Hamsters |ber alles!

Episode 53 (Saturday, Sept. 9): As a mutiny roils the house, CBS marks time with lots of footage of a drunk Josh.



Bill Wyman - Jeff Stark - Carina Chocano
September 10, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

It's "Big Brother's" most extraordinary day -- the mutiny is finally underway.

CBS is faced with one of the more embarrassing episodes in the history of television.

It is an age virtually defined by the willingness of seemingly the entire population to do anything to get on TV. Yet somehow, CBS has found a group of six people who are willing to walk off a show voluntarily.

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The last six remaining hamsters don't really know why they want to do this. The catalyst is George, who has finally figured out that his wife Teresa is doing something that's polarizing viewers.

This development was reported Saturday by Salon's Martha Soukup, based on the live Web feeds from the house.

George presents this positively Sherlockian deductive reasoning to the group.

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(Yes, we know it's arguably inductive reasoning -- we just wanted to use the words "George" and "Sherlockian deductive reasoning" in the same sentence.)

Josh caves, and tells the group that, indeed, that's what Brittany told him.

George thereupon announces that he is going to leave on Wednesday, with whoever gets banished.

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Next thing you know, the hamsters indulge in a melodramatic, Three Musketeersian clasping of hands, all vowing to leave together on Wednesday.

It's funny, there are reasons for doing it, but -- as with most of what the house does -- the reasons they're doing it are misguided. George hasn't done anything wrong, and the Great Rockford Phone-in Caper is not likely to have affected the results.

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But these interesting events may be attributed to something bigger, almost extrasensory -- the residents' group suspicion that they're part of something distasteful.

Or maybe just pointless.

Anyway, since the network was caught with its pants down on Saturday, just hours before the show was due to air, they couldn't do much with the footage.

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In this context, the usual Saturday recaps of what the producers think are the highlights of the last week -- like the challenge that involves training the dreadful pug -- pass from the realm of the excruciating into the positively Beckettian, in the negative sense of the word.

Going into the show, we were actually feeling a little charitable toward the residents. But in the first half of the hour, which is supposed to be all recap, the producers include some new scenes that remind us again that what we actually want is for the earth beneath the "Big Brother" house to simply open up and take the residents away from us forever.

The boys ask Cassandra if she'd go out with a guy who drinks. She says maybe wine, but notes that she would not want the smell to be on the guy's breath.

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Now, if the men had any curiosity about other people, they might ask her why, and find out that perhaps she's has some experiences with an alcoholic. They might learn something.

Instead, Eddie starts picking up nearly-empty beer bottles and draining them. It doesn't look like he's doing anything but unintentionally illustrating her point.

Then comes some earnest conversation from half-drunk boys about drinking, about how drunk they got that one time and so forth.

Then comes some fully drunken boys draining bottles in one long gulp. It all culminates with an astonishingly unattractive extended shot of Josh's flushed, bloated, dazed face.

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It's the most unappetizing image Big Brother has yet broadcast -- and were talking about a show that's given an unprecedented amount of airtime to a pug's ass.

Then we see the residents give the top ten reasons they shouldn't be allowed to leave the house. It's not clear if this was scripted or not. In any case, none of the reasons were funny, so we're not going to repeat them here.

A scene with Curtis, Josh and Eddie discussing farting leads off the evening's new footage. We couldn't think of anything worse, until the three start talking about how they are farting while on national TV -- another example of the group's tedious self-consciousness.

We were appalled at the whole sequence, until we figured out CBS's devious plan: Drive off the show's last few remaining viewers so no one will see the debacle about to befall the network.

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Josh still won't tell the rest of the group what else Brittany told him. (She said that George, Cassandra and Jamie weren't to be trusted.)

Eddie, George and Cassandra discuss the issue. Eddie says he generally trusts Josh's judgment -- but then remembers that Josh was the guy who tried to sleep with two women in the same house.

Eddie decides he's on George's side no matter what.

The pug's obstacle-course challenge is next. We were going to watch this segment, but had a long-standing appointment to have our fingernails pulled off, so we did that instead.

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The show is offering one houseguest a chance to go to the Emmys. The group's suspicious. They worry that it's a trick -- that if one of them leaves the house he or she won't be let back in.

Jamie immediately starts speculating about presenting at the Emmys -- a perfect example of how the beauty queen gets on our nerves.

They're reassured that it's not a trick. The catch is that the hamsters have to find the ticket, which is hidden somewhere in the house.

After a mad scramble accompanied by irritating music, Curtis finds it on the inside door of the Red Room.

George gives Curtis a high-five. Jamie gives him a special I-hate-you hug.

They discuss being on television some more. We dial the fingernail-extraction service for another appointment. Curtis talks excitedly about "being on the red carpet with an 'E.T.' camera on my face."

"You've had exposure to that, obviously," he says to Jamie.

"Yeah," says Jamie, in an sweet I-hate-you voice.

We think the chances of anyone recognizing Curtis at the Emmys is slim.

Jamie keeps dogging Josh about what Brittany said to him in the Red Room. She's implacable and relentless.

"The more you ask the more it will hurt you," Josh slurs. He's still drinking. There is nothing worse than watching a dumb drunk person without a shirt on talk about anything.

Then he contradicts himself: "It's not bad at all.

"If it wasn't bad then why --?" Jamie asks in her sweetest voice.

"You have to trust me," Josh says.

"I trust you, " Curtis says, "but on the other hand, I'm like, I don't know if I trust your judgment on this one."

Josh isn't fooling anyone.

But as we've said before, it's a tough call. Josh's telling the others what Brittany said would most certainly make the household more interesting.

On the other hand, it's blatantly unfair to George and Cassandra, who, George's unrelenting goofiness aside, have basically carried themselves with some respectability during the "Big Brother" ordeal -- something that Brittany certainly couldn't claim.

During the show's last seconds we get a quick precis of the mutiny.

"It was so obvious!" George crows. "It was right in front of our eyes!"

Then a quick cut. "We'll bail on Wednesday," someone says.

The comes the big Three Musketeers moment.

Hamsters of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your haplessness.

(B.W.)

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Bill Wyman

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

MORE FROM Bill Wyman

Jeff Stark

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

MORE FROM Jeff Stark

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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