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HERCULES Enslaved By BIG BROTHER!

Hey, everybody. "Moriarty" here. It's been a little while since we've had a report from everyone's favorite Greek god. Turns out he's been wrestling with one of the greatest evils I've ever personally witnessed, the ratings phenomenon with all the production polish of public access porn, that epic ode to all that is mundane, BIG BROTHER. And this is one fight I'm not sure even HERCULES is strong enough for. Despite my overwhelming fear of the show, this is one of the funniest pieces Herc's ever written. Check it out.

“Big Brother” has taken over my life.

I wish I could say I haven’t been posting to Coax lately because I was off in the Caribbean for the holidays, soaking up the sun of which this site so readily deprives me.

I also know I should be pouring over the pile of unreviewed pilots gathering dust beside my VCR.

Instead, I’m staring at four simultaneous SureStream Internet feeds showing me four almost-live pictures of a chicken coop!

Hellllllp meeeeeee!

“BIG BROTHER” FAQ 1.0

THERE’S LIVE STREAMING VIDEO??

At bigbrother200.com, it’s really only ALMOST live. By a quirk of fate that sounds as improbable as Moriarty maintaining an army of deformed henchmen, I, Hercules The Strong, live about a four-minute walk from where “Big Brother” is taped (you can even make out my rooftop satellite dish from some of the published aerial photos of the “Big Brother” compound!). There’s a lot of noisy air traffic over our Studio City neighborhood, and I noticed early on that the planes seemed to fly over my place about three minutes before they flew over the “Big Brother” backyard.

A THREE-MINUTE DELAY? WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?

The constant threat of catastrophic violence? Fear of an outbreak of “Survivor”-like nudity? They certainly don’t use the delay to delete salty language; the “Big Brother” cast is relentlessly potty-mouthed (particularly one-legged Eddie, who has taken to punctuating his long, brooding silences with phrases like “motherfucking faggot”), and I’ve not heard dialogue deleted yet.

SO HOW’S THAT STREAMING VIDEO?

So good that “Big Brother” could effectively put JenniCam out of business. It offers everything a lot of us once hoped the JenniSite would serve up: non-stop streaming video, live sound, and a lot of interesting stuff going on. (We may never be willing to tolerate silent photos of Jennifer’s office chair again.)

WHAT’S BAD ABOUT THE STREAMING VIDEO?

The resolution on my two-inch RealPlayer screen is so typically horrible there are times I can’t tell the two-legged black guy from the one-legged white guy. Using my 56K dialup, the picture refreshes only about once a second. Also, when a cast member does a solo stint in the Red Room (this series’ version of “The Real World’s” confessional), the audio goes away. The MOST disappointing thing, however, is that we at home are not allowed full access to the house’s 28 camera feeds. Only four camera angles are available at any given time, and those four are chosen for us.

CAN WE VIEW MORE THAN ONE CAMERA ANGLE AT ONCE?

Absolutely, if you know where to go. The official “Big Brother” site has an “ALL” button which theoretically combines four different shots (“Time Code” style) into one frame, but it never works -- at least not for me. I have much better luck, ironically, by utilizing bigbrotherblows.com, which offers all four camera angles individually AND the four-in-one “quad cam” – as well as the “control room cam” (a fairly worthless feed, thanks to poor lighting, that sort of lets you watch the watchmen), and the “kippen kam,” which wackily offers round-the-clock streaming video of the house’s backyard chicken coop. Time Saving Tip: you can click any of the scenes in the quad screen to isolate that scene and have it fill the entire frame.

HOW LAME WAS THAT PREMIERE?

Very very. (There may be a reason we haven’t seen perky CBS news-hen Julie Chen -- or half-wit field correspondent Ian O’Malley -- since. Though that Wednesday edition was by far the show’s highest-rated, it was also its most atypical: more like an hourlong promo than an actual episode. But even on infomercial terms, the premiere was pretty flaccid. When CBS does its next “Big Brother” (and it will), the producers should have a gander at MTV’s “Real World”/”Road Rules” show-launching casting specials, which are easily as entertaining as the best episodes of the actual shows.

HOW’RE THE RATINGS?

Pretty damn good: like “Survivor,” “Big Brother” is a magnet for young, ad-friendly audiences, and even beat Thursday’s potent “Friends” rerun in viewers aged 18-49. The noxious “Big Brother” premiere was the week’s third-biggest show, nearly equaling first-place “Survivor’s” biggest-ever audience. Those premiere ratings carried all the way to late night, giving David Letterman a rare huge victory over the Tonight Show. “Brother’s” viewership declined until Monday, but its ratings are starting to grow again. (This apparently follows the pattern set by its European counterparts; the American audience is now expected to continue growing all summer as the on-screen herd thins itself.) Look for a big jump in ratings Thursday, when the cast nominates its first pair of candidates for ejection!

THE SHOW DOESN’T SEEM PARTICULARLY CRUEL, DOES IT?

It looks very restful, much more like camp than prison. The cast stays up all night playing board games and telling stories. The show provides exercise equipment, puzzles and other challenges to keep them occupied during the day. And the environment the show creates actually turns out to be anything but boring: deprived of television, computers, CD players, radios, newspapers, magazines and most other distractions of modern life, the cast of “Big Brother” indulges orgies of introspection, and most of these are compelling as heck.

ISN’T JAMIE A LITTLE CHUNKY TO BE A REIGNING MISS WASHINGTON USA?

Ah. For the record, Jamie is the second heaviest among the female cast, after Cassandra. Apparently, if you’re 5’6” and weigh in the neighborhood of 154 you can win beauty contests in the Northwest. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone in the house is rude enough to ask her if she won in this condition, or if she’s chubbed up since.

IF WE’RE JUST WATCHING THE TV SHOW, WE’RE MISSING A LOT, HUH?

It’s amazing how much. For example, you almost never see the “Real World” kids discuss the show they’re on, but the “Big Brother” Internet feeds depict the cast talking about their show incessantly. They talk about which of their antics might make the air that night, the budget of the show, the cost of commercial time, what their ratings might be, and even if they’ll get to go on Letterman when they get kicked out. Several of the cast feared they would lose their spots in the cast if anyone learned of their participation ahead of time. The cast speaks of chaperones and show-hired private investigators frightening neighbors with loads of suspicion-generating inquiries.

CREEPY! WHAT ELSE?

All kinds of weird stories. Cassandra has insomnia because, when she was living in an isolated house in Central Africa, a band of 19 violent criminals showed up at 3 a.m., spent 40 minutes tearing down the metal bars over her doors and windows, beat bloody two of her three guards, slapped her around, and stole her every material possession. Curtis’ senior prom date is now married to a 50-year-old. Jordan and her sisters were plagued with life-threatening illness throughout most of their childhoods. Jordan also just revealed that “Jordan” is actually her last name. Josh, whose grandparents’ house burned down mysteriously days after those grandparents died in a freak car wreck, soon after also lost his mother, who died of “unknown causes” at the age of 40. And there was also an odd, extended conversation in which Jordan admitted she was open to pursuing a lesbian relationship – and kept asking Brittany her views on the same subject. Was Jordan trying to determine if magenta-haired Brittany is gay – or does Jordan just crave Brittany?

MAN!

We also hear disembodied voices occasionally. Usually, they’re asking the cast to convene in the Red Room to change their microphone batteries. (The show’s crew is seldom heard, but NEVER seen. The Red Room serves as a kind of neutral zone; cast and crew members can access it, but never, apparently, at the same time.) One cast member admits she fears one day being summoned into the Red Room alone: “Which rule did I break?” Sometimes the cast talks about the crew as if they were supernatural entities; conversation stops suddenly if they hear their chroniclers talking or bumping around inside the walls.

BIGGEST REGRET ABOUT YOUR ENSLAVEMENT TO “BIG BROTHER?”

That I haven’t yet figured out how to tape the Internet stuff. I am constantly fighting late-night fatigue trying to follow the cast’s post-midnight conversations. Also, it’s frustrating when the cast breaks off into little groups. While I’m listening raptly to Jason, Brittany and Jordan in the living room, I’m constantly aware that Karen, Cassandra and Eddie are on camera two, revealing a whole different set of secrets in the back bedroom. Maddening.

HOW’S IT GOING TO END?

This question, so central to “The Truman Show,” defines precisely the allure of this brand of “reality” television. On shows like “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” “Survivor,” “Blind Date,” “Making the Band,” et al, we see a chaotic universe in play: good often goes unrewarded, evil routinely triumphs, and there is a complexity and texture afoot that producers of dramatic television fear would overwhelm THEIR audiences. You can certainly argue that these so-called “reality” shows are not “real,” but it’s much harder to categorize them as predictable.

Oh! Oh! Jamie is trying to convince Brittany to jump into the pool naked!!

I’ll be back later to remind you not to defy me!

I am – HERCULES!!

Readers Talkback
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  • July 12, 2000, 4:32 a.m. CST

    I'm Gonna Be A Star...

    by Saluki

    ... By appearing a reality based CBS television show! It has always been my dream! BTW, I'm first... Or damn close...

  • July 12, 2000, 5:25 a.m. CST

    Hey Herc, Any truth to the Skydiver rumor?

    by pcubed

    One of the the Big Brother pirate sites (don't remember which one, it's bookmarked on my other computer) reported that a skydiver wearing a "Free the Chickens" t-shirt landed in the compound back yard. It also said that the cast had to be moved away until security could deal with the intruder. My first thought: Coool! My second thought: Sounds too good to be true. Given your proximity to ground zero, is there any truth to this story?

  • July 12, 2000, 6:14 a.m. CST

    No!! Hercules!! Not you too!! Come back!!

    by XTheCrovvX

    You know, i have always taken fads with a grain of salt...when i went to an arcade back in 94, and somebody told me, "look at this! why, in 2 years ALL thee fighting games will be 3-D", i was cautious, and simply watched it grow. When somebody told me, "damn, this pokemon show is gonna be huge", i watched in curiousity, but was VERY wary of what it could become...and sure enough, the cards came along, and rather than waste my money, i avoided it like the plague. When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire became big, i started watched Jeopardy religiously again to stay in support of game shows that actually challenges people with half a gnats brain. Now comes this whole voyeurism thing on TV, and while I'm down with Survivor(I've always been curious about how modern day people would react in that situation), Big Brother is the television equivalent of Heroin. Yeah, it's addictive, and it feels great or a while, but this simply CANT be good for your health!!! I mean, sooner or later, some plane is gonna crash, and it's all gonna be because the damn air traffic controller was watching some chicken with an eye infection!!!

  • July 12, 2000, 9:24 a.m. CST

    HEY I LIVE IN WASHINGTON!!!

    by Jopapa

    Okay, so I didn't watch BB, and I haven't seen what Miss Washington looks like, but we're not bad critics of personal beauty. At least I'm not. I got a hella fine girlfriend who I say is one of the hottest women on the planet. SO THERE!

  • July 12, 2000, 10:39 a.m. CST

    Glad I'm not the only one!

    by KingMenthol

    I love this stuff. I can't get enough of it. And to be honest, I really think we're getting set up for a huge ratings blaster, which could be one of two things: 1) Karen will announce soon that when her part on the show ends, she will divorce her husband, the "stiff" as she recently called him. 2) Jordan and Brittany will hook up. I'm waiting for #2. Gotta love it.

  • July 12, 2000, 1:26 p.m. CST

    pagent photos of Jamie

    by kirabira

    ha i was glad u brought this up i actually was umm really bored and did some reasearch... she looks a lot thinner here in these pagent photos!! http://www.missusa.com/home.html look for jamie kern by name or under her title of miss washington you have to check out her photo gallery its lil she has this tiny bottom and a large top! kind of odd looking ... mebe these photos are doctored? lol

  • July 12, 2000, 1:42 p.m. CST

    more jamie ha

    by kirabira

    http://www.pageant.com/missusa2000/page4.htm this has a lil write up about her halfway down the page plus pictures hehe

  • July 12, 2000, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Hercules! Say it ain't so!

    by All Thumbs

    NOOOO!!! Don't watch. Look away before you're zombified! Realize that "Big Brother" is the most boring thing out there on television. I have tried several times to watch it, but if I want to hear people bitch about relationships and see someone pee, I'll just step into the reality of my life. Of course, I don't watch people pee.

  • July 12, 2000, 4:06 p.m. CST

    Is it just me...

    by ziranova

    or does that William guy come across like a whiny baby with a big, fat chip on his shoulder? Re: tonight's Survivor episode... the fine folks at survivorsucks.com are going out on a limb and predicting Gretchen to win. I don't know.. that doesn't make sense to me, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

  • July 12, 2000, 10:01 p.m. CST

    Dead chicken?

    by Elke

    Does anyone else think the incident with the chicken (see latest news on bigbrother2000 website) was rigged by Big Brother? After all, just how serious could an eye injury be? Enough to make a chicken pass out and bleed all over George's shirt?? Come on! A little drama to raise the sagging ratings perhaps?

  • July 12, 2000, 10:16 p.m. CST

    You've gotta be kidding

    by tbrosz

    I checked out the live feed. Watched a bunch of people playing cards. Listened to three girls having a hen party in one of the rooms. I have never heard such insipid crap in my life. Poke a hole in the head of any one of these people and the voice of everyone in the room would go up two octaves. This is like the family reunion weekend from hell. I would have more fun watching the world-famous live webcam of that coffeepot. Speaking of which, rather than watch this stuff I would drink four gallons of coffee and have a twelve minute whiz on an electric fence. But that's just my opinion--I could be wrong.

  • July 13, 2000, 12:20 a.m. CST

    this show sucks ass

    by pogo on my own

    This show is beyond lame, who wants to watch the real world with middle aged people and without any excitement. Was happy to see that the show lost 65% of its viewers between the first show and the saturday wrap up. This show is absolutley unwatchable, I am a fan of the Real World and the Road Rules and those two shows are far superior to this utter peice of garbage. I hope CBS really ends up eating thier shit on this show.

  • July 13, 2000, 2:45 a.m. CST

    one question...

    by baff

    is this show the american version of some other country's show? i ask this because im in australia, and down here last year, we had a show called House from Hell. it was a pretty good show where they put all these people in a house together, and they couldnt get out, (except one was aloud out to walk her dog). i think ours was better tahn yours cause yours sounds sorta boring.(nyahahahahaa!) OURS was NEVER boring, the only reason some people didnt watch House from Hell, is because they did not wanna watch the trashiest and lowest point of human existence ever exploited on commercial TV...hmmmmmmm.well, seeya in the funny pages!heehee!baff

  • July 13, 2000, 1:38 p.m. CST

    another reality type show,...

    by Kevin Bosch

    ya know what i was thinking the other day. I said to my self,.."self, self i say,.. now that this whole 'reality' show thing is big, they should try to intergrate it with sitcome formula?" What i ws thinking was,.. kinda like The Beverly Hill Billies, or Fresh Prince,... but in real life. They get these ghetto ass people,.. and put them smack in the middle of this white upper-class suburbanitistic neiborhood,.. with white picket fences and people with money and shit,... and they record the whole neiborhood and shit. And every season or whatever, they get different kinds of people in the rich neiborhood. like,.. the first season it could be a family of ghetto black people,.. then the next it could be a family of white trailer park people,... and then a family of mexicans.(oh,.. and before anybody calles me a biggot or anything,... im hispanic. ...so i guess that some how makes it alright. i guess).