Tuesday, February 28, 2006

AI5: Top 10 Girls

Since I won't be able to watch tomorrow night's episode live thanks once again to the idiots over at WVAH, I'm going to try and live-blog the top 10 remaining girls.

Thank god this show is only 90 minutes long. Now that we've gotten to hear all the girls once, it will be interesting to see how things shake out. Will the power ballad mafia venture out of their safety box and try something new? Will the current frontrunners stumble or extend their leads?

The show opened with its usual useless banter, although I did notice that Seacrest went out of his way to gloat that American Idol whupped up on the Olympics in the ratings last week.

We're going in reverse order from last week, so first up is VCM girl, who we find out is rooming with ABM girl. She's standing at a microphone and wearing a maternity blouse. I'm not as high on her as some other people are, and this week she seems to be off her game a little bit. She's not bad, but the song isn't doing her any favours. I thought a couple of times she was reaching with her voice. After Mandisa coming out in the 1 spot last week, she feels like a letdown to lead off the night. She got a big dose of truth from the judges, and no one in the audience booed (even for Simon) so you know that she didn't do that well.
Flash Judgement: 6½/10

Next we have Kinnik in a cowgirl hat who is going to try her hand at a Gretchen Wilson song. She seems to be having fun, but the vocals don't really show off her range. However, like Katharine, the performance was just kind of blah.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

In the 3-spot is Lisa who was in the Lion King when she was 10. Does that give her a leg up? She's very pretty and her voice is good, but I'm not sure about the song. It wasn't bad, but it's not doing anything for me.
Flash Judgement: 7½/10

Fourth go to is Melissa, who survived the culling last week despite not having the exposure of Rebecca, ABM and some of the other contestants. She's singing one of Reba's silly songs and it's working for her. It's the first good song choice of the night. "Why Haven't I Heard From You" gets to show her have a fun performance while not exposing her vocal deficiencies. The judges liked her, too . . . well, except for Simon, but he doesn't count.
Flash Judgement: 8/10

American Idol stalker Heather is up next and as an American Idol junkie, she should know that one of the cardinal commandments of the show is "Thou shalt not sing a song by Whitney, Celine or Mariah unless thou art actually Whitney, Celine or Mariah." I wonder if she thought the tape of her playing with the snake would get her some extra votes. The song isn't a trainwreck, and in the cases of most people trying to sing Mariah, that's a victory. It could have been a lot worse, but what is it with the power ballads and this show? Paula gave her the "you look beautiful" kiss of death.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Before the break, we get word that Brenna is coming up next. Maybe it's so everyone in the audience can get out their voodoo dolls and pins. Can she be in front of a camera without eye-boinking it? She continues to annoy me. This is just one girl I plain don't like, although her performance is actually pretty good. Not great and I can't get past her preening for the camera. And a note to Brenna: Don't talk back to the judges, especially when they're right.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Sergeant Hooks followed Brenna and she's singing another power ballad. I still don't see the charm of this girl, and considering that even an above average performance of a good song choice would get someone the lead spot, Paris blew her shot to build on a big lead. Instead, she's just average. And with her grandmother in the audience, she sure seems to be milking the name recognition for all it's worth.
Flash Judegment: 7/10

I hope some of the guys are changing their songs if they've picked power ballads.

BBG is singing a Celine song and that could be the kiss of death for her (we can only hope). She and Heather must not have gotten the memo. She would be pretty if she could move muscles in her face other than those around her mouth. Her vocals are okay, not great, but like Heather, not bombing a Celine song is an accomplishment. But it's still a power ballad, and it does nothing to make her stand out in this crowded field of mediocrity.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

ABM gets to go in the 9-hole, and her interview clip shows just how country she is. It's kind of endearing, but also kind of silly. Her performance is actually pretty good. Instead of trying to be Bonnie Raitt, she just sings a Bonnie Raitt song, and it works for her. So far, she is second to Melissa and it's no coincidence that the two best performances so far have been upbeat songs, not safe, sappy power ballads. Now if she would just get a stylist who would get her hair out of her face.
Flash Judgement: 8/10

Last up is last week's lead-off act, Mandisa. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Not you, too, Mandisa!!! Not another power ballad!!!! Thankfully she had the voice to pull it off. Going last will certainly help her. All the other power ballads have been basically forgettable, so her big voice in the 10-spot might get her some of the votes for people on the fence.
Flash Judgement: 7½/10

So, to recap my scores for the night:

ABM - 8
Melissa - 8
Lisa - 7½
Mandisa - 7½
BBG - 7
Brenna - 7
Heather - 7
Kinnik - 7
Sergeant Hooks - 7
VCM - 6½

Who should go home: Heather, Katharine
Who will go home: Brenna, Heather

Tonight was the night of bad song choices. We can only hope that tomorrow is better and that next week, everyone picks tunes that won't put us to sleep.

I won't be simul-blogging tomorrow's show thanks to WVAH deciding they don't want me to watch anything on their network other than American Idol and football, but I will try to post my opinions on the show as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Until then: High Lord. Out.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2: Finale

There was lots of stuff on TV last night and not enough split screens to watch everything.

We had the Olympics on one side, Dancing With the Stars on the other and flipped over to Iron Chef America every few minutes (I wasn't worried about seeing ICA so much, because I know it will be on Food Network again and again and again and again . . .).

Going into the show, I knew that Drew was probably going to win. Let's face it, Stacy's freestyle wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It wasn't her dancing that did her in, it was the choreography. If you watch her freestyle, Tony said they didn't load it up with tricks, which is true, but they didn't make up for that anywhere. Her dance was bland, and that's what hurt her.

Jerry Rice is clearly an inferior dancer to both Stacy and Drew. This probably stems from the fact that he was trained in an entirely different skill set. Both Stacy and Drew are performers who are used to dealing with choreography and entertainment. Jerry has learned to run routes and catch footballs. There's not a lot of overlap there.

What Jerry brought to the table was 1) an unequalled commitment to training and 2) a burning desire to win. His freestyle was balls to the wall fun. He and Anna pulled out all the stops because, frankly, they knew they had to in order to even have a shot at winning.

Drew was in the driver's seat going into the final show because he and Cheryl weren't on autopilot. I thought Stacy was coasting through on her good looks and long legs, but Drew and Cheryl were out for blood, and they got it.

I'm still kind of mystified at how ABC and Fox can take what should be 5 minute results shows and stretch them into two hours. We flipped over to the Olympics during a lot of the filler.

I was surprised that Stacy got eliminated first. I figured she would get a lot of votes. Right after she was taken out of the competition, it then became mathematically impossible for Jerry to win.

It's good that this year there was no obvious manipulation by ABC to rig the competition, although I was saddened by the presence of Kelly in the audience. The only thing I think ABC might have done was keep Master P around a little longer than he should have.

I wonder how John O'Hurley would fare against Drew. Hmmmmmm . . . there's a idea, ABC, a dance-off between fan-faves John and Drew. If this project ever sees the light of day, I expect royalties.

On an unrelated side note, if any future stars are thinking of participating, you might want to make sure that your wife isn't going to have a baby around the time of the show's finale. I wonder what Drew would have done had his wife gone into labour with the results about to be announced (I think a part of Drew would have seriously considered sending his wife to the hospital along with big bro Nick and sticking around to accept ugly trophy at the end).

The Olympics

With the closing ceremonies on Friday, NBC wrapped up another underwhelming broadcast of the penultimate international sports competition.

When will they learn that people want to see the events live, especially now that we know the results via the internet and other 24/7 news services? I mean, really, does NBC really think that people are staying up until 11:30 to see if Apolo Anton Ohno (why does he use three names when everyone else in the world is moving to one name?) won the gold in the 500m short track? If people really want to know that badly, they're going to go to ESPN or CNN to find out. So why hold out with all the false suspense?

Maybe things will be better when the Olympics are in Vancouver and closer to the Eastern Time Zone. NBC has consistently done a poorer job of broadcasting the Olympics over the last decade and I'm not sure how they can turn it around. They've got a stable of networks they could use to broadcast the Olympics (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, and Bravo) so it seems inexcusable to not be showing some event--any event--live at all times.

Of course, it could also be that it's the winter Olympics which has traditionally had one sport: figure skating. Now they've also got snowboarding, and with the popularity of the X-Games and Winter X-Games, it seems to me that they should be hyping these events up, and showing them live on some network, even if it means showing the highlights again on Prime Time.

I hope everyone is learning the words and tune to O, Canada; you've only got four years to get it down.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

AI5: First elimination

I haven't watched the episode yet, but I checked to see who got eliminated.

Gone are Becky, Bobby, Patrick, and Stevie.

Becky was undone by her obvious vocal deficiencies. Stevie shot herself in the foot with her song choice. So did Bobby. I'm not sure about why Patrick was sent home. I don't think he would have made the top 12, but there were a couple of other people more deserving to be sent home.

I'm going to watch the episode sometime tomorrow and I'll see if there was any unnecessary drama.

AI5: Top 12 guys

As you all know, I was unable to watch the Top 12 guys sing on Wednesday night. See my post from yesterday for the reasons why.

I finally got the episode this afternoon, but haven't had a chance to watch it. Until now.

I got home from class a little before 9:00 pm, watched Dancing With the Stars, and now I'm going to watch the guys sing. After I critique each of the performances, I'll go find out who was eliminated after the first round of voting.

This had better not happen to me next week or I will be very, very upset.

First to go is Patrick, a guy I don't remember seeing a lot of in the auditions and in Hollywood. His song is "Come to My Window" which someone did in the voting rounds in season 2 and ended up shouting most of the way through. He's in a tough spot, the 1-hole. He doesn't have the gritty delivery of Melissa Etheridge, but he seems to be a solid performer.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Next up is the previously-unseen David, who is trying to shake the "crooner" label, so he sings "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". No luck, Will. I don't know that I'm crazy about Will, especially when he does it in a bad Sinatra voice.
Flash Judgement: 6.5/10

Third to go is country boy Bucky, henceforth to be known as "Bad Hair", because he's the poor man's Bo. Since we didn't get to hear a lot of Bucky in Hollywood, he came out with perfect song choice for the first night of voting. Everyone else should take notice of this. Find out what you do well, and do it often and do it proud. He's not a strong vocalist, but neither is Bo. He's good on stage and he didn't overreach.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Baby-faced Will is next, singing a Jackson 5 song. He seems nervous. Will lacks vocal control and he's rushing it. He's a good looking guy, but American Idol will break him. He's a lot better than John Stevens, but I don't think he's the kind of 16 year-old who can withstand the week in and week out grind of the competition. If he survives, it will be on the strength of the teenie-boppers.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Sway, the first Asian-American guy to make it to the voting rounds on American Idol, was next and they showed him forgetting the song lyrics in Hollywood and then they gave us lots of looks at his funny-shaped bald head. Note to Sway: the only Asian people who can get away with the shaved look are Shao-Lin monks, and even then, only because they can kick the crap out of anyone who makes fun of them. He looks very natural on stage, although I don't care for all the falsetto. I think he'll easily pass through this round, but I don't know how long he'll survive.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Marking the halfway point for the guys is one of Fox's Chosen Ones, Chris. Remember him? He's the guy with the wife and two stepkids who he's taken in as his own. Like Bucky, he picked the perfect song. Gritty and well within his range, Chris will take all the sympathy votes Fox has stockpiled for him and pile on a huge stack of well-deserved performance votes after tonight.
Flash Judgement: 8.5/10

Some other folks have mentioned that the judges are actually doing some judging again. They're also giving constructive criticism to the people they think will advance (such as their comments to Chris, particularly in Simon's case). I hope they'll keep that up throughout the competition.

I'm going to start referring to Kevin as "Charlie Brown" because he's got that round head and those ears. He's the least likely guy you would think capable of pulling of Josh Grobin, but somehow he did. I'm not sure I'm sold on him as the next American Idol (he does have an image problem), but his vocals are solid and make up for what he lacks as a performer. I think the teenie-boppers will carry him, too.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Über-confident Gedeon is next, and I didn't care for his song choice, his performance and his vocals are okay. He was kind of entertaining, but I'm not sure I'm a fan of his. He's okay, but not great, and middle of the pack will get him through this week.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

The best thing we've seen out of Elliot so far has been him doing his best to piss off one of the Brittenum boys. His voice is good. He's got a fair amount of control and on stage he's pretty good, too. Simon says he's potentiall the best male vocalist ever to have been on American Idol, apparently forgetting about Anwar. I don't think he's top 5 material, but he'll cruise through to the next round.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Thank God that there have been no power ballads tonight. It seems the guys learned from the mistakes of the girls from the night before. Paula seems to be back in the kool aid, too.

Bobby is next and they showed his audition, something I don't think we got to see earlier. He's singing Barry Manilow, which could either be a disaster or, since he's doing it for his grandmother, and unmitigated success. He showed us that he's very self-effacing and he looks like he's having a lot of fun. If they could somehow take his performing skills and mix them with Charlie Brown's vocals, they would make on hella contestant. He vocals weren't bad, but how can Barry Manilow be good?
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

So far, the girls are kicking the guys's collective ass. The field of guys, top to bottom, is deeper than the girls. In the case of the girls, there are clearly four of five that are at the top of the heap and three or four who are horrible and only a couple in between. With the guys, there is no clear frontrunner (so far), but the rest of them are stuck in a pack.

Ace is next and when he started talking, my gaydar went off. Then he started singing George Michael. And then he eye-boinked the camera. The girls will put this guy through anyway. As the dsignated heartthrob, he will coast through to the final rounds. I wasn't high on his singing, but he was okay. And next to Searest, he's really tall, too.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Last up is Fox's final Chosen One, grey-haired Taylor, who seems to be one of the fan-anointed frontrunners. He's got a smooth voice and solid control. He might be the strongest vocalist of the guys this year, but he's got an image problem. I think he's actually got a good chance of winning, but I don't know if he'll sell records, and that might make Fox want him to loose. I also have reservations about his ability to make the cut through the theme nights.
Flash Judgement: 8.5/10

Here are my scores from the round of 12 for the guys:

Chris - 8½
Taylor - 8½
Ace - 7½
Bad Hair - 7½
Bobby - 7½
Charlie Brown - 7½
Elliot - 7½
Gedeon - 7
Patrick - 7
Sway - 7
Will - 7
David - 6½

There was no one among the guys who was outright horrible (Becky, I'm talking to you). There were several guys who were solid performers and while no one was outstanding either, this is going to make for a tight competition.

Who should go home: David, Gedeon
Who will go home: David, Gedeon

Okay, now that I've watched the episode, I'm going to go see who got kicked off.

Dancing With the Stars 2: Week 8

Drew is going to win. Drew has to win.

After an hour of filler, the three remaining couples came out and finished in the order I thought they would.

Jerry and Anna came out with nothing to lose. Knowing they were probably frozen out of the number 1 spot, Jerry and Anna looked loose and were in full "go for broke" mode. Their foxtrot was good and their freestyle disco was not only entertaining, but the best dance they've done so far.

Stacy and Tony were good (again) in their jive. While the judges once again gave them a score of 30, I thought she looked like she was in "automatic" mode. She wasn't phoning it in, but it has seemed to me that she has been coasting along for the last few weeks. Her disco-themed freestyle was another automatic dance for her and the choreography wasn't all that it should have been. I even though her score of 27 was high.

Bringing up the rear was Drew and Cheryl, who were clearly out for blood. Their repeat dance was their "thrilling" paso doble, which was in my opinion the best single performance of the entire competition and they delivered once again. They then did the impossible, they topped it. Their freestyle dance had me wishing that Spinal Tap had switched out the judges's paddles and give Drew and Cheryl some 11s. They were that good.

For a while, I've said that Drew and Cheryl should win the competition and tonight they sealed the deal. Unless all the WWE folks come out and vote for Stacy & Tony, Drew & Cheryl deserve to be the winners. I also think that if Jerry's fanbase shows up in force, he could upset Stacy for the second spot.

We'll see how it goes on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

WVAH, You suck!!!!

Oh, WVAH, how much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

As you may know, I am absolutely 100% livid that the morons over in the programming department at my local Fox affiliate are bumping American Idol on Wednesday nights for meaningless (and bad) University of Kentucky basketball.

Here's the worst part: the people in Lexington, Kentucky--where the University of Kentucky is located--are watching American Idol as we speak.

I live two freakin' hours away from Lexington. I couldn't give less of a damn about UK basketball, and it's polluting my airwaves. All the while, the people who do care about Tubby Smith's team get to watch American Idol if they so choose.

What the hell is that about!?!?!?!?!?

I've already sent lots of nasty emails to the idiots over at WVAH and today I found out that the email they have listed for the programming department conveniently does not work; my emails to them came back as undeliverable.

So instead, I've taken to sending nasty emails to the people who run WVAH, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Inc. telling them 1) that the email for the programming department at WVAH "mysteriously" leads to a mailbox that doesn't work, and 2) that the programming director at WVAH is apparently using drugs (why else would anyone pre-empt the most popular show on a network for a basketball team that's two hours away?).

As I am sitting here steaming that there's nothing decent to watch on TV (all the other networks have shunted their good programming away from American Idol), I hope that the rest of you all are enjoying American Idol as it plays through on its first run. If you have a free minute and are feeling sorry for the people of the Huntington-Charleston viewing area, please click on the above link and send an email to Sinclair on my behalf politely asking them to refrain from bumping American Idol for meaningless basketball in the future.

Thanks in advance.

With regards to this blog, I'm afraid it won't be until sometime mid-afternoon tomorrow that I am able to get my hands on the American Idol episode featuring the round of 12 guys. Unfortunately, I also have classes tomorrow night and probably won't get a chance to view the episode and review the performances before the elimination show Thursday night.

For those of you that believe in the power of prayer, please pray that I never run into the programming director at WVAH, or else I might pop several blood vessels in my head letting him/her know how I really feel about their stupefying decision to show American Idol on a two and a half hour delay.

Second Impressions

I went back and watched the girls sing again. I re-evaluated my opinions of two of the girls.

The first is Paris, who my friend Toni says reminds her of Sergeant ("DON'T MOVE, DIRTBAG!") Hooks from the Police Academy movies. I will make no bones about this: her squeaky talking voice is annoying as hell. I don't think she needs American Idol, but if she didn't want to be trading on her Grammy-winning grandmother's name, why did she bring her to the auditions?

That said, her performance was excellent. She picked the right song and her vocals were somewhere between above average and good, but she commands the stage in a way that none of the other contestants this year do. The closest comparison for that is Bo, who was (and still is) the finest performer to set foot on the American Idol stage.
Revised Score: 8/10

At the prompting of my friend Mike, I have gone back and watched BBG again. Her performance is still lacking, but her vocals are solid. If people thought Carrie was a fembot last year, Ayla has her beat, hands down. Still, Ayla has a lot of vocal control and she was able to power her way through the ballad from Mulan.
Revised Score: 7.5/10

Everyone else's scores remain the same.

So, to recap, the High Lord's revised scores are:

Mandisa - 9
Lisa - 8½
VCM - 8
Melissa 8
Sergeant Hooks - 8
ABM - 7½
BBG - 7½
Heather - 7
Stevie - 7
Brenna - 6
Kinnik - 6
Rebecca - 5

I still think Heather and Stevie are going to be the ones sent packing, although Kinnik may also be in the mix, too. To me, it's no coincidence that the three I mentioned are in danger because they didn't get a lot of air time during the auditions and Hollywood stages. Fox has done a better job of giving everyone some face time, but they're still obviously promoting some contestants ahead of others.

The lesson is this: if you audition for American Idol, be sure to have a sob story, invite the cameras to follow you home and pray that those segments don't get left on the editing room floor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

AI5: Top 12 girls

We start with the girls tonight with 12 fighting for 6 spots.

Fox is doing a little bit to show each of the contestants from the auditions and from home, but not as much as they should be doing. I wonder how they're going to fill two hours with this stuff tonight.

Since I won't get to watch the show tomorrow night thanks to the morons over at WVAH, I'm going to simulblog the show as best I can.

First up is Mandisa, who laid down a plus-sized helping of whoopass with Heart's "Never". After showing Simon eating crow and apologising to her (again), Mandisa put the other girls on notice that the game is on. She wasn't perfect; there were a couple of spots where she lost control, but overall, it was very good. Simon says she'll get to the finals, and while I don't know that she'll go that far, she is one of the top four girls in the competition.
Flash Judgement: 9/10

Next was one of Fox's "Chosen Ones", Kelly, or as I will refer to her from her on out, the Abandoned by Mother (ABM) girl. We all know her story and the short clip highlighted how her mother left her when she was two, her dad is in jail and now she lives with her grandfather while working at Sonic (or whatever its North Carolina equivalent is). I thought she was better in the auditions than in Hollywood and she definitely suffers from nerves. I don't understand her charm; sure she's pretty, but she's not hawt like Maxim-babe Rebecca and she doesn't have the vocal talents of Katherine or Mandisa. She'll get through to the top 6 thanks to the sympathy votes alone.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Speaking of Rebecca, she was next singing "Because the Night". God, it was bad. Her pitch was off through the whole thing. Even Paula noticed. Either Paula stopped drinking the kool aid or Rebecca was really that bad. Simon was unexpectedly nice considering how bad her performance was. The overall tepid response of the audience indicates that they didn't care for her either. Still, I think she'll get through (at least this week) based on her hotness and her Maxim cover with her sister Jesse, but she'd better watch out next week or she'll be facing elmination.
Flash Judgement: 5/10

Fourth to perform is basketball girl (BBG) Ayla, the girl with the free-ride scholarship who is apparently unable to exhibit any facial expressions. Simon called her "robotic" in the auditions, and he was right. I still don't see the charm, but she is a better singer than I remember. She'll make it through easily to next week. And, dayum!, is she tall.
Flash Judgement: 6.5/10

Next up is the second of Fox's Chosen Ones among the girls, Paris Bennett. She picked a good song and she looks surprisingly good on stage for a 17 year old. I still don't understand why people like this girl; I mean, I understand that Randy wants to suck up to her grandmother, but something about her bothers me. Maybe it's because she talks like she's still 12. I know that's really not supposed to make a difference in how I feel about her performance, but I just can't like Paris yet.
Flash Judgement: 7.5/10

Stevie (Stephanie) is next, one of the girls we only saw in flashes during the auditions and Hollywood. She's singing Josh Grobin, which could be good or it could be a disaster. While she doesn't have the "likeability" (Simon's contribution to the American Idol lexicon) of ABM or Paris, she's got a good voice, although I question the song choice. Randy said he was bored, and he's right. Simon said the same thing, only he wasn't so kind, but he wasn't far off, either. I think she definitely deserves to go through because her vocals are so much stronger than Rebecca, BBG and ABM. Did the judges make her cry?
Flash Judgement: 7/10

What's with all the tall girls this year? Or did Seacrest get short in the offseason? Why can't they replace him with super-hot Catherine Zeta-Jones lookalike Lauren Sanchez?

Beginning the second half of the show is bad attitude girl Brenna, who almost makes me wish Mikalah were back on. She picked a Stevie Wonder song, which would have been great for her except she's flat. And she does the Fantasia "yeah, yeah, yeah" thing at the end of her song. I don't think she'll make it out of the semi-final rounds, although she may not be in danger this week.
Flash Judgement: 6/10

One of the other girls we've never seen before is Heather, who got through Hollywood with laryngitis and a stomach flu. She told everyone how much she loved American Idol and then sounded a little weird. Were the Fox sound engineers messing with her or did she start out hunting and pecking for the right pitch? I'll have to watch her again; no, wait, it was her pitch. It was off. She might have some problems getting through this week because Fox let ABM and the Brittenum boys monopolise all their airtime for the past three weeks. The song choice hurt her, but she's cute and that may carry her through, especially after weak performances by Ayla, Brenna and Stevie.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Following the previously-unseen Heather is the previously-unseen Melissa. She's another pretty girl Simon didn't like in the auditions but got put through anyway. She's taken on a Faith Hill song and I like her. She won't be this year's Bo (unseen until the singing started and then finished as the runner-up), but she should easily get through to next week.
Flash Judgement: 8/10

Simon called Lisa "the best 16 year-old" that had ever come through the competition and they showed her singing in the audition and in Hollywood, where she was good. She's very pretty, but she picked a safe power ballad. She's got a big voice, not as big a Diana DeGarmo and she could fill-in if there's ever an empty spot in Destiny's Child. I think she'll easily make it to the top 12.
Flash Judgement: 8.5/10

Some people are expecting Kinnik to be this year's LaToya, and she's going the power ballad route. I'll call this the "Anthony Fedorov Effect" because that's how he inexplicably got so far and some contestants are trying to copy his success. She's got a big voice, but the song is wrong and her pitch is off. She may be in danger of being eliminated because she didn't get a lot of face time, though. Simon said Kinnick was being overshadowed by the younger girls who were out for blood, and he's right.
Flash Judgement: 6/10

The final performance of the night is the girl with the vocal coach mom, Katharine (hereafter to be known as VCM). She's got a lot of control and knows how to work the camera. She did well, and while she didn't quite bring down the house like you'd want someone in the 10-spot to do, but she was very, very good. Simon said she was the best vocalist of the night; he's not wrong, her technique is probably the best (very Anwar-ish), but I though there were better performances.
Flash Judgement: 8/10

My scores for tonight (all scores are out of 10):

Mandisa - 9
Lisa - 8½
VCM - 8
Melissa 8
ABM - 7½
Paris - 7½
Heather - 7
Stevie - 7
BBG - 6½
Brenna - 6
Kinnik - 6
Rebecca - 5

Who should go home: Rebecca, Brenna
Who will go home: Heather, Stevie

I am happy that each of the contestants got a few minutes of face time before they hit the stage. I won't say that Fox has done all they could or that they're not clearly pushing some contestants ahead of others, but the playing field is leveling out. It's too bad they spent so much time following Crazy Dave the Brittenum boys around.

And once again, thanks to the morons over in the programming department at the local Fox affiliate, WVAH, I won't be seeing American Idol on Wednesday because they're bumping it for a basketball game I have no interest in watching. I'll have to somehow get my hands on the guys singing and watch it before the results show on Thursday.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Whoa! Look who's gone!

When Tom Bergeron announced that Jerry and Anna were safe last night, I called a friend of mine and asked her how many times she voted for Jerry and how many different houses she went to Thursday night to vote. After all, the second unofficial motto of the great state of West Virginia (after "We're all one big happy family . . . Really!") is "Vote early, vote often."

I was surprised that Lisa got whacked, but not as surprised as Jerry was that he was safe.

And did you guys see Stacy? She was in tears being in the bottom two with Lisa. This was the first time she's faced reality show elimination, so it's not surprising she was a little nervous (even Rueben was in the bottom 3 once).

I think Jerry knows he's got the most ground to make up going into the finals. In fact, I think it's safe to say that he needs to be the #1 vote-getter in order to win. Of course, all the football fans (now that the season is over), appear to be voting for him, and Kelly did win last year, so stranger things have been known to happen.

Stacy is going to win. The judges are ga-ga over her (even if Drew is the better dancer) and she appears to be getting lots of votes, especially now that her following has basically been shown that they need to mobilise next week to get her out of danger.
The High Lord's Odds: 1.5 to 1

Drew might be able to pull it off, but he'll need to be flawless and have lots of help from the voters in order to win.
The High Lord's Odds: 4 to 1

Jerry, as I've mentioned, basicaly needs a miracle. His feet are heavy and he's a lot older than the other two. Frankly, I'm surprised he's lasted this long.
The High Lord's Odds: 50 to 1

I thought for sure that the soap opera fans would keep Lisa around, but it looks like they used up all their mojo on Kelly last year.

The final show is on Thursday, but the final results show is on Sunday. What's up with that?

More American Idol Stuff

In other news is that American Idol is two hours next Tuesday and two hours next Wednesday. I think that means that either they're going to drag out the singing for as long as possible or that they're actually going to introduce each of the 12 people singing each night.

Of course, that also means that thanks to the idiots over the local Fox affiliate, WVAH, the Wednesday night show won't start here until 10:30 pm, so I won't be able to make informed comments on the show until sometime Thursday afternoon, so don't look for the blog to be updated until after four folks get whacked on the first elimination round.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2: Week 7

We're down to four couples and I think it's safe to say that Jerry is going home to night. I thought his scores were a little low, but he is clearly the weakest of the remaining celebrity contestants.

That's not a knock on Jerry, just an unfortunate truth.

It was good to see the judges acknowledge his work ethic and the fact that he is really trying, but the fact of the matter is that Stacy and Drew, as the youngest contestants, are simply better. As much as it pains me to say it, so is Lisa.

Unless the voters somehow manage to keep Jerry around, that will set up a Stacy-Drew-Lisa finale, which should be interesting.

In my opinion, Drew is the best of the celebrity dancers. Stacy has looked kind of robotic throughout the competition and gets high scores based on her good looks and not necessarily her dancing. For instance, last night, she was okay; better than Lisa and Jerry, but I felt like she was phoning it in.

I have never gotten that feeling from Jerry, Drew or even Lisa. I think all three of them really want to win, and that's refreshing.

We'll know for sure tonight, but I look for Jerry to be eliminated and then the three remaining contestants to have some sort of dance off next week, which Stacy will probably win.

American Idol 5: Down to the semi-finals

Since I didn't get to watch American Idol on Wednesday thanks to the idiots over at WVAH, I got my hands on the episode and I'll blog it as it's playing in the background. Sort of a "simulblog" only 36 hours late.

After the opening montage, Jessica, Bobby B., Brooke, Nick, Stephanie, Crystal, and Bobby D. all got whacked. Going on the assumption that the people were eliminated in the order they were actually shown, I wonder what the purpose was.

Seacrest was playing up the tension, but if I were in the room, I would be happy about other people being whacked early on. Do the math: There are 44 people left in the competition. Ten guys and ten girls are going home. Everyone else stays. That means that going in, there is a 45% chance that any one person will be sent packing. With every person who gets a "no" that means the chance of being eliminated by the judges drops. If the judges are on a tear, as long as someone isn't next, their chances of surviving get better with every person who gets whacked. So going late is good, unless you're in the last pair, because that means your chance of getting sent home is now 50/50.

Katharine, Vocal Coach Mother (VCM) girl, was the first one through, and as an added bonus we got to see her making out with all three judges. I'm not a fan of people with stage-show mothers, but her voice is good.

Next up is Ace/Joe Millionaire. He's a good looking guy, but his singing for me is good, but not grest. He'll be this year's Constantine, only without the pretense of being a "rocker". Unless he really sucks it up, the girls will keep him around deep into the competition.

Next up were Antonio and bitter sobbing single mother Eugenia, both of whom got whacked.

The third person to get through was Robert (Bobby), who I cannot remember having seen singing. We did get to see him joking around a little bit, which was good, but I think he's only 50/50 on getting through the semi-finals.

With a very mature and heartfelt berating of Simon for picking on her about her weight, Mandisa got through. I really like her from the auditions and once she gets singing, I think vocally, she'll destroy everyone else. She seems like the bright lights won't intimidate her, she seems very classy like LaToya and more likeable than Fantasia. I think she'll make at least the top 6, unless some topless pictures of her surface. Otherwise, she will show us how far Frenchie Davis would have gone in season 2.

Another person we never got to hear sing is Melissa, who made this through. She'll be gone within the next two weeks.

Next to be elminated was Mark Adam, bringing the runninig total to 5 guys and 5 girls who had been culled, the halfway point.

Simon proclaimed that Lisa Tucker was the best 16 year old who had ever auditioned, apparently forgetting about Diana DeGarmo, and she got through. Her audition was good, and while I don't think she'll crack like Camile or Leah LaBelle, I don't think she'll do as well as Diana, either.

Crooner Daniel was up next and he got through. I'm not sure we need another crooner after the John Stevens fiasco. He's young and good looking and that will keep him around for a while. I just hope he's not just a one-trick pony.

The two guys who slept through the Darrell's ranting and ravings were Sway and Elliott. Both advanced. In the group sing, they both did well, apparently without a lot of rehearsal. Sway is the first Asian-American to make it this far; too bad he's got a funny shaped head.

It seems we've hit the middle of the pack where everyone is getting through, so Fox can save up some of the drama for later.

Mouthy and annoying princess Brenna made it, apparently as this year's Mikalah. She's pretty and bitchy, which unfortunately will take her at least to the Final 12. Please, "America", don't keep this girl around.

Marcy, Nicole, David, William, Briana got cut, making it 8 girls and 7 guys gone.

Gedeon was shown singing his final song. Good, not great. He won't make it to the Top 12.

They're showing Stephanie singing in one of the Hollywood rounds, so she must have made it through. Good voice, she could go far, and of course, she's through.

Basketball girl Ayla, who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and no muscles in her cheeks, got through. I don't see her charm, but it seems that a lot of folks out there like her. I wonder if she'll sing "Favourite Son" (or some version thereof) any time in the competition.

Next up was one of Fox's chosen ones, Chris. Somehow, he got "stuck" in the elevator going up to see the judges before they told him he got through. He had the cameras follow him home and his wife crying with her kids, so he'll coast into the Top 6 based on the sympathy votes alone. I thought his audition was better than the little singing we got to see in Hollywood.

Super-hot Maxim girl Rebecca advanced. In the audition round, Simon actually gave her a no, which was surprising given his propensity to put pretty girls through. Did you love how when she came out the other two girls they showed rolled their eyes? Bitter, anyone? I wasn't impressed by Rebecca's audition. She'll be this year's Kimberly Caldwell; easily the hottest girl on the slate, she'll make it to the Top 12, and then be the fourth or fifth person whacked when her voice falters.

Heather and April are both shown singing, but April gets whacked and Heather gets through. Their performances were about the same, but the difference is that Heather is cute and April is tubby.

Country boy Bucky seems better suited for Nashville Star, and will only get far if he can get that to translate to other genres. I don't see him having a meltdown like Josh Gracin, but country guys don't haee a good track record on American Idol. Of course, Carrie may have changed that last year.

Patrick was next to advance and I don't remember him from the audition rounds. He'll be gone before the Top 12.

Charlie Brown was next, and Kevin advanced despite his goofy looks. He'll get a strong following because of his youth and nerd appeal. He's a wild card for me. He seems more mature than he looks, but he could also be broken like John Stevens.

I don't understand the charm of Paris Bennett, although some people out there are in love with her. In the auditions, she had one good song and one bad song. It seemed like Randy was kissing up to her grandmother. In the group sing, she was downright horrible. There are three spots and four girls, so she must be through, and she is. Like Kevin, she'll either break or she'll make it riding the same wave that Anthony Fedorov caught.

No Fox reality show could be without taking a stab at some of it's contestants, right? The Brittenum Boys made it to the round of 44, so I wonder if they were even brought to face "the chair" and Fox cut them from the final edit, or if they were eliminated beforehand, making this year a round of 42. Either way, they're gone, and so are their whiney attitudes.

Kelly was next. Remember her, one of Fox's other chosen ones, the girl who was abandoned by her mother when she was 2, her father is in jail and she lives with her grandfather in a trailer. Where I come from, we call that white trash, but on Fox, it tugs at the viewers's hearts, so we knew from the first day we saw her that she'd be making it to the voting rounds. She can sing, although I'm not sure she's the strongest voice in the competition.

Grey-haired Taylor came in playing the harmonica with the judges smiling and that's a good sign. I don't know how far he'll go. He has a very distinctive style and that can be both a blessing and a curse. It will bring him a strong following. At the same time, how will he do on showtunes night? Or disco night? I'm sure Fox doesn't want him to win because he doesn't look like an American Idol, but I think he would sell a lot of records.

The final two girls were poofy-haired Megan and someone we had never heard, Kinnik. I liked Megan from the auditions and Kinnik was okay in the 5 seconds I got to hear, but she'll also be gone before the Top 12.

The final two guys were William and Syd. Wasn't William in the crooner bunch along with Charlie Brown and Patrick in the group sing round? Do we really need another crooner?

We then got to see the 12 guys and 12 girls preening for the cameras.

I still don't like the process. Although this year, none of the contestants made the Top 12 sight unseen by the public, some were clearly given a leg up on the others. Chris, Kelly, and Ayla come to mind. There are some who clearly won't make it past the first two weeks, while others could either get whacked early or stick around for a long time.

I am still holding out for an American Idol introduction show that gives each contestant 3 or 4 minutes of air time and has them at home with their parents, siblings, kids and high school teachers saying nice things about them. Otherwise, air time will still be a factor in who advances and who doesn't.

In other news, I just checked and the morons over at WVAH are once again going to pre-empt American Idol for UK basketball. It's bad enough when the bump the audition shows, but when they are start messing around with the voting rounds, that's just plain stupid.

It's a good thing I don't watch anything on Fox other than American Idol and football.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

American Idol 5: Final Cuts

I'd blog about the episode last night where the judges pared the remaining 44 contestants down to 24, but I didn't watch it.

As I mentioned before the moronic programming director at the local Fox affiliate WVAH pre-empted American Idol for some meaningless Kentucky basketball game. As a result, I didn't watch anything but the Olympics last night and didn't stay up until 10:30 to watch American Idol out of principle.

I saw a list of the 24 semi-finalists and didn't immediately recognise some of the names.

According to my friend, DJ Slim, the 24 semi-finalists are:

Male Top 12

Ace Young
Bobby Bennett
David Radford
Jose "Sway" Penala
Elliot Yamin
Gideon McKinny
Chris Daughtry
Bucky Covington
Patrick Hall
Kevin Covais
Taylor Hicks
Will Makar

Female Top 12

Katharine McPhee
Mandisa Hundley
Melissa McGhee
Lisa Tucker
Brenna Gethers
Stephanie Scott
Ayla Brown
Becky O'Donahue
Heather Cox
Paris Bennett
Kellie Pickler
Kinnik Sky

Just going over that list , I don't recognise Bobby Bennett, David Radford, Gideon McKinny, Will Makar, Becky O'Donahue, Heather Cox or Kinnik Sky.

Are these folks going to be this year's Melinda Liras and Celena Raes?

I can only hope that Fox will have an hour long introduction show that has a short backstory on each of the contestants before the singing starts. That was one of the few good things to come out of So You Think You Can Dance. Otherwise, some people (Abandoned by Mother, Basketball Girl) will have a major leg upon the competition.

I'll find someone who has last night's episode and once I watch it, I'll let you know what I think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

American Idol 5: Hollywood, part 2

Some of my initial thoughts from Hollywood:

  • I'm not surprised they cut Turkey Boy. He was bad and not ready for the bright lights. I am surprised that they also cut the tall cowboy guy. He was pretty good and was unfairly hurt by being in Garett's group.

  • I still don't understand the charm of Paris Bennett. When they did show her in the group sing, I was wholly underwhelmed.

  • What the hell is up with the Warren Sapps? Both of them should have been canned.

  • I didn't see anyone stand out for me, although Fox didn't show enough of some of them to make good judgements. Just another of my complaints about the way Fox shows some people and doesn't show others.

In other news, once again, our local Fox affiliate, WVAH is pre-empting American Idol for more meaningless basketball games. I urge you all to go to their website and bombard them with complaints.

I can only hope that once the voting rounds start, that Fox will give us a preview of each of the 24 semi-finalists and show a 3 minute segment on each of them to level the playing field.

Why haven't politicians learned this by now?

Would anyone like to go hunting with Dick Cheney?

If he were a G.I. Joe character, I'd name him "Friendly Fire".

After the big hub-bub over Bill Clinton lying under oath to a question he never should have been asked, you'd think that politicians (and indeed, all public figures) would have figured out by now that it's better to come clean with the truth when a story breaks than try to cover it up.

After accidentally (and I'll give Friendly Fire the benefit of the doubt for now) shooting a fellow hunter, Cheney and his office waited something like 20 hours before telling anyone in the press.

Of course, he really isn't under any obligation to tell anyone--that's what the hospital has press people for--but you'd think that to avoid the story breaking in the news later (and it will break), you'd think that the Veep's peeps would want to control the story rather than let it come out on its own.

With the Republicans reeling from charges of corruption, I would think that their spin people would be out in front of any bad news before the news became the story, which was what happened to Clinton. However, unlike our buddy Bill, Dubya doesn't have a booming economy to safeguard his approval numbers.

Several years ago (and by several, I mean about 20), my father told me that some lawyers in the state of Florida were under investigation for obstructing an investigation into some alleged unethical practises. He said that what they had allegedly done wasn't really that bad, but they tried to cover it up. And that's when the Florida Bar Association started out for blood. I remember that conversation very clearly, even though I was probably 10 or 12. Dad said, "If they had gone along with everything, they probably would have been slapped on the wrist. Once people smell cover-up, though, these guys will probably be disbarred."

I hate to be giving advice to Dubya and his spin people, but with this whole Jack Abramoff thing breaking, the best way to quell the storm is to say something like, "Yes, the President knew Mr. Abramoff. Mr. Abramoff had several meetings with Mr. Abramoff. They talked about his kids and his wife's health. No, they didn't discuss any specifics and his access didn't buy any votes."

No, it doesn't look very good to say stuff like that, but it's better than trying to quell a story and letting other people fill in the blanks, because you never know what they're going to fill them in with. Come clean to begin with and the American public is generally a pretty forgiving bunch.

Now the Republicans only look like hypocrites for bashing Clinton for his ethics while their own aren't looking so good.

Why haven't we learned this yet?

Monday, February 13, 2006

More Olympics thoughts

Is it just me or is the best thing about the Olympics the Coca-Cola ads featuring the "cheerleaders"?

I saw one ad the other day with the guys piling onto their couch like it was a bobsled. It was pretty funny.

I'm kind of "blah" on the Olympics (summer and winter) and NBC's coverage doesn't help. Why aren't they All-Olympics, All the Time on their host of networks (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo and even Sci-Fi)? Why not show all the events live?

It's not like other networks (Fox Sports, ESPN, CNN, etc.) are posting the results on the tickers that run non-stop and on their websites in real time so to me it was no surprise that Apolo Ohno slipped and didn't win a short-track medal or that the Flying Tomato won gold despite having a slip-up in qualifying.

NBC wants you to believe they're the only Olympics coverage, but with the dearth of coverage from other outlets, they just look lazy and slow. Why not show just all the events live on the satellite networks and then show the highlights in primetime on the mothership?

That way die-hard Olympics fans can see the events while casual fans can catch the highlights and NBC doesn't look like they're behind the times.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dancing With the Stars, week 6

So George is gone. No surprise there. He has been the second-weakest dancer throughout the competition, in part due to his age and in part due to his injuries. Of course, those could just be excuses, but I think he really could be a good dancer
if he were healthy and he wanted it.

Was it just me or did Bill Medley look--and sound--like crap? Maybe that was the reason why Jennifer Warnes decided to pass. ABC should have, too.

That leaves us with four couples:

Drew & Cheryl are, in my opinion, the best couple and have been throughout the competition. He always seems to be giving it 100% and I think he really wants to win.

For a couple of weeks, Tony & Stacy looked like they were phoning it in, so I drop them down to second place. Stacy is the most athletic of the celebs, and I think she gets a lot of votes--both at home and from the judges--based on her looks rather than her dancing.

I was at a Super Bowl party last week and there were two rooms; in one were the serious football watchers and in the other were the casual football watchers. I was on my way to the kitchen for more food when I stopped in the casual room and heard them talking about Dancing With the Stars.

One of the people said something like, "I like Stacy, but she's got this one vein that is always popping out of her forehead." I spoke up and said, "She has a forehead?" Laughter ensued.

The next best dancers are Louis & Lisa, which pains me to say because I'm not a big Lisa fan. I think she is getting some of the soap opera vote that Kelly got last year, but unlike Kelly, Lisa was never bad. She's not going to win, but she's giving it all.

I hate to say that Jerry & Anna are the worst of the dancers still remaining in the competition. However, by "worst", that means they've survived where six other couples have not. Jerry is obviously trying, but his feet are heavy and he hasn't unlearned all of his football training.

I look for the couples to be voted off in reverse order with the finale being a well-deserved toss-up between Drew and Stacy. Anything else would be a travesty. Just like last year.

The Olympics

If last night's broadcast was any indication, I am preparing myself to be seriously underwhelmed by NBC's Olympic telecasts. Again.

The first hour was complete filler. Maybe they didn't want to provide any substantive challenge to Dancing With the Stars. Or maybe they wanted to bore us with stories of a dozen or so American athletes leading into the game. Maybe NBC just wanted to show an hour of downhill skiing trials.

I don't know. I really don't care.

For me, the worst NBC coverage was the 2000 Sydney games. Bob Costas went on and on about how a conductor was going to lead four different orchestras from around the world in the "Ode to Joy" (from Beethoven's Symphony Number 9) and then when it came around, they cut to commercial and didn't go back.

Since then, I have been steadily unimpressed with NBC's Olympic coverage and last night was four hours of mediocrity.

After the first hour of filler, the opening ceremonies started. Since they were shown time-delayed, there was no excuse to cut anything out, and to their credit, NBC showed us the entirety.

The one thing I missed was Katie Couric co-hosting the opening ceremonies with Bob Costas. She will be in Italy next week covering the Olympics for The Today Show, but she was replaced by Brian Williams next to Costas.

No offense to Brian, but he was a little cold (literally and figuratively) in his sports broadcasting debut. The best thing about Couric and Costas over the past few Olympics is as they opening ceremonies drag on and on through the parade of nations, the both seem to get a little bit punchy. Costas is a very funny guy and has a great deadpan delivery and Couric plays right off him.

Williams didn't seem to know what to do when Costas said something funny and seemed to take the whole thing way to seriously. I'd like to see Katie back for future Olympics, but if she leaves NBC for CBS, that may not happen and that's too bad.

The other thing I didn't like was that with the first hour being nothing but filler, it meant that the full broadcast of the opening ceremonies went until midnight, which is way too late. If the 8-9 pm bloc had been quality, I wouldn't have minded staying up, but I thought four hours of Olympics was too much.

I thought the Italian show was a little of the weird side, with a little too much Cirque de Soliel, but the skaters with the fire shooting out of their heads and the helmet cams were cool. I also liked the way the cauldron was lit with the chain-reaction fireworks; it wasn't as cool as the archer in Barcelona, but then again, what is?

Why the hell was Yoko Ono there? Susan Sarandon, too?

And what about Sofia Loren? Even at 71, looking as graceful and beautiful as ever.

What was up with the 70s/80s music montage during the parade of athletes? Maybe they were trying to provide a festive atmosphere but with disco? Did everyone in the stadium bust out with the YMCA dance? I would have loved for NBC to have given us some crowd shots of that.

Here's a good recap of the opening cermonies that's a good read and has a few laughs.

Pavarotti closing out the show was brilliant, though, and I don't even like opera.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

MNF shakeup

I don't know if you've heard, but Al Michaels is gone from ABC.

He announced that he is jumping ship to NBC apparently to be teamed with John Madden (again) again for the Sunday night games. Out of curiosity, I wonder how that's going to work. NBC already has a #1 sports guy in Bob Costas, a guy who, on his worst day, is about a million times better than Michaels on his best day.

How do you think Al will like being second fiddle to Costas over at NBC aftering being at the top of the heap at ABC for so long?

I am also a little hesitant to start shouting Hallelujahs because the booth they replaced the Michaels/Madden team with is less than stellar.

Mike Tirico is taking over as the play by play guy. Fine; Tirico is okay. Works hard, generally unannoying. Tony Kornheiser is inexplicably also on as a colour analyst, which is odd because to my knowledge, he never played football and is more of a sports personality.

The third guy in the booth is . . . are you ready? Joe Theisman.


Not Joey T!!!! The guy who can't ever say something bad about another guy even when he deserves it!

What's wrong ESPN? Dan Fouts wasn't available? Couldn't lure Boomer Esiason over from CBS? Those two would have been perfect in the booth.

Don't get me wrong; I like Tirico, I like Kornheiser and I think Theisman is a good guy, but was hella annoying in the booth.

The wild card is Kornheiser. I like him on Pardon the Interruption, but that's mostly because he and Michael Wilbon are magic together. How much money do you think they threw at him? I've heard that Kornheiser is afraid of heights and (like Madden) won't fly. So that means that the day before the game, the day of the game and the day after the game, he's useless (two days after if the game is west of the Mississippi).

What will ESPN do with PTI? What will they do with a show that is--hands down--the best show on their network?

I'm glad to be rid of Al Michaels and John Madden. But I'm not sure that their replacement crew is much better, especially given that Mike Patrick is as good as Tirico (yes, he's part of the annoying three-headed monster that is Patrick/Theisman/Maguire, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he was dragged down by the other two) and that Dan Fouts, who is the best pro football analyst still working college games, is just waiting for his chance to be back in the bigs again.

I'll give the Tirico-Kornheiser-Theisman team a few games to get started, but if they're not any good by Week 7, I'll be going off. Big time.

American Idol 5: Hollywood

Who was it that Paula put through to Hollywood only to remark that Simon was going to mow him down in the first round? Someone look that up and let me know if they got through the first cuts.

There were no real surprises, although turkey boy was undeservedly given a second chance. I think he is in over his head and if he makes it to the voting rounds, he will be destroyed.

I don't see the charm of Paris, the ABM girl (Abandoned By Mother) or Basketball Girl (BBG).

Watching the Warren Sapp twins run their mouths got tiresome real fast. I'm assuming they didn't get to the voting rounds after word of their arrest got around since Fox hasn't issued a statement explaining why or why not they're still in the competition.

Gotta love Crazy Dave. You knew he wasn't giong anywhere even when Paula and Randy put him through, but his act certainly was interesting.

Next up: the dreaded group sings. I wonder what the real purpose of these quartet drills are. Since all the of the singers will be performing (and be judged) based on individual performances, why have them sing in an ensamble?

I think the producers are seeing who the team players are and are cutting the loners loose. American Idol demands conformity and the ability to be molded by the show. Witness Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood, both of whom were sculpted by American Idol into finalists. It also demands preparedness with short notice, something American Idol also demands.

After seeing some of the contestants for the first time and some for the second time, I am hesitant to make any opinions about any of them, although there are some I clearly like and don't like. I don't think any of the folks I've changed my opinions on anyone, but I would like to see and hear everyone before the voting rounds start, not just listen to the Brittenum twins run their yappers.

We'll see how the group-sing rounds go next week.

American Idol 5: Boston

Yawn. Blech.

That about sums up the audition rounds for me. It seems a lot of poeple are skipping the audition rounds and I think next year, I might, too.

How many bad singers can we endure? Apparently some people have an endless appetite for them. I think they all look the same and they all sound the same. Plus, the Fox-generated montage of the same idiots badly singing the same song has gotten old.

I can't even remember half of the auditions, but here are the ones that stand out for me:

Basketball girl should not have gotten through. Simon was right with her; she did look robotic. Except for her mouth moving, the rest of her face was completely devoid of expression. I didn't think she was worth a ticket to Hollywood.

The singing twin also should not have gotten through. Maybe it was the song choice, but she didn't do anything for me. I was surprised that Simon gave her a "no" given his propensity to put pretty girls through.

The girl with the Jasmine-like flower in her hair presented herself as the stripper-in-training, not only with a bad singing voice, but a willingness to shed clothing during the course of her act.

Why was GWAR trying out for American Idol?

I was surprised that the judges didn't put through the girl that sings to old people. Really, if they're going to send robotic basketball girl through, she deserved a shot, too. She was fun and cute and I would much rather see her than a fembot.

The nerdy kid with no hair and weird eyebrows was a big surprise. I wonder if he's going to be this year's makeover project (like Clay Aiken). Good voice, well-mannered, polite. If he makes it through, I'll call him Charlie Brown because of his round head and general likeability.

I hope Fox shows us lots of footage from Hollywood of the people who make it to the voting rounds. It would be a shame for some people to not make it because some of them (Mecca, Abandoned by mother girl, dumped by boyfriend girl, the boy who sings to turkeys, Paris et al) got some face time and others didn't. AGAIN.

One thing I do wonder is that if we were shown the best of the auditions (as well as lots of the worst), how good will the field be? The audition rounds have been mostly forgettable. The lead-ins for the Hollywood rounds are full of (Fox-contrived) drama.

Who cares? Show me the singing.

I have thought that for the past two years, the field has steadily gotten deeper, top to bottom. There have always been two or three at the top, a bunch in the middle and a couple who you think, "Why did these people get through?" (Oh, yeah, they got face time and Melinda, Celena and Aloha didn't).

It's the bunch in the middle that has gotten better over the years. I hope that the finalists are good and that there is nary a JPL, Leah Labelle, Scott Savol or Anthony Fedorov among them.

We'll find out starting tonight.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl aftermath

In the wake of the Steelers's fifth Super Bowl victory, who feels like they saw a great game?

That's what I thought.

I do not agree that Seattle got jobbed by the refs; even though some of the calls were questionable at best (like the low block call on Hasselbeck), none of the calls were obviously wrong like the "pass interference" call Ashley Lelie got in his favour in the New England-Denver game.

I'm glad Pittsburgh won, even though I'm sick to death of the "Jerome Bettis is going home" angle and the "one for the thumb" is a little tiresome (maybe due to the fact that Ben Roethlisberger wasn't even born the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl). I like Bill Cowher and I think that now that Wellington Mara has died, Dan Rooney is the classiest owner of any professional sports franchise in the world.

There were two things I did not enjoy about the Super Bowl:

First, it was on ABC. That meant Al Michaels and John Madden. As you know, I can't stand either of them.

Second, as the past Super Bowl MVPs were being announced, there were two glaring absences: Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. At the party I attended, we were wondering why the two weren't there.

Actually there was a third absence, Super Bowl VII MVP Jake Scott of the Miami Dolphins, but who cares about him?

Bradshaw and Montana are in the Hall of Fame because of the Super Bowl. So why not show up to spend 10 seconds on TV?

According to some reports, it was over money. Joe Montana reportedly wanted $100,000 to appear. Bradshaw said he wanted to spend time with his family. Montana has also said he wanted to attend his son's basketball game.

What the hell?!?!?!?

These guys, neither of whom are really hurting for cash and who both have enough free time to spend with their spouses and kids for the other 51 weeks out of the year, couldn't spare one Sunday night to acknowledge the greatness of the game? Puh-leeze!!!

Montana can hide in general anonymity, but Bradshaw will have to address this when the Fox NFL crew fires things back up. I hope some of the other guys around the league take him to task over this, especially since the team that made him was playing. Franco Harris and Lynn Swann showed up. Why couldn't Bradshaw?

Aside from that, I thought the game was fairly pedestrian. Not a lot of offense. Some generally sloppy play. Crappy commercials.

Now that the real professional football season is over (the Pro Bowl doesn't count), I wonder what I'm going to do until next September?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dancing With the Stars 2, Week 5

Can you believe I didn't get to see the whole episode? I have class on Thursday nights until 9 pm so I set the VCR to tape it. I got home in time to the the end of Tia Carerre's dance and watched the rest of the show.

When I went to watch the tape, I found out that I had set the clock on the VCR wrong and missed the first hour. I don't think I can download the episode in time for tonight's elimination show, so I'll just review what I saw.

From best to worst:


It's saying something that the person I put in last place really wasn't that bad. I don't know what constitutes a good samba vs. a bad samba, but I thought Tia was pretty good.

Jerry still gets an A for effort, even if his feet are a little heavy. And of course Drew was going at it full-bore.

I missed Stacy, George and Lisa, although my wife told me that Stacy looked less robotic than usual, George actually moved a little bit and Lisa was also trying hard.

From what I can gather, it seems to me that this will probably be Tia's week to be eliminated, and not because she's a bad dancer. Tia's problem is that she doesn't connect with a core audience. She's pretty, but hasn't done anything big since True Lies.

George has a lot of personality and is charming his way through the elimination rounds, even if he is the weakest dancer of the group. Lisa is getting the soap opera vote, Jerry has lots of fans, and Drew and Stacy are clearly the best dancers of the group, so even if they don't have a lot of voters, they're sticking around because the judges won't let them get eliminated yet.

I'll be watching the show tonight to see if they show me a good portion of Stacy, Lisa and George so I can make a reasonably good assessment of their performances.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

American Idol 5: Austin

I'd blog about last night's audition show but I didn't get to see it.

Our local Fox affiliate, WVAH Fox-11, inexplicably bumped American Idol last night for the Kentucky vs. Mississippi State basketball game. I sent them a nasty email suggesting that they drug test the programming department at WVAH because the only logical explaination for pre-empting Fox's cash cow with a meaningless SEC basketball game was because someone over there is high.

I'm not a basketball guy. I'm a short Asian man. Dubya has more interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain than I have in watching basketball. So why was I plagued by that crap on my TV last night?

To make matters worse, every other network has moved all of their good programming out of American Idol's way so there was nothing to watch last night from 8-9 pm last night. I tried to watch a little bit of Freddie over on ABC, but it was nearly unbearable (one character speaks only Spanish and is subtitled even though she understands English, and it has David from 90210 as Freddie's sidekick), so I ended up watching the history of dredging on The History Channel. It was very exciting.

Thanks, Fox. You guys suck.

American Idol finally did come on last night at 10:30, but I didn't stay up and watch it out of principal. I'll have to find someone who TiVO'd or otherwise recorded it and get it from them so I can review the "talent" who, from what I hear, wasn't much better than the folks in Vegas.

In other news, the girls over at Idolrant posted yesterday.

Woo hoo!!!

They didn't post much last year because they weren't that inspired by the competition, but they are simply the best American Idol commentary around. I hope they'll blog all of season 5 for us.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

American Idol 5: Las Vegas

What is it with Vegas? You'd think that with as many performers that are there, AI would have found more than 11 people worthy of a ticket to Hollywood. One reason may be that in order to enter Idol, the contestant must not be under contract with anyone else, so that may stop anyone who has a gig from trying out.

Still . . . only 11 people!?!?!

Since they didn't find many folks, we got stuck watching a lot of trainwrecks, which is unfortunate because that also means they could have shown us all 11 of the people who made it instead of the four(?) we got to see.

Anyway, here are my comments from the show:

  • How old was Mecca? The screen said she was 18, but she didn't look a day over 13 to me. Still, she did pretty well, although I don't think she's going to get through the first round of cuts in Hollywood.

  • One of the Asian twins was better than the other, and because they chose (or did AI make them?) to audition together, I couldn't tell which one was better. They would have been better off trying out separately. Cute, but they giggled too much.

  • Redneck woman was good, but she needs to get a bridge or something don before she hits the stage in Hollywood. Surely the Maryland Department of Corrections has a dental plan that could help her out. I like how in her intro she said something like, "I really want to quit my job and start singing full time." I wonder if her boss is already preparing her separation papers.

  • Did you check out the girlfriend of the guy who had his own gravity well? If I had a girlfriend who came wtih 75 pets, I think I'd re-evaluate my relationship with her.

  • Gray-hair was okay. Good voice, not a lot of personality. He won't survive Hollywood.

  • Fake Rasta-man was so bad, I couldn't tell if those were real tears at the end or if it was part of his act, too. He should be the object lesson of all the gimmick auditions: Just sing. Don't bring props, don't try to show how creative you are. If you sing well, you'll get through.

I am going to have to record or download the Austin episode because the programming director at the local Fox affiliate, WVAH Fox-11, has been hitting the crack pipe and inexplicably thinks that the people of the Huntington-Charleston area would rather watch Kentucky vs. Mississippi State than American Idol.

Hey, Fox, if you don't want people downloading episodes off the internet, don't let your local affiliates pre-empt your cash cow for a meaningless basketball game.