A rising tide of pugs

Episode 60 (Monday, Sept. 18): George tries to blast himself out of the house



Bill Wyman - Jeff Stark - Carina Chocano
September 19, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

We had a terrible dream last night.

We were in a suburban backyard, a guest at a party filled with people we didn't like. The hosts were the type of people who owned pugs -- small, filthy dogs, smelly and gassy, that run around underfoot and yap.

As the party went on, more and more of the dogs kept arriving, until we found ourselves standing in a virtual rising tide of ugly, tiny, barking dogs.

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We tried to bring the plague of grinning, identical pugs to someone's attention, but no one would look at us. The hosts and other guests were just talking about themselves incessantly.

Finally, a big, strapping guy on crutches came over to us. He was looking around at the dogs with a sort of pacific pleasure.

He picked a dog up into his arms. The horrid animal immediately started licking his face.

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"Stop," we cried in horror. "Don't do that!"

The big guy wasn't listening. It was as if he couldn't hear us. Strange, druggy music began swelling in the background.

"Don't!" we yelled again, as the dog's tongue lapped his face. The music rose in volume. The young man couldn't hear us!

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"Don't let it lick you!" we said. "That dog eats chicken poop!"

Suddenly we were awake, or we thought we were awake. The dream was still going on!

It was all on TV!

There we were, as usual, watching "Big Brother."

We didn't feel good, though. We felt uneasy, as if we'd come uncomfortably close to an unthinkable, horrible end.

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We made a note to ourselves:

"Get life."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"Big Brother" may be big, but he sure takes a while to catch on.

Tonight, just two weeks before the sweet, merciful end, the Stentorian Sibling seems to want to ask, just who are the real George and Jamie? And are they really who they seem?

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The episode starts off with the much-dreaded juggling challenge. The boys had arrogantly wagered 50 percent of their weekly food budget on this challenge back in the days before the Great Hamster Rebellion debacle, when they were feeling revolutionary and macho.

Now "Big Brother" is going to make them pay for their hubris. After a dour countdown -- Yard Voice is withering and cruel -- clown music plays. The housemates start juggling. The housemates, of course, lose.

"Housemates, you have failed the challenge," booms Yard Voice, who come to think of it sounds really depressed, like "no reason to get out of bed" depressed.

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But as Eddie and George mock Yard Voice, George dusts off the falsetto he uses when he wants to make everything seem like it's OK but it's not.

"I think we did okaaay. It was okaaaay."

No, they didn't, but who cares? Jamie is so glad he said that!

"We all learned how to juggle," she enthuses, "which was cool!"

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Yeah, juggling's cool. They're going to starve, but at least they juggle. Right guys? Guys? Where'd you go?

Well, off to the next scene, which is an untrammeled comedic delight! The five remaining contestants have been challenged to write lyrics to the "Big Brother" theme song. We cannot recall when we last laughed so hard, but we're sure we broke something and had to be rushed somewhere.

Any precis we give you would not convey the "Topsy-Turvy"-like gaiety of what follows. Gilbert and Sullivan never provided half the merriment our gang inspires in us! Here are highlights:

Josh saying, in all sincerity, "This is a cool song, actually."

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Curtis singing.

Curtis trilling when he sings.

Eddie looking deeply, deeply ashamed.

Jamie's scorching look at Eddie when he mocks the song.

Eddie wishing this could have been like "Survivor."

But best of all, and it was all very, very good, was listening to Curtis singing the fruits of their labor. Hit it, Curtis!

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You've seen people like us in your lifetime
You have known our face but not our name
We are here to change that
You'll never see us the same

Transcribing these lyrics, evocative as they are, cannot do justice to the experience of having heard them sung by the emotive Curtis. When Jamie, Josh and George join him for the chorus, it's like there's been a sudden outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalitis in the Ikea-stuffed compound. The room is filled with mad, mooing cows!

We all came here as houseguests
Some will come and go
We hope to be together
For the final sho-ow!"

"Heey. Nyot byad at awll," bleats George.

Eddie sighs and rolls his eyes heavenward.

Later, on the porch, Jamie asks him, if it were down to four people, and you "sincerely" wanted all those people to win, "Would you roll the dice?"

An obvious ploy to ingratiate herself to the home-viewers, and possibly Eddie, who now clearly and unabashedly hates her.

"No," he says, not slapping her. "I wouldn't."

Eddie reminds Jamie that in the human world, people like some people better than others. Sometimes even a lot better. "You might want to deny it and everything, but subconsciously, people have rank order," he tells her.

You know, like second runner-up, first runner-up and Miss Washington?

"You've got to realize that," he says, "and you've got to put yourself before anybody."

Jamie's getting pelted with hints.

Next, we see her subjected to more philosophical lecturing from Josh, who's been in the Budweiser again.

He's trying to show her another dimension of his personality.

Unfortunately, that would make for a total of two.

Josh tells her that the worse thing in life is to not be genuine.

"To not really mean or say or feel or be what you really want to be," he says earnestly. "Really know that you are. Really say what you mean. I think that's the worse thing.

Jamie nods sadly, like she's following him.

"Do you feel like you do that?" she asks.

Another clue goes flying over her head, narrowly missing a chicken.

"No," says Josh.

Poor Jamie. She couldn't take a hint if it was printed on the sash that was being used to throttle her.

But to be fair, Josh and Eddie aren't articulate enough to convey what they really feel about her not really meaning or saying or feeling or being what she really wants to be, either.

And Curtis can only talk behind her back.

Josh tells Jamie that before he came in the house, he told his friend that when he felt really bad he'd swim under water, where the microphones can't reach.

We don't really understand this. Who talks underwater?

Jamie, impressed, is a kindred soul, however. She's picking up what he's putting down.

"Do you talk underwater? Do you scream?"

Josh nods sadly. He has so many feelings, we can't keep them straight.

"They can't tell when you've been crying, either," says Tragic Barbie.

"That too," says Best Friend Ken.

Sometime the next day, George hears another plane flying over the house and hurries outside, wondering if this means another aerial assault on him.

It does.

"Wake the F. up," it reads. "Anti-George banners are true fans, not CBS."

Jamie reads the banner to George, thoughtfully bleeping where she should have said "F."

George launches into the usual protestations, but Curtis and Josh continue their poolside conversation as though nothing were happening.

They don't pay us enough to watch the live feeds, so we still don't know if George does actually point to the masks at night.

But we think this is where the dream started. It might possibly have been hypnosis, triggered by the words "true fans" and "Big Brother" in such close proximity. Or maybe it was the cognitive dissonance brought on by trying to figure out who in the world has the time and money to fly planes over Studio City to talk to characters on a TV show.

The new plane gets George all excited again.

In the Red Room, he says, "I was thinking I might be the most hated man in America --"

Sadly, he cannot be reassured, as Jamie was yesterday of her continued place at the top of the Washington beauty chain. George's title was recently claimed by Fred Durst of the band Limp Bizkit.

Out on the porch, Eddie tells Curtis about what he and Jamie talked about last.

"She can't handle nominations," he tells the conflict-averse Curtis. He thinks Jamie should take a look around and see who looks out for her, who takes care of her.

But still, she just wanted to roll the dice, Eddie says.

"I think she did," Curtis ventures.

"Yeah, I think she did, too."

"Unbelievable!" Curtis mutters.

Later, at dinner, George fondly recalls the look on everyone's face when they realized he had four nominations. Boy, was that funny.

Jamie, who has just walked into the Red Room, can hear them laughing.

In fact, they are laughing so loud, she can hear them in the Red Room and she can't concentrate.

When she comes back out, she asks what was so funny.

"Curtis?" Josh suggests.

"Later," says Curtis.

Jamie is feeling left out enough to go play with George. He's back in his alien costume: bedroom sheets, aluminum-foil helmet and pieces of two-liter Coke bottle for goggles. He starts -- or continues, we guess we should say -- talking nonsense.

Curtis looks up from doing dishes, dripping with scorn. "Oh, my God," he says, which means a lot coming from Curtis.

Nobody thinks George is cute anymore except Jamie, and she probably never did.

Suddenly, we see why. She's playing Julie Chen! She has a stick in her hand, which we quickly intuit to be her microphone.

She starts asking strange questions, just like Julie does! George explains that he's dressed himself up as a deranged person's idea of a spaceman because he is preparing to "blast out of here on Wednesday."

Still referring to himself in a Bob-Dolesque third person, George shows Jamie his "super chicken capsule" -- which consists of an overturned trash can in the shower.

"This planet does not look so good for the chicken," George says. He climbs into the water, sits on the trash can, puts on his seat belt and asks Jamie to close the door.

"Hollywood," he says, "it's been nice knowing you."

Jamie knows how to improvise:

"I have no clue what is about to unfold," she says.

It's a little unclear what in fact happens next. George has some chemical reaction going -- maybe vinegar and baking soda -- in some more two-liter bottles. They bounce around the inside of the stall and explode, shooting water all over the place.

He's lucky he wasn't hurt.

Other than getting wet, it's unclear what he hoped to accomplish. He opens the shower door up and stands there. He looks like he's just been pulled out of a spin cycle.

Coming out of the shower, he slips and falls on his backside.

And it's time for the nightmarish daily challenge. We think we heard that the winner gets to do the weather "live on CBS," but that doesn't make sense.

CBS wouldn't pollute one of its once-respected news programs with a loony character from a failed TV show, would it?

On the other hand, we notice Julie Chen is still on "The Early Show."

The challenge is to find the horrid pug -- easy enough. But when the houseguests go outside, they find the yard infested with pugs. It is a plague of pugs upon their house.

One of them has only three legs, and Eddie bonds with it. Various dogs lick him.

The hamsters ferret around the yard, calling ineffectually for their pug, whose name is Chiquita. Nothing seems to be working. Then Josh gets an idea. He goes inside and says in the Red Room that he thinks Chiquita is in the house, probably in the storage room. Red Room man says to go look, and there, in fact, she is.

The joy.

As we wonder whether perhaps Josh's IQ is as stellar as he would have us believe, the shut-ins go back inside with Chiquita.

Outside, the Pug-cam captures the desperation of the grotesquely grinning dogs as they try to get in the house as the door closes on their dreams. It's like watching the last helicopter leave Saigon, only not sad.

In the last scene, Eddie goes in the Red Room and says that he and Jamie are "the most opposite people in world."

"She thinks everything can be solved with a hug."

"She has no competitiveness."

When she plays croquet she goes on and on about wanting everyone to win.

He really pisses her off.

We know just how he feels.

(C.C.)

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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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