Under fire

Episode 48 (Monday): Finally, the audience takes matters into its own hands.

By Jeff Stark - Bill Wyman - Carina Chocano
September 6, 2000 12:15AM (UTC)
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We have the greatest idea for a show!

It's called "Dummies for Dummies": "Oprah" on 20 milligrams of Valium meets Barney's developmentally disabled brother. Only instead of a dinosaur in the shape of a vital organ, we cast an obese leprechaun with a voice capable of making speech therapists start grabbing rifles and heading toward the nearest tower. Then, we populate a hideous cinderblock bunker with the most mediocre, banal and insipid people we can find, remove any and all stimulation and sit back to watch the magic. Nobody sings, heals or fires a synapse.


We would be so rich right now if CBS hadn't thought of it first!

It's Monday, Day 61, and the overripe avocado we call George is cutting up a can to make letters. His plan? To lovingly erect an anniversary memorial for his beloved Teresa.

George nails the first half of his message to a wall and stands to survey his handiwork. His command of the alphabet is impressive, but we all know that putting letters in their rightful order can be a traitorous and thankless business. The sign reads:


"Happy Anniverarsy."

A satisfied George contemplates his ouevre, and, finding it good, continues.

"Teresa. 22," reads the remainder of the missive. (Teresa has been married to George for 22 years. It's a sad case, but all too common -- we've read about people like her in "Women Who Love Too Little")


George then steps in dog shit. Ugly Chiquita, it turns out, has embarked on an exciting new career as a TV critic.

As George laments this development, Curtis calls out, "Another poop, dude?"

Is George having trouble navigating the turds? It would appear so. Sighing, he sets out once again to rid himself of feces. Curtis saunters over to take a gander at his creation.


"Hey, George."

"Yo!" calls the cheerful fecal magnet.

"I think you may have messed up a few letters on 'anniversary,'" he says, ever so helpfully, culturally sensitive to the fact that not everybody has attended Stanford.

Curtis is not about to tell George how to express his love for his wife, but he might have a teensy weensy suggestion: "Is it S-A-R-Y?" he submits respectfully. "You have all the right letters, you just have them in the wrong order."


Curtis is so encouraging and supportive! Riveting goes without saying.

"Aw, that looks better, thanks, Curtis."

"No, problem," says Curtis, via his nose. "You're good to go."

We can tell Curtis is feeling especially nice today. If we didn't know better, we'd think he'd just gotten laid.


"Gee," he says, "I always thought Teresa had an 'H' this whole time." (That's what we were thinking this whole time, too! In fact, it was starting to interfere with our work.)

"No," says George authoritatively.

Then he and Curtis sing the happy anniversary song. We are enjoying this segment immensely, but sadly, all things must come to an end.

Next, it's time for the weekly challenge: The boredom artists must train Chiquita to complete a dog-agility class.


The yard has been outfitted with a state-of-the-art obstacle course, but the retarded pug opts for humping a pole instead. (Okay, she just tries to climb it, but we're being given very little to work with here.)

Still, the housemates laugh and laugh and thought they'd die. Then they discuss their creepy little mascot's chances at completing the course for what feels like minutes.

Josh and Curtis are playing catch in the backyard when they notice that someone is throwing things over the fence. It's unclear what they are -- Jawbreakers? Paintballs? Cyanide pellets? Hand grenades? Josh and Curtis move out of the way, but George, like the doomed nice guy in a war movie with the gal back home, walks out into the line of fire.

He picks up up one of the projectiles -- off the ground -- and takes a bite. "These are good!" he says.


Josh and Curtis ever-so-delicately suggest that this may not be a wise approach to determining an unknown and potentially harmful objects' makeup. We briefly wonder if Josh and Curtis spend a lot of time pulling George's fat little fingers out of sockets.

"They might be jelly beans," Curtis observes keenly. "They're pretty soft. Hard but soft."

Small, brightly colored pellets continue to be lobbed. George keeps raving about how tasty they are. He finally gets hit.

This scares the other housemates, who've had very little to occupy their thoughts.


"What was that noise?" Jamie asks.

"That was a chicken," Curtis determines.

But not George! "Here's a cherry one!" he says.

"Who'd wanna poison me?" George asks rhetorically.

Curtis handles himself admirably despite his limited experience with mental defectives.

"If you start to feel anything, let us know."

We'll let them know if we do.

In the next scene, Eddie starts acting a little loony as he does the dishes.

"I'm Josh's bitch. I'm Josh's bitch." He sings as he clangs pots together.

Jamie looks on aghast. It's that B word again!

Cassandra, who disapproves of events, tries intervene. Eddie evades her and picks up other pots.

We wonder, did he eat one of the jelly beans? He sure is acting funny.

The first-, second- and third-prize winners in the "Big Brother" ordeal get $500,000, $100,000 and $50,000, respectively. (The audience, the true heroes in this story, get nothing.) The housemates are directed by their masters to discuss splitting the prize money six ways, and then just hanging out in harmony enjoying the experience.

That would be the best show! They could call it "Mineral Kingdom"!

"It would take away all the emotional downturns we go through every week," notes Jamie, who will never, ever have a career in TV in any capacity whatsoever.

Everybody says they'd do it, except for Eddie, who terms it the "candy-ass" way out.

Cassandra thinks that by splitting the prize money they could "enjoy the last 30 days -- "

That sounds like fun.

" -- and walk out with your heads held high knowing that as a team you've done something amazing."

Cassandra is living proof that there is a demographic for "The Grass Channel." Her favorite film is surely "The Yuletide Log."

George would take the split prize money because it would be guaranteed. It is also guaranteed that he will not win anything otherwise.

Jamie says she's really competitive when it comes to things she competes at.

Curtis says it's no longer just a game. We agree. Games are fun.

George points out that they're a family now.

In the Red Room, George tells the now truly desperate "Big Brother" people that he hopes Eddie gets the money, but that he's worried because he's doing things to piss people off.

Ovoid, green-haired and pale in Hawaiian shorts, he looks like a moldy Humpty Dumpty. Endermol rues the day they ever met him and his simpering, bloodless "family."

In fact, this week the "Big Brother" producers will be offering one of the contestants $20,000 to leave on Wednesday. (It was originally $10,000, but now the show is saying $20,000.)

The New York Times reports that this is because the show has begun to bore even the producers. It's planned that whoever walks will be replaced by a hot 22-year-old woman. CBS's plan B, we're pretty sure, is having the place torched, and letting the insurance companies deal with the fallout from Teresa and the other contestant's families.


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Jeff Stark

Jeff Stark is the associate editor of Salon Arts and Entertainment.

MORE FROM Jeff Stark

Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman is the former arts editor of Salon and National Public Radio.

MORE FROM Bill Wyman

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

MORE FROM Carina Chocano

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