The cougar and her mate seem likely to be the first to go until Jacob calls Parker a snake; meanwhile, the big hidden-couple surprise is blown
Big Brother

”Big Brother” recap: The first eviction

I can’t believe we’re really here.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, we have the recently resolved writers’ strike to thank for the first-ever winter edition of Big Brother. Which reminds me, a little business before pleasure: Even though the strike’s been resolved and the writers were supposed to get back to work yesterday on all those original episodes of Moonlight and Ghost Whisperer, CBS is insisting that it will keep its promise to air BB9 three days a week through May. (Fortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the return of The Unit, Shark, and Cane has provided some conveniently free time slots for the Chenbot’s kids.) So unless BB9‘s ratings hit rock bottom, we can rest assured that we’ll have almost three blissful months to enjoy the head-scratching ‘Til Death Do You Part twist. And speaking of pure bliss, BB fans at EW like Kristen Baldwin, Jeff Jensen, Henry Goldblatt, and me will begin participating in our first ever Big Brother video talk show on next week. As that knucklehead Jacob would say, come see us ”turn the chicken up!” (which I’m assuming has something to do with boosting one’s game play and not with overcooking the poultry).

So let’s get to the good stuff (I think). I must admit that I’m a bit overwhelmed by the notion that it’s already time to check my intolerance for putzes and pinheads at the door so I can settle in, judgment-free, for a new edition of voyeur-palooza. I usually need a good 10 months or so to decompress from a summer of boorish behavior — to say nothing of the weeks and weeks I required this season to come to terms with how that Dick from BB8 managed to win last September. (Jameka and Whaamber, you have only yourselves to blame!) Now, I’m expected to gird my loins — and in February, no less — for Beaver State gals like Natalie who profess to like ”bikinis, coffee, and God”? It’s a hardship, I tell you! But I think I will muddle through.

Some of you readers may recall that I asked you to suggest changes that you’d like to see in the show’s ninth edition (some of which executive producer Allison Grodner addressed in our interview). Out of all of your proposals, I appreciated this short and sweet one from a dude named Matt Clark: ”This show needs to stop putting people in the house that know each other before coming in….Give everyone a shot!”

Dare to dream, Mr. Clark. After the much-anticipated arrival Tuesday of the hostess-we-like-to-roastest (nice knit dress, though, Chenbot!), we soon learned two couples had dated before they entered the house: Jacob and Sharon (she seemed none-too-pleased to see her cheating ex-beau walk through the door) and Ryan and Jen (she’s an attractive little bartender if you ignore the veritable doorknob piercing her tongue). Really? I know the producers had, like, two seconds to bust out a winter edition so we wouldn’t have to endure more of The Power of 10, but couldn’t they have redirected the energy they put into that cool new mission decor and come up with a better surprise? Fortunately, we didn’t have to wring our hands too long over this tired old setup since there was a far odder development to process: All 16 of these ”single” players will be coupled for the entire run of the series. Obviously, I could see Jacob and Sharon’s pairing coming from a mile away, but I actually enjoyed the loud roar coming from Sheila the cougar when she was paired with 29-year-old Adam. Though it was kind of harsh for him to make an ageist statement like ”It’s you and me, Ma!” to the 45-year-old former Penthouse Pet, she could have rolled her eyes back down in her head long enough to remember that (A) seniors are something of a rarity in the house, so it ain’t like BB was going to pack the place with her peers and (B) it’s just a freakin’ game, Ma! You don’t have to sleep with him!

NEXT: Forced intimacy

Well, actually, she does; the other part of the ‘Til Death Do You Part twist is that all the couples — Alex and Amanda, James and Chelsia, Natalie and Matt, Jen and Parker, Joshuah and Neil, Jacob and Sharon, and Ryan and Allison — have to vote, nominate, and slumber together as ”soul mates” (which is a not-so-clever way to force a little hanky-panky into February sweeps). Now, I imagine you all have loads of questions about this curious new twist, starting with one that involves a little math: If BB9 diligently evicts a couple a week, it could wrap in the first or second week of April. But then I got to thinking; the date of the BB finale is always a bit fuzzy every year, so we never really know when the darn thing’s gonna end. This way, BB could either whittle down the couples quickly if the ratings really stink or break the teams up later to stretch the play through May. Ingenious, eh? (You don’t have to answer that now.)

Mercifully, we didn’t have to wait until next Wednesday to enjoy the season’s first eviction at the hands of the self-described ”Brad and Angelina,” a.k.a. Jen and Parker. On Tuesday, it looked like Adam and the angry cougar had one foot out the door; then, on Wednesday, that idiot Jacob began stirring the pot by claiming that a few HGs were calling Parker a snake. It would have been nice to have a little background on why Jacob made such a move on the likable paparazzo, but I imagine the producers were just as stunned as we were when he starting talking smack. Good thing Parker didn’t let the false criticism fester; he channeled the best of that Dick from BB8 by pulling the HGs out of bed to find out who started it. By keeping his expletive-filled anger in check, Parker managed to turn the entire room on Jacob, who then became this week’s prime target for eviction.

Too bad Jacob’s partner, Sharon, missed a key opportunity to reverse the damage. Instead of blaming that budding bigot Adam, who had already turned heads by referring to the mentally disabled as ”retards,” Sharon chose to blame Ryan for smearing Parker’s name. Once it seemed possible (though unlikely) that Parker would decide to evict Ryan, Jen started choking on her oral doorknob and decided right then (!) to reveal her romantic relationship. Her secret could have stopped right there, but then Jen inexplicably told Ryan, who then inexplicably told his partner, Allison, who quite explicably replied with this very shrewd observation: ”I feel like everything we talk about strategy-wise is going to go back to Jen.” Ryan and Allison ended up avoiding eviction; Jacob and Sharon hit the road. So great secret-alliance surprise, producers! That’s sure working out well.

I rather liked that Newlywed Game-like challenge [thanks for the fix, Anonymous!], though it went on for too bloody long before we found out Amanda and Alex were the next HOHs. Speaking of which, I feel I’m going on too long myself. I’m eager to hear what you think about this ridiculously attractive cast, which my good friend Joe Adalian thinks would look more at home on Fox. I have to agree; this smells like the Eye network’s version of Temptation Island. But I’m digging how some of the couples are finding their mojo. In fact, I’m already pulling for Adam and the cougar, if only because I know I won’t have to endure a late-night heavy-petting session between those two angry freaks.

So what do you think? Were you frustrated to learn about the secret alliances? Do you like or loathe the team play? Do you think Natalie’s got a medical condition that requires constant exposure of her cleavage? And could weepy Jen become this season’s Whaamber?

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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