Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I can't believe I lost an hour of my life to this

Last night I watched a full episode of "Skating With Celebrities".

There's one hour of my life I'm not getting back.

Seriously, who is watching this crap?

First of all: Dorothy Hamill, no one wants to see your sagging mommy boobs. Yes, they were nice and perky back in 1976, but now you need to wear a bra and dresses that don't show your cleavage.

Second, the judging makes no sense to me. I don't know what skating judges look for. Never have. Hope I never will.

But what I saw did not match with the scores that were given out. The judges would says something was bad, but give the same score as for a performance that they said was good.

What the hell is going on here?

I saw that Deborah "Don't-Call-Me-Debbie" Gibson was the second person eliminated, even though she didn't get thrown down on the ice like Kristy Swanson and didn't fall like (professional skater) John Zimmerman. At least her partner wasn't trying to feel her up (again) for the whole show.

The problem is that there's not a lot of other choices for Monday nights now that football season is over.

At least there's American Idol tonight.

Dubya is going to poison our TVs tonight

I think Fox hopes that American Idol will provide a good rating lead-in for the State of the Union tonight because--God knows--not much else will help it.

I was reading an article at MSNBC.com the other day and learned that on 24 April 2004, Dubya told an audience in Buffalo, "Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires—a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."

This, of course, is blatantly false.

So the question is this: Did Dubya flip-flop or just deliberately mislead the American public?

What's worse: a president lying to a grand jury on a question that should never have been asked or a president lying to the public to cover up the destruction of the civil liberties they are sworn to protect?

Monday, January 30, 2006

So long, P!

Hallelujah! Master P got sent packing!

How painful was it watching Ashley trying to be graceful through all the interviews?

You know if she were teamed up with someone who had put forth just a little bit of effort, she would be in the top half right now. Hell, even George is trying to compete. Next year, she had better get first pick of all the celebrity partners.

Master P looked bored. I think he got roped into the show after his kid got hurt without knowing exactly what he was getting in to and then decided that it wasn't worth his time. And that's a shame because if he had tried, even just a little, he probably could have been very good.

So that leaves us with the rest of the pack, who I rank in the following order:


I think Tia and Lisa are interchangeable right now. Both have come on strong lately, although I think the judges (and the voters) like Lisa more. Since I'm not a soap opera fan and massive amounts of collagen don't excite me, I put her behind Tia who is not only beautiful, but has more of the elegant ballroom flair about her than the other girls do.

Jerry is trying, but he is not a graceful guy. If he devotes even half the energy he put into his football training into learning how to dance, he should be at the top of the pack for enthusiasm, but he feet are just too heavy.

George is also trying, but his two enemies are age and injuries. He's 20 years older than the next oldest contestant (Jerry) and it doesn't look like his knees and ribs are holding up.

That leaves us with Drew and Stacy, who are like Rueben and Clay from American Idol, season 2. Everyone knows one of them is going to win. The judges know it, ABC knows it, the other contestants know it, the viewers know it.

Of course, that could make the voters a little bit complacent, but with the judges scores accounting for half the results, everyone around the country would have to not vote for them for either to get knocked out of the competition.

Personally, I think Drew is the better dancer and Stacy is the better athlete. I thought last week that Stacy looked like she was in "automatic" mode, but Drew was clearly going for the jugular.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2: Week 4

I got out of class tonight in time to catch Dancing With the Stars . . . well, most of it. I had to go back and watch the tape on George and Tia.

The Frontrunners

Drew was out for blood tonight. He served his notice that he really wants to win by laying a royal beat-down on everyone else.

Stacy looked kind of robotic, in the same way that Carrie did in the middle of last year's American Idol. She wasn't phoning it in (Master P, I'm talking to you), but it looked to me like her attention wasn't 100% in the competition. I think her judges score was probably a point or two too high, probably carried over from her strong showings earlier in the competition.

On the Bubble

Tia is making a hard charge and has come on strong the past two week. How about that kid pointing out to her that he was legal? Funny stuff.

Lisa has also improved since week one, although I didn't think she did as well as the judges did.

I thought Jerry was better this week, although not as much improved as the judges said.

Pack Your Bags Now

George may still be hurting from his accident or he may just be old, but he wasn't very good. When he was in the mask and under the cape, I thought at first it was William Shatner (there's another guy who would be great for the show!). George wasn't the worst, but if he lasts past next week, I'll be very surprised.

What can I say about Master P? He looked bored. He clearly wasn't trying. I understand that some people just aren't made for dancing. But if doing the show is such a burden, he needs to remove himself from the competition and put himself out of my misery.

I can only hope that Master P is eliminated tomorrow night. If he survives, I am going to rename the "I Can't Believe I Didn't Get Whacked" face permanently in honour of Ashley Del Grosso.

I'm sure ABC wants to keep him around to generate controversy, but even his peeps should be able to see that even he wants to be sent home.

American Idol 5: Greensboro, take 2

I got my hands on the Greensboro audition show and watched it this morning. Here are some of my other thoughts:
  • Fox is building sympathy early for three of the Greensboro contestants. One of them was the girl who was in the hospital when she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. Another was Kelly. In case you forgot, she is the one who was abandoned by her mother and her dad is in prison. For me, she was okay. Pretty girl, but she is an over-singer, like Carrie on some of her bad days. She could do well if she would pull back a little bit and not try so hard.

  • WTF was up with the ventriloquist?

  • Air Force Guy was okay. His voice wasn't the best, wasn't the worst. He's got lots of confidence. I'm surprised Paula would put her hands on a contestant after the whole Corey Clark thing.

  • If you're going to sing a song from a TV show that is 15 years old, why pick "Different World"? Why not go with an Alan Thicke classic like "Different Strokes" or "Growing Pains"?

  • I was looking forward to the Bridge Over Troubled Water audition since my buddy called me when the power was out. All I can say is, "Gaaaahhhhh!!!"

  • The third person Fox was building sympathy for was Foster Care Girl. Nice girl, sounds good, not great. She seems to have the kind of personality that would bring votes, plus she's pretty and funny. Did you see her point at Seacrest and mouth "This is my man" to the camera? If she makes it to the singing rounds, which she probably will, she will get a couple of weeks of free passes because of the foster care angle.

  • Vampire Stripper Girl was an oversinger, but probably would have made it through if she had been dressed "business casual".

  • The funniest line of the night was from Simon to Fantasia's distant relative. "Simon, I love you" to which he replied, "We collectively love you." Gawd, that was bad.

  • How about Paris, the granddaughter(?) of the 3-time Grammy winner? Is she trading on her family name? If she is, why is she going through American Idol to get an audition? Why not make a backroom deal with a producer who owes her family something? At 17 years old, I see her as another girl who will be chewed up and spit out by the American Idol machine. Her singing voice is okay, but I didn't think it was as good as the judges did.

One other thing I noticed is that each city seems to have a "theme song" that American Idol uses to put together into a montage. It started a couple of years ago when a bunch of people picked "A Whole New World" and most of them butchered the song. Now, it seems that American Idol is picking a song and asking contestants to butcher it.

It seems staged, because they show people who sing something different in their auditions and since they're not pissed off, it must be before they get to the Randy/Paula/Simon audition. What's the point? I think it would be funnier if it weren't staged, but that's just me.

I also have one question: Randy and Paula have a DVD?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

American Idol 5: San Francisco

How bad is it that Fox has to manufacture drama between the judges to try and bring some excitement to an episode? Were they as bored as I was?

Either the City by the Bay was completely devoid of talent or they were there when everyone else was at a 49ers game.

No one really stood out for me, good or bad.

There was the Asian girl who sang the Anita Baker song. She was okay. Not great, not bad.

How about Air Force "circus" guy? Again, just okay.

The one person I already dislike--and it's not her fault--is the girl with the vocal coach mom. After having had several bad experiences with Little League dads, it always seems to me that parents who push their kids as much as that woman was apparently pushing her daughter deserve to be strung up by their thumbs for not letting their kids do anything except live out their dreams.

Having said that, maybe the daughter really likes to sing and would have auditioned anyway, but medling parents make be bristle. And that's a shame because the girl actually had a good voice. We'll see if she can stand up to the pressure.

That's really all I've got from the San Francisco auditions. I still haven't had a chance to watch the full Greensboro episode but I'm hoping to get to that tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

American Idol: Greensboro

Why was American Idol in Greensboro? Was it because the great state of North Carolina brought us Clay and Fantasia? Or was it because they wanted to pay a visit to Jesse Helms?

I wish I had gotten to see the entire episode, but our power went out at about 6:30 pm and didn't come back on until 9:30, so I missed most of the show. It's a good thing that some people record the episodes and make them available via Bittorrent so some of us can catch the shows when we can't watch them, either because the power is out or because the local Fox affiliate WVAH decides to inexplicably pre-empt American Idol for college basketball.

Then after the power came back on, it went out again for a few minutes, so I only got to see a handful of the auditions the first time through. I'll let you know what I think of the rest when I get to watching them.

Of the ones I saw, these are my thoughts:

  • "Sylvester Stallone's little sister"--Awful. Simply awful. At least he looked like he was having a good time.

  • The Fireman--good voice. Looks kind of goofy. Has the potential to either be the next Clay Aiken or the next Scott Savol.

  • Brown hair, dumped by boyfriend--good voice, kind of plain looking. She seems like she is willing to work and that could make all the difference. She needs to do something with her hair other than let it hang over her face.

  • Rhonetta--She just bumped the Ukranian girl as the most stripper-ready of all the AI contestants. Bad voice, and trashy, too.

A buddy of mine called in the middle of the show and apparently there's someone who sings "Bridge Over Troubled Water who is absolutely horrible, but since the power was out, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see it.

The Heavy Hand of Fox

The guy who runs one of the finest American Idol sites around says that he has seen a letter from Fox in which they state their reservations about "unauthorised" American Idol blogs and forums. According to his post, he says that Fox feels that non-Fox forums and blogs "hurt the image of the show" and that contestants are known to sometimes read blog and forum posts but are (presumably) contractually unable to respond.

Another thing that DJ Slim features on his site is downloadable torrent files of each episode so people who want to download each episode can do so. I think what Fox really wants is for him to take down the torrents. I find that odd because it seems to me that it's in Fox's best interests to have as many people watching the episodes as possible as many times as possible and since reality shows generally don't do well in syndication, why not encourage people to download the episodes after they air?

The entire notion of the image of the show being hurt by blogs is patently absurd. If it weren't for blogs and forums and fansites, the show wouldn't be what it is today. It's that simple.

If anything hurts the image of the show, it's Fox. Things like the phone number scandal from last year, manufactured drama, cheap stunts and dragging out what should be 5 minute results shows into a full hour. Those are the things that hurt the show, not people blogging about the show or downloading them later.

The way I see it, the whole matter comes down to control.

Fox wants to control their product. That's why they don't let their contestants have their own blogs and they have such strict oversight over what they do, what they say and how they dress.

Blogs and forums are out of Fox's control, and they don't like it.

Well, you know what? Life is tough, get a helmet.

Anything that is in the public realm is fair game for observation, commentary and discussion (unless you work for Dubya or one of his cronies, and apparently now, Fox . . . oh, wait, I forgot, Fox does work for Dubya and his cronies).

I'm not saying that having episodes available for download is necessarily legal and does not infringe upon the copywrite of Fox's product. However, Fox has to realise that the episodes are going to be available. The day after the American Idol premiere, s5e01 had something like 600 seeders and 2200 leechers. DJ Slim isn't the only outlet for American Idol episode downloads, and coercing him isn't going to stop it.

I will be interested to see how the Fox handles this. Are they going to try and shut down all the American Idol bloggers and fansites? Or will they give up because that's really not in their best interests?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kelly caves

After an ironic twist in which the first ever American Idol refused to license her songs to the show, Kelly Clarkson blinked and decided to let Fox use her songs on their show.

American Idol pays royalties for all the songs they use, which is why you don't see some tunes (like the Beatles) and why you see too many of others (anything by Mariah Carey).

Simon Cowell said Kelly was turning her back on the show after all the success it brought her, and on one level, he's right. Without American Idol, Kelly would be nothing. However, that assumes that Fox is willing to pay Kelly (and her songwriters) market value for her songs; she shouldn't have to take the shaft just because Fox thinks she owes them something.

Fox made gobs and gobs of dough off Kelly, so they shouldn't be trying to play her either, but Kelly does need to acknowledge that American Idol is what made her.

Championship Sunday

Two championship games, two blowouts.

I know what you're saying: "Denver didn't get blown out, they made a game of it."

Well, not really. Even though they managed to climb back into the game in the 4th quarter, they never really had a chance, especially once it became a three-possession game with 10 minutes left.

Jake Plummer reverted back to his old self, which Mike Shanahan had kept under control so well all season. We shouldn't be surprised; old dogs don't learn new tricks, especially against a Steelers defense that took away the run and still managed to pressure Plummer all day.

In the other game, what was wrong with the Panthers? They looked nothing like the team that scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs. Jake Delhomme looked rattled and a lot like (Old) Jake Plummer. It doesn't help that their running game was gone, so Seattle could sit back, double-cover Steve Smith and make the Panthers look inept.

We've got a matchup for Super Bowl XL that is more intriguing on paper than in real life. The Seahawks tied for the best record in football, but I don't think they're nearly as good as people are giving them credit. They've played a weak schedule all season and their two playoff wins have been against two teams with no offense to speak of.

The Steelers, on the other hand, have been playing inspired ball for the last two months and they not only have a good running game, they're happy to dish it out in spades. I think they're going to smack Seattle in the mouth and the Seahawks are going to like it; I have a feeling that they're going to have the "happy to just be there" attitude going into the big game and Pittsburgh is going to win their fifth Super Bowl.

That is, unless Ben Roethlisberger takes the money like Neil O'Donnell and throws the game away.

I hate CBS

Why does Phil Simms have a job? I can't for the life of me figure this out. It's bad enough that their studio show is horrible, but for CBS to have Phil Simms on their A-team is unconscionable.

One minute he's saying, "Maybe they're lining up to try and draw them offsides" and the next he says, "I knew they were going to run a play."

Please, CBS, get rid of this guy. He's worse than Madden, and that takes effort.

Dancing With the Stars

I'm going back to school this semester and I've got class on Thursday nights so I taped Dancing With the Stars this week. I didn't watch the Thursday night show because they were going to show all of the dancing on Friday. Of course, they're going to change that because no there's no reason to watch an hour and a half on Thursday nights when they can show all the good stuff in 20 minutes on Friday.

It dismays me that Giselle is gone. I didn't think she was nearly as bad as the judges did and I wonder if the low scores are part of a campaign to keep Master P around as long as possible.

Let's face it, Giselle Fernandez has no fan base. She's pretty and a good dancer, but no one is voting for her because they know her or really like her. All the votes she gets are because she has earned them. Other people are coasting on their good looks (Tia), soap-opera cachet (Lisa), charm (George), their name (Jerry) or the Vote for the Worst crowd (Master P).

Giselle even acknowledged that she has no room for error. So now she's gone.

And we're still stuck with Master P.

At least he looked like he was trying this week. All he has to do now is put on a pair of dancing shoes and get rid of the trucker hat. I can't decide if the look on Ashley's face is one of relief ("I can't believe we didn't get whacked") or dread ("I can't believe I have to work with this big oaf for another week").

Drew Lachey cemented his spot at the top of the standings. Stacy is in a close second.

Tia's stock went up big time this week (it helps she got the same music from "True Lies"). George, Lisa, Master P and Jerry are all fighting for scraps.

In my opinion, the three who should be sent home next are Master P, Lisa and George (in that order). That would make the final four: Drew, Stacy, Tia and Jerry. Jerry is shaping up to be this year's John O'Hurley; he's not as personable as John, but he's really trying and I think he's really having a good time.

Where other people might see this as an attempt to get their names back in the public eye, I think Jerry really wants to become a good ballroom dancer and he wants to win. Of course, to do that he has to go up against people who are half his age and whose bodies still do things his has long ago forgotten.

This season is shaking up to be like American Idol Season 2: Everyone knows that Stacy or Drew is going to win, and the rest of them are doing their best to hang on for just one more week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

American Idol 5: Denver

My wife says she can't watch the audition shows and I understand.

She doesn't like that not only do the bad auditions get a lot of airtime, but Fox goes out of their way to mock the contestants.

Take the guy in the matching yellow shirt, short and hat. He is obviously a few french fries short of a value meal, but is that any reason to demonstrate how bad he is?

And what about the gender-bending kid they showed last? Some folks dress up or act weird just to be on TV (like the Status of Liberty guy from Chicago or the guy dressed as Dorothy), but this kid seemed genuine. Of course, he couldn't sing worth a lick, but that was no reason for FOX to spend 10 minutes mocking him.

The cowboy from Wyoming intrigued me. How old was that kid? 12? 14? Hollywood will chew him up and spit him out. All the judges agreed that he could do well, but needed lessons. Why put him through? Why not tell him: "Look kid, get a vocal coach, try out for the school musical and come see us again next year"?

I liked the 16 year-old girl that was on early in the show (pink top, jeans). I don't think she is the best 16 year old who ever auditioned (that would be Diana DeGarmo), but she was good.

No one else really stood out for me (good or bad). I wonder if the success of Bo, FRC and Rock Star: INXS is really what's bringing all the "rockers" out, or if it's something else. You'd think that with the success of Carrie Underwood last year (and even Josh Gracin from two years ago), there would have been lots and lots of country singers trying out, but I don't think there are more this year than there have been in the past.

I also wonder why "rockers" are trying out for American Idol. After all, pop music isn't about songwriting or the craft; it's about selling records. Most "rockers" I know would rather have a root canal than sing bubblegum pop. Of course, if it pays the bills and leads to fame and fortune, everyone has a price.

Once again, I wish they had shown us more of the folks who made it through and fewer of the trainwrecks.

It also seems that FOX is setting some people up for success, like the guy in the cowboy had who was a little nervous, but has a wife and two stepkids to support. Like Scott or Trach-Boy, FOX is building this guy up and generating early votes for him.

If he makes the final cut over one of the other 19 people from Denver Day One, it will be due to the fact FOX followed him home and showed him playing with his wife's kids.

Right after American Idol, I started watching Skating With Celebrities and it's horrible. You'd think that this would have been something NBC thought up; after all, they're the ones who will be showing the Winter Olympics, the TV highlight of which is the ice skating.

I don't think I can bring myself to watch the rest of this episode. Was it just me or did Debbie Gibson's partner molest her on national TV? He got to second base with her faster than a couple of kids after the prom.

Who's next? Greensboro? Bring it on!

American Idol 5: Chicago

Well, the first of the American Idol audition shows is done.

I don't really know why I watch these shows since they're often downright painful and show us very little substantive content.

One thing that turned my stomach was during the introductory narrative was when Seacrest tried to equate American Idol with a rite of passage or coming of age ceremony. Blech. Cut down on the hyperbole, please.

I can't say that anyone grabbed me as being an early frontrunner (like Frenchie Davis) or as someone that FOX was obviously pushing (like Carrie Underwood or Trach-Boy). I did like the first set of twins, both of whom I think look like young Warren Sapps. The sisters were okay; the tall one is significanly better than the shorter one. The other twins that got put through were also okay; they'll wash out in the first round once they get to Hollywood though.

There was also the girl who thought that she was all that and a side of fries, and to vent her frustration at the judges (they didn't show her audition, so I can't pass judgement on her singing ability), she cut down the girl who went after her and got the golden ticket to Hollywood. Bitter, party of one?

I can't believe they sent the white Leroy Wells through (remember him, the guy who talks to animals) but didn't take the Armenian in the sheep-herder outfit. The Armenian guy had a good voice and if he had tried something in English, he probably would have gotten through.

One thing that dismayed me was the seeming preponderance of 16 and 17 year-old kids. As you know, I don't think that kids are ready for the intensity of the competition and most of them will get chewed up and spit out by the time this whole thing is done.

We have another crooner-boy who has a better look than John Stevens; let's just hope he has more than one style because frankly, a crooner isn't going to win. He'll have to come up with something to augment his act instead of relying on it to carry him.

The Paris Hilton wannabe was very scary. Too much make up, too much self-tanner, too much bleach. I would have quite watching on the spot if she had made it through.

How about the deputy sheriff from Wheeling, WV to represent our great state? At least he had all his teeth and wasn't named Adkins.

We'll see if things get any worse better in Denver.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

AI5 starts tonight!

I'm counting down the hours until American Idol 5 starts tonight. I have carefully avoided reading anything about the new season, even the names of the folks who made it to Hollywood.

I have one more wish going into the beginning of the season.

It's a given that FOX is going to show us some bad auditions. I just hope they show us more good auditions than bad ones.

Although William Hung, Mary Roach and Leroy Wells were at least entertaining, I could do without all the trainwrecks and would like to see the people who make it. Part of it is that I want the field to be level going into the voting rounds, but after a while, I've become numb to all the horrible singers.

They all sound the same and the judges have run out of ways to be embarrassed or to insult them.

Please, please, please, please, please!, FOX, at least make the opening show entertaining, not painful.

Time for a new way to pick the Zebras

How about two of the NFL Divisional Round games (almost) being decided by the referees?

In the New England-Denver game, the ref threw a flag on Assante Samuel for pass interference in the end zone, which gave Denver the ball on the 1 yard line. In watching the replay, if there was pass itnterference, it was on the receiver (Ashley Lelie), not the DB. This set Denver up for a quick seven points, gave them the lead at halftime, and as it turns out, enough points to win the game.

And then in the Steelers-Colts game, the refs gave the ball back to the Colts on what was clearly a Troy Polamalu interception. The call was so bad that the league issued a statement saying that the refs were wrong, and they even got to look at the play again after Bill Cowher challenged the call.

It turned out not to make a difference in the Pittsburgh-Indianapolis game, but in the Patriots-Broncos game, the call changed the game. Instead of going into halftime up by 3, the Pats were now down by 4, thanks to the points the refs gave Denver. Of course, since they gave the ball to Denver five times on their own, they can hardly say that the one play was 100% of the difference, it was still the margin of victory.

The root problem of this is that the NFL selects its officiating crews for the post season based on how each referee grades throughout the season, not as a crew (as MLB does). So in many cases, a playoff game may be the first time a set of refs have ever worked together.

This needs to change.

I hate to give Bud Selig props for anything, but the way MLB selects it's crews makes sense. They grade each crew as a whole and select the best crews to work the playoffs and the World Series. As people work together, they develop chemistry, just like a football team. They watch each other's backs and know who saw what and don't mind arguing with each other.

When you put strangers in the mix, the chemistry changes. That's what leads to blown calls. It's not that the Zebras are seeing anything differently, it's the way they're seeing the games that changes.

The refs want to keep the system the way it is. It's about money. If a ref is in his first or second year, he is ineligible to work the playoffs, even if he is the highest-graded ref at his position. This means that the younger guys (with the better eyesight and who are in better shape) are kept off the playoff crews, while the older guys get to hang around.

No one is perfect, that's a given. However, if the NFL is interested in ensuring that the correct call is made as often as possible, then they'll change the way they select their playoff officials.

They either need to allow the best refs work the post season, regardless of seniority, or they need to let the crews stay together for the playoffs and not mix and match.

It would be a shame if the wrong team were sent to the Super Bowl because of a bush league officiating call.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2, Week 2

I'm sorry I didn't post anything on the competition show, but I've been having some computer issues. I've been tearing down one computer that is old and slow (Celeron 500) and rebuilding it (Athlon XP 1800+). When I put the new mobo and CPU in the old case, it's 5 year old 300W power supply decided that it needed to go to the great parts shop in the sky, sparked once and gave off one final puff of smoke.

So I had to find a new power supply and since I hated the case the old computer was in, I got a new case, too. So what started out as a new mobo, CPU, memory and video card project also added a new case. The only things I was able to salvage from the old computer were the hard drive and the CD burner. The good news is that the new computer now has front USB ports, is three times as fast and has four times as much memory.

Yeah, technology!

Now on to Dancing With the Stars.

I'm not sure I like how much ABC is borrowing from Fox with their programming choices. They've taken what should be a 5 minute results show and somehow managed to drag it out into an hour. They also took two hours of competition show and condensed it into 30 minutes. Why not show us a 1 hour competition show and a 30 minute results show?

Is the rest of their schedule so weak that they need two nights (three hours) of Dancing With the Stars each week?

Even though Stacy brought in two unprecedented 10s (I don't count Kelly's score of 30 because it was so obviously rigged by ABC), I think the front-runner is Drew Lachey.

Of all the celebrity competitors, he is the youngest. He's also been in a boyband, so he's familiar with choreograhpy and dancing. He only has to learn the dances and the style.

Others, such as Jerry Rice have to first learn to be a dancer, and he's got to un-learn his football skillset.

I also think Giselle (who looks a lot like Gina Gershon) is at the top of the list of people who might win and Stacy, who is the most athletic of the competitors and probably has some dance training.

I think the second tier is George, Jerry and Tia with Lisa and Master P struggling.

At this point, though the only folks who have a shot at winning are Stacy, Drew and Giselle. Everyone else is just trying to to embarrass themselves.

I wasn't surprised Tatum O'Neal was eliminated. Her dancing wasn't very good and she doesn't really have a large core of fans who will watch the show and vote for her. Not that I think gangsta rap fans are tuning in to watch Master P, but at least he has some name recognition. So does Jerry and even George.

The others who have problems because they're now on the C-List are Tia and Lisa. Lack of fan votes will mean they have to really raise their game. It will be interesting to see if Tia gets to dance a tango, since she did one very well in True Lies.

Hey, how about Ashley DelGrosso with the John Stevens I-Can't-Believe-We-Didn't-Get-Whacked Face? It was either that or the Dammit-I-Have-to-Work-With-Master-P-Next-Week Face.

Please, whoever is voting for this guy: Put him out of our misery and vote for somenoe else.

We'll have to see if the Vote For the Worst crowd has taken up watching Dancing With the Stars.

On a related note, I am going back to school this semester and I scheduled classes on Thursday nights, so I won't be able to watch the competition shows live. I have to tape them. I did clear my schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so it won't interfere with American Idol, but I'm bummed about Dancing With the Stars.

Oh, well. Win some, lose some.

I'm also bummed about The Book of Daniel. After starting it at 9 pm last week, NBC is showing it at the regular time of 10 pm this week. That puts it in the timeslot of death and opposite Battlestar Galactica, and you know which one I'm watching.

I hope people will watch The Book of Daniel and campaign to get NBC to move it to another night (maybe Wednesday at 9 pm in The West Wing's old timeslot) so people will watch it. If not, I'll have to wait for it to come out on DVD.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Even people in the Third World want to be singers

Check out this story about "Ethiopian Idol", a show that has ripped off the Pop/American Idol format and applied it to poor people around the Horn of Africa.

In a country where a sizeable portion of the population doesn't have electricity in their home, much less a TV or a telephone, 2,000 contestants showed up for the auditions and the show itself has become a phenomenon.

I'm sure they have their share of William Hungs and Mary Roaches, but I would wonder how some of their singers would stack up against ours.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

American Idol 5

If you're a long time reader of this space, you can probably skip this entry because I'm not going to say anything you haven't already heard.

Here's my wish list for American Idol, season 5:

  • Fox doesn't mess with the contestants
    I know it's a lot to ask for Fox not to pull stunts like they did to George in season 3 (You're in the safe group, George, now go to the group that's safe . . . Whoops! Wrong one!)

    All the contestants deserve straight up or down, you're safe or you're in the bottom three, none of the crap they have pulled on the contestants in the past.

  • Contestants with talent
    You'd think that in a country of 270+ million people, they could find 12 people who can sing, instead of three or four people who are really good, four or five who are okay and a handful of others who skate through the auditions and then crack when it's game time.

  • A level playing field going into the voting
    I think they're going to borrow a page from the "So You Think You Can Dance" playbook and have a 60 minute introduction show for all the contestants. That way, some contestants (Aloha, Celena, Melinda et al) don't get the shaft because idiots like Private Pyle and Trach-boy have gotten face time on TV and they haven't.

    A four minute profile of each finalist isn't too much to ask and people will watch it. The only down side is that it takes away Fox's ability to manipulate votes by generating sympathy (and therefore votes) for some contestants while not promoting other contestants. And since Fox is all about control, they probably don't think this is a good idea.

  • Voting people off
    The biggest problem with Fox's voting is that they enable powervoters to push people through who suck. John Stevens, Private Pyle, JPL, and Trach-boy all benefited by having a small core of powervoters who would vote them through no matter how poorly they did.

    An alternative to this would be to do something similar to So You Think You Can Dance and have the judges select the contestants up for elimination. That would protect the better contestants and expose the less worthy people.

    I would also think that each of the judges could protect one contestant each and then have the rest involved in a free for all.

    Either of these two options would be acceptable to me. Still, something needs to be done about the voting.

  • Raise the age limit
    That 16 year-old kids can compete is ridiculous. With the exception of Diana DeGarmo, they have all cracked under the pressure, and she had the rare experience of being a child beauty queen to prepare her for the bright lights.

    I take that back, John Stevens also did not crack, he just didn't have the talent to continue on as far as he did. Camile, Leah, Mikalah, and Jasmine all cracked under the pressure.

    The lower limit should be 18. The upper limit should be 30. The best thing Fox did last year was raise the age limit to 28. That enabled Bo, FRC and Nadia to make the cut and they brought a lot of talent to the finalists. If people can sell records, there is no reason why age should be a factor.

Those are my wishes for American Idol 5.

We'll see how the season plays out. The first episodes are next Tuesday and Wednesday (17 and 18 January 2006) and I hope folks will stop by and let me know what they think.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Big Friday night on TV

How about the Friday TV lineup? I hate that there are a bunch of shows on Friday nights now that I like.

Dancing With the Stars 2

This year, they've gone with a second night of Dancing With the Stars to give the results. It's kind of a waste of time, but at least it solves some of the convoluted voting/results process that plagued the show last year.

I'm not surprised Kenny Mayne was eliminated, although I thought for sure that Master P was a dead man walking. Mayne's problems is that not many people outside of ESPN viewers know who he is and if you don't know him, he comes off as a bit of a jackass. His act can get real old, real fast, but at least he was trying.

I wonder if Master P will even put forth some effort this week or if he'll look like he's bored again. I don't see the gangsta rap audience as the kind of folks who would watch a show about ballroom dancing, so I don't know who's voting for this guy.

At least Mayne would have contributed some funny commentary to the show. Someone please take away P's blinged-out trucker hat.

The Book of Daniel

I went in liking this show, if for no other reason than because it was driving the fundy Christians nuts, and that counts for a lot in my book. Under pressure from the same fundy Christians who complain that there isn't enough God/Jesus on mainstream TV, two NBC affiliates dropped The Book of Daniel from their Friday night lineups sight unseen.

My initial impression is that the show is witty, well-written and features a solid cast. It's a little odd that all the things burdening Daniel can happen to one person (he takes an unhealthy amount of vicodin, his wife is an alcoholic, his daughter is selling drugs, one son is gay-not that there's anything wrong with that-and everyone is trying to set him up with a girl, another son just died of leukemia, a third son is 16 years old and very horny, his mom has Alzheimers, his dad is a bishop who is having an affair with another bishop, his brother-in-law stole $3.2 million from the church and is now dead . . . and by the way, he also talks to Jesus).

I like the show; it seems to ask a the same questions Joan of Arcadia did without being preachy or heavy-handed and it has some quirks.

Unless NBC moves it off Friday night, it won't last a full year.

Battlestar Galactica

The new episodes pick up in the middle of the second season with Admiral Cain and Commander Adama squaring off in a test of wills.

How is it that Michelle Forbes (Cain) always gets to play an annoying antagonist). She was also Ensign Ro Laren on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I'm still liking this show, although I'm not seeing how they're going to fit all the pieces together.

What happens if/when Roslin dies? How will they resolve the Cain/Adama fued? What happens to Baltar?

My Friday nights are now taken up with TV. It's kind of sad, actually.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2

With less fanfare than last year, perhaps because ABC doesn't have one of their own daytime TV stars to provide an obvious conflict of interest, the second season of Dancing With the Stars got off to a nice start last night.

Some of the celebs were very good, some were okay, some were clumsy and a couple were simply awful. Within the following categories, I list them in no particular order.

We'll start with the worst.

Master P
Perhaps he should get a pass because he only had a week to warm up to the show's premiere. His son, Romer (formerly Lil Romeo) was supposed to be the celeb, but he hurt himself playing basketball so his dad had to step in.

My wife couldn't get past the iced-out trucker had he was wearing. I couldn't get past the craptastic foot-shuffling.

Poor Ashley Del Grosso. She did well last year with Joey McIntyre but this year, she knows she's going home tonight. Ashley is cute as can be and was really trying, but her partner is simply awful.

Kenny Mayne
He looked stiff. Kenny has always reminded me of the class clown who will do anything to get a laugh, and his appearance on Dancing With the Stars sure qualifies. The sad thing is that he could probably be pretty good if he tried.

Now for the people who are on the bubble.

Tatum O'Neal
I didn't like her as much as the judges did. I thought in some parts she looked kind of robotic. She has a lot of potential and thankfully isn't saddled with ADD like Rachel Hunter.

Jerry Rice
A friend called me in the middle of Jerry's dance and really like him. I thought he was okay. What he has going for him is that Jerry has an incredible work ethic and strives for perfection. I think it may be hardest on him because he's not only having to learn a whole new skill set, but he's having to unlearn moves he spent a lifetime perfecting. After watching Evander Holyfield bumble and stumle through a couple weeks last year, it was good to see Jerry do well and I think he'll last for three or four more weeks.

George Hamilton
Of all the contestants this year, I figured Hamilton to be this year's John O'Hurley. He's good looking and older, which gives him more of the aristocratic, ballroom dancer aura. I don't know how his boating/yachting accident will hurt him, but I think he could last a long time. I thought his dancing was better than the judges score, which is the peril of going first.

Folks who are actually pretty good

Stacy Keibler
I read somewhere that Keibler was given the best odds of winning, followed closely by Tia Carerre and Tatum O'Neal. I thought she was pretty good, but considering how athletic she is, it shouldn't be much of a surprise. What was a surprise was how unlike her WWE personality she seemed.

Tia Carrere
Six months having a baby, Carrere was in fine form last night. I had forgotten how pretty she is since the last big project she did was Lilo & Stitch. It will be interesting to see if she sticks around for a while because if she keeps dancing, all her baby fat will just melt away.

Lisa Rinna
I also give her high marks. She can still improve, but I thought she established herself as bordering on the top tier of contestants. Of the cross-over audience, she may have the biggest fan edge since all of ABC soap opera stars might gravitate to her, like they did to Kelly last year. Of course, if she wins, it won't look as rigged as Kelly's win did.

Now for the top of the heap.

Giselle Fernandez
Upon hearing that her father was a champion flamenco dancer, I thought for sure that Fernandez was the ringer for this year, and she very well may win. She almost looks semi-professional and brought shame up on some of the less talented dancers. What may hurt her is that I don't think many among the voting public know who she is. Since the votes are half the score, that could punch her ticket for an early out.

Drew Lachey
Who would have though that Nick's little brother would have been the best of the guys? Certainly not me.

Of course, Joey did some serious representing last year as the boy-band-kid-turned-actual-good-dancer. It shouldn't be surprising that someone who had done a lot of coreographed dancing would excel at ballroom dancing. He's used to the training regimin, unlike Kenny Mayne or Jerry Rice; all Drew has to do is learn a ballroom style.

Here are the odds I give folks:

Master P: 1,000,000,000 to 1
Kenny Mayne: 1,000 to 1
Tatum O'Neal: 200 to 1
George Hamilton: 150 to 1
Jerry Rice: 80 to 1
Tia Carrere: 50 to 1
Giselle Fernandez: 50 to 1
Stacy Keibler: 20 to 1
Lisa Rinna: 15 to 1
Drew Lachey: 10 to 1

Note that I do not encourage gambling and if you take me up on these odds, I will not pay you.

ABC is going to two night a week of Dancing with the Stars and is streamlining the voting somewhat, although I'm still not sure I like it.

I'm just glad I won't have to worry about it conflicting with American Idol and that now I'll have something to watch on Fridays before Battlestar Galactica (with new episodes starting tonight, by the way).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How to fix Florida State

So who stayed up until 1 am (EDT) to watch the triple overtime Orange Bowl last night?

Who thinks Jeff Bowden should still have a job?

He's getting a pass because 1) he's still Bobby's kid, 2) injuries have plagued the FSU offense and 3) the game was still close.

However, the latter is through nothing Jeff had anything to do with. Unless he coaches special teams, FSU should have been down 7 at halftime.

So Key #1 to fixing the Seminoles is to get rid of Jeff Bowden and bring in someone who knows how to gameplan and call plays.

Key #2 is pretty simple: recruit a kicker every year. Have three kickers on scholarship at all times. Bobby Bowden apparently doesn't scout kickers or he doesn't value them, and I find the notion of that absurd considering how many big games the Noles have lost on missed field goals.

Sebastian Janikowski never honked one in a big game and FSU was dominant during that time. No coincidence there.

Everything else about FSU is pretty solid. Good defense. Even without their leading tackler, the Noles D accounted for itself pretty well considering how poor the offense played in the first quarter. Their kickoff/punting game was okay.

All their other problems would go away if they would do these two simple things.

But what do I know? I'm just a fan.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Football thoughts

I hate the BCS. It sucks.

I am a playoff guy, and always have been.

ABC is now saying that USC is going for the "threepeat", apparently forgetting that they gave the national championship to LSU two years ago. Isn't the BCS the national championship game? If LSU won that game two years ago, how can USC be going for a third straight national championship.


I'm also a Florida State fan, but there's no way FSU should be in a BCS bowl, ACC champion or no.

It stinks of money, pure and simple. What makes college sports great is that the kids supposedly are playing for the love of the game, not a paycheck. Unfortunately, a bunch of greedy ADs, college presidents and corporate sponsors have ruined that.

Give me a college football playoff, like there is in every other college sport, including Division I-AA, Division II and Division III college football. Either that or everyone involved in the BCS needs to come out and say, "We like the bowls for they money" and admit to being the greedy bastards they are.

I, for one, will be boycotting the "national championship" game, and I hope you do, too.

Monday Night Football


Is it really moving? So what?

We're still going to be saddled with Al Michaels on ESPN. I hope they get him someone good to go in the booth with him. Like Dan Fouts and Sterling Sharpe. Or Cris Collinsworth and Moose Johnston. Better yet, ESPN should ditch Al Michaels and get either Bob Costas (not gonna happen) or Mike Tirico to be the play by play guy.

It's too bad Madden is going to NBC with the Sunday night game. Why can't he just go away? Why are people still paying him? Is it the name?

He annoys me. He used to be good, but now he's just a washed up ex-football coach with seven different stories that he tells over and over every week.

Now that NBC also has the Sunday night games, it means that they get the Sunday night highlight show.

They had better get someone good to host it because NFL Primetime on ESPN was simply the benchmark for all highlight shows. Read Gregg Easterbrok's Tuesday Morning Quarterback for something far more eloquent than I could ever put together.

I'll miss Berman and Jackson on Sunday nights. NBC had better not screw this one up.

Go Jaguars!

Not a lot of people are giving them a chance to win in Foxboro. They played there in the 1996 AFC Championship game and lost in a game that was closer than the score. The Patriots are also hot right now and the Jaguars have to deal with a QB controversy. Plus, they're playing in the cold. I give them 1 chance in 12 to win.

Here's who I want to win the Super Bowl, in this order.

1. Jacksonville

2. New England

3. Indianapolis

If the Jaguars don't go all the way, I want the Patriots to win. With an Adam Vinatieri field goal at the end. Get a real threepeat. Get four in five years. Start sculpting Hall of Fame busts for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Vinatieri right now.

In the event that the Patriots don't win it, I want the Colts to get it. There's no classier guy in football than Tony Dungy. There's no one who works harder than Peyton Manning. It will shut everyone up. Plus, I really don't want Denver to go.

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year and that 2006 brings happiness, health and prosperity to you all (in that order).

As far as other things go, the new season of Dancing With the Stars starts this week and American Idol 5 starts in two weeks.

It's time to ramp up for the reality TV reviews.