Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AMERICAN IDOL's 8th season premiere.

For all the hype about this being the new “improved” AMERICAN IDOL, it was the same. Okay, there’s a new judge. More on that later. But speaking of morons, Paula was back. When long running shows in later seasons try to shake things up they REPLACE characters, not add new ones. Charles Winchester for Frank Burns. Rebecca Howe for Diane Chambers. Darren Stevens for Darren Stevens. With the addition of another judge with a brain Paula is now officially as useless as cuff links on pants.

But otherwise, the only thing new for the entire two hours was the Ford commercials. There were the same 100,000 idiots, this time baking for hours in 110 degree temperatures in Phoenix. I suppose someone should have warned them of the possibility of brain damage but really, why? They're sooo far past that.

The show kicks off with a gooey cloying montage, in slow motion, accompanied by the now-cliché song of all time, Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (who wouldn’t make it out of the opening round, by the way).

We’re told by an earnest contestant that AMERICAN IDOL “can make a difference. For one’s family. For one’s future.” Who needs alternative energy when we have AMERICAN IDOL?

We’re introduced to the new judge, Kara DioGuardi. Too early to tell whether she’s a breath of fresh air or Shemp. But she seems smart (or maybe it’s because she sits between Randy and Paula -- Eddie from FRASIER would seem smart), she can sing, and of course she’s attractive (this is FOX, where Chloe on 24 is considered disfigured). AMERICAN IDOL’S in-depth profile on Kara was a three-minute montage of people mispronouncing her name. Thank you. I really feel like I know her now.

Okay, enough stalling. Let the freak show begin! Included in this initial roundup:

A guy with a giant ‘fro. David Archelleta meets Diana Ross.

A tattooed rocker chick with pink/orange hair and tasteful stud in his lip. Drew Barrymore as the Exorcist.

An Axel Rose lookalike who weeps more than Hilary Duff and Ashley Judd combined. There is no crying in head banging heavy metal!

The obligatory “goody-goody” girl-next-door who volunteers at senior centers and vows to stay a virgin until Adam Levine is the guest mentor.

The Hispanic kid who calls himself X-Ray. Everyone else calls him Ex-Straight.

This was a new one – an African American kid with a voice deeper than a fog horn. Poor song selection though: “My First, My Last, My Everything” instead of “Old Man River”. Not that he could sing that either but it would have been more amusing.

Here's an AMERICAN IDOL empirical truth: Anyone who wears a hat sucks.

Simon of course put through the insufferable perky girl with marginal talent. She’s the blind date that’s very pretty and the nanosecond after you have sex you want to kill yourself.

The Kellie Pickler fresh-faced blond country gal who got four yes votes and six invitations to join dinner theater productions of LIL’ ABNER.

The weird Goth boy who looks like the creepy son on NIP/TUCK. Perfect if there’s ever a remake of HAROLD & MAUDE.

The callow rosy cheeked nerd who by April will be dressing like Mickey Rourke in THE WRESTLER.

And my favorite, a hot girl in a bikini. (Thank God, Moesha didn’t go this route.) We’re just one season away from a hopeful coming into the audition room on her knees.

I was starting to get worried. There were no trailer trash sob stories. No contestants living in Maytag boxes. No daddies serving 20-life. No one put their child up for adoption so they’d have the money to come to the tryout. The "I survived cancer" girl didn't even make it on camera. Was AMERICAN IDOL losing its edge? Ah, but then came the last contestant – a blind guy. Yeah, good luck voting him out.

So far your final two are bikini girl and blind guy. Unless Kansas City has a stripper who sings out of her navel, why even bother?

The show concluded with the standard montage of tone-deaf deluded losers, a segment I like to call “Let’s laugh at the truly pathetic”. Nice touch ending with the Hasidic cowboy.

Overall the talent level was the same as always. Two or three really good ones (oil rig boy in particular), a few who can carry a tune but you know will be eliminated so fast their luggage will not have arrived at the carousel, and the groan-inducing misfits who get interviewed later, boldly claim “You haven’t heard the last of me! I’m going to be a star without AMERICAN IDOL!”, and spend the rest of their lives working the back sink at Shoney’s.

AMERICAN IDOL has a problem. Even for fans like me who at one time really loved it. There is a sameness now. Throwing in Kara (or is it pronounced "Care-a"?) won't solve that. For the show, and pretty soon Ryan, it's really time for a face lift.

Tonight is another two hour special. For my review just re-read this one.


Anonymous said...

You just know the other contestants are going to try to lead that blind guy on to the wrong bus at Hollywood week. If his average sounding ass makes it to the viewer voting rounds, he's going to hang around like a genial toenail fungus.

Dave Mackey said...

Saw about an hour of The Gong Show - er, American Idol. It is the same early-weeks dreck. Must make note to start watching Hollywood week or later.

The AT&T ad is getting annyoing. Same creative as last year.

WV: "fiesit" - remands to hell, Shakespeare style.

Anonymous said...

thats right. paula is there and she will continue to be there! so in your face hater!

Unknown said...

Hey hey hey!

Nobody talks about Moose like that! You take that back Mr. Levine! ;-)

VP81955 said...

Yes, Louis Armstrong wouldn't go far on "American Idol." Not enough melisma -- but, if you've ever heard his version of "(What Did I Do To Be So) Black And Blue," plenty of soul. (In the 1929 revue "Ain't Misbehavin'," it was sung by a darker-skinned black woman who felt abused by her friends of a lighter shade. Louis transforms it into an anthem for the entire black experience.)

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Only American Idol could get me to root against the blind guy before he opened his mouth.

Mary Stella said...

I have friends who swear it's the misfits with no voice, no talent, and no chance that sell the show.

I'd rather they leave those folks outside and only bring in people who can carry a tune in front of the judges during these auditions.

Two hours of actual talent as opposed to 60 percent real possibilities vs 40% off-key people getting their hearts and emotions stomped on.

wv=houre -- how long it would take to watch American Idol if I fast forward through the misfits electronically.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Seacrest trying to high-five the blind guy, that was too funny

VP81955 said...

Reading this thread only reinforces my wisdom not to watch the show.

wv: "rexhump" -- what Richard Burton's character ostensibly did with Mr. Harrison's character in "Staircase" (aka "Caesar and Antony Go Gay").

Unknown said...

Louis Armstrong would have used up his audition time telling Paula Abdul she needed some Swiss Kriss to detoxify.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Anonymous said...
thats right. paula is there and she will continue to be there! so in your face hater!"

Ken, isn't it nice to see you're getting 12 year old readers? And I love the unconscious irony of someone expressing how much they hate you by calling you a "Hater."

My favorite moment was when, after bikini girl got mouthy with New Judge and Paula got defensive for her, Ms Abdul then voted her through. You know she voted her through just show she can cut her the first day in Hollywood Week. "Oh, you made the whole trip out here only to have to go back home again immediately? Oh sad. Bye-bye whore."

Speaking of "Ex-straight," how gay was "Sexual Chocolate"? After all, the tattoo of his sex nick name was placed where a partner would only see it when approaching him from behind.

But they are right that the lousy auditions sell the show. Every year I tune in to see the freak show and get hooked again.

The blind singer isn't just a blind singer; he's a BRAVE blind singer. On TV, all blind people are "Brave." All.

VP81955, so YOU are the only other human on earth who remembers STAIRCASE. What a crappy movie that was.


Anonymous said...

"The weird Goth boy who looks like the creepy son on NIP/TUCK.'

God, I was wondering if I was the only one who found that kid made my skin crawl and my stomach churn. If he was replaced by flesh-eating bacteria - it would be a casting improvement.

Anonymous said...

To clearify:

I'm talking about the KID ON NIP TUCK.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ken, c'mon, we know you'll be watching the rest of the season with an unwavering devotion, talentless train wrecks 'n all. This stuff is addictive, after all, and the winning formula that AI (no, I'm not talking about artificial intelligence -- or am I...;) has stumbled upon here brings in those high ratings. Yes, it all drips with both cheese and thinly veiled sadism, but this is what sells the advertisers' soap.

What's really tiresome, IMO, is Simon rolling his eyes and complaining about how horrible his job is. Really? I can think of, oh, about 250 other occupations that are much, much worse, not to mention don't pay nearly as much. But if he is sooo tired of it, then rather than subject us to the predictable eye-roll and snark, he needs to quit. It's easy.

Anonymous said...

Do you think they did a check on Blind Guy's medical history to certify that he was in fact blind? Or did they just do a James Coco in MURDER BY DEATH and then go on... dare I say it, blind faith?

It would be ratings history if he was declared American Idol and then after the usual tearing up at the news, he blinks away his tear to suddenly scream "I CAN SEE!!!"

w/v: comal - something that has a coma inducing quality; "American Idol is comal".

Anonymous said...

I think about a quarter of the two hour runtime was teasing the blind guy's end-of-show appearance. For all we know, he was the first contestant they saw in Phoenix, but ya gotta save the bravest for last.

I bet the Idol archives are filled with clips of equally brave blind folks who, unfortunately, sang like wounded moose and therefore had no value to the show, as either comedy or tragedy.

Bikini Girl will prove to be one of the most influential contestants ever. Expect thousands of similarly clad (or unclad) wannabes next year. Ryan: "This is Mindy, but let's just call her Two Band-Aids and a Cork Girl."

Anonymous said...

Ken, you're definitely right about the hat thing on "Idol." Have hat, will suck.

Anonymous said...

I loved Ryan's extreme discomfort with bikini girl's announcement that she would make out with him if she got a golden ticket. "uh...stammer....uh...I don't think I'm allowed" And then, when she did try to plant one on him, he couldn't have looked less interested than if she was his grandma.

Yeah, that should make those gay rumors go away...

WV: "pateall" -- a universal toupee

Anonymous said...

I secretly hoping Fox goes with this:

`American Idol' sues Texas strip joint
January 14, 2009 6:19:45 AM PST
"American Idol" is suing a Texas strip club over its "Stripper Idol" contest.

FremantleMedia North America (those bastards of everything wrong in television), which owns the popular TV show, says the contest is a trademark violation that could mislead the public to think the show sponsors the event, The Dallas Morning News reported in Tuesday editions. The company has filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the weekly contest.

Managers of the Palazio Men's Club in Austin say the contest doesn't resemble the TV show, and they don't plan to end the Thursday night strip-off.

"Stripper Idol" contestants have 60 seconds to dance topless, then are ranked by audience applause to win $500.

Club managers say the contest is in its 12th week and is growing in popularity.

Anonymous said...

It's the laughing at the hopeless that turns me off the show completely. For some contestants, particularly early in the run, it's just too mean-spirited. (And I'm a pretty fucking mean bastard.)

Next week, more reality shows guaranteed to be real crowd-pleasers: let's watch the mentally handicapped get kicked in the balls for an hour. Later, in a very special special, watch Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell kick the crutches out from under the elderly at the top of mall escalators across America! Yay.The ones falling down the up escalators can keep falling all the way to the next commercial breaks, sponsored by Tiger Balm!

How long till we see another Paper Chase, Boston Legal...or for that matter another Frasier? At least I have Frasier reruns to comfort me.

Tom Quigley said...

I thought a couple of times both nights at Paula and Kara (is that her name?) were on the brink of engaging in some girl-on-girl action which would have probably kept me watching for at least a couple more weeks... As for the rest of the show, I must be getting too far removed from the hip-hop influence in today's music. I didn't think that any of the contestants that made it through really showed any truly exceptional talent... And once they get to Hollywood, I'm waiting for Blind Boy to stumble off the stage into the orchestra pit at the Kodak Theatre, thereby becoming the inspiration for a new show by David E. Kelley: AMERICAN LAWSUIT...

Kirk said...

There's a big difference between IDOL and the GONG SHOW.

On the GONG SHOW, the "bad" acts were actually professionals who were bad (and funny) on purpose. The "good" acts were amatures who were, well, sincere (and unmemorable) As there were usually just one "good" act per show, they always won.

Of course, every now and then you'd have a celebrity judge that just didn't get the show, and they'd gong a "good" act.

Anonymous said...

A column I read years ago and have just relocated regarding THE GONG SHOW and the truth behind it.

Anybody heard of this guy?

Also a friend of mine went on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, his story is here.

Apparently everything you expect to be true about "reality" shows is pretty much shown to be true.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I took a glance at this same column over on The Huffington Post to see what their commenters had to say, and found a comment so wonderfully insane, I had to share it with all the regular gang here. Also, while I wrote a reply to it there, that comment didn't get "Approved." I guess I'm a "Hater".

"nicholasjh1 said...
To AI reviews and both miscalling someone Goth who is emo, is the older 20's 30's generation so out of touch they don't know EMO when they see it? Emo stock is going up right now. It's pretty foreign to me too though, but they may not be doing a make over on him. At least in the cities it's pretty common now..."

Yeah, get a clue, Ken. A newborn baby can tell the difference between "Emo" and "Goth". In fact, people can detect the difference up to the age of 10 months. You know what worries me? People who don't know the difference between "Emo" and "Goth" VOTE! No wonder this country is in such a mess!

I may be 111, but I know Emo Phillips when I see him.

What amused me the most was his: "is the older 20's 30's generation so out of touch they don't know EMO when they see it?"

First off, yes, we are.

Secondly, the cut-off age for being too old to understand meaningless bits of "Youth Culture" trivia, and for being "Out of touch" used to be 30.

But now apparently it's been lowered to 25. Once you're past 25, you're not alive.

Imagine reading something by an old fogie of 26 who isn't up to date with the latest in-crowd gradations within clubs for kids?

nicholasjh1, what everyone 25-and-older sees when we see a Goth or an "Emo (Whatever the hell that is) is a kid with unresolved emotional problems working out his rebellion through the time-honored technique of making oneself look bad.


WV: cropho. The Harvest Slut in farming fertility rites.