Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American Idol Returns... e is Left Unsettled

As some of you may remember, I didn't start watching American Idol until last season, which was apparently its worst season. I had been wearing the "I've never seen American Idol" badge with quite some honor for five years up until that point. It was just a fluke that I ended up tuning into it last year--my Tivo had been recording it as a "Suggestion," and I turned the TV on at that same time and was drawn in by the auditions. Remember that older gentleman who petitioned to audition in order to keep a promise to his wife who had just passed away, and then sang a beautiful song that made Paula (and me) cry? That was good stuff.

A few weeks went by, and once it got to the actual competition part of the show, my husband and I would forward through most of the singing and just listen to what the judges had to say, because we always got a kick out of how Randy kept saying "dawg" and "pitchy," and how awesome Simon was overall. I even went out and bought the American Idol ice cream (because, you must trust me, the birthday cake flavor ROCKED).

Despite the fact that last season ended up being total poop, I found myself growing increasingly excited yesterday about its seventh season premiere. So, with a big bowl of ice cream in my lap, I settled in last night, ready to be entertained. I dare say I nearly teared up when the opening credits started playing... this writers' strike has thrown off my normal nightly routine of unwinding with a recorded show, so I think I was just so thankful to have a smidgen of normalcy back in my life or something. Either that, or I unknowingly had foreseen that the premiere was largely going to be a bunch of crap.

I have a feeling a lot of people will disagree with me, but I was fairly turned off by last night's show. Someone who has been watching it since 2002 needs to explain a few things to me:

1) Does EVERYONE in the audition line actually get through to Simon, Paula and Randy? From the size of the crowd (thousands upon thousands), that would seem impossible. So have they ever explained the process--that perhaps only certain people make it to the three judges after an earlier screening? If that's the case, then they are clearly letting some people through who are just total freaks, solely to spice up the audition episodes.

2) When exactly do they go take videos of some of the spotlighted contestants' homes? They went into that wannabe Janis Joplin's studio apartment--so did they do that AFTER she knew she had been kicked off? It seems like the only way, right? Because, like with that girl who came from Oregon (I think) who they showed with her horses, clearly they couldn't have known about her before she auditioned, so they must have filmed it after they decided who they would spotlight. Which is fine for the people who moved ahead in the competition, but it makes the rant of the Glittery Girl seem less powerful when you know she then let them film her house after she had been rejected, solely to get more air-time.

I seriously cannot even comment any further on some of the people they spotlighted, for fear that I will offend someone. I will, however, say that I feel like a lot of people they spent time on seemed staged. Are you serious that that Egyptian dude really talked like that? He was totally trying to be like Borat, come on! And that guy who got waxed and wore the Princess-Leia-in-Jabba's-Lair bikini? Are you telling me that wasn't planned out with the producers in advance? Then, did you catch the really suspicious editing at one point? There was a girl who auditioned who had one huge hoop earring. But during the different clips of her singing and her responding to the judges, it flipped between her having one and then BOTH earrings! I replayed it on Tivo to be sure, and saw one person comment on it on a message board. I don't like when I'm watching "reality TV" and it appears to be fake. I only accept that on The Hills, thank you very much.

I'm attempting to think of some parts I actually enjoyed last night... Oh, I thought of one: when that blond chick belted out "HOW DO I GET YOU ALOONNNNNE," and Simon muttered, "You wouldn't."

Having said all of that, I will still watch the next 2-hour installment of the auditions tonight. There's nothing else on, and I want an excuse to eat more ice cream! Plus, they're going to be in Texas, so you know there will be some drama. I just hope that it is real drama this time around, and not staged.

Two decent reviews I read, in case you're hungry for more Idol news, are here (Washington Post) and here (Entertainment Weekly).

Let's all pray that Simon gets his groove back tonight.
- e

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