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"Big Brother" is the reality show critics love to hate. But for passionate fans of the unscripted CBS soap opera, summer would be a bummer without it. That includes TVWeek editors Michele Greppi and Josef Adalian, who’ve decided to chronicle their “Brother”-ly love via regular blog postings. From the first HOH competition to the last "But first…" to fall from the lips of the Chenbot, they’ll be serving up their unfiltered take on life inside TV’s most dysfunctional house of horrors.

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Oh Brother!



It Couldn’t Have Been Scripted Any Better

September 17, 2008 11:34 AM

Michele Greppi: Dan, the Catholic school teacher whose complex and evolving gamesmanship earned him a unanimous vote—and $500,000—from a jury of people whose ousters he helped maneuver, wasn’t the only winner as “Big Brother 10” came to an end last night.


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The audience also won, from unexpected beginning to unassailable ending. There were some fantastic challenges, but what provided the most fun all season was the players. They were never less than great TV.

They fought. They schemed. Some tripped over their own super-sized egos. Some got their hearts bruised.

And some are in for a rude awakening when they realize how they were perceived by “BB” fans, who call ‘em as they see ‘em in live feeds from the house 24/7 on the Web, three hours a night on Showtime Too and on the blogs that transcribe nearly every word uttered by every houseguest for the last three months.

I think the “BB” cult will agree with the jury that the best player won. And his secret collaborator, Memphis, deserved to come in second.

The only thing the live hourlong finale lacked: A camera trained on the jurors while Dan and Memphis explained just how long they’d had their secret alliance.

This is one season that leaves me craving a number of video postscripts. There are the poignant ones: Renny hearing for the first time about Hurricane Gustav blowing into her home town of New Orleans. Libra and Geezer Jerry hearing about Ike ripping into their home state of Texas.

I’d like to see the unbleeped temper tantrum Libra throws when she finally accepts that John McCain has slowed Barack Obama’s momentum in the presidential sweepstakes by choosing a running mate he knew only slightly better than the houseguests on their first night together,

I’d love to be watching 75-year-old Geezer Jerry (not only the oldest reality contestant ever but also the longest-lasting one) as it dawns on him that if he votes for Geezer McCain, 72, he’s also voting for a woman to be one heartbeat away from being commander in chief. Scratch that. I don’t want to even think about how Geezer J., Mr. Sexist Semper Fi, would say how he’d salute Sarah Palin.

I’d be interested in seeing how Keesha spends the $25,000 she won by being voted America’s favorite juror. Voice lessons, perhaps?

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when our “BB10” showmancers, Aprollie, lose the next promotion or job they want because of all those video clips of them having sex under the ever-present cameras—all available on the Internet.

Hooray for early evictees Brian and Steven for calling out Ollie for his angry rampage after he got played by Dan and Geezer J. for his unsportsmanlike hypocrisy.

The two Renegades had spent the last few days alone in the “BB10” house feeding the spiders they’d nicknamed Ted and Debbie and planning how they would celebrate their victory and how they would make the most of their prize money. I hope both girlfriends, Dan’s Monica and Memphis’ Ashley, have cleared their professional calendars for the foursome’s trip to Las Vegas.

I hope the Renegades’ winnings take them even farther.

They are the most likable winners of a reality show, especially one that requires and rewards duplicity and the breaking of some hearts, in a long time.

Perhaps the way to keep them that way is for CBS to resist the urge to invite Danica and Memphsley to compete on “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race.”

Joe, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed playing Miz Yin to your Mr. Yang. Let’s do it again.

And let’s hope CBS uncorks another winner like this season (and maybe even a link to “Oh, Brother”).

Josef Adalian: Miz Yin, we may think about the game in different ways, but we are in complete agreement about how this season of “Big Brother” unfolded. As Dan told me tonight when I interviewed him in the oh-so-familiar “BB” backyard, “Sometimes the nice guys win.” Indeed.

I also think reality TV won big-time with this season of “Big Brother.” That’s because producers, perhaps prodded by the husband of a certain glitter-loving host, made the very wise decision to cast this season’s show with Real People. Sure, Memphis was a “mixologist,” Keesha an aspiring actress and Brian a would-be Dr. Will. But overall, this was a cast dominated by real people with real personalities, which made for really compelling television. Many no doubt will try to capture some of that elusive Hollywood pixie dust, but on the show, they were not stereotypes.

The realness of this cast was key, because this season very nearly could have been a snooze after some of the brightest players—think Brian, Steven and Angie—got the boot early on. Imagine the drama and plotting that might have been had these folks stayed on. They had the intellectual brainpower to wage a strong battle, but Brian’s ego resulted in his early ouster, with Steven and Angie falling victim to guilt by association.

I worried that the utter lack of true gamesmanship by the likes of Memphis, Renny, April, Jessie and Ollie would doom us to weeks of petty infighting and name-calling. Thankfully, Dan stepped up and provided a compelling narrative for the season. And while the others were mostly incapable of formulating a true strategy, they were compelling enough as individuals to provide endless hours of great TV.

I, for one, will miss Renny’s mothering of so many in the house. She sometimes was over-the-top, but her genuine affection for Dan, Michelle and Keesha was a joy to watch.

I will look back fondly at the Aprollie showmance that was not a showmance. These two really like each other and seem close to falling in real love. While I wish I could erase the images (and sounds) of their passion from my brain, it was nice to see a real romance bloom on a reality show.

And I will hope for the best from one of reality’s all-time greatest bromances. Dan and Memphis would appear to have little in common—the blue-collar boy from Michigan and the slick player from Hollywood. Yet these two bonded, became brothers and stuck it out to the very end without ever getting obnoxious. You once compared them to Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, and that’s the perfect description. If Mike and Boogie were the lost cousins of “Saturday Night Live’s” obnoxious club-hopping, head-bopping Butabi Brothers, Dan and Memphis were the complete opposite.

Their gentle scheming also single-handedly rescued the second half of the season. Once drama divas April and Libra were out of the house, peace broke out in Studio City, threatening a very boring six weeks free of the catfights and screaming that made the first half of the season so compelling. Thanks to Dan and Memphis, viewers had an alliance to root for. And thanks to Jerry, we had plenty of comedic relief.

My only quibble about the “BB” ending: CBS once again cheated viewers of a much-needed extended finale. Another 30 or 60 minutes of questioning would have provided some of the moments you mentioned above. And maybe the poor studio audience would have had a chance to get involved in the grilling.

A quick detour, if I might. As noted, I spent the evening just outside the “BB” house interviewing just about all the houseguests. Thanks to the fine videography of TVWeek’s Andrew Krukowski—who patiently put up with my extensive questioning of the houseguests and my annoying habit of accidentally kicking the camera tripod, we’ll soon be adding some fun video to the blog.

As a preview, let me say that Libra is, indeed, flabbergasted by the selection of Sarah Palin (while Dan, predictably, is pumped and found a way to compare himself to Sen. McCain). Libra also is annoyed at the whole banner thing, angry that opinions were swayed by something that didn’t exist. But Michelle isn’t ready to admit the banner she “saw” contained no anti-Libra propaganda.

Renny has been told about Gustav, and everyone in her family is fine. And Ollie, while aware that his expressions of love have been seen by all, doesn’t seem too embarrassed by his very graphic PDAs. (He also wants the world to know that he was no saint before moving into the house and that the only reason he’s never had a girlfriend is because he was too busy lovin’ and leavin’ the ladies.)

Jessie and Jerry, meanwhile, remain as oblivious as always to how others, both inside and outside the house, view them. Brian knows he was too cocky, but believes his arrogance would have gotten him far had he (a) not trusted Ollie and thus (b) survived week one. And Steven seems glad to have exited earlier, since he would have “blown my brains out” if he had gone all the way to the jury house.

As for Keesha, she’s smarter than she sounds, while Memphis is just too dang laid-back for “BB.” When I asked him why he let Keesha exit the house believing that Dan had nothing to do with her ouster, he said he assumed she’d figure it out on her own once she was in the jury house. Sigh. He was also the only “BB” contestant who seemed annoyed to have to talk to the media. “Can we just get this done?” he asked tersely as he started his conversation with me. In fairness, he did say his bladder was about to burst, and it was the end of a long night. Still the frostiness that Renny and Keesha felt was pretty evident.

And then there’s the Man, aka Dan. It’s hard not to smile when you’re around the guy. He loves life and loves “BB” and is just fun to be around. He admitted that he didn’t completely reveal himself on the show out of concern for setting a bad example for his students. He also insisted he’s just a very shy guy.

But I must raise one red flag regarding Dan. He told me he’s “in no hurry” to return to teaching and said he and Memphis might get into business together on a clothing line that Memphis has been working on with his girlfriend. Memphis confirmed this to me, saying Dan is in a position to give him some much-needed capital. I advised Dan to run as far away as possible from this business notion, but I worry the Hollywood bug might yet bite Dan.

That brings me to the most burning question lingering at the end of the season: What will happen to Ted and Debbie? Unfortunately, neither Dan nor Memphis seems ready to rescue the spiders. Memphis, for one, is worried that Ted has become too big. It’ll be up to the producers and maintenance crew at the CBS Radford studios to ensure their survival, I suppose.

More on all this later. For now, it’s time to say goodbye, Miz Yin. The last time we worked together, back in the go-go 1990s at the New York Post, the modern notion of reality TV didn’t exist. We had to make do with bad Darren Star series (remember “Central Park West”?) and really good sitcoms that needed voices like yours to survive (I’m thinking of “Everybody Loves Raymond”). And faxes were far more common than e-mail.

Now, thanks to Al Gore’s Internet (and sometimes even John McCain’s BlackBerry), we’ve been able to share this season of “Big Brother” together, albeit virtually. It’s been a blast!

Same time next summer?

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Comments (2)

nick:

Truly great finale. The best player won. Wish CBS would take it out to 2 hours. So many stories to hear and resolve.

Disappointed to see Keesha win AC. Call it a sympathy vote for how she got played by Memphis AND Dan. And someone should have told Renny and Brian to speed it up. Some of us would have liked to hear from Angie, the best HG of the bunch.

Looking forward to BB11 with no AP, no HG that have prior connections, and minimal twists.

michele greppi:

Nick i agree on wishing we could have heard from angie, but brian's long-windedness had a worthwhile point at its core. renny's comments served no purpose except to remind us that her brain doesn't work like most other people's. i also agree that it was nice not having any hidden houseguest connections. but i actually liked the very limited use of american's player. it made me feel like i as a viewer could goose things at a moment i felt that was needed without totally invading the game.
i really wanted michelle to win the 25 thou because i felt she was a gutsy player who had fallen in with the wrong crowd.
i'm just so glad that geezer jerry didn't win the little bonus.

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