‘All Access’ Flashback: Big Brother 1 Series Premiere Recap

Big Brother is back, on All Access that is. Thanks to our new found ability to go back and watch any season, any episode of Big Brother U.S. using CBS’s new “All Access” service I’ve decided to do just that with a weekly flashback recap series of the season premiere from every season. First up is the original Big Brother series premiere from 2000.

Big Brother Season 1
Big Brother Season 1 – Source: CBS

It’s incredible to go back and watch the first season again for many reasons. I still remember being immediately drawn in to the series that summer, but wow how strange and different it seems compared to what we now watch each season.

The bulk of the series premiere is filled with co-hosts, yes there were two hosts at the start, Julie Chen and Ian O’Malley. I could recall there being another host, but I couldn’t remember much about that role. That might be because his role didn’t even last through the entire season.

Ian might not have lasted the whole summer that year, but he did get a lot of time on the debut episode. He’s actually our initial tour guide as compared to what we see with Julie Chen for the always hotly anticipated Big Brother house reveals.

Trading off between Julie and Ian we learn the original season of Big Brother had just 28 cameras and 60 microphones. It only took another fifteen seasons to go high-def! They’re even sure to repeatedly point out the toilet and shower cams. Speaking of the shower, BB1 only had two hours worth of hot water each day and it was a consecutive time block. Once the first Houseguest fired up the hot water the timer started. You didn’t want to oversleep that summer.

Sleeping arrangements weren’t that much different with two main bedrooms which gave the HGs the option to divide up by sexes, though Big Brother was sure to point out that they wouldn’t be forcing any sleeping rules and it was up to the Houseguests to decide on all that. Without a Head of Household or Have-Nots there weren’t any other bedrooms in the house. Just two small closed off areas for rest. They were all twin sized beds and no shortages either.

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Next Ian points out there are no clocks and no watches allowed in the house. How I miss that set up. Why in the world do HGs need to know what time it is like they do now? Just this season the HGs sat around waiting for events knowing it was always around the same time each week. Blah.

As for time, I do remember Curtis (I believe it was) having a Saboteur-style task of changing the House clock each day to screw with their heads so I guess that no-clocks rule was eventually relaxed. Didn’t he win the big television they rolled out each week for successfully completing that mission?

There was little actual time with the Big Brother Season 1 Houseguests in this episode other than their general intro videos as we get to know their edited caricatures. Instead we got to learn more about the series, or at least what we’d see that first summer as a lot was changed in the second go-round.

Eliminations weren’t called “evictions” back then but rather the Houseguests were “banished” with every other week cuts based on viewer voting by phone. Diary Room? Nope, it was introduced as the “Red Room” instead and HGs were required to visit at least once a day. Things weren’t so scripted in there back then, or at least they did a better job of hiding it.

Head out to the backyard for even bigger differences. There was a vegetable garden and even a chicken coop. Ian tells us the eggs were intended to be the HGs main source of protein and if they didn’t get the garden growing it’d cost the HGs to buy food. Apparently there was some sort of budgetary restrictions placed on the House, but I’d have to keep watching to see how long that lasted. Oh that chicken idea was terrible. I remember how it became rather unsanitary as the chickens ran wild and the backyard was filled with chicken poop. Yum. Of course without them we would have never developed “Chicken George,” so there’s that.

Speaking of Chicken George and the rest of his castmates from Big Brother 1, the ten Houseguests rolled up to the CBS lot in individual SUVs. Julie greeted each one of them as they arrived and then gathered them in front of the Big Brother house. Once they were all there she sent them on inside and as they began to mingle the credits started rolling. We barely got to see them in action on the Season 1 premiere, but it was still exciting to be reminded of that entire summer even with just a few short minutes of them getting the series started.

What a blast to go back and watch it all play out using CBS All Access (try it now for free). It’s incredibly tempting to watch the entire season, but no time for that now, at least not for me. Instead I’m moving on to Big Brother 2 next week and I’ll be back with that season’s premiere recap then.

In the meantime, if you want to catch up you can watch the entire first season on CBS’s All Access for free. They’re running a free trial offer with a no-cost week of access before it rolls over to the $5.99/month rate. You’ll get access to their entire library that holds way more than just Big Brother so it’s worth checking out. Plus next summer you’ll get your Live Feeds included so there won’t be anything extra to purchase or sign-up to access.

Try CBS All Access. 1 week free!


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  1. Dr Drew was there to explain the psychological effects that were happening to the house guests!! He was the third host

  2. Matt-At the end of the e-mail about BB1 there is a link for comments at bottom. Could this be added to Survivor site? Clicking on it brings me right to discussion area.

  3. In one fo the early BB1 post-nomination episodes posted on Youtube, Canadians were allowed then to vote to who they want to save.

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