Countdown to oblivion

Episode 65 (Saturday, Sept. 23): Another banishment show. Only five episodes to go!

By Jeff Stark - Bill Wyman - Carina Chocano
September 24, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)
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What a sad, weird show. It is just us, or do the days leading up to what was supposed to be the big exciting "Big Brother" finale just drip drearily into the ether, like so many dabs of spittle falling from a pug's jowl?

Even Julie Chen's electric burgundy outfit can't get us out of the funk we're in.


We sit for a while, trying to figure out whether we feel sorry for Chen.

She does seem to be committing a particularly exhausting form of career suicide by appearing on the show week after week, and you have to feel bad for her.

On the other hand, it's been fun watching her do it. We realize she's just the clumsy public face of the CBS boardroom demons.


Did we say CBS? We meant Viacom.

But we don't know them. We know Julie, and we've grown accustomed to her halting questions, inability to concentrate and Intrepid Newswoman stance.

We guess we're trying to say that, yes, she's a stuttering and clueless tool of an international media conglomerate, but, darn it: She's our stuttering and clueless tool of an international media conglomerate.


The four remaining hamsters have to nominate each other for banishment tonight. Someone gets kicked off on Wednesday, and then the final show will be next Friday.

To put it in layman's terms, "Big Brother" at this point has the life expectancy of your average cold sore.


The start of the live show catches the hamsters unawares. We suppose it's because Josh, in his new role as "sab-a-twah," as Jamie would say, set the clock back by half an hour. Or it could be that the surprise is manufactured and Big Brother never told the guests to get ready for the show, just to make it seem like that was what was happening.

At any rate, there was no mention of any sab-a-twahs tonight

Jamie's a little disconcerted because she doesnt have her makeup on. She comes in brushing her hair.


We decide we like her better without the lip gloss.

It's still the house of forced laughter. We would say the hamsters seem subdued, but they're that way on a good day.

Now they're approaching catatonia.

And, boy, does that make for exciting TV.

Sometimes during "Big Brother," we switch over to the Aquarium Channel, just for a little action.


The big deal tonight is that Cassandra comes back to visit for a few minutes.

Since she left, a couple of weeks ago, Cassandra hasn't been watching the show. Nor has she gone back and watched old episodes.

"I wanted to stay true to the experience," she says.

Eddie looks at her like she's insane.


We know why she didn't. Because she knows the whole affair has been humiliating and she doesn't want to lose any sleep over it.

Eddie wants to know whether she did Letterman.

Cassandra breaks the news to him gently. "I did not do Letterman."

Then she turns into a shill for CBS.


She tells the hamsters that ratings for the show are "up 138 percent in the 18-to-34 year-old category in our time slot and [up] 24 percent overall."

We're not making this up. She actually said that.

Even the pug -- even Josh -- can figure out that when you have to spin selective statistics like that, there's something wrong.

"People recognize you on the street!" she says. "Not huge fame," she says quickly, but "people who relate to us as individuals."


She doesn't describe the look of pity in the eyes of most people who do that.

Jamie is beginning to look a bit crazed.

She tries another bit of puffery. The "Big Brother" Web site hit the top of some chart of new sites recently. CBS hasn't let a day go by without pumping up that pathetic mention, and now Cassandra gets in on the act as well.

"It's one of the most popular new Web sites out there," she says.

"But we didn't come on here to have people know our names," Cassandra says.

"Speak for yourself," Jamie thinks.

Cassandra also warns them to "be realistic" about their prospects in the entertainment industry when they get out.

We get a featurette on Jordan. Big Brother has been peppering the hamsters with hints about her "show." As we've noted before, it's just a radio show. But we haven't been able to find out any information on it.

Turns out it's one day a week. The lucky radio station is Minneapolis' "The Point" -- 104.1. The station is so proud of the show it's not on the Point's Web site, though we note there is room to promote the opening of a new "Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop."

We see Jordan griping, as usual, about the usual myriad things. She's still upset that people just think of her as a stripper.

"People think I'm screwed up," she complains.

We think you're screwed up, we agree.

"The media latched on to [the whole stripper thing] ..." Jordan says.

Well, we didn't. We just thought you were a salacious, conniving lecher.

"... or people thought I was a salacious conniving lecher."

Back on the show, Eddie nominates Curtis and Jamie. He has a complicated plan we couldn't follow as to why this was the thing to do. Also, he thinks they're both better off financially than Josh.

Josh does the same thing, for about the same reasons -- minus the complicated plan part.

Dr. Drew makes a dutiful appearance. We think he looks a little sheepish. There can't be many TV personalities for whom MTV's "Loveline" is the most prestigious entry on their resume.

He says that Cassandra's job was to manage expectations for the hamsters when they get out.

Chen asks Dr. Drew why none of the housemates were sleeping together, where in the European version residents boffed like bunnies.

Well, Julie, we have two theories. One, the male mating pool in the house is horrifying.

And two, maybe it has something to do with the fact that they're on camera 24 hours a day.

Dr. Drew agrees with us. Jamie, he notes, is the only girl left, and she's "very contained and very strong, and very concerned about how she's perceived on camera."

There's a feature on Josh's friends having a party for him. But we fell asleep during it.

Regina Lewis, the AOL Internet Advisor, says you can "feel the intensity" on the Web site. Her eyes practically bug out of her head as she says this.

She says there's a posting every second while the show's on.

Then Julie Chen, Intrepid Newswoman, introduces another spurious online poll. We don't even have the energy to describe it.

There is next a collage of very odd-looking people citing their favorite "Big Brother" moment.

Our favorite Big Brother moment, looking back, was the night it got preempted.

There's bash for Eddie too, complete with a guy who pulls up his shirt and rolls his stomach.

It sure seems like a swell party.

We see Eddie's mom and brother and realize we don't know anything about Eddie's father.

Back to the group, still talking with Cassandra.

"We just hang out and don't even talk so much," Curtis confesses.

Cassandra tells the group that she went out to see some music. "It was a jazz club and it was nice; I mean nice. I almost wanted to dance."

Boy, that Cassandra. She's a wild, wild partier.

She says goodbye. "I'm not watchin', but I'm with you in spirit," she tells the group.

Cassandra, you are a strange woman.

The last nominations: Curtis dings Eddie and Josh, and so does Jamie!

There's a Jamie-Curtis alliance, it seems, faced off against a Josh-Eddie one.

Each resident gets two votes; all four hamsters are up for banishment.

Cassandra leaves. Through the rest of the show, the remaining hamsters sit around, not doing or saying much of anything.

We're splitting our vote four ways. We want them all off the show.

Julie Chen talks to Cassandra in the studio.

"Can you gauge the mood in there?" Julie asks.

It's a classic Chen question. She makes it seem like Cassandra just came out of a hostage situation.

Aren't the hamsters being filmed all the time? Doesn't Chen work for the network that's broadcasting it?

Finally, we get it.

Julie Chen hasn't been watching the show either.


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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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