Big Brother Coaches

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The granddaddies of reality shows are Survivor and Big Brother, and both are a little long in the tooth, having been on the air for over a decade now.  To keep things fresh, the producers devise new ways to shake things up every season.  Most of the time they feel like gimmicks, especially on Big Brother.  We're talking about a show that secretly had a pair of twins playing the game as a single person.  This season's big twist on Big Brother seemed like another in a long line of silly gimmicks, but in fact it was the most interesting variation the show has ever produced.

At the start of the season, four past players were brought into the house as coaches.  Each drafted three of the twelve newbie players, and the coach of the ultimate winner would receive $100,000.  The coaches didn't participate in any of the normal competitions, but a new weekly coaches' competition was added just for them, where the winner could grant immunity for the week to one of their players or trade one of their players for any other still in the game.

The dynamic of the game was different immediately.  Suddenly there were four immediate factions.  Even if a player didn't like or trust his teammates, sharing the same coach made them de facto allies.  And since a player's coach could win immunity for him, everyone wanted to be the coach's favorite.  The dynamic between the coaches and their players was fascinating to watch.  With no paranoia about their own safety muddying the waters, they were able to act as true mentors and voices of reason.  When players started to panic, their coaches calmed them down and advised them about what they needed to do strategically to come out on top.  Smart players listened.  Each of the newbies expected to be playing an individual game, but virtually all rolled with the twist and got on board the team express.  The sole exception self-destructed thanks to his own smugness, aggression, and ego.

But Big Brother can never leave well enough alone, and they've now turned the coaches into players.  No longer trying to cultivate a winning horse, they're now jockeying themselves for the half million dollar prize.  I'm enormously disappointed. I'm really tired of CBS' big reality competitions bringing previous players back for another try.  They've gone to that well far too often.  The coach angle was a completely fresh approach that I'd have liked to have seen play out to the end.  I'm actually kind of hoping they try it again.  There are scenarios we haven't seen play out yet.  For instance, none of the newbies tried to be a double agent, making an alliance with a coach other than their own and acting as a mole within their "real" coach's team.  We never had a coach get eliminated (by having all his players eliminated).  None of the coaches ever traded players.  There's still a lot of good dynamics to be mined from this format.

Meanwhile, the house seems to be populated by a bunch of idiots.  The number one order of business should have been to eliminate all of Mike's players, thereby eliminating him.  Mike's dangerous.  He can't be trusted, and he has the gift of gab.  Get him out.  Nothing illustrates the threat he poses more clearly than what happened this week.  After a failed attempt to backdoor Frank compromised the dominant faction's credibility with him beyond repair, those idiots let Mike convince them to not evict Frank this week, but to get rid of someone who posed no immediate threat to them (but a big threat to Mike) instead.  As much as I want to slap Mike's smarmy face into the next time zone, I've got to give him props for pulling it off.

So who's going to win?  Right now, incredibly, I like Ian's chances.  His biggest problem is that he has no strong ally.  But he's also the least threatening of all the players remaining in the house except Ashley, and people seem to like him.  If he can keep a low profile-- and that's been his whole gameplan all along-- the other alliances around him are likely to self-destruct long before his name rises to the top of the hit list.  Frank seems to have 9 lives, but I think they'll run out before the finals.  He's just too big of a threat.  Of the other people in the big alliance, Danielle seems like the one who could last the longest.  But we've still got a lot of show to go, with plenty of room for crazy things to happen.

But seriously, people.  If you don't nominate Mike and Frank together sometime soon, you deserve what you get.

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