CBS dials 911 4 BB2...
June 29, 2001 10:36 PM   Subscribe

CBS dials 911 4 BB2... Arnold Shapiro (who helmed Rescue 911, Scared Straight, & more) has been announced as Executive Producer, in hopes of resusitating what critics pronounced DOA last year despite above satisfactory summer ratings. Some of new developments sound promising. Some don't. (MORE)
posted by ZachsMind (10 comments total)
And yeah, I'm well aware I might be the only MeFi participant actually looking forward to BB2. I had fun with it last year. It was silly fun. This year the stakes are higher for CBS and Endermol, so they're hoping Shapiro can pull them through this. All in all it sounds.. hopeful. Although I'm still happily cynical about the whole thing. For better or for worse, America's second attempt at Big Brother starts Thursday night, July 5th.

Good stuff about BB2:

No more of that IKEA crap. It's a new house with new furniture. It won't look like the place was furnished by color blind fraternity drunkards. The outside doesn't look like a converted warehouse/studio, which is what it really is. This time they've actually given lip service to aesthetics.

Twelve houseguests instead of ten, and with the yougest one at 26, they all look more mature than the first crowd, but then George Boswell fooled us last time. Kinda hard to peg this new group, but it's too soon to tell whether they're Survivor 3 rejects or from that larger percentage of human beings who should never really be on primetime television. Oh, and now the bedrooms are officially co-ed. 'Nuff said there.

The houseguests will get to evict each other, which should put a stop to the smarmy and crocodile tearful goodbye scenes of last year. Either that or they'll be MORE smarmy and crocodile tearful, which should make for more amusing television either way. Hopefully Shapiro will find even more ways to constantly remind the houseguests that they are competing against each other for a lot of money. If Shapiro can keep the heat turned up, even the most anti-BB critic might peak in to see what's cookin'.

Competitions more relevant to the goings-on of the house. Last year they'd make them put together a puzzle or ride a thousand miles on a stationary bike. [Sarcasm] Yay. How exciting. [/Sarcasm] This year the challenges given to housemates will allegedly have more to do with actually living there day to day, and the results will more directly affect their living conditions.

Bad Stuff about BB2:

Bad ideas already and they haven't even gotten in the house yet. Some rumors say the houseguests will have already been put in there before the live show Thursday night, instead of waiting for the live show like they did last year. Another bad (or maybe good) thing: rumors already speculating wildly and they haven't even gotten in the house yet.

Julie Chen is back which may perhaps be the worst bad thing about the new show. I was hoping they'd give Brittney Petros her job. Julie Chen has the warmth of an ice sculpture.

A basketball hoop replaces the chicken coop. So for those of us who religiously watch via Internet, when they cut away all cameras cuz they don't wanna show us what's going on, we don't even get to look at the chickens. Damn that Bob Barker! I know he's behind this! This may have a silver lining: hopefully there won't be an obnoxious mascot dog this time either.

Bigger house may backfire. The house will be 2,400 square feet, as opposed to last year's 1,800 square feet. This sounds good on the surface, but with two new houseguests, that's just enough room to add a couple extra beds, a couple extra chairs at the dining table, and a couple extra seats in the living room. Viewers won't notice much of a difference until the population of the house goes to six and under, and then, it may be too noticable.

Talk is cheap. The CBS execs seem very self-conscious this time around about how often they broke their own rules last year: allowing Curtis to go to the Emmy awards for example. And also how much they lost control of the situation, like when the houseguests threatened to leave en masse. This time they're making it clear the rules have been laid out and there will be no changing in midstream. Will this prove to be a promise they can't keep? Or will they be too rigid to react and respond to the show properly when something happens to upset the boat?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:57 PM on June 29, 2001

I have three acquaintances working as producers on this edition so I hope it does well than the crappy first one.

I always thought the show would have been better if they had fun with the fact they were cut off from the world, then simulate something like an earthquake or national disaster, or a fake news story like a politician being killed.
posted by owillis at 11:05 PM on June 29, 2001

The reason it's a good thing the houseguests are doing their own voting: Viewers at home identify with the people who are physically attractive and/or sweet and friendly and quickly turn on the ones with more complicated personalities and looks. The looks aren't important so much WRT this, but the personalities are. They think it's fun to "vote off the bad guys" at the first available opportunity, but are too stupid to realize that by doing so, they're destroying the possibility of any friction on the show. And friction is what makes the shows interesting. Especially since here in the US, we're not going to get to see any sex scenes even if any of them do screw around.

As an example, you know Richard Hatch would have been one of the first ones thrown off the first Survivor if it were up to the viewers, and the rest of the series would have been far less interesting as a result.

Oh well ... if they're bringing back Julie Chen, they don't really know what they're doing anyway. But I guess they don't have to; in the summer, any new programming will garner halfway-decent ratings no matter what.
posted by aaron at 11:17 PM on June 29, 2001

A few notes to Zach:

1) I'm also looking forward to BB2. It was so awful, it was compelling. I'm hoping it becomes 'good compelling,' but awful is amusing too

2) You're thinking WAY too much about this show before it even airs! :-)

Even though the TV shows were terrible, I thought the show was at its best online. The multibrandedchannelpartnership version on AOL (stop snickering -- it's my wife's preferred 'ISP'... *sigh*) was very cool because they kept chat rooms active during the webcast. You didn't get that on the regular site. I had a great time ripping on the show and the houseguests with other fans.

That's the future of interactive TV. Don't go off setting up some elaborate scheme to let me impulse-buy Tori Spelling's sweater. Just give me an audience and let me make catty, smart-ass remarks about the shit we're watching.
posted by Dirjy at 11:53 PM on June 29, 2001

Owillis, ooh that's good! Instead of giving them no facts about the outside world, they could make up erroneous but believable news. ..On second thought, that would create an entirely different show. The world inside the fishbowl would distort more vividly from this reality. It actually sounds like a good idea for a show. More Orwellian. Tricking them into believing two plus two equals five. It would also be a more dark and disturbing show. I don't think America's ready for it. Or maybe CBS isn't ready for it. It could also be misconstrued as inhumane treatment, and you'd have to somehow 'deprogram' them after banishment, before unleashing them once again to the world.

Aaron, agreed. Letting the audience choose who to banish was a bad idea. However, I hope this doesn't mean they've completely separated audience involvement. They need to find more creative ways to let the audience manipulate things. An audience for a show like BB2 is not passive. That was proven last year. One of the BB's in Europe allowed Internet viewers to remotely manipulate one camera. I believe it was the UK BB that polled fans each day "which one do you want one of our feeds to follow around all day long?" Stuff like that's going in the right direction.

Dirjy, Yes the online access was better than the edited tv versions. On more than one occasion, what I saw on the live feed and what appeared a couple days later on TV were dramatically different. It's disturbing how much editing can affect the truth. You are right about interactive TV. BB1 became more interesting due to flying airplane banners overhead and the megaphone lady. Eventually the media's gonna have to accept that the only way to really keep an audience captivated, is get them more directly involved.

And yes of course I'm thinking too much about the show. I've been looking forward to this! That's what obsessive fans of television shows do. For me, this is normal behavior. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 1:28 AM on June 30, 2001

I had a lot of fun with last years show. Of course, I had a bunch of friends who were also into the show so every burp and fart was analyzed with great care. Yeah, the show sucked, but it was the non-TV goings on that it made it interesting.

One thing that it made fun was the live feeds from the house and seeing them complete the challenges live rather than on one of the "summary" shows. The best part was reading about all the banners ( that were sent to fly over the house and then actually watching the internet live feed as some of the planes approached. And yah, Zach, the megaphone lady was great

Of course, the great Chicken George scandal and his wife's rallying to evict Brittany certainly added to the interactive nature of the show. (Okay, I'll admit it, the only time I voted was when George was up for eviction...) I think, though, there wouldn't have been much difference if the houseguests voted off their own vs. letting the audience pick; MegaWill certainly would have been voted off first by the houseguests.

The TV ads for the upcoming show are trying their best to show how much more fun this season will be. They already got sound bites by a houesguest that is gay, and a houseguest that states that gay and lesbian behavior is wrong.
posted by Raymond Marble at 6:43 AM on June 30, 2001

Well, ne'er a day goes by in the UK without a BB2 story making the front pages of one of the tabloids. (Don't scroll down if you're offended by breasts.) The most recent eviction had the main tabloids taking sides: the Sun is now licking its wounds, since Bubble, the permahatted ex-junkie, got the chop.
posted by holgate at 7:56 AM on June 30, 2001

Big Brother was my guilty pleasure last year. It was the main reason I got DSL. Yes, I am a sad, sad soul. I am currently watching Big Brother Australia online. They have the same rules as the first Big Brother in the States. Plus they get a way with a lot of things American censors would edit.
posted by lheiskell at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2001

Oh yeah, all kinds of bizarro things could happen. (Murder in Small Town X seems headed down this road to an extent). Housemates disappear without explanation then reappear days later, sensory deprivation, overload, whatever. I would sure as hell watch.
posted by owillis at 12:23 AM on July 1, 2001

I'm looking forward to Murder in Small Town X, although I think the name's a bit of a mouthful. I would have simply called it Sunrise which is the fictional name they gave the real town of Eastport, Maine. I think they were hoping to keep it a secret, at least until its first broadcast. Too late now. It's real close to Bangor, Maine, which makes me wonder if Stephen King wasn't involved in it somehow.

The thing is the past genres of television have run their course. The logical thing is to take what has been learned and incorporate it into new genres. What has happened up until now is only the beginning, and I think MiSTX is a step in the right direction. Real contestants are put into realistic situations under controlled conditions. This turns what was once mere passive sitcoms and gameshows into vicarious thrillrides. What we've been calling reality television for the past few years is either going to crash and burn, or turn into a level of interactive art like none seen before.

This show seems to be combining "normal contestants" with paid actors, stuntmen and imagineers, to create a look and feel of a melodramatic, fictionalized but at least semi-believable murder investigation. The show's already in the can, probably still undergoing post production and editing. We've heard no reports that anyone actually got hurt, so it sounds like good, clean fun. So far as safety is placed first in shows like this, Fear Factor and the like, I think eventually reality TV will actually find itself getting some respect. I wouldn't be willing to bet money on it, but it does offer hope.

Now here's an interesting question which may or may not keep this thread alive: If you were made executive producer of a reality based show, and given carte blanche to create the premise and produce the show, what would you do? What would be the ideal reality television show for you?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:18 AM on July 1, 2001

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