Before we begin . . .: I've had a few people email me and ask if Gusworld will be doing a Big Brother commentary in 2002. The answer, of course, is yes. However . . . because I'm travelling at the moment, it will probably be a few days before I can catch up with the tapes from the first week, so bear with me. (The commentary didn't start until three days in last time either, as I recall.) Comments are welcome to the usual address in the meantime.|
Monday April 8: It's actually very hard to get any sensible impressions of the new housemates when they get dragged through the crowd (a format virtually unchanged from last year). In any event, I was so struck by the sheer audacity of removing all the furniture from the house -- one of the few methods guaranteed to give the contestants a shock -- that I didn't notice too much.
The dominant impression I got that was Peter looked like he was stoned out of his mind. (I thought the same about Lisa last year, so that's not a good omen.) I wrote the phrase "annoying party moll" next to Jessica's name, but now I can't remember why. Other than that, it seems too early to say, although Nathan could easily get a bit wearing.
Tuesday April 9: OK, one day in and two housemates have managed to completely get on my wick. Damian's "I don't wanna clean" comment got my hackles rising immediately; you'd think that he'd realise the importance of teamwork. Even Blair (another young guy who hadn't moved out of home yet) wasn't quite that obtuse.
The worst remark came from Katrina during the shopping. Having rejected olive oil as unnecessary (she can't cook much, I assume), she then commented "tofu has to be there". Tofu! God help me if I had to share a kitchen with her.
Also on the subject of domestic chores, it was a bit disquieting to realise that all the girls were working out the shopping list while the guys continued painting. And maybe it was the lighting, but everyone seemed to spend a lot of time painting over areas they'd already dealt with before.
Wednesday April 10: Call me cynical, but I can't help wondering if having a birthday in the opening weeks of the broadcast might increase your chances of getting on. Then again, I wasn't completely convinced that the party was such a surprise; surely, if you watched the show last year, you'd be expecting it.
Thursday April 11: The extensive coverage of Shannon's exercise class being disrupted by Nathan made her look like something of a bogan, but she managed to get her own back (as it were) during her accounts of her bulimia. Oddly, the effect of Nathan's disruptions was actually to make him more likeable; I still don't think he'll last the distance, but he's slipped away from the perch of being the most obviously annoying. That role clearly belongs to Damian, who just fancies himself way too much. (OK, the fact the producers are emphasising his romantic attempts probably heightens the effect, but I still think he's a prat.)
Friday April 12: Getting to see the challenge completed always provides one of the more obvious dramatic peaks of the week. Without the structured format used for the same activity last year, I thought the housemates might have blown it, but they managed to scrape through.
While the lads were distressed by their inability to keep a football in the yard for more than 10 minutes, I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that there's much more exercise equipment around this year. We also got an early reminder of the fragility of microphones when Peter hit the pool with his still on.
Sunday April 14: The one-off 'The Honeymoon Is Over' special didn't introduce a whole lot of new information, but to be fair I did watch it straight after catching up with the first week's tapes, so everything was very fresh in my head. By far the best guest was Ben, largely because he was willing to make immediate judgements about everyone.
As ever, it's remarkable how after a week clear (if inevitably distorted) pictures of all the relevant personalities have emerged. Alex and Peter still seem a little bland, but that might not be a bad thing at this stage. However, the others are all now easily recognisable.
Monday April 15: Weekends are traditionally slow in the BB house, and the catchup footage was fairly bland today. Turkhan cracking was OK, but hardly unexpected; as we soon discovered, it didn't do her a whole lot of good in the nomination process.
Seeing the nominations live was definitely more interesting than the edited approach taken last year. It was especially appealing to see BB chiding people for their attempts to be supportive, although this policy seemed a little selective. For instance, Marty's reason for nominating Turkhan ("she doesn't handle it well") was virtually identical to that given by Alex, but it was only Alex who got busted.
Personally, I was pleased to see Damian nominated, and more than a little surprised at the commanding lead taken by Katrina. While I'll be voting for Damian, I suspect that Turkhan will be the first one kicked out.
Tuesday April 16: As a task, the military activity is ideal, but I'll be very surprised if the housemates manage to consistently all get into the bunker in 45 seconds. Even though they've sensibly opted to wear their military outfits most of the time, I'm sure someone is going to screw up. Failing that, there's always the option of someone leaving the bunker and breaking the 'two people at all times' rule (Sara-Marie did the same thing with the fire task last year).
The other important development was the unveiling of the meters for the showers and other utilities. This hasn't caused a major stir so far, but I bet that eventually there'll be some major fights over this
Fallout from the nominations process was fairly muted. Katrina looked like she was going to cry, but as we learnt during Peter and Nathan's stories last week, that's hardly a new development. I was all fired up to ring up and vote for Damian, but I've decided to hold off for a few days, to see if someone majorly screws up the military task and makes me change my mind.
Wednesday April 17: I'm sure that the allegedly budding romance between Damian and Mirabai is marvellous for the producers of Uncut, but I'm already bored with it. On the most basic level, the problem with emphasising a single couple is that it doesn't give us much exposure to any of the other housemates. Indeed, I can't recall having spotted Turkhan once tonight, and she's nominated for eviction. Katrina didn't fare much better. On the whole, seeing people respond to the prospect of a pairing is much more interesting than the pairing itself.
As well, the entire relationship is unpleasant. Damian's seduction technique (effectively repeatedly saying "You do fancy me" over and over again) confirms what a creep he is. For her part, Mirabai doesn't seem to have a clue what she wants, and Peter's less than helpful advice (to the effect that she has to be treated like a princess, whatever that means) didn't resolve anything.
Relationship confusion is running rampant in the house; it's also evident in Marty's feeble attempts to justify his claim that swapping salvia with Jessica does not constitute cheating in any way ("sure we've shared intimacy . . . to me, cheating is a bit further than a pash"). OK, I know Marty's only 20, and apparently lacks the ability to spell in any meaningful way, but you'd hope he could get a bit clued up.
Meanwhile, as Katrina complained that everyone automatically assumed she had a boyfriend, Sahra's comment "That's interesting, isn't it?" was belied by the bored expression on her face while she examined her fingernails. And I'm not even going to comment on Aaron's piss-poor attempts to comfort Katrina over her nomination.
Thursday April 18: On yesterday's episode, Mirabai was confused about what she wanted from relationships. On today's episode, Mirabai was confused about what she wanted from relationships. I'm not confused, but I'm getting increasingly bored with this particular pairing. Next!
On the positive side, Turkhan did manage some brief visibility in this episode. And the broadcasts are beginning to acknowledge that Damian is a lazy prick.
But it's Thursday, so the real game is Uncut, not the nightly broadcast. While Uncut lacks the surprise element which the first episode had last year (we really had no idea that the conversation turned to sex so often!), the uninihibited nature of the latest batch of housemates means that there's still plenty of material to go round.
Actually, given their enthusiasm for discussing threesomes, cunnilingus and shaved scrotums, the general lack of willingness to strip for the showers was a bit surprising. As Shannon put it when she finally succumbed to "nuding up", "I just can't be stuffed". Turkhan obviously isn't going to crack, but can Nathan (a natural extrovert) really be planning to stay clothed in the shower indefinitely?
With clothes back on, we learnt heaps about people's sexual preferences and practices, although not everyone seemed to get equal coverage. However, the footage of Turkhan flirting with all and sundry made her seem much friendlier than the G-rated editions have. Biggest surprise of the night was probably Aaron's genital depilation, although his argument for it -- "Why would your partner tongue a hairy sack?" -- seems fair enough.
And it's only taken a single episode for a new term to enter the show's vocabulary: larat, as a substitute for last year's ubiquitous JB. Bet we'll be hearing that one a bit.
Friday April 19: He may have used the word "dude" a fair bit more than is strictly necessary, but it was good to see Aaron finally confronting Damian about his greed and lack of contributions around the house. Whether Damian will absorb any of it remains to be seen, but the complete lack of food for the next week after failing the task will be a pretty good test.
As always seems to happen, the housemates greeted the news of their failure with a massive cheer. I was surprised and annoyed that the footage of them being told who failed which parts of the task wasn't shown. I would have liked to see how the others reacted to Damian's slackness.
The only other development of note was Katrina's late-night outburst about how she wasn't ready to leave the house yet. I'm not sure if this was a calculated move to try and win audience sympathy, but if so, I doubt it would work. I couldn't help but think that if, as Katrina says, she's not a "big group person" she should never have volunteered for the show in the first place.
Sunday April 21: "It's time to go, Damian." You would have been able to hear the cheering at my house from the next block. While I was encouraged by the revelation on the site that the "Damo's a sleaze" mobile phone icon was popular, I was still fairly sure that Katrina was going to be the first one out. Damian's 40% put him well ahead of the other two; what was perhaps a little surprising was that Turkhan came in second on 30.5%, just ahead of Katrina's 29.5%.
Damian's post-evacuation interview confirmed him as a bit of a self-centred show pony. He did seem quite shocked when he saw Peter describing him as "fake" (works for me!), and even more amazed at the bedroom footage of him and Mirabai. Despite his claims that she "definitely hit him", when leaving the house, Damian appeared to pay absolutely no attention to Mirabai, who doubtless will be even more confused now than ever.
Trying to pick tomorrow's nominations is difficult. I think Katrina will probably show up again, and Aaron's attempts to manage the food distribution process could lose him a few friends. Turkhan and Alex are also possibilities, and personally I'd like to see Jess go.
Monday April 22: All we really want to see on the Monday episodes is how people react after the evictions. This is doubly the case when the alternative is seeing even more footage of Damian and Mirabai getting it on in a state of confusion. Fortunately, we knew that couldn't last.
Aside from predictable collapsing into a heap of tears on Mirabai's part, the high point of the roundup was everyone getting excited by the pizza. Oh, OK, the high point was seeing how even in his farewell message Damian couldn't decide between Mirabai and Jessica. I suspect this will be playing on Mira's mind later in the week.
On to nominations! It was no great shock that Katrina and Turkhan got nominated again, and Alex (who placed fourth last time) was also not much of a surprise. With just one different vote, however, either Jessica or Mirabai could have been facing eviction, which might have made things a lot more predictable. As it stands, I think I'll be voting for Katrina, but we'll see how the week evolves.
As Gretel pointed out, everyone except Nathan has now been nominated at least once. This is in stark contrast to last year, where several housemates maintained a zero nomination score until well into the show.
I was a little surprised to see discussions taking place in the house about being told by BB to give better nomination reasons, given that any chat about this topic is generally taboo. Mirabai (who changed her mind) and Jessica still don't seem to have grasped the idea that you have to give reasons relating to yourself, not other people.
Tuesday April 23: "I'm not this emotional normally," said Katrina in tonight's episode. "They're looking at me and going 'This chick is psycho!'" Well, that's certainly one possible reaction. Mostly, though, she's just annoying, and she whines far too often.
It didn't help Katrina's cause (already damaged by that early tofu incident) when she chose to assume that the reason everyone voted for her was that she was too opinionated, and would be treated differently if she was a bloke. A quick check over the nomination listings confirms that this is pure horseshit, except possibly in Peter's case. Shannon tried to remind Katrina of this, but to no avail. But you'd think she might remember Sara-Marie, to whom being vocal was certainly no barrier with the public.
Elsewhere, we had a mini-Johnnie moment when Peter hugged Katrina moments after the nominations were announced, even though he'd put her up for two points. He saved his reassuring words for Turkan (whose name I must remember doesn't have an 'h'!), however. And Katrina herself was in much the same position when the three potential evictees sat down to discuss their situation; she's nominated Alex, who in turn had nominated Turkhan.
Not too much group activity going on, although Shannon was very keen to push the 100% betting (good to see they skipped that option). We also got our first major diary room moment, with Aaron saying he would find it hard to come up with good reasons for nominations. In the event, he did better than most of them.
Wednesday April 24: Tonight's episode was a textbook example of how you can't get a full sense of what's going on in the house either from the online diary (despite it being much more thorough than last year's coverage) or from watching the broadcast episodes.
Reading the site updates meant that I already knew all about the loose talk problem, and the fact the housemates were going to be punished for it. However, the exact identity of the miscreants wasn't the main issue, and indeed far more attention has been paid to the current task (looming all those squares) than to this development.
Watching on screen, we found out much more about the dangerous gossip, and got to see the kind of diary room stuff that never makes it onto the site, but you'd barely be aware that a major source of tension in the house is the endless nature of the looming task. While he clearly overstepped the line, I did think the way the show was edited was a little unfair on Aaron; we got to see his transgression and the discussion of it with BB, while Turkan and Alex got off with a few seconds of screen time.
The conflict over nomination discussion is particularly interesting this year because it's occurred so early. By the time the Jemma blowup occurred last year, the housemates were a fairly united group. Despite the constant protestations that "we're all friends here", that's clearly not the case just yet. Nathan's ability to lead without being obviously bossy is also becoming more apparent.
Of course, for sheer drama, nothing on show this evening could beat last night's Jerry Springer moment on Rove, where Damian was forced to come face to face with Mirabai's sometime boyfriend Dan. Damian looked genuinely scared; you could well believe that nothing particularly bad had ever happened to him before. In the end, it all passed rather inconsequentially, but it still made for a great moment. Like Gretel on Monday, Rove was also quick to pounce on Damian's more obviously dumb pronouncements. I especially liked this couplet:
Damian: I thought it would have been Katrina all the way.
Thursday April 25: In an episode dominated by looming, looming and still more looming, there were two other dominant themes. The first was that the show was trying to beat up conflicts into something bigger than they really were. There was no real evidence, for instance, that Peter was especially unhappy with Aaron for his kitchen police routine. I know conflict makes for good TV, but I prefer real conflict.
The second was that we actually got to see Katrina doing something other than whining or crying. While it was good to see her putting her all into the task (unlike, say, Turkan), the more revealing moment was her discussion with Marty about her relationships with older men. This wasn't revealing because of the content, but simply because it gave her a chance to seem more human.
Uncut didn't have any great plot revelations, but we did get the usual assortment of ludicrous comments:
Friday April 26: Having learnt several days ago that the housemates completed the challenge, the dramatic value of Friday's episode was a bit reduced for me. Perhaps the most notable trend was that Jessica once again reclaimed the mantle of most annoying housemate. Given that Katrina and Mirabai did the bulk of the work on the rug, I think they were more entitled to roll wantonly on the finished product than she was.
Gusworld reader Rachel Jerram writes: "Have you ever noticed that we see more of Sahra on the 1 hour episodes of Uncut than we do in an entire week of normal episodes?" This seems to be true. Mind you, it might not be a bad strategy, since Sahra is already marked down as exotic within the house (what with being bi and all), so she can afford to lay low at the moment, while we try to decide who to vote out.
On that front, I think Katrina will have to get the vote. I'm sure Turkan is also doomed, but I can't quite bring myself to vote her off yet. All that seems certain is that Alex won't get voted off, but then I despaired of Damian getting the boot, so what would I know?
Sunday April 28: "Katrina, it's time to go." And again, there were two surprising elements. The first was that Katrina didn't turn into a total jelly when she got booted out. The second was that Katrina's dominance of the vote (with 57%) meant that Alex and Turkan virtually tied. Of course, this may be because everyone who voted for Katrina this week wants to vote for Turkan next week. We shall see.
Katrina proved far more coherent on stage than she seemed to have been throughout her time in the house, and managed to say "shit" more than anyone in recent memory. Her main moment of shock came when she learnt that Peter had nominated her for eviction. Her comment that she was upset that she wouldn't get to eat the food she'd helped to earn via looming seemed fair enough, but I'm not convinced by her argument that nicotine patches wouldn't have helped her temper.
Again, the show ran 10 minutes over time, and probably would have made the usual 15 if they'd bothered to include a band at the end of the show. To be honest, not having one is no great loss.
Monday April 29: Sometimes I think Channel 10 must curse the restrictions imposed by screening BB at 7:00pm. There was a fairly clear subtext to Turkan and Peter's conversation this evening: put bluntly, he'd quite like to shag her but she doesn't want to become infamous as the first Australian to lose her virginity on national television. This is reasonably clear from what we saw, but it would make for better viewing if there was a little commentary to string things together. Still, I guess that's what Uncut is for.
Other than that, the only notable feature of the standard show was Aaron stubbing his toe. But that was OK, because we had all the drama of the five-way eviction. Of course, there were actually two distinct groups of evictees; Turkan and Jessica, who nobody liked, and then the three guys (Aaron, Alex and Nathan) who tied with a two-point score precisely because so many people had voted for the first two. Unless Aaron is way more unpopular than I suspect, I can't see this making much difference in the long run; most likely Turkan will go (which could be fun for her future with Peter). personally I'll be voting to eject the fake, shrill and ridiculously haired Jessica. Interestingly, if you look at the total number of nomination points over the series so far, Mirabai is ahead of everyone except Turkan, Jessica and Alex, yet she's never been up for eviction.
No-one is getting any better at giving good reasons for nominations, and Big Big Brother is being just as inconsistent as ever in enforcing the rules. (He quite rightly chewed out Mirabai for using pathetic reasons, but didn't apply the same logic to Jessica.) Shannon had by far the best arguments for her nomination selections, and Aaaron didn't do too badly, but otherwise it was just variants on "I haven't really got to know him/her".
Tuesday April 30: The housemates are very slow to learn this year. After all the stuff-ups getting into the bunker for the military task, they've still committed 100% of their budget to this week's surf lifesaving task -- and as likely as not Turkan has already screwed it up. Of course, she may not be around to see it.
Aaron's continued insistence that he's a great believer in fidelity is beginning to wear really thin, as is his "honest and brutal" approach. If Jessica wasn't so plastic, he'd be climbing the ladder fairly rapidly.
But this is a verbatim transcription of a conversation between Marty and Jessica:
I don't think Mensa will be troubled by membership applications any time soon.
Wednesday May 1: Given that Aaron was the main force behind the risible decision to bet 100% of the house funds, it's not surprising that he's being such a pushy bastard about it. While I tend to agree with him that it's important for everyone to try and contribute to the tasks, the way he tried to handle it is just a joke. (It was also odd to see Sahra copping so much flak when Jessica's attempts to look innocent were so much more pathetic.)
If Aaron keeps up this kind of OTT he-man demeanour, I might be tempted to actually switch my vote away from Jessica. It's amusing, though, that she's convinced she'll be voted off because of her pairing with Marty (maybe she got that notion from Damian's eviction). Personally, my desire to see her kicked out has nothing to do with that, and I suspect that the producers wouldn't want her kicked out while there's still a chance of some shagging action. And who believes she'll keep her resolution not to pash Marty the next time the beer comes out?
Thursday May 2: I don't think Aaron's having been in the defence forces can entirely account for how defensive he is about his own behaviour. It might be fair enough up to a point to emphasise that his way of dealing with problems is to complain about them, or make jokes about them. But Aaron seems to be doing this far too often. More importantly, he isn't giving the slightest consideration to how his behaviour affects other people -- something that became very apparent during the otherwise surreal conversation about eating or not eating the last piece of bread.
That aside, the highlight of the show was the attempts to master the surf lifesaving task, accompanied by really bad surf music and really bad Speedos. While it's possible the housemates will earn their hidden spa, I don't hold out great hopes for them passing the task overall.
And so to Uncut, which took the unusual tack of only featuring footage from a single night (the good and evil party). Aside from giving the show greater narrative continuity than usual, this also means that there should be plenty of shower and workout footage in reserve for future editions.
Watching Marty try to put on his 'he-man' act during the so-called threesome, when it was obvious he didn't have a clue how to react, was pretty amusing. Of course, it's hard to act butch when you're wearing a wig.
We also got to see the Peter and Katrina footage alluded to by both Katrina and Gretel during last week's eviction. This was well summed up by my friend Arthur: "He's certainly fingering her, there's no doubt about that." What we didn't get to see was the reaction of Turkan to the news, since she was under a pile of bodies at the time. Shannon summed up the entire evening quite effectively: "You packet of sluts."