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Tonight was the start of another big season of Big Brother: ‘Til Death Do You Part, the show that captivates, scintillates and sometimes nauseates. Haven’t you missed you thrice weekly dose?

Seeing Julie is like seeing … well, Julie. He hair is smaller, but looks more than ever like she’s taking style tips form syndicated episodes of Murphy Brown. She’s wearing a very cute dress, but I am consistently distracted by the broach on her neckline. What was that thing? A golden carrot? Chili pepper? A lizard? I must know! We also get a lightening quick tour of the house and its dozens of cameras and mics and I miss the Alice in Wonderland theme. The theme this year has something to do with a log cabin circa 1974 and it makes me vaguely uncomfortable.

We meet the house guests in a whirlwind of clips. It’s going to be a few episodes before I know who these people are, but I will do my best. The brass tacks: Alex owns a DJ company, Shelia is a mom and former model, Natalie is a "bikini barista", Chelsia is wild child, Parker is a paparazzo (or as he states "professional stalker". Charming), Amanda is a high maintenance paralegal, Jen is a bartender, James is homeless and crossing America on a bicycle, Neil is a realtor, Joshuah thinks no one can resist his southern charm, Sharon is a realtor, Alison is a pharmaceutical rep, Matt is a roofer, Adam is in public relations, Ryan is a college student and Jacob is an electrician.

The twist this season is not hard to guess, the title of the show being what it is. But, Big Brother always manages a few surprises, don’t they? Taking it form the top; the house guests will be paired up and will win, lose or be evicted as couples. All the house guests are single – except for one couple, Ryan and Jen. The other surprise is one pair who split after a 12 year relationship. When they first announce that, I’m shocked – but when we meet the couple and find out they are 23 (it’s Sharon and Jacob – he cheated and they apparently started dating at age 11. Right) – it loses it’s impact.

The ladies are let in the house first, but find all locked doors to great them – their first clue that something is amiss. The "love quotes" on the walls are a second. When they let the guys in, it takes Sharon and Jacob just a few seconds to recognize each other. Jacob is secretly elated his ex is in the house. Sharon is less so secretly disgusted. Meanwhile, Jen pretends to forget Ryan’s name, acting as if they haven’t been living together for over half a year already. It strikes me that this may be 3 months of the "let’s pretend we never met then pick each other up" foreplay game. What?

The HGs soon find that they will be paired up and react with different degrees of excitement or dread. Parker hopes to get paired with Jen – and she hopes to get paired with her boyfriend. Jacob hopes to get paired with his ex and Sharon hopes to get paired with anyone other than him. I start to wonder if this season was sponsored by e-Harmony when Julie Chen tells then they’ve been matched via the answers to their extensive personality questionnaires. The couple break-down goes something like this:

Alex & Amanda
James & Chelsia
Natalie & Matt
Jen & Parker
Joshuah & Neil
Jacob & Sharon
(all of whom get beds)
Ryan & Allison
Shelia & Adam
(who get sleeping bags)

As you can see, Ryan and Jen – the one existing couple – were split up, and Sharon and Jacob – the ex-couple – were put together. Which means, according to the Big Brother matchmakers – there is no one else in the house better suited to Sharon and Jacob, and there are people better suited for Jen and Ryan. Here’s an ‘ouch!’ for each of you!  The last couple announced – Adam & Shelia – are the ones that go over worst of all. Adam good naturedly says "Looks like it’s you and me, mom!" and Shelia loses it. She spends the next several moments of the show acting sick, upset and outrages while she talks about how Adam is unattractive, not her type, over weight, and all around disgusting. She works herself into such a froth that she’s soon surrounded by a group of the other HGs who attempt to give her advice about how to get through the next 3 months. Shelia? When the 23 year olds are giving you advice, you may need to realize that your development isn’t arrested. It was lashed to a tree and left for dead. Also? Buy a ladder and get over yourself.

It’s time for the first Power Couple competition! The PC will have the ability to evict any couple of their choosing.

The HGs file out of the house and find 8 beds scattered in rose petals in the backyard. They are told they will need to chose one member to be suspended above the bed and another to lie below them. The suspended person will be lowered, the person on the bed will have to grab hold and the couple will then be lifted again. The couple who remains in the air the longest is the winner.

Jacob tries to assert that Sharon should be the one suspended, which sounds utterly ridiculous to Sharon. And me. Rather than start fighting her already, he agrees to do it her way. As he is lowered to her on the bed, he tries to kiss her and she turns her head so sharply it’s a wonder she didn’t snap her own neck. Can we nominate a HG to sing AWKWARD? Adam complains about Shelia’s breath and she quits a handful of minutes in – much to his annoyance. Neil and Josh quit a few minutes later, and Amanda and Alex and Sharon and Jacob drop not long after them.

It is then that the second challenge is announced. Back down on the beds are heart shaped pillows. Is the HGs can manage to grab them – using only their hands – they will win an additional $10,000. Allison, the former gambling addict, decides to go for it and falls instead. Showing far more cooperation, guts and stamina, Jen and Parker and Chelsia and James all go for the pillows – by locking their feet around their guy’s necks, no less –  with success. Natalie and Matt decide to play it safe and leave the pillows where they are. Unfortunately, the attempt to get the pillow took took much out of Chelsia and James, and they drop. This leaves Natalie and Matt and Jen and Parker – and Jen and Parker quickly point out to the other couple that they have the money pillow and thus will promise Natalie and Matt safety is they give up so they can keep their cash. The agreement is struck and Jen and Parker are the first PC!

At the end of the show, Jen camera talks that Shelia and Adam are on her eviction radar because of their negativity, while Ryan boasts that with his girlfriend in the power position, he feels safe as can be. But then there’s Matt, who states Ryan and Allison are on his radar because Ryan seems strong and Allison seems smart and ruthless – making them a potentially dangerously effective couple.

So who will get the boot? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Posted by:Jessica Paff