Thursday, September 15, 2011

TV: Big Brother (season 13) finale

I was an original fan of the US version of the reality show Big Brother. I watched faithfully from that first season in 2000 through the first All-Stars season in 2006. After that, this show sort of fell off my viewing radar. When this summer started, someone was talking about it on Twitter and convinced me to check it out. The twist this season was that six veteran players were coming back to play along side eight newbies. I decided to tune in, and I was instantly sucked back into all the twists and turns this game holds.

Now, even though there were vets, they were new to me. I had heard great things about "Evel" Dick and his daughter Danielle (from the 2007 season). Sadly, he left the house early for his own reasons so that was kind of disappointing but Dani kept me interested with her plans to shake up the game. Jordan and Jeff were a couple that met during the 2009 season; I found her nice but him to be a rather arrogant bully type. Finally there was Rachel and Brendon, a couple who meet on the 2010 season and were engaged. I found her to be a tough competitor but at the same time often annoying; he struck me as someone who considered himself superior to all others in the house.

To say I was rooting for the newbies from the first night would be an understatement.

Some of them I was sad to leave the game so early (Cassi and Dominic), some I severely underestimated thanks to the Pairs/"Golden Key" twist that kept them out of the spotlight early on (Porsche, Kalia). Others I found entertaining even if their game skills stunk (Keith, Lawon). Then there is Shelly, the ultimate in liars and player of all sides of the house. She really wasn't afraid to mix it up but I got tired of her constant voice. And Adam, the ultimate fan-boy (both of Big Brother and of Tori Spelling) who talked a big game but in the end wouldn't venture to make a big move to save his life. If I never see these two again on TV I will be enternally grateful.

Now, Big Brother has always been about manipulation by the higher powers because, as taken from George Orwell's classic novel from which the show's name derives itself, Big Brother knows all, sees all and influences events. Clearly the Producers stacked the deck in favor of the vets from the start. Though only six to eight, the vets had a power bond that the newbies couldn't break. Plus, two of the newbies were severely starstruck (Adam and Shelly). If Dick hadn't left early and Dani hadn't flopped over, the season would have been severely one-sided and boring. Despite that, the Producers weren't done. Brendon amazingly "won" the vote to compete to return to the house after being evicted, and then he faced Lawon in a challenge perfectly suited for Brendon's athlethic abilities. Still, Dani got him out a second time, but that shot in the arm was enough to recharge Rachel's competitive battery. And when it looked like the newbies would sweep the house with four to two in their favor, Pandora's Box shows up and tempts Porsche enough to get the Pairs Twist back in play. That save Rachel and Jordan, positioning them perfectly to make it to the final 4.

When it came down to final 4, I worked up my charts on who had the best chance to win the big prize based on the jury. If it has been two vets (Rachel and Jordan), it would have been close. If it had been two newbies (Adam and Porsche), it would have been likely a Porsche. With a vet versus a newbie, pretty much it was going to be the vet for the win thanks to the Jury dynamics. And that's pretty much what happened (more in a second).

First, the final challenges for HOH. I loved the mixing-bowl endurance challenge. Perfect parts of gross (a pool of butter, cannon-shots of sticky goo) and physical (small footholds, nothing but a pole to hold, and spinning!). No surprise Rachel pulled that one out. She has the ability to block all that out. And that's what makes her a competitive monster. Had Porsche voted out Rachel the week before and kept Jordan instead, this one would have been hers I am sure.

Second challenge was another great one. An underwater maze that tasked the physical (holding your breath) and the mental (ordering the HOH winners in the correct spots). Again, ingenious. I have to give props to the Production Team this season - there were a lot of creative challenges in the backyard. Of course, smoker Adam didn't have a chance. Porsche blew him out of the water, literally, with a time nearly half of his. Yeah, Porsche.

Final eviction: kudos to Rachel for sticking to her guns and taking the best competitor to the finals. Porsche fought hard to get there and she deserved it over Adam.

Jury questions: shocker, the questions were telegraphed a mile a way. I swear, if I have to hear Jordan discount Porsche as a bikini-wearing layabout one more time I will scream. Jealous much, Jordan? Worried that your non-committal boyfriend Jeff might stray his eye to another pretty blonde with half a brain more than you? Anyway, pretty standard.

Non-Jury returns: not enough time to focus on everyone (no surprise since Rachel yammered way too much over and over on her same points for winning, chewing up the time). So, of course, we get Evel Dick and Dani focus, too much Jeff focus (why he had to comment on Dani and then Shelly was beyond me - I am so done with him too), and a bit on Cassie and Shelly.

Final votes revealed: I pretty much had Rachel getting Brendon (duh), Jeff and Jordan. I had Porsche getting Dani and Kalia. Shelly was the wild card. No surprise she stuck with the vets in the end, trying to mend fences with them after turning her back on Jeff. I think that was a too little, too late gesture. Jeff seemed so done with her. Adam shocked me that he voted Porsche (but then again, he probably felt betrayed by Rachel for voting him out). No biggie. So over Adam too with his faux-metal personality. I liked how his vote really didn't matter in the end.

Well, that's about it - done for another summer. I had fun with this between-season filler.

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