(For the next several days, some of our writers will be swapping duties on some of our most popular shows. Some of them will like what they see, but for different reasons. Some of them will have vastly different opinions from the regular reviewers. And some of them won't be all that different. It's Second Opinions Week at TV Club.)
Yesterday I admitted that we were barely hanging on to Idol this season, despite some promising developments in terms of the credibility of the competition, music-industry-wise. Today’s the day I further admit that I haven’t watched a results show all season long. Our practice has been to TiVo the competition night and then watch it when the results are already in, spoiling or not spoiling ourselves as we like.
Tonight’s non-extravaganza validated that decision yet again. Early in the season there’s little suspense to the results, but at least there are a lot of results to report -- many contestants to send to safety or not, in several waves. This late in the season the ax always comes with drama, but there aren’t many people to deal with, meaning the filler is even more egregious. A visit to the British consulate to party in celebration of the royal wedding ... Eric Idle staring at these out-of-place youngsters, bemused … Fred Willard wished he could push Casey in the pool. A Ford commercial. Lengthy recaps of last night’s action that are almost as long as the performances themselves, with Monday-morning quarterbacking from Jimmy Iovine. Bruno Mars recorded at rehearsal.
And maybe its a measure of the thinness of the talent that the group numbers seem to get worse the fewer contestants there are left. The Carole King medley was simply excruciating. Contrast the group numbers that lead off the results shows on So You Think You Can Dance, which are often among the most exciting performances of the week. Heck, even the guest performances on SYTYCD blow AI out of the water, at least when they are dancers rather than random rock stars.
Although, to be fair, I always sort of enjoy when Idol veterans come back to show us what kind of artists they’ve become. Away from the competition atmosphere and the reality-show challenges, some seem more mature and assured. Others return as victims of a cookie-cutter pop culture or desperate barnacles clinging to their fifteen minutes. Bowersox is the former, and I’ve always had mixed feelings about people like her. The competition gave her a chance to break out of the bar and coffeehouse circuit, but it also seems beneath her somehow, as if she were forced to do a stint as an organ-grinder's monkey before she got the ticket to a career she always deserved.
Oh, and then there’s what we all came for (or realize that we don’t need to show up for at all) -- the results! Haley gets the early seat on the couch o’ safety; Casey, Scotty, Lauren, and Jacob get told to wait; James joins Haley in the top five; and at last we get the bottom three of justice: Casey, Scotty, and Jacob.
And how about the exit of ultimate justice -- Casey! After that horrendous spectacle last night, any other result would have been unthinkable. America, I take back all the mean things I've said about you. You’ve voted this guy off twice when the judges were using superlatives that, in the context of the final recap, seem like the height of silliness. What a smart country we are.
- Why am I not surprised that Casey seemed to be picking something out of his teeth when the camera panned across him before the “questions from fans” segment?
- Speaking of Casey, sure it’s nifty he cited Oscar Peterson as the person he’d most want to jam with, but his answer also betrayed his real desire -- not to be a singer at all, but a bass player.
- What did Haley blurt out after hearing Iovine’s critique that she doesn’t know who she is as an artist? The shot was too long for me to read lips, but my guess is, “Oh, shit!”
- Curly-haired Lauren or flat-iron Lauren? I kinda liked her sleek look last night, but at least her frock is equally as horrendous tonight with the different ‘do.
- Line of the night: “Casey’s got to realize that the family dog doesn’t vote on this show.”
- Runner-up: “I’ve got all this passion for the music, and there’s a tiny hole it has to get through.” (You do not want to know what hole he’s thinking of.)
- Smartest statement of the night: “At this point, we’ve got to stop comparing them to themselves and their progress, and start comparing them to each other.” Are the judges listening? (Who am I kidding?)