This week in our Big Brother All Access Flashback series we’ve arrived at Big Brother 5 from 2004. Whew, an entire decade ago. Let’s see what Big Brother was like then and how that season started out.
BB5 continued the Twist themes with Project “Do Not Assume” (DNA) which actually gave the viewers something to enjoy on one side and something for the HGs on the other, but more on that later. The season started out early/mid July and wrapped up in late/mid September and gave us 14 Houseguests, but only 13 joined us on premiere night.
That first night we were introduced to Adria, Drew, Diane, Holly, Jase, Nakomis (Jennifer), Karen, Lori, Marvin, Cowboy (Michael), Mike, Scott, and Will. They met in front of the house like they always do and were sent in in groups to find a bed in the same layout of three bedrooms. Last season’s burlap beds were replaced with hard slabs this time with the bonus of a thin pad to sleep on. Lovely.
Once all the HGs settled in they were toasting drinks and getting to know each other. Here we discover that Diane and Drew both have a twin… but they weren’t the only ones. Dun dun dun! Marvin leads the discussions which of course someone has to DR that he was annoyingly controlling instead of just trying to get things rolling.
Julie comes on the screen and leads everyone outside to their first challenge: food competition. It’s a spinning double helix, but Julie calls it a food chain despite its obvious appearance. The players have to climb along it as it spins and grab balls with food written on them to earn groceries for the week. This of course provides plenty of DR one-liners like Jase with “I had balls in my mouth.”
When it’s all over the HGs have gathered up quite a feast, but it wasn’t meant to be. Julie announces a mini-twist in the game. Lori cracks up one of the balls she recovered to find a key which opens a box with $10,000 in it. Julie says Lori can take the cash, but everyone will lose their food for the week and be stuck with PB&J. Yep, still no Slop at this point.
Several HGs encourage Lori to take the money (no, Lori, no!) and she does. Had she said no it’d go to the next HG in line with the same opportunity until someone accepted or all 13 turned it down. I’d like to say Lori survived this ordeal unscathed, but she didn’t and was evicted Week 2. Listen up, future HGs, it’s risky enough to take cash prizes, unless you’re Derrick Levasseur, but definitely don’t do it at the cost of your fellow, voting HGs’ well-being.
Jumping back to the season’s DNA theme we see the HGs sharing more details about their backgrounds and this is when Cowboy starts to piece things together. He has never met his biological father, but he knows his name and background. When Nakomis shares her last name, her hometown, and how her father lost part of his foot in Vietnam the light goes on over Cowboy’s head. Nakomis is his sister and he’s meeting her now for the first time. At this time Cowboy keeps it to himself during the premiere, but he’ll soon share the news with her.
Next up, it’s Head of Household competition time. There are an odd-number of HGs so why not have everyone pair up… smh. Will is the old man out and won’t compete or have a chance at becoming HoH.
HGs head back outside to find a row of six treadmills and stations before each one. Half of each pair head to be “walkers” and the other half are “talkers.” The talkers answer Yes/No questions while the walkers have to stay on their treadmill. If the talker gets a question about his/her fellow HGs wrong then the speed on the treadmill is increased 1 mph up to the max of 8. It’s pretty clever, simple, and fun to watch.
Jase is tearing it up on the questions leaving his partner Scott at a slow stroll while others have been running and falling. Soon it’s just Karen and Scott left up there as the questions are over and now it’s an endurance battle. Both are strong runners but Karen is eventually overcome and slides off in to the mud.
Will finally has a role in the competition and reads a tie-breaker question to Jase to decide whether Jase or Scott will be the first HoH of Big Brother 5. Jase gets it right and is crowned Head of Household to close out the BB5 premiere.
Reflecting on this season from so many years ago it’s fun to think about the DNA twist. Not so much that Nakomis and Cowboy discovered they were siblings, which is cool and all, but the other half of the twist that surprised viewers. Diane and Drew had twins back home, but Adria had one in the game and no one knew. Natalie, Adria’s twin, would swap places regularly with her sister in the DR and they had to play the game knowing only half of what was going on.
The challenge here was for them to keep their dual identities hidden and if they did that for five weeks then both could play the game together. Luckily for the twist they pulled it off and Natalie officially entered the game on Day 35. Of course if they tried that twist now Adria would have probably been voted out Week 1, right? It was the first season of Big Brother with related HGs and they doubled down on the idea.
Also worth noting was Nakomis’s brilliant strategy called The Six-Finger Plan, a method of sure-fire targeting and eviction that can’t even be done in our modern rules and style of Big Brother. The HoH would nominate two allies who would then pick allies to play in the Veto comp with them. Yes, back then you got to pick a champion to help you in the PoV comp. Then with six allies working together they would have a lock on the Veto, control who came down, was renom’d, and evicted. It was awesome and it was also the end of Jase who was Nakomis’s target.
So many great things came out of this season with incredible strategy, alliances, and competitors. I still remember Diane winning an endurance competition against Jase that lasted NINE hours and only ended after his foot edged over the back of the small platform. Why can’t we get some of those dedicated types of HGs again, huh? Sigh.
Want to watch Big Brother 5 or any of the other past seasons? Every single Big Brother US episode is available online through CBS’s All Access subscription. They’re running a free trial week if you sign-up through one of our links. After that it’s $5.99/month and includes dozens of other CBS shows both new and old classics. All Access will also be the home of Live Feeds for Big Brother 17, so that’s where we’ll be watching the BB17 HGs this summer. Check it out!