s vote for you in the end.” Maggie then shaved her head and pledged to build a commune in the countryside. In other news, Tom Cruise has left Scientology for The Friendship.
Finally, it was time for the eviction, which meant the nominees had the floor. April thanked everyone under the sun. Everyone, that is, but PEPPERONI! This was worse than Hilary Swank’s first Oscar win. As for Howie, he thanked every single person he could think of, and after what felt like thirty minutes, he was still talking. Needless to say, the Chenbot was NOT happy. Howie had sent her carefully timed chatter out of whack. Might there be a second meltdown?
The Chenbot struggles to improvise when her patented laugh-interrupt fails
Amidst all his babbling, Howie somehow managed to suggest an illicit affair with the Chenbot as he said, “If you weren’t married, Julie…” Hey, be careful. That’s Les Moonves’s girl you’re talking about. This sexy bitch only belongs to one man.
You can’t touch this.
Anyway, it was time to vote, and even though CBS tried to make this seem unpredictable, we all pretty much knew how things would go. Sure enough, Janelle voted against April, Maggie voted against Howie, and in the tie-breaker, Ivette evicted Howie. Sigh. Now if Janelle makes it to the final two, she’ll have to somehow win a Friendship vote, and that’s unlikely to happen. Oh well.
Well, the girls all ushered Howie out of the house with a steady stream of hugs, kisses, and in the case of April, BS. “Howie, we’re gonna miss you so much,” she said in her typically phony way. Just shut up already.
As Howie crossed the threshold and walked out the house, he looked out over the “lawn” and joked “Julie?” as if he couldn’t see her. Amazingly, this CRACKED the Chenbot up, and she giggled heartily as Howie bounded over to her. And then the unthinkable happened. Julie extended her robo-handshake, and Howie clasped it… AND THEN KISSED HER ON THE CHEEK! And what did Julie do? She went from giggling hostess to full-on hysterical robot. I mean, Julie went nuts (comparatively). Looks like Les Moonves might have to rewire his wife a bit.
Anyway, once the Chenbot settled down a bit, she asked Howie if the turning point in the game was when he nominated James and Sarah (yes). “James and Sarah, whether they were coming after me or not, I couldn’t take a shot at James taking me out. You know, blindsiding me,” he explained. Well big news: you blindsided yourself, jerk. And even though everyone else has pretty much admitted that Howie’s critical nominations led to the downfall of the Sovereign Six (Five, Four, Three, Two, and now One), Howie was reticent to take blame, instead saying that the whole game was full of woulda, coulda, shoulda. True… but this was still all your fault.
Well, the house guests all taped goodbyes, and surprisingly, April forgave Howie for his obnoxious behavior, which was either pretty big or pretty stupid of her, depending on your outlook. Maggie, meanwhile, said, “Thank you so much for all the laughter you brought to this game.” Laughter? Wait, she actually thought Howie’s jokes were funny? I suppose she watches Yes, Dear too.
After Howie’s interview, we then were told about the new America’s Choice. This time, whoever won would get to spend a day on the set of Two and a Half Men. Normally, I’d organize a Janey campaign again but a) the polls close at like 7 AM tomorrow, and b) I’m not sure spending a day on the Two and a Half Men set is what I call a reward.
Finally, it was time for the Head of Household competition, that weekly event that always brings me one step closer to cardiac arrest. This week, we revisited our old friend, the Before & After game. Julie would ask whether a Big Brother event happened before or after another Big Brother event, and the house guests had to respond in kind by stepping on either a “Before” space or an “After” space.
Now here’s the thing. It’s pretty much common knowledge that Janelle must win every HOH competition from here on out. Unfortunately, things looked bleak for her tonight. Well, maybe not to all of you folk, but at least to me. You see, someone had emailed J-Unit a spoiler, and about an hour or two before the show, he told me that the entire telecast had been destroyed for him. He then spent the next two hours moping around with a long and dejected face. Surely, I would be in for a massive disappointment.
Anyway, the competition got underway, and all in all, Janelle was doing pretty well. We did have an obligatory Chenbot meltdown when April took too long to make a decision. “PLEASE STEP NOW, APRIL!!” yelled the Chenbot, momentarily becoming the Gothbot yet again. (Technically, she never stopped being the Gothbot, but I just got sick of writing it. Chenbot is just so much more fun.)
After four questions, the score stood Janelle 4, Maggie 3, and April 2. This looked encouraging, but then again, J-Unit had that sad face. Surely this would end in disappointment for me. But wait, Janelle got another right. And another. And then the score was Janelle 6, Maggie 4, and April 3. And there were only seven questions, which meant… IT WAS A LOCK! JANELLE WON HOH!!!!
Before the last question was even asked, J-Unit suddenly bounced up from the couch with a triumphant smile, and after high-fives were shared all around, he revealed that even though he had read the spoiler, he still wanted to misdirect me. “You have no idea how hard it was for me to contain myself,” he sighed with a wide grin. Props to J-Unit. Props indeed.
Well, Janelle handily won the competition with a perfect score of 7 for 7, and as The Friendship congratulated her with unhappy smiles, Janelle bubbled, “I DID IT!!” Sure, it wasn’t as wonderful as “Bye Bye Bitches!!!” but it was worth the price of admission. Later, as the Chenbot killed time, she asked Janelle the viewer-submitted question on everyone’s minds: “What was it like growing up in Minnesota?”
It’s not like Minnesota is some wacky place that no one’s ever been to. I don’t know if I should make fun of the viewer that sent that in or the producers for putting it on the air. How about I do neither and simply coast in the pure triumph that is Janelle’s victory. The good news is that she’s now ensured a spot in the final three, and given that the last HOH contest is usually of the endurance variety, she should have the leg up on the other girls. But you never know. Go Janey!
What did you think? How excited were you when Janelle won?