'The Glass House,' a transparent 'Big Brother'
THE SHOW "The Glass House"
WHEN | WHERE Monday night at 10 on ABC/7
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Fourteen contestants live in a house made pretty much of windows, giving the illusion of transparency and the ability of viewers to watch and direct their every move. A Siri-like voice directs game players on their tasks, which are voted upon by viewers, who also vote to eject.
ABC offered a peek at this newcomer via live-stream webcasts last week, and such webcasts will continue throughout the 10-episode run. Winner walks away with $250,000. CBS tried to derail this through the courts in recent weeks, saying it was too similar to "Big Brother," but a judge rejected the request Friday for a temporary restraining order. The show goes on.
MY SAY "The Glass House" may have been TV's best case to date (or most glaring example to date) of the sincerest form of flattery morphing into outright larceny. At least that's what CBS argued, insisting "Glass" was a clone of "Big Brother."
CBS couldn't persuade a judge last week on the merits of that argument, but that doesn't mean it wasn't right: "The Glass House" pretty much is "Big Brother." Fourteen contestants . . . Viewer interaction and voting . . . A big brotherish moderator -- which seems to be a send-up of "Bro's" Julie Chen, whom fans long ago dubbed "Chenbot." The list goes on.
The similarities may be important to networks, but they're irrelevant to viewers, or should be. Let the best show win! Maybe "The Glass House" is even an improvement over "Bro" (which returns July 12). In press handouts, ABC argued with a straight face that "fans will be directing and controlling [contestants] every move throughout the competition. 'The Glass House' is the next step in the evolution of unscripted television." "Bro" took that step already (starting way back in 2000) but maybe "Glass House" offers something fresh, fun and genuinely new here. We'll all find out together, won't we, CBS?
BOTTOM LINE Viewers win here. Let them, not the courts, decide whether "The Glass House" is better than "Big Brother." And if "Bro" sees some twists it likes in "Glass," then it should steal, err, borrow them as well.