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Picks and Pans Review: Big Brother 5

updated 08/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. ET; Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET)

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You can argue all day over which reality show is most degrading or least intelligent. But the biggest waste of time has to be Big Brother, which returned to CBS in early July for its fifth stunningly dull season.

Though host Julie Chen touts the "shocking" twists and tense power struggle, there's a sad lack of excitement in watching a bunch of largely sedentary schemers lounge around a house all summer. So what if people are voted out until the last one sitting wins $500,000? Hand me half a mil and I might give this series three hours a week.

Big Brother is mostly a conspiratorial talk show. Will an all-female alliance foil the long-term strategy of shirtless studs Jase and Scott? Does gay Will have a foot in both camps? Is dumb blonde Holly consciously imitating Suzanne Somers on Three's Company? For an occasional break in the blah-blah-blah, the housemates engage in various inane competitions. I thought the Olympics were starting early when they ambled out to the backyard and tossed hula hoops at plastic flamingos.

It didn't faze me a great deal to hear that one of the players was switching off with an identical twin. They all could be Stepford Housemates anyway. But I was sort of shocked when perfect strangers Michael and Jennifer found out they have the same father. The revelation itself was less amazing than the half siblings' apparent willingness to put their feelings on hold and concentrate on surviving in the great game of Big Brother. Reality can wait, folks. This is reality TV.

REALITY TV

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