While I've discussed my irritation with some forms of reality TV previously on this website, I'm actually not against all forms of the new format. I enjoyed the clever "Mole", which was hosted superbly by now-reporter Anderson Cooper (the show can now be seen in a "Celebrity" format, with Ahmad Rashad hosting). "Amazing Race" is both thrilling and, in it's own way, educational about different cities and countries around the world. "Survivor" manages to be an interesting social experiment, although it isn't quite as fresh as it was when it first started.
"Big Brother" is a beast that I can't say I've been familiar with, given that I've never been interested by the show's advertisements, which made the show appear to be born from both "Survivor" and "The Real World", simply taking elements of each. Simply, contestants (Lisa, Chiara, Amy, Josh, Jason, Gerry, Roddy, Lori, Eric, Tonya, Danielle and Marcelas) are locked into a house, with no contact with the outside world - no radio, no TV, no nothing. A pair of them are nominated to be voted off every other week, then the audience decide who stays and who goes. The final person left in the house after all of the voting is said and done gets $500,000. Little tasks during the week, shifting alliances and titles such as "Head Of Household" add some conflict into a series that would largely be watching people sit around.
Of course, as with the "Real World", it's not only up to the producers to try and create something interesting to see, it's a matter of casting. Large personalities are the order of the day and, unfortunately, sometimes this can result in some whining and some obnoxiousness. While I liked the fact that there is some strategies being presented in terms of people trying to form alliances, the occasional games/tasks to win food and other items aren't that involving (it's a little difficult to create games that are that elaborate in the middle of a house), such as an "egg catching" game early on. I've read some discussions around the net that have talked about how the show's internet broadcast (the house cameras broadcast on the net 24/7 during the production) are more interesting to view than the show itself. Host Julie Chen is a mistake, seeming far too bland and perky for a show that's all about people conspiring to get each other booted. Luckily, she's not in the majority of each episode.
Overall, I have to say that watching these episodes on DVD was entertaining, but I can't say that I regret missing the series during its run on CBS, since the show simply isn't original enough to be that compelling. The only reason that this one worked as well as it did is due to casting - while there are a few annoying folks in the bunch, the personalities included here do click - for good, or for evil. Hopefully, CBS's "Amazing Race" will be next to hit DVD.
Win Media presents the entire 3rd edition of "Big Brother" (32 episodes) across no less than 9 (!) discs, with some minor supplements included on the last disc. This is a "limited edition" release, and comes in a rather strange slip-sleeve case; 2 larger cases each hold 4 DVDs, with two discs on each side (one lying over the other) and one final disc in its own slim case. With the case being the way it is, there's some chance that discs could come loose during shipping (mine arrived with two scratched discs, and I've read other reports of people getting sets w/scratched discs). There's also a misprint on the cover of the solo disc, listing it as "Volumes 5-8", instead of "Volume 9".
VIDEO: Win Media/Ventura Distribution present all 32 episodes of "Big Brother" in 1.33:1 full-frame. These are generally nice, broadcast-level transfers that offer image quality that's good, if a little shaky at times. Sharpness and detail are good, if not great, with some moments that seem detailed and clear and others (sometimes appearing due to different cameras used, sometimes) looking softer.
Aside from the occasional softness, the presentation did not offer any serious flaws. Edge enhancement was not seen, although mild shimmering was spotted at times. Given that all of the episodes are spread out across a rather remarkable 9 discs, there were no compression artifacts spotted. Colors seemed very cleanly presented, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The show's 2.0 soundtrack is pretty nice, with bassy music, clean recording of any sounds and dialogue that is usually crisp and natural aside from a few strained-sounding shouting matches/arguements.
EXTRAS: The only supplemental feature included is audition tapes from the cast members.
Final Thoughts: At $69.99 this 9-DVD set is certainly more for fans than casual viewers. It provides satisfactory image/sound quality, but a few more supplements would have been nice. Recommended for fans.