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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: The Game Has Begun (22×01)

Big Brother All-Stars/ CBS



Just when we thought that COVID-19 was going to take everything near and dear to our hearts this summer, CBS saved the day with the announcement of a brand new All-Stars season of Big Brother, the first time since 2006 with a cast made entirely of returning players. Not only that, but it was announced that the cast would be announced live, as well as the first ever live move-in event.

It’s clear that the production team of the show is working hard to contain any possible spread of the virus, sequestering the cast separately, and testing them several times, and making it official that all live shows will be done without a studio audience. While the HouseGuests were wearing masks onstage before entering the house, they were allowed to remove them when host Julie Chen Moonves let them in.

The cast were let into the house in 4 groups of 4, and they were immediately put to the test, as they were asked to find an item inside the house, then run outside to a table maze, where they had to navigate a ball around a map of the house to land in the room where the item is. The 2 people to successfully do it per group were to compete for the first Head of Household competition. Once everyone was working on the maze, the background music was playing an incredible vamp that would happen during a Broadway musical while waiting for a scene to be over so the orchestra could continue. Not every group had 2 finishers, so only 6 people qualified for the Head of Household competition: Ian Terry (winner of season 14); Christmas Abbott (season 19); Nicole Anthony (season 21); Cody Calafiore (runner-up of season 16); Kevin Campbell (season 11); and Memphis Garrett (runner-up of season 10).

Before the Head of Household competition, the HouseGuests discover who they are going to be playing the game with. It was honestly hilarious watching them all laugh, hug, and get excited about who is around, and Julie was constantly yelling at them to sit down on the couches so she can explain the next set of rules, but absolutely NO ONE listened. Honestly, when this pandemic is over, that’s how I’ll be reacting to seeing my friends for the first time in months.

We then move to the first Head of Household competition of the summer (is it summer anymore? Who knows, but Julie kept saying “summer”). The 6 competitors had to jump across tiny platforms to the other side. Sounds simple, but some platforms were wobbly, causing people to fall. If you fall, you have to start over. Fastest time wins! Memphis was first, and I don’t know if it was his skinny jeans or the fact that he hasn’t played since 2008, but he struggled to get across, making gigantic leaps just to get to a platform maybe 2 feet away, and when he finished the course in about 75 seconds, he looked exhausted. Could’ve been stress of going first, or wiping out several times on national TV. Cody went next, and absolutely dominated, completing the course in 22 seconds. In the end, it didn’t matter what happened with everyone else, Cody wins and will be the first one to have all the power in the house, and nominate 2 people for eviction.

Now when a live broadcast is occurring, there will always be some, shall we say, technical discrepancies, or this case, house problems. 4 of the 5 losers of the HOH competition were made Have-Not’s for the week, which is a staple of Big Brother, where HouseGuests must eat gross food (known as slop), sleep in uncomfortable beds, and take cold showers all week. Ian, Memphis, Kevin, and Nicole all drew the short straw (Christmas’s neck was saved, and she won an early cash tip of $5,000), and Julie directed them to the room they will be staying in, which is entered only by a small crawlspace. After several attempts by all 4, the door to the room wouldn’t open, and Julie had to quickly intervene and cut to commercial, jokingly laughing it off saying that the doors were locked. It was a small uncomfortable moment, but in live TV, anything goes.

Julie reveals to the audience, and to the HouseGuests that throughout the season, special rooms will be revealed inside the house, which could heavily benefit their game. The first one is called “The Safety Suite,” which is going to save 2 HouseGuests this week, but more on that Sunday night, when Cody reveals his nominations!

My Current Winner Pick:
Dani Briones (maiden name Donato). Dani has unfinished business for this season, finishing as the runner-up in season 8 (losing to her father, Dick Donato), and coming in 8th on season 13 (where she met her now hubby, Dominic Briones). She’s a great player, both physically, and socially, able to stay behind the scenes if necessary, but can target people and get them out without losing sleep. I’m hoping she can pull something out, but in a game that’s changing every second, “expect the unexpected.”

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Bill Wetherbee is a recent graduate of Wagner College with a degree in Theater! Currently based in New York City, he loves to learn everything about the TV/film industry, watching everything that's trendy, and analyzing his favorite reality shows, Survivor and Big Brother! Twitter/Instagram: bill__wetherbee

Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Season Finale Review: We Have a Winner! (22×37)



Big Brother All-Stars Episode 37 Review

We did it, folks. After 85 long days, nearly three months, little to no drama, predictable evictions week after week, we have made it to finale night. One of the most boring, and uninteresting seasons in recent memory comes to close, with the final 3 clashing for the last eviction vote. Then they face the jury, who will vote for the winner.

I thought the 2-hour live show would at least have the family members of the finalists, but once again Julie addressed an audience that wasn’t there, though they had the families zoom in during commercials showing their support. She introduces the second part of the final HOH competition, which is Cody vs. Enzo. The winner of this round faces Nicole in part 3. The contest was both physical and mental. They were shown a large postcard with a clue involving two or more evicted HouseGuests, like “who has been evicted exactly twice.” They then had to find large cardboard cutouts of the HouseGuests and arrange them in front of the postcard. The catch was that there were these “camera hogs” that swung back in forth in front of the postcard. They had to push them out of the way and time it right to press a button, and take a picture of the postcard. The “camera hogs” were across a large balance beam that they had to navigate.

Enzo was first, and he started out pretty strong. His timing was pretty off for the first portion, but once he got the hang of it, he did well. However, he messed up horribly when he misread one of the clues, and it added a significant amount of time to his total. Cody had a much simpler time, going on the balance beam to move the hogs, but jumped off to save time. At the end, Enzo finished the competition in 37 minutes, and Cody finished in less than 5. Enzo threw a temper tantrum after it, mostly because he was mad at himself for doing so poorly. I think this was a long time coming, because he started ranting about how he’s going to get third place again. He’s been saying for weeks that he regrets not sending out Nicole during the Triple Eviction, and it’s coming back to bite him.

Enzo’s frustration continued after the competition, throwing out the fact that he’s content with third place, and he’s “happy” Cody and Nicole will be ones to win money at the end. While he was laying on the literal floor in a heap, Cody and Nicole discussed what’s going to happen after they face off in part three of the competition. Having formed final 2 deals with both of the people left, he is at a crossroads, while Nicole doesn’t think that she’ll win again no matter who it is.

Enzo finally did some decent gameplay! He was saying to Nicole that no matter who he is sitting next to, Cody will win at the final 2. Enzo points out to Nicole that Memphis and Cody were the strongest players in the game, and if she evicts Cody, she will have gotten rid of them both. Nicole starts to hear him out on this, but doesn’t want to betray Cody, only to lose to Enzo. Regardless, there is a lot to think about for whoever has to make the decision.

During a non-COVID year, Dr. Will Kirby hosts a jury roundtable where he talks to the jury about where they stand on the final 3. This time, it’s just the jury going through everything. Christmas joins them, and they talk about their criteria on how they will vote for a winner. As usual, they say very vague statements about whether or not each one deserves the win. Does Cody winning seven comps deserve the win? Is Nicole as a previous winner a factor in her passive game? Because Enzo had a phenomenal social game, does that mean it’s okay that he didn’t have any competition wins? Everyone is hit or miss on the finalists, and they each pointed out the pros and cons of each person, but the highlight was discussing Cody. With Cody being such a comp beast and strategic threat, does that hinder or benefit him? And the one thing that they agreed on was the fact that if Nicole or Enzo cut Cody, then they will get a lot of respect for them.

The mood then shifted over to the final part of the HOH competition. Cody and Nicole were shown a series of videos about each juror. The videos were played like album commercials, with three statements about the juror as the tracks of the album. They had to identify which statement was false about the video. Nicole missed the first questions and couldn’t recover, and Cody took the final win of the season, giving him the final Head of Household.

Now that Cody won, it automatically puts Enzo and Nicole on the block, and Cody has to make the choice to evict one of them. Teary-eyed, Nicole said that Cody was her ride or die from minute one, while Enzo said that every choice he made in the game was because of Cody, even keeping Nicole. Cody stood at the front of the room, and said that he needs to do what he needs to do to win, and that was by evicting Nicole. This shocked me, the BB community, and Nicole herself as she met Julie outside the house. She told Julie that she was not prepared to leave, and thought that she was closer to Cody than Enzo. She even said that it’s going to take her a while to forgive Cody for this. Come on, Nicole, it’s a freaking game. He was simply playing it, and felt that if he wanted to win, he had to get her out.

We now get the jury interrogation segment, where the nine jurors get to ask a question to the final 2. Tyler asked if Cody played a more well-rounded game than Enzo, and Cody said he did by winning competitions, forming his alliances, and playing socially better than Enzo. Ian asked the same question to Enzo, and Enzo didn’t have a great answer, but said that this is only the second time he’s been on the block ever in his two seasons of playing, because of his social game, and how he jumped on Cody’s back and used him as a shield throughout the entire game. Kevin asked Cody to name things that the jury may not be aware of that he did. Cody responded with secret alliances he made, knowing what as happening on the other side of the house, and spearheading Ian’s eviction. Da’Vonne asked Enzo what his strategy was, and he simply replied, “I just wanted everyone to like me, yo!” Which was a fair argument, honestly. He had a great social game, no one targeted him the entire time he’s been in the house, and made friends with everyone.

Christmas asked Cody how his game changed from the first time he played, and Cody replied that rather than blindly following Derrick (who won that season), he wanted to position himself to a high power, so he can manipulate the targets. Memphis asked the same question to Enzo, and he said that he actually tried to win competitions, having only won one competition on season 12. Dani went to Cody and asked how he manipulated the game when he wasn’t HOH, and he went to talk about shifting targets from David to Ian, and shifting targets from Kevin to Da’Vonne, and Nicole to Christmas. David asked Enzo about his cryptic goodbye messages about how he wanted to keep them in the house, but couldn’t. He said he had to so he didn’t show all of his cards on the table, and how he knew he had to stop winning competitions so that he could hide his true strategy.

Nicole then got to ask whatever she wanted to whomever she wanted, and she went to Cody and asked him why he evicted her and not Enzo. Nicole was being a very bitter juror, not even looking at Cody as she asked her question. Cody said that he wanted to give himself and Enzo the chance to win once, before giving her the chance to win twice.

Overall, I think Cody had the better jury performance, and Enzo did as well as he could. I don’t think Enzo was fully prepared, having thought that he would be sent out, but he owned his game by basically admitting he hid behind a shield the entire time. Cody admitted to everything he did, and stuck by it.

Before the votes are made, they each got to make one final statement to the jury. Enzo’s speech was more about supporting Cody than he was his own game, but did talk about how he wanted to be here for his kids and for his dad. Cody had a more structured speech, saying that he was never on the block, and that he played the game for other people, not just himself, and that he had a more well-rounded game than anyone. It made sense, Cody did a great job for this, and it was a great performance for the jury. The jury then made their cryptic statements while putting the key of who they think should win into the classic Big Brother box.

Before the votes were read, we got to have a reunion! The pre-jury players were called in through Zoom to talk about the game. Julie asked questions of everyone, and when she asked Janelle who she would’ve nominated if she won first HOH, she replied, “Before the season started, I wrote down Cody and Enzo.” It was pretty lighthearted, and everyone could begin to bury the hatchet with anyone, however they completely ignored Nicole Anthony, which was odd, I’m not sure if it was for time or not.

Julie then approached the box, and pulled out the keys for the winner of Big Brother All-Stars. It only takes 5 votes to win!

After the winner is revealed on the show, they reveal America’s Favorite HouseGuest, but for the sake of DRAMA, I’m revealing it not before the actual winner. Just as I predicted, Da’Vonne won with over 1 million votes! I’m so happy for her, and she genuinely deserves it.

The winner, with a unanimous vote of 9-0 is CODY! This is only the second time in Big Brother history that the winner was chosen unanimously, the first being in season 10. While the season was extremely boring, he played a very good game, and this win is very well deserved. Congratulations, Cody!

Before signing off, Julie revealed that the show has been renewed for a new season next summer!

Kudos to CBS for putting on a season during these insane times. It was a great distraction from the world during this uncertain times with the pandemic and election, and they did a great job of keeping their cast and crew safe.

I also want to thank you all for tuning in, and for reading my recaps and analysis of this season! While the season wasn’t my favorite, it was fun to reflect on everything that has happened, as well as talk about a game that I love. See you next summer for BB23!

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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: The Road to Finale Night (22×36)



Big Brother All-Stars Episode 36 Review

Two episodes left of one of the most boring seasons of Big Brother to date. One predictable eviction after another, and we are at the end. By Wednesday, either Enzo, Nicole, or Cody will walk out the door half a million dollars richer. But before that can happen, 3 more competitions need to be played.

This penultimate episode was odd, to say the least. They treated it like a live episode (it wasn’t), but was filmed like one. Julie introduced each segment, and there was even a segment showcasing the members who were eliminated pre-jury, and therefore could watch the entire gameplay out. This kind of stuff usually happens on finale night, so it’s quite possible they will have new things planned for then. If not, we’re gonna have a long two hours come Wednesday.

The first third of the episode was showing 5-minute segments of the final 3 and how they got to the final 3. Starting with Enzo, he talked about his impeccable social game, and how everyone would pick him for the Veto competitions, how no one wanted to target him, and just how people had a lot of trust in him. He talked about his early alliance with Cody from day 1, called The Root, plus the Wise Guys alliances he was a part of with Memphis. He even talked about his biggest regret in the game, which was not evicting Nicole during the Triple Eviction, sending David out instead. He reminisced about his time during season 12 where he got third place, and how he wants to avoid that this year. Truthfully, I think he’s going to get third again. That’s another topic for later.

For Cody’s turn, he talked about why he wanted to go all out this time, so he doesn’t get second place again like he did in season 16. He talked about his seven competition wins, his social game, and being a part of The Root and The Committee alliances that got him to the end. He feels like he has run the place, manipulating people on both sides and taking out the people that were the biggest threats to his game. This is pretty true, Cody has played probably the strongest overall game, but I personally don’t think that he has done a good job at jury management this year. Again, more on that later.

Now we get to Nicole. Winner of season 18, and surprisingly very close to taking it all again. She feels like she was very underrated this season, flying under the radar, and winning competitions when she wanted to. This was the exact strategy that won her the game four years ago, so history could repeat itself. She acknowledged her day 1 alliance with Cody, having been on the same season together, her alliance with Ian as former winners, and her friendship with Dani, working behind the scenes in the Committee. She talked about how she didn’t like having to vote out Ian but didn’t want to stand out, and then she was on the block next to Dani. She thinks that she has the strength and jury pitch to be the first person to win the game twice.

My favorite segment of any season is when they show the people evicted pre-jury discuss the season. They get to see the entire thing, feeds and all. Remember Keesha, Nicole Anthony, Janelle, Kaysar, and Bayleigh? They’re back, and ready to discuss the season through Zoom. In a perfect world, these people would’ve made the jury phase over half the people in the jury now. They showed the pros and cons of each person, and they brought up a great point: this jury could lead to Cody’s downfall. A lot of the jury is bitter, and a lot of the bitterness is geared at Cody. They respected Enzo’s gameplay by creating social relationships with everyone, and how that could get him the check at the end. Even Janelle had respect for Nicole Franzel making the final 3 as a winner, but definitely downplayed how she got there. The consensus was clear: if Enzo and Nicole win the final HOH and cut Cody, that person should be the one to win, by making probably the biggest game move of the season.

It’s now time to begin the first part of the final HOH competition. The final HOH competition is broken into 3 parts: the winner of part one advances to part three, and the people remaining compete in part two, and the winner of that round faces the winner of part one in part three on finale night.

Standing by tradition, the first part of the HOH competition is an endurance competition. True to the spirit of Halloween, the set is decorated like a graveyard, and the finalists are dressed as zombies. All they have to do is stand on a small disc and hold onto a rope as they spin around and around, running into obstacles. The obstacles included a giant half-crescent moon, and a haunted house. Not only that, but they are sprayed with “witches potion,” trying to get them to slip off of their ropes. To make matters worse, they continue to spin faster and faster like an out of control merry-go-round. The speed of the wheel is what causes Enzo to be the first person to fall off his rope, leaving Cody and Nicole hanging for dear life. They even lower the ropes so that they run into the obstacles with full force. Because of the way he was positioned on the ropes, Cody slipped and fell, giving Nicole the win. Tiny Nicole Franzel just won an ENDURANCE competition. Honestly, props to her, and she anxiously awaits for Cody and Enzo to compete in part two, which will take place on finale night.

I have to be real, I kind of enjoyed this retrospective on the final 3. I hope that this is something that they continue to do every year from now on, hopefully in a more entertaining season. That said, it was a cool way to see how the finalists made it so far.

Who Will Win Big Brother All-Stars?
I sadly have to pick one. I know Enzo is my winner pick, but I really do not see any possibility that he wins, unless Cody takes him to the end and the jury is bitter. I just don’t see it happening. That said, I see a world that Nicole becomes a two-time winner and Cody is a two-time second-place finisher. It’s hard to solidify who will win because it all comes down to the jury. We don’t really know how they will vote or what their mindset will be when they face the final 2.

Here’s how I’ll do it: I’ll do a winner pick of each scenario because I honestly can’t decide where to lean at this point in time.

Cody vs. Nicole: Nicole wins 6-3
Nicole vs. Enzo: Nicole wins 5-4
Cody vs. Enzo: Cody wins 6-3

Again, I don’t see a situation of an Enzo win, but all of this will be shown Wednesday as this long season will come to a close. Oh, and before I forget: Da’Vonne for America’s Favorite HouseGuest!

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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: A Look Back (22×35)



Big Brother All-Stars Episode 35 Review

Remember yesterday, when Julie said that we would get a special episode? Well that episode is the annual retrospective episode. This happens every year at the final 3 mark, where the finalists get to feast on lobster, drink champagne, and reflect on the game so far. This has happened every year and serves as a staged filler episode, where true “acting chops” are shown, because all of the dialogue is set up. Things like “Wow, what a CRAZY journey this has been,” and “Hey, remember when THIS happened?” It’s not an ideal episode, especially with the finale so close, but hey, it’s done every year, and sometimes new footage is shown, that was on the feeds, but never made the edit.

Nicole, Enzo, and Cody sit at the table and begin their celebratory feast. The first reflective segment showcased various pranks that happened throughout the season. Dani pranking Cody, Enzo pranking Cody to the point that Nicole peed her pants, Cody pranking Memphis, etc., etc. Enzo then said his favorite “prank:” when Nicole made Janelle a Have-Not solely because she doesn’t like her. That wasn’t much of a prank more than it was strategy, and also very personal, but it was nice to show that scene again, with Janelle being very passive-aggressive to Nicole. The queen of BB still makes an impact to this day.

Enzo, while eating steak at the feast, forgot for a minute that he became a vegan in the house, which lead to a moment I wanted to make the edit and didn’t! Flashback to day 48, where David nearly burned the house down trying to make French Fries. This happened on the feeds, and it was hilarious. It was mostly great to watch David’s dumbfounded face as he stared at the destruction that he almost caused.

Then we got to a moment that tore my heartstrings: Janelle and Kaysar, AKA Jaysar. Two best friends who met 15 years ago on BB6 and BB7, and now playing together again on BB22. It was an entire segment about their friendship, how it’s grown, and how amazing it is that they can play the game one more time with their best friend. These two are two of the most popular HouseGuests of the season (Da’Vonne with them), so it’s sad we will probably never see either of them play again. They were a great addition to this overall slow season.

Cody then reveals that he didn’t know what the word “ripe” meant until this season. I have no words beyond that. I’m just going to let that hang there.

There then was a segment where different HouseGuests were shown in the Diary Room requesting things from the producers. Wanting drinks, the AC to be turned off, the hot tub on, new insect repellent. A pretty okay segment, since they can’t do the shopping themselves.

They three then reflect on their fallen comrades. They mostly talk about Ian, and how open he was about being on the autism spectrum, and how it has affected his life since winning BB14. While the moment they showed was inspirational, because I love Ian, but I couldn’t help but think of the moment that Memphis, Nicole, Dani, and Christmas made of him for that on the live feeds. It was atrocious, inhumane, and I hope they understand what they did to him after the show is over.

They replayed the moment of Kaysar talking to Da’Vonne talking about racial injustice in the country, and what playing this game means to them, and the platform that they represent to inspire change. Da’Vonne subtly called out the fact that not many people of color are on the show every year, which inspires her to come back whenever she gets the call.

A segment gets played showing off all of the punishments from the season, from Ian performing space movie scenes, to Nicole’s slop costume, to Janelle’s star costume. And how could we forget Christmas’ all-star babies? They also showed (f0r the first time) Bayleigh’s triathlete punishment that she got during a Veto competition, where she had to do 500 laps around the yard on a tricycle. This punishment was shown on the feeds, but never made the edit, which I found weird because regardless of the punishment, they almost always show punishments on the edits. Bayleigh even finished the laps with one pedal, since one fell off, but celebrated with the HouseGuests after it was over.

While talking about things they will miss about the house, Nicole points out that she will not miss crying in the Diary Room, which prompted a full 2 minutes of the HouseGuests crying in the Diary Room with melodramatic violin music playing. I know the game is shown online 24/7, but that moment felt the most intrusive. I was uncomfortable watching it.

Before the episode ended, each finalist shared their thoughts on the end. Nicole wants to be the first two-time winner, Cody wants to avenge his BB16 loss, and take the win, and Enzo wants to win the game for his dad. The first part of the final HOH competition begins Monday, with finale night coming next Wednesday!

Cody, Nicole, and Enzo. The final 3. Not the final 3 I would’ve wanted, not in the slightest. These three were probably the most boring final 3 in recent years, probably sitting close with last year’s atrocious season. It was an all-star season, and we’re getting some all-duds getting to the end. If I had my way (and I’m sure the BB fans would agree), we would see Janelle, Da’Vonne, and Kaysar sitting with each other on finale night. Alas, we get these three. Maybe next year. Anyway, Da’Vonne for America’s Favorite HouseGuest!

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