After almost a year of waiting (four years in total!), it’s surprising to think that Nine’s Big Brother has already completed its first week of broadcast. While it is a show best analysed after several weeks of episodes, lets sit down now and discuss what the first week can tell us about the season to come.
It’s fair to say Big Brother began amidst surprisingly positive criticism, however since launch night, the audience has separated and formed opinions, both positive and negative, over every aspect of Nine’s reboot of the once classic television reality series.
Come launch night, viewers were just interested in what the new show would look like and offer. How would Sonia cope as host? Who were the new housemates; and how will they differ from those in the past? How will the public get to view Big Brother.
Initial criticism seemed to skew on the more positive side, but only slightly. Initial reaction to the ‘family friendly’ cast saw viewers immediately take a liking to characters such as Bradley and Michael; and form strong opinions on others, such as Charne, Estelle and Zoe. But no sooner did the launch night finish when viewers begin to blast the cast for being white and, later on, boring.
Editing of the launch show didn’t seem to be picked up; however many were disappointed that, half way through launch night, Sonia began presenting from an indoor studio rather than the live stage. Granted, this has happened before. But from my perspective, the editing did look very disjointed. The audience sounded muffled and trained. Expressions of shock and laughter were a little overboard.
Sonia as host had lots talking. Some liked her; some didn’t. Some didn’t like her pants. All in all, I think she did quite OK; but she didn’t blow me out of the water like I thought she would. I’ll put that down to the usual stiffness that comes with hosting a new show for the first time; but with all of her Dancing With The Stars experience, I was expecting a little more from her.
To the second live show, and many fans suspected new housemate George as the multi-millionaire. This was confirmed after a news article about George’s assets emerged. Many fans mocked the show for their failed attempt to hide the ‘multi-million dollar secret’, but in all seriousness, surely the whole ‘works in the WA mines as an electrician’ gave it away!
By the time all housemates were in the house, the secrets twist seemed to buckle with the audience. Lame secrets were blasted for ‘not really being secrets’ and bigger secrets being uncovered by the Twittersphere seems to have led viewers tiring of the twist; which was supposed to define the season. Mind, we haven’t heard the ladies’ secrets yet. Will they disappoint?
But back to the housemates themselves, and by the end of the first week, the lack of social, ethnic and age diversity seems to be the main criticism. Many fans believe the casting is the same as previous years, and I do agree to an extent. However, I don’t think it is THAT big a deal that Nine casts similarly to previous years. What Nine needs to avoid, is casting like we saw in 2008, when housemates were chosen more for their physical abnormalities and unusual gimmicks rather than their personalities.
But if these housemates continue to be seen as bland and boring in the eyes of the public, then Nine would still fail on that account. It seems all they talk about is ‘who likes who’ and politics. There have been times when the housemates have broken free of this trend. When Ray and Benjamin entered, discussion about the housemates antics spiked again, thanks mainly to Ray’s behaviour. While I’m quite happy with what they’re all doing right now, I do agree that the housemates will have to diversify their conversations and actions to hold my interest in the long term.
Overall, the show itself has had a very welcome return in my eyes. The house looks different and great; the housemates have more personality than imperfections and the buzz of the show seems to be carrying through. Ratings for the first week have been quite good. Launching to 1.6 million viewers, 100,000 up on the 2007 and 2008 premieres, and averaging more than 1.1 million viewers in the first week is a very good result.
The declines through the week are to be taken cautiously. Naturally, Big Brother was going to fall, and with such a high profile launch, no show would sustain those figures. Big Brother continues to top all the main demographics. The show must now manage to sustain these figures. If they continue to drop, there will be a problem; and chances are that by this time next week, we’re going to have a pretty good idea where the show is heading.
But grabbing good ratings next week may not be as easy as first thought. By the end of this week, Big Brother has received a wave of criticisms over the lack of viewing diversity- and it seems to be taking its toll.
It was clear before the show began that there would be no Live Feed, no Friday Night Live, no UpLate. But it was also promised that a ‘later’ highlights show would air on GO! to give viewers a more ‘mature’ look at the housemates.
While fans were initially coy on their reactions to the omitted features of the show; many are backlashing in droves at their absence. Instead of a more mature highlights package, Nine is choosing to air a once-weekly ‘Confidential’ special at 10pm Wednesdays.
When Big Brother used to air, there were no digital multichannels Ten could utilise for the interactive show. Today, Nine have two multichannels they could use. Instead, the only airtime Nine’s multichannels are being utilised for are daytime repeats of the daily show and a half hour daily show on Sunday to cover ALL of the weekend’s action.
I guess though, none of this would matter if it wasn’t for those other issues plaguing the show. Fans are calling for either Friday Night Live or UpLate (or both!) to return in the hopes it will show more of the housemates and add some more fun.
Producing the show on a tighter budget seems to be the most likely reason for the instalments’ absences, but whispers are circulating that the cancellation of UpLate and Uncut are more based on Nine’s fear that the show would be tarnished by these off-shoots. Sure these shows could cause a bit of controversy, but Ten were able to screen the show for five years with an Uncut element before any major catastrophic controversies occurred. And the LACK of such elements were blamed for a ‘boring’ 2007 season.
I’m just saying the chances of an Uncut or UpLate revival destroying the show beyond repair is next to none. It can be done tastefully.
But above all this, the main controversy this year continues to be the lack of live feed.
Again, there are several rumours as to why Nine didn’t bring the feature, which was present in all eight TEN seasons, back. Nine’s official response was that it was too costly. Throng has previously suggested that by airing a few hours of live streaming during the day and during the night could be a way of at least providing some extra, unedited footage of the housemates to the viewers which could also be a way of the show utilising the other multichannels.
While I continue to not care at all about the live feeds, I do care about the show, and no matter which way you look at it, a lack of live feed will surely kill this show through fan negativity.
Live feeds didn’t save the show in 2008, but it may well do in 2012. If Nine and Big Brother were to bring back some sort of live feed for viewers to watch, there is no doubt in my mind that there will, if only briefly, be overwhelming positivity levelled at the show; something it hasn’t experienced for some time.
If Nine are worried that candid footage of the housemates could degenerate the show into a ‘cesspit’ of raunchiness, then they have NO idea what could happen if fans continue to react the way they are.
Overall, the return of Big Brother has been welcoming and pleasing- but Nine MUST listen to their fans and spend a bit of cash on the show if they want to keep Big Brother around of the long haul. The lack of televised content and 24-hour interaction are the main two troubling aspects of the show. Fixing these could fix other issues in the show. Will Nine listen?
So that’s how the first week of Big Brother has panned out. What are your thoughts? How do you think the show will fare in weeks to come?
Big Brother airs 7PM weekdays, 6PM Sunday’s on GO!, 6.30PM Sundays and 10PM Wednesdays on Nine.