A good year for CBS's aging "Big Brother" franchise (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET; Thursdays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. ET) is a little like a good year for crabgrass or Spaghetti-Os — the baseline quality is questionable, any variations are minor, and in the end, no one really cares.
Still, after last summer's soporific snore, the sixth season is indeed playing to the show's strengths. The advantage of "Big Brother" over shows like "Survivor" is the competition for the "Head of Household" title that lets the winner choose the two nominees for eviction. It makes everyone insecure, allows weak players to save themselves, and generally contributes to highly watchable instability and chaos.
Explaining all the machinations of this week would take action figures and a PowerPoint presentation, but it all started with squatty blowhard Eric riding high after his reign as last week's HoH. Not only was he running a powerful alliance, but new HoH Kaysar had already promised not to nominate him. When Eric didn't get one of Kaysar's initial nominations, it looked like he was safe indeed.
Off in a figurative dark corner, however, Kaysar put together a gang that threw the veto competition to one of the nominees so he could save himself, "forcing" Kaysar to nominate someone else. He chose Eric. Stunned and righteously indignant as only a vapid reality-show contestant can be, Eric sweated and steamed before getting the boot in a whiplash-inducing reversal. From hero to goat in one week — "Big Brother" at its finest.
Of course, Kaysar only had about 10 minutes to gloat, because the next HoH is Eric's real-life friend Maggie. This season's "twist" was populating the house with pairs of people who knew each other, and Kaysar's team may be about to find itself badly twisted.
Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.