Eight summers back, Big Brother - the reality game show that locks a dozen contestants in a "house" built on an LA sound stage for three months, the last one standing winning 500 grand US - limped onto CBS' summer schedule.
Produced by the same production company that launched the internationally successful Survivor franchise, BB was supposed to be as big a hit with US audiences as it was in Europe. Instead of headline-generating sex between "house guests" - under a blanket with blurry night-vision cameras - violence and racist name-calling, the first American season's contestants were a sad sack bunch - remember Chicken George the loser roofer, one-legged Eddie, Jordan the intellectual stripper, Karen the deluded housewife? - who, intimidated by the cameras, just sat there smoking, bitching and making pancakes. No wonder ratings tanked.
Since then, the producers have ditched the older weird people in favour of buff 20 and 30-somethings. Most are bartenders, aspiring spokes-models or Muscle Marys. Or all of the above.
Launched two weeks ago, this season's BB line-up is no different, one HG describing them as, "big hair versus big bodies." This year's Big Twist has already been dismantled. Unbeknownst to each other, six of the contestants know each other all too well. Two are former teenage gal pals who have hated each other since high school ("You've owed me five dollars since I was 14!"), two very bitter homo ex-lovers ("You cheated on me! How else did I get gonarreah?") and a dim-witted surfer chick and her estranged rocker dude dad who goes by the name Evil Dick Donato. The other HGs quickly booted two of the most annoying, but because he won last week's Head Of Household competition, Evil Dick's immune from eviction this week.
Though he's no evil Dr. Will, the socio-pathic genius who out-witted the competition on BB2, the appropriately handled Dick makes for compulsive TV. A single 44 year-old bar-manager from LA, Dick is a Tommy Lee clone: spiky black hair with red highlights, goatee, facial piercings, tattoos and a wardrobe that consists of tight white wife-beaters, ripped too-skinny jeans, and those over-sized black short-sleeved shirts with flames on the front and a pentagram and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES painted on the back.
He's an obvious wannabe, name-dropping names none of the much younger HGs recognize.
"Do you know Cher?" one eventually asked.
"Well, I've had dinner with her," Dick modestly revealed.
Where? McDonalds in Encino?
Dick also fancies himself as a bit of a ladies man and thinks this skill will help him nab the big $500G payoff.
"Manipulating girls is kind of a way of life for me," he says.
Dude, that ain't the sign of the devil on your back. It's a target! Say good-bye, Dick.
Big Brother airs Tuesday at 9 pm, and Thursdays and Sundays at 8 pm through September on CBS (Rogers 16) and Global (Rogers 3)