Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paula criticized this blog post last night. Before I wrote it this morning.

Is this a first? Where one of the biggest trainwrecks in television history happens on American Idol, and it was at the judges desk and NOT on stage?

Still broken in spirit by Carly's demise, I decided to just watch AI last night, take a few notes and offer a quick take this morning, rather than pulling out the laptop and live blogging the whole affair. Plus, suffering through 10 Neil Diamond songs performed by a group of which I can only only appreciate 20% seemed more like a chore. But then live television happened. And today, the blogosphere will be buzzing, and Idol will have some serious 'splainin to do.

As for the songs and performances themselves, all I can say is that David C was decent. Psychlo Terl was his usual, stoned, weak-voiced self, completely disconnected from the material and anything except for a future sitting in a subway station strumming innocuously for pocket change. Syesha regressed after her first likable performance last week. Stuffed Koala Bear hit some notes, was squinty eyed and earnest. Brooke made the Monkees look like the Beatles for their ability to infuse "I'm A Believer" with charm and talent.

But that's not the real story. No, the real story was when the Mad Seal Clapper finally suffered a complete meltdown on live television. Catastrophic systems failure. The "blue screen of death." No control-alt-delete is going to be able to reboot and save this one. Simply put: What The Fuck Was That?!

First, we had an odd format last night, with the 5 Idolettes performing back to back, and the judges commenting on all 5 after the first round.

For those of you that haven't seen what happened next, just watch this.

Yes, Paula was commenting (from her notes) on Jason's first song. Then she segued into her comments on Jason's second song. Problem is, JASON HADN'T PERFORMED A SECOND SONG YET.

For all the loopy and barely tethered to reality things that the more mentally challenged half of a duo with MC Scat Cat has said, this takes the cake.

There are only four possible explanations:

  1. Paula indicated she was reading off her notes for the next performer, David Cook. Even in Paula's candy colored, aura filled world, that doesn't make any sense. She did talk about a "second" song, and the "critique" -- even for Paula -- was different enough in tone and "content" to indicate that she wasn't talking about David C.
  2. Perhaps because of the odd format and compressed timing for this evening, Paula had jotted down (she can write?) comments on Terl's second performance based on the dress rehearsal or practice sessions. If that's the case, then doesn't that call into question the integrity of the judging, which is supposed to be based on how the Idolettes perform the song that night, on live television? We've heard many times where the judges compare the actual performance with what they've heard of the pre-show practice. But to base their comments and critique entirely on this? It screams "sham," and further devalues anything they have to say (with the possible exception of the only lucid member of the trio, Simon).
  3. The Seal Clapper is being given notes on what to say by a member of the show's production staff, and the commentary is completely orchestrated, which calls into question the very integrity of the show. Now, this isn't fully in Charles Van Doren territory, given that the "public" actually votes (and thanks for that demonstration of voting competence last week, America) on who stays or goes, but it certainly undermines the purpose of having the three amigos sit there and offer their "opinion." And if Paula can't even muster the mental horsepower to hear a song and come up with 15 - 30 seconds of "insight" what purpose does she serve? (I think we all know the answer to this existential question). Even worse, if her comments are based on notes or prompts from the producers, then A. the producers are batshit crazy, too, B. the producers of America's number one television show can't string together nouns and verbs in a coherent fashion, or C. it's unfair, manipulative and a total crock.
  4. Paula has found a secret room on the island (or in a desert in Tunisia) which she can use to travel in space and time. On her quest to find her long lost love Penelope Widmore, Paula went into the future 30 minutes, coughed up some orange goo offstage, removed her Dharma parka, took her seat at the judges table and watched Psychlo Terl's second performance before it happened in the timeline you, I and the rest of the world were following on a Tuesday night. Then, she stumbled by Benjamin Linus, thought of her "constant" Simon Cowell, and traveled 30 minutes back to the past (our present) to offer her view of Terl's second wan, coffee house warblings.

Since I didn't see any polar bears or smoke monsters on the Idol stage last night, I'm going to have to discount that last theory.

No matter which way you cut it, this was devastating to Idol and the public confidence in the show, which was already showing some fatigue this season. Short of a PR campaign not seen since the Tylenol scare, I'm not sure Idol will fully recover from this one. At the very least, they have to quietly take Paula out back after this season and put her down like Old Yeller. This should be a fun off season.

Oh, and for the record, David C was the best of the night and I think Brooke or Syesha will finally be put out of their (and our) misery.

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