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With the summer days completely underway I have to admit that writing a column about all the television out there that I am not actually watching is a bit of a stretch. Rather than put out a disingenuous column I’d rather write this week about the things that I actually have been watching (or plan to). I hope you don’t mind bearing with me during this interlude before the return of my regular prattle and daily TV bread down.

Big Brother’s Back
Every year I have a guilty pleasure during the summer season and it is CBS’s BIG BROTHER. It isn’t because the TV show is creative and done well, it isn’t for the blatant attempts that they do to make the players on the show (known as HOUSE GUESTS) visually appealing, and it isn’t for the diversity they also decide to plunk into the house to drum up friction. I simply love watching the show to see the way that regular social graces and group dynamics break down so quickly.

If you aren’t aware of the concept of BIG BROTHER in its US incarnation the idea is very simple: a sound stage is turned into a house, complete with an outdoor backyard, where there are over 50 cameras and microphones following around a group of contestants as they try to make it through SURVIVOR like internal voting eliminations while also competing for the things we take for granted every day: hot water, food, etc. Throughout all of this the House is not allowed any contact with the outside world. For 75 days this micro-community is all there is for these people and usually this means that they all go a little nuts.

The producers of the show also know exactly what to do in order to create artificial drama or on-camera romance in order to fill time with the three weekly airings of the show: the provide plenty of alcohol to the HOUSE GUESTS. This helps lubricate arguments, conflict and romance. It helps increase paranoia, bad choices and helps the HOUSE GUESTS to blunder things up.

This early on, with the show just starting, it’s very always very hard for me to get into the show because with 13 people living in a house at the same time it is hard for me to get all of these people straight. Each year they’ve tried to do something in the very beginning to help avoid this problem (at least for me) by introducing an early twist or idea. One season it was that the house was stocked with people and their ex-boyfriend/girlfriends. Another season they had twins playing secretly as one person (trading places in the special confessional/interview area known as THE DIARY ROOM), and another season they had people secretly playing as partners (each thinking they were the only ones). One of the better gimicss was the use of AMERICA’S PLAYER, a person that was playing to win but also had to do the things that we, the home viewer, voted for them to do. They would have to vote how we wanted them to vote, do stunts we told them to do which brought a new level of interactivity to the viewing experience.

Seeing as how this is the 12th season of BIG BROTHER, however, I think the idea well is running a little dry because they’ve flat out lifted a concept straight out of another reality show by putting THE MOLE into the house, only BIG BROTHER calls this person THE SABOTEUR. The SABOTEUR has one goal in the show: undermine the other players and get to the half-way point without being discovered for a clean $50,000. Considering BIG BROTHER only has two winners and second place gets you the same amount as the SABOTEUR will win it’s a pretty solid plan considering the odds of winning are only two in 13.

In an early smart move the show hasn’t revealed to us, the audience, who this SABOTEUR is. In an early dumb move they are going to reveal the person during this Thursday’s live eviction show. I say this is a dumb move because I enjoy not knowing who the SABOTEUR is and would rather enjoy their undermining antics while trying to determine who they are. This puts me in the same frame of mind as the HOUSE GUESTS and allows me to experience a bit of what they are going through first hand. Instead we’ll just be seeing them play out their antics much in the same way we already have from watching AMERICA’S PLAYER do their dirty work.

If you are interested in watching BIG BROTHER you can catch it on CBS weekly on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 PM.

Are you PSYCH’d
Summer always brings plenty of original programming on the USA NETWORK and July is no exception with the premiere of PSYCH this Wednesday, July 14 @ 10/9c. PSYCH is one of those shows that I enjoy watching every season solely for the performances of JAMES RODAY and DULE HILL. Their characters are entertainingly written, well performed and the actors portray an excellent chemistry. The one thing that is disappointing for me when it comes to PSYCH, however, is how far the show has really stretched away from its original concept.

The original PILOT of PSYCH had JAMES RODAY’s SHAWN SPENCER having an incredibly well crafted and honed sense of perception who picked up on finer details that others would overlook that was matched with a very good deductive reasoning (if you saw the recent SHERLOCK HOLMES movie you know exactly what I’m talking about). The first few episodes of the first season were able to carry this concept but near the end of that initial run it began to erode. Now there are very few things that I feel like SHAWN observes that anyone else could pick up on, very few deductions made that anyone else couldn’t also come to. Considering I keep watching you can tell that this change hasn’t pushed me away.

… and finally, EUREKA (and others)
Even though the baffling name change happened the majority of the programming on SYFY really hasn’t. This past week on the network we saw the premieres of WAREHOUSE 13, EUREKA and the new show HAVEN. Of the three my favorite has to be EUREKA. The show is just silly science fiction fun set in the fictional town of Eureka, OR where a secretly funded brain trust of scientists push the boundaries of what we know in the name of progress.

The show, now in it’s fourth season, has had an interesting evolution and it’s once again played with time travel. At the end of the first season, a glimpse into the future five years from where the show started, had SHERIFF JOHN CARTER had to travel back in time to the present in order to undo someone else’s meddling. In doing so he undid the very future we saw, something that I’ve been wondering if they would ever come back to. This season opener didn’t exactly take us back there but instead displaced many characters back to the 1940’s. In getting back, just as they always do, they inadvertently brought back one of the town founders, played by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s JAMES CALLIS (BALTAR) and now things are different. I’m hoping the changes won’t be permanent and will instead just be a plot line that plays across a few episodes. Seeing as how JAMES CALLIS is a brilliant actor I’m hoping he’ll be the one thing that they are able to keep around for a while.

That’s it for this column. Come back next week and I’m sure I’ll have a mouthful of other things to say as well as some of the listings all of you (hopefully) enjoy.

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