Riding Coattails: Something Old, Something New

This Tuesday night, I plan to sit on my sofa, knitting needles in one hand, Kleenex in the other, and bid a tearful adieu to two shows I’ve enjoyed immensely this summer: Big Brother 6 and Rock Star: INXS. However, there shall be no call for post-season depression, as a new season of Survivor has just started up and The Apprentice 4 will premier next week. Ah, how I love me my reality TV. It ranks right up there with gin and neck massages as one of the great pleasures in life.

Since the past week has been an eventful one for reality TV (with The Biggest Loser also premiering, although I missed it), it seemed unfair to devote this column to just one show. So, for the sake of fairness, I’ve composed three mini columns with commentary on what I’ve been watching this week.

Big Brother 6

Ivette and Maggie are currently holding court in the final two seats, which surprised me, as I was certain that Janelle would make it to the end. But as that talking Barbie used to say, “Math is tough.” In the final HoH competition, it all came down to a tiebreaker question in which Julie Chen asked Ivette and Janelle how many hours they’d spent in the Big Brother house as of 5:00 PM on Friday. Ivette guessed 1875 and Janelle wrote 1900. Ivette was closest to the correct total, which was 1794, thus securing herself at least the $50,000 runner-up prize and keeping herself in the running for the $500,000 grand prize.

It’s been a rocky road for the spicy Latina, who has been prone to crying jags and fits of rage. Not that I can really blame her. If I were trapped in a house with that gang for a whole summer, you can bet I’d get testy, too. The only problem is, Ivette has a tendency to make horrible noises in moments of emotional intensity, be they positive or negative. I wasn’t especially happy for her when she won the HoH and veto competitions, mainly because the screeching was so excruciating. I totally understand why April was so upset with her on Tuesday.

When I first thought about who would win, I was certain that Maggie would kick Ivette’s ass, no question. However, thinking more carefully about the jury, which is now composed of Jennifer, Rachel, Beau, Howie, James, April, and Janelle, I’m not so sure. Maggie pissed off plenty of people, especially James and Janelle. April will vote for Maggie, since they teamed up after their partners left the house and Ivette was responsible for evicting April. At the jury house, April will probably be able to convince Jennifer to vote for Maggie, too. Beau was Ivette’s partner in the house, so his vote for her is a foregone conclusion. That leaves the final pair of Howie and Rachel, who find themselves in the position of choosing between two people who were not part of their alliance. Both Maggie and Ivette angered them at different points, but as for who was the most heinous offender, I couldn’t say.

Although I would love for Ivette’s family to get the money she claims they so desperately need, I’m not sure I could take the shrill celebration that would be sure to ensue if she won. My ears are very sensitive, see.

Rock Star: INXS

I was a late Rock Star bloomer, having only watched this addictive show for the first time two weeks ago. I’ve been a huge INXS fan since junior high and wasn’t sure that I fully approved of the morbid premise of the show. I mean, an entire show centered around replacing deceased lead singer Michael Hutchence seemed, well, creepy. And besides, I didn’t see how there could be a substitute for the original. The whole thing seemed so desperate and pathetic that I was reluctant to give it a chance.

What a fool I was.

It’s probably for the best that I didn’t catch the preliminary weeks of competition, as I probably would have become attached to the contestants who were eliminated early on and been bitter that some of them didn’t make it to the finals. As it is, I have developed a full-blown crush on Marty Casey, the blonde, eye-lined visual treat from Chicago. I love his longing, soulful gazes into the camera as he sings Pink Floyd and Radiohead. I love his modest, wistful smiles. I love the way he supportively grooves out when the other rockers perform. And I love the way he looks in leather pants. I want to be those pants.

As righteous as Marty is, I don’t think he’s going to get the job. I predict that the honors will go to J.D., a rather cocky former Elvis impersonator who seems to have captured INXS’s heart with his original song, “Pretty Vegas.” I have to admit that the song is much more INXS’s speed than Marty’s catchy tune, “Trees.” J.D.’s stage presence also gives off the aura of a lounge star who has listened to a lot of Billy Idol. He’s a better singer than Marty, too, and also appears to be more passionate about joining the band.

The other member of the final three, Mig, has the distinction of the best track record with the voting public. He wasn’t a member of the bottom three until this week. Popularity is definitely an important factor in choosing a singer, but Mig’s style and vocal chords don’t fit with INXS. He should go back to doing musicals. I heard he was sensational as Danny in “Grease.”

Survivor: Guatemala

Although Murtz laughed at me last week for not knowing which former survivors were returning to play the game, I honestly didn’t have any idea who would be perched atop the Mayan ruins as the more humble players, who had thus far enjoyed about 30 seconds of fame, gazed up adoringly at their new tribemates.

Stephenie and Bobby Jon, huh? Was Mark Burnett worried that the current cast of unknowns wouldn’t pull in enough viewers? Although the two both made an impressive showing last season in Palau, I was surprised that Burnett would choose to showcase two survivors who led the losingest tribe in the game’s history. Did he feel sorry for them?

Their reception by the other players was an interesting one. Some viewed them as an asset and were excited just to meet them. However, anytime a contestant expressed confidence at having Stephenie or Bobby Jon on their tribe, I had to shake my head. Despite the fact that they’re both buff and determined as hell, those two got their asses handed to them week after week in Palau. Whether it was their fault or not, I believe that Steph and B.J. carried the curse of the Ulong tribe with them into the Guatemalan jungle.

Of course, curse or no curse, surviving in Guatemala looks like it’s going to be a real bitch. I felt especially bad for the men of Nakum (minus Brandon) who participated in a 24-hour pukefest after winning the 11-mile hike. The image of Bobby Jon’s eyes rolling back in his head as he suffered the horrendous effects of dehydration was the second scariest thing I’ve seen on the show after Mike Skupin’s burnt hands in the Outback. Yikes.

Since the show (and, I’ll admit it, my commentary) was so focused on Stephenie and Bobby Jon, I felt as though I got to know very little about the players themselves. I didn’t like that. What happened to the nice, shiny introductions which show everyone standing solemnly in their natural habitat. Where were the shots of Jim on a fire engine and Morgan pulling a rabbit out of a hat? I suppose they’ll all become familiar faces soon enough, but aside from the kick-ass tenacity of Margaret and comic relief of Judd in the mud (and that delicious shot of Cindy’s perky ass in the opening credits), I have very few observations to make about anybody thus far.

Except for Blake. I take back everything I said about him last week. I’m bummed that he’s already in such rough shape, because I could easily watch that face and body for the next twelve weeks. Hang in there, Blake. I need several more long, thoughtful looks at your finely muscled back.