Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Idol: Out of Town Edition

Howdy, ya'll.

First of all, to the three of you who read the blog for my DWTS comments, I'm sorry about not live-blogging the show last night. Tonight I'm on-line for the Idol performance show, so have no fear.

Second, there are other people out there who are ticked off at Simon and Paula's antics. That has been the worst part of the show about the last three seasons. It's to the point that I don't even pay attention to when they're talking and if I watch the show on the DVR, I skip through their inane banter.

You'd think they'd take a show seriously that makes them gazillions of dollars and keeps them in the limelight. I guess that would be asking for too much, though.

Does anyone know what the theme is? From the way they're dressed, it looks like the theme is 80s music.

As things turn out, the theme is top downloads from iTunes. What qualifies as a "top download"? How about that product placement for both iTunes and AT40?

One thing that's good about this year is that they did away with the crappy themes and the kids have at least had the opportunity to sing contemporary songs.

Leading off in the Dead Man's Spot is Anoop. He's singing Usher, which I think is a first for the show. Vocally, he's got it under control and his performance is mostly restrained and not over the top, which is what I half expected. What happened to his family? Were those some of his frat brothers? I give him a big aiiiiiiight. Didn't hate it, didn't love it. He was better than Randy and Kara said. Simon's right that he sounded very "wannabe". I'm just happy he didn't sing another ballad.

Going in the two-hole is Megan. The more I hear her "jazzy" style, the less I like her. And the more I think Alexis got robbed. I appreciate that she likes this song, but I thought it was a trainwreck. Her spastic movements on stage don't ingratiate her to me any, either. Paula babbles non-nonsensically. Simon shouldn't be allowed to use the word "indulgent" any more. Especially if he's not going to take the show seriously anymore.

MWJD gets the inexplicable, random sit-down interview. Hey, look, Danny, here are half a million votes. Have you noticed that I'm not a fan. Don't get me wrong, he's okay and a solid singer, but I don't think he deserves all the hype he's gotten. His voice has the same airy, breathy tone as The Arch; you can even hear him inhale like Archuleta did, too. He's dressed nicer than he has been before; I hope he got his money back on that ugly white jacked he had a couple of weeks ago. I liked the beginning more the end when he gave in to the shouting. I didn't think his vocals were as good as Anoop, but the performance was better and I liked the song choice better. The judges all slurp him.

There's no sign of Gwen Stefani taking up space in the studio, but you can bet she's getting paid for Allison singing one of her songs. I like the guitar, but I don't like the hair. I know she wants to have her own style, but at least pick a colour that is close to a human-like pigment. Like Gokey, she starts off well, and I'm pleasantly surprised that she doesn't shout too much. I think she's sneaking into the group that the judges might actually use their save on (Lil is getting squeezed out). What are Randy and Simon doing talking about her clothes? Hey, Simon, if this is a "singing competition" why do you care what she's wearing? Give some feedback on the vocals!

Now that he's been given the opportunity to sing something that's on the radio today, TBG instead opts for a Billy Joel song, surprise! Will Paula tell him to get out from behind the piano. Maybe he could walk a tightrope while singing. Hey, big guy, there's a reason why Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder always wore/wear sunglasses. Maybe you could get a pair of Gokey's hand-me-downs and have them tinted. Vocally, he's pretty good, but the arrangement is a little too slow. I'll give him some backhanded praise: that was his best performance so far. I'd look for him to make another bottom 3 appearance.

Last week, Matt was surprised by his appearance in the bottom 3; that's what you get for going first. He reminds me of Joey Tribiani; maybe it's because they have the same shaped head. What's with the keyboard in the most pit? I dislike this song and while I think he did a good job with it, I can't think of him as anything more than just an average singer. Paula loves "the false"; I don't share the luv.

Lil's stock has fallen off recently and she's in violation of Idol Rule #1. I know this isn't fair, but as much as I like her singing voice, I don't care for her interview voice. She seems like she always wants to "axe" me a question and that is an awful, judgmental impression I have of her, but that's the what I hear when she talks. Her singing is spot on tonight, at least until she looses it halfway through the big note. And damn, that baby's got some back! (Not a complaint.) Lil, you need to buy Seacrest a big fruit basket because when he showed your kids, you just got a half million votes.

What's in the water the judges are drinking tonight? They seem awfully cranky. And who the hell is directing the show? He/she doesn't seem to know what camera to pick.

Check out the Top 5 American Idol lies.

As of right now, EBA has the Performance of the Year with "Tracks of My Tears". This week, he's keeping the pompadour, which is much better haircut than the crappy emo brushed-forward style he usually has. He's going back over the top, but at least it's appropriate to the song. As different as his musical style is from David Cook's, the two share a talent for being able to successfully re-arrange songs; some times in ways that work and some times in ways that don't. That was an interesting performance; it seemed a little schizophrenic to me. In some places it was too fast, and in others it was too slow. I don't think it was as good as the judges, but it was definitely top tier.

Did Paula just put Adam in the same category as Mick Jagger? She's definitely high. And Kara? "Studio 57"? Is that an inside joke or can you just not count?

Wrapping up the show in The Pimp Spot is Kris. What's Mandisa doing in the audience? When will she be singing on the show? I have an idea for a theme: No Ballad Night™. Kris is okay, but he's still making too many funny faces when he sings, which irritates me. He's also squinting like The Arch. I was thoroughly bored by the song; he'll be saved from the Bottom 3 because of his placement in the singing order.

What do you know? It's 9:22, the judges are rushing through their comments and we're not going to come in under time. Who's surprised? You, there, in the back, put your hand down.

The Good
Allison, "Don't Speak"
Lil, "I Surrender"

The Bad
Adam, "Play That Funky Music"
Anoop, "Caught Up"
Danny, "What Hurts the Most"
Kris, "Ain't No Sunshine"
Matt, "You Found Me"
Scott, "Just the Way You Are"

The Ugly
Megan, "Turn the Lights Down Low"

I think going first and getting mostly (undeserved) negative feedback will put Anoop in the bottom 3. It might even send him home.

Who should be in the bottom 3:
Matt, Megan, Scott

Who will be in the bottom 3:
Anoop, Megan, Scott

Who should go home:
Megan

Who will go home:
Megan

Either Megan or Scott will be on the chopping block. I can only hope for a double-elimination, which we know won't happen. In any other week, Kris might be making an appearance in the bottom 3, but singing last will spare him.

The TCOs having nothing to sweat about for another week, and the also-rans are once again in danger.

Tomorrow, I may not be live-blog the results show, but I will be back for the results.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm a slacker

Yes, I knew DWTS was on tonight, but I'm out of town this week at training. A bunch of us went out for dinner and I just got back (it's a quarter til 10), so the only person I saw was Shawn and Mark. When I get home, I'll watch the whole show on the DVR. I promise.

I'm not sure about the gymnastics theme of Shawn's dance, but the tricks are good. It seems just a little too corny for me to take seriously. But then again, so is the lindy hop. Where can I get a "Vote for Shawn and Mark" shirt?

Even though I saw the whole dance, I'm not going to assign it a score because I didn't see everyone else.

Tomorrow night, I promise I'll blog Idol.

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's time to lose some dead weight

And by that you know I mean Scott, Michael and/or Megan. What are the odds all three get axed in one night? Low, I know, but we can wish, can't we?

Upon further review, last night only served to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is a clear bottom tier that is just waiting to find out the order in which they'll be eliminated.

There is a foursome who sits atop the heap and the other three singers are in play.

Here's how I rank the Idol Top 10, which is still a very deep field:

Candidates for the Judges's Save
Adam
Allison
Danny
Lil

Can't Afford to Stumble
Anoop
Kris
Matt

Uggggghhhhhh
Megan
Michael
Scott

The good news is that any of the Top 7 has a chance (however slim) to win. At the same time, anyone in the middle tier has some serious ground to make up if they want to still be alive with four weeks to go.

I'm on record as not being an Adam fan, but I watched his performance again and it keeps getting better. My only complaint is about his super-liberal application of "the false", but it was in-character for the song so that's excusable. I also really, really like how he did a complete 180° in terms of his image and dress. I thought the pompadour hairstyle coupled with the Buddy Holly/Elvis-style blazer was perfect.

(That's the young, thin, handsome Elvis, not the bloated, old, sequined-jumpsuit Elvis)

My opinion of him just went up a notch because of his willingness and appreciation of the greats within the Motown genre. I thought it was a respectful homage to the people who made Hitsville USA the force that it was. The fact that he managed to perform a song in unique way only made it better. I am still not ready to forgive him for "Ring of Fire" but I will give him props when props are due.

On the other side of the spectrum, how can anyone believe Alexis got anything other than the shaft last week? She was hosed bigger than the girl starring opposite Ron Jeremy. I can't believe Michael, Scott and Megan made the tour and Alexis is at home.

The show starts off with the obligatory recap and then a lip-synched medley of Motown songs. Then it's time for Idol's biggest winner: Rueben Studdard. Glad to see him crawl back up off the edge of the earth he fell off of. I still can't believe he beat Clay, but this was the perfect performance for him. His voice has that rich timbre we all love. He's not shouting nor trying to do too much with his big voice.

Take note Gokey; this is how it's done. Maybe you should ditch the designer glasses you only seem to need on performance nights and start wearing mumu-sized football jerseys with your area code on them. And notice how he's not over-singing anything. You could be that, if only you didn't try so hard.

Now it's time for some results.

Adam is up first. Why does Seacrest even bother? Everyone knows he's safe. Matt is next and he makes a surprise appearance in the Bottom 3.

According to DialIdol, the bottom 3 are the ones who deserve it most: Megan, Michael and Scott. They got at least one wrong.

Next to get his results Kris, and he's safe. He thought he would be singing again. Lil and Michael are getting their results as a duo. Michael knows he's the one of the two who might be going home, and yup, it's him.

Seacrest makes the five remaining singers sweat as Joss Stone and Smokey Robinson come out to sing.

I'm still looking for restaurant recommendations for Baltimore. I'm staying in the Inner Harbor area but I'll have a car. I'll have Sunday through Wednesday to find something to eat. I like seafood, Japanese, Italian and steak. Pretty much in that order.

Looking at the bottom row of Anoop, Danny, Scott, Megan and Allison, it's very apparent to me that Megan is the third leg of the Triumvirate You Don't Want to Be In. Anoop has an outside shot at being eliminated, but I think he's safe for at least one more week.

While we're waiting for the commercial break, I'd like to point out that the Dead Man's Spot has gone 2 for 3 this season to make the bottom 3. Only Lil was safe when leading off the show. Last week it was Michael and this week it was Matt who started the show and then got kicked to the curb. I remind you that last year, four people were eliminated from the opening slot and three others were put into the bottom 3. Try and tell me now that singing order doesn't matter.

Allison and Anoop are save. Danny is next with yet another pair of designer glasses. Have I mentioned that I'm not a fan? He's safe, too. Duh.

So who will it be? Scott or Megan? By rights they both should be gone. However, we can only eliminate one person at a time. I like Megan more than Scott; her eyes don't freak me out and at least she's mildly entertaining. Scott just does the same thing over and over (although that's not really his fault).

To the surprise of just about everyone, Scott is put into the bottom 3, making it the most unappealing sausagefest to grace the stage.

In another shocker, Scott is declared safe, meaning it's probably Michael who will be singing for the save. I've never been Matt fan, although I think he's clearly in the second tier of singers this season. Michael has been just plain bad of late and I he should be gone.

Now it's time for some Stevie Wonder. Woo-hoo! Why did they even bother with having the kids mouth along with a Motown medley when Mr. Wonder is on?

Did you know he loves Barack Obama? Take that, Fox!

After the break, Seacrest announces that Michael will be going home unless Simon . . . er, the judges . . . decide to save him. He sings the same craptastic song that got him stuck in the bottom 3. They won't save him.

. . . And they don't. Why don't they do what SYTYCD does and at least appear to deliberate during a commercial break? I can't believe Fox is passing up the chance at selling another slot for advertising.

Good-bye, Lieutenant Rasczak! See you on the tour.

So say we all!

Nothing we didn't know before

Hey, look, the Idol group sings are lip-synched this year.

It must be the natural response to Jason not taking them seriously and Brooke messing up everyone's harmonies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tour Preview

Before I get to some other thoughts to torture all eight of my readers with, I'd like to address my "What the frak?" moment of last week's results show:

You can't really be serious that Scott and Michael made the tour while Alexis is stuck watching from home? This strikes me as a serious injustice, 1) because it means that two people who are obviously vocally inferior to Alexis are still there because one has a disability and the other loves his child, and 2) it proves that the only people the judges will even consider using their save on are Adam, Gokey and Lil. Everyone else just got kicked to the curb.

Do I think Alexis was going to win? Not really. Could she have made a strong charge and gotten a Top 4 finish? Absolutely. And there's no way she should be home while some others are still around to torture me on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays. That's a big crock of feldercarb.

For some other thoughts:

If you don't like my Idol glossary (see the sidebar to the right), check out MSNBC's.

Stephen Colbert won NASA's contest to name the new ISS module, but instead might name the toilet after him I haven't heard Colbert's response yet, but that, too, is a big crock of feldercarb. C'mon, the man got his legions of followers to write his name in a contest NASA sponsored, so the least you can do is follow through. If you don't want stuff like this happening, don't give the public the chance to make their voice heard.

I know suicide is nothing to laugh or joke about (except in the movie "Heathers"), but does anyone other than me find this a little bit odd: The gist of the article is "is suicide hereditary". You be the judge.

Yes, I'm going to hell for that one.

Last night, I re-watched the final two hour finale of BSG. It was better with the second go-round. My only problem is this: If you were Adama and you're going to shoot your way in to the cylon headquarters with the express purpose of rescuing Hera, wouldn't you have pre-programmed the nav computer with your exit coordinates so that once she's on board, all you have to say is, "Jump in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Mark!"?

Tactically, not having an egress plan is a bad move and I can't believe that Adama and Tigh hadn't thought of it before. Of course, maybe they really thought the mission was one way and being able to jump out wasn't a possibility. That's like Mace Windu and the Jedi showing up on Geonosis, rescuing Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme in the arena and having no exit strategy. Or invading two countries located between Syria and Pakistan with no thoughts on how you were going to get out.

As a plot device, I understand not having your pre-arranged jump coordinates set (it allows Starbuck to fulfill her destiny), but for a guy who is supposed to be a great military commander, it was a little short-sighted.

If I were the Detroit Lions, I don't think I'd take the first pick. No one wants it, least of all you. So why make a pick? There's no rule saying you have to. So just let it slide and wait until about 15th to make a pick. That way you don't have a kid on your roster who will crack under the pressure of being the #1 overall and you're not obligated for $30 million in guaranteed money to someone who has never played a down of professional football. Until there is a rookie salary cap in the NFL, high draft picks are a burden, not a boon.

As I mentioned during the DWTS blog, I will be out of town next week. My employer is sending me to some training in the Baltimore area, so if anyone has any tips on a good place to eat in the Inner Harbor, let me know.

I watched the first half of the DWTS results show. I must say that the dance-off is a complete waste of time. I also wonder how many Mac addicts have written bots and auto-dialers that spoof return phone numbers to keep The Woz around. You can't tell me that the two Steves have any business sticking around. Of course, since everyone knows the finale will consist of Gilles, Shawn and Melissa, the rest are just waiting to find out the order in which they'll be eliminated.

The Indigo Girls just released a new album, "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug". I just got it, but haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. I'm going to take it on a test drive a work tomorrow, so I'll let you know what I think about later.

On to Idol . . .

Tonight we get two hours of show. With 10 singers left, that means each should get about 12 minutes of screen time. Of course, that would be without any advertisements, which is just plain crazy talk. So that means each singer will get 90 seconds to sing, two minutes of intro, three minutes of "critique" and five and a half minutes of product placement and other filler.

The theme tonight is Motown, which is often one of the better nights of the show. I hear Smokey Robinson will be on. He's been a good mentor in the past, so I see no reason why he won't be again. Motown also has a nice deep songbook, so let's see if Idol opens up the checkbook and lets the kids pick from a wide variety or only gives them twenty different choices.

I'm willing to bet we hear "Sugar Pie Honey", "Band of Gold", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I'll Be There". Of course, it could also be Smokey Robinson night, which wouldn't be bad either.

Why are Paula and Simon holding hands? Does that mean she's been drinking already?

Seacrest gives us a "quick" recap of the Motown era, which is highlighted by 20 people being at the Hitsville studios to greet the Idols. Leading off is Matt which I hope will guarantee a trip to the bottom 3. He's singing "Let's Get It On". Will Paula scold him for hiding behind the piano like she did Scott last week. I'm not a Matt fan and the funny faces and howling don't make me like him any more. Still, he does a good job with the song.

I just spent 20 minutes talking to my mother (doesn't she know not to call me on Idol nights?) and all I missed was Kris (Yea! DVR!). That means there's waaaaaaaayyyyyy too much filler. He's singing "How Sweet It Is" which sounds more James Taylor than Marvin Gaye, which is good for him. I think he could sneak into the Top 5 if he keeps this kind of performance up. What's with the prisoner numbering on his shirt? If I were actually willing to pay money to iTunes for music, this is a tune I'd certainly think about buying. Have I commented that is wife is hawt? I think this is one of those performances which isn't earthshatteringly good, but you will like more and more if you hear it a second and third time.

TBG is up next with "You Can't Hurry Love". Have I mentioned that if he weren't blind, he would still be around? It's bad when Phil Collins covers a song better than Scott does? Mrs. High Lord says she's heard better in hotel lounges. I agree. Why is Simon getting on him for not being "relevant"? These are all old songs.

Will someone please get Scott a pair of sunglasses?

Bringing her own Meganness to "For Once in My Life", Megan violates my Idol Rule #2 and sounds like a bad Vegas lounge act (is there any other kind?). That sound you heard is Alexis throwing her Wii Fit through her television screen. Seriously . . . Megan is still around and Alexis isn't? It's no wonder the VFTW crowd is behind her. My ears are bleeding. No joke. Someone get me a Q-tip.

Anoop tries his hand at "Ohh, Baby Baby". Smokey raves about him, which is always a good sing. He brings things down and does something more people (ahem . . . Megan) should do: just sing the song. Mrs. High Lord says he needs to sing something next week that isn't a ballad. Everyone needs to sing something that isn't a ballad every week. I almost fell asleep near the end. He was okay, but not fabulous. Vocally, he doesn't crack and is mostly in tune. Except for "the false".

How 'bout EW's 11 most awkward Idol mentor moments? My favourite Idol mentor was Barry Manilow, who actually seemed interested in helping the kids, and the worst was Gwen Stefani, who was only there for the paycheck.

With half of the show over, it would be too easy to pile on and immediately pick Megan as the person who is going to get whacked. They've backloaded the show with their three TCOs plus Allison and Michael, who Seacrest hands some sympathy votes by letting "America" know that he was sick last week and missed out on the trip to Detroit.

Lieutenant Rasczak should have been eliminated last week, but instead he gets to sing "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". I don't have high hopes for him and frankly, I want him gone. Did you know he works on an oil rig and he loves his wife and daughter. I'm just happy he's not singing a ballad. He's flat in a couple of places and he obviously only has that awkward white boy rhythm. I don't hate the performance, but nor do I understand why people are voting for him. Even Paula struggles to find something nice to say about him. Simon tells him he doesn't have a chance at winning, but at least he's got a spot on the tour. Unlike Alexis.

Next up is Lil with "Heat Wave". She seems to appreciate the legacy of Motown, which is refreshing for people on this show. She even goes retro with her look, which is a good move. She's prone to oversinging and does so unashamedly. I know she's got a big voice, but that doesn't mean she has to use it every week. If it weren't for too much shouting, I'd have put her in the top category tonight. It's bad when even Kara leads off with "You look great". Randy's right; she sang too fast. Lil, remember that this show is a marathon, not a sprint. She was trying too hard; sometimes less is more.

I hope Smokey doesn't feel the urge to throttle EBA like Randy wanted to last week. After the mess that was "Ring of Fire", it's good to see him tone down his schtick. He must read my blog. Like Lil, he seems to fully appreciate the history of Motown and goes retro on us. The falsetto is a little much, but not only is the arrangement something I've never heard (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible), his vocals are restrained and the unplugged performance is just what he needs in order to capture some new voters. Even Smokey gives him the standing O, deservedly so. I'm almost willing to pay money on iTunes for that performance, and I'm almost willing to forgive him for what he did to Johnny Cash.

With that hair, does Adam remind you of a young Kurt Russell? That is, if Goldie were to turn Kurt gay.

I'm hoping MWJD makes me like him tonight. He obviously doesn't have the Federal government's vision plan because I only get 1 new pair of glasses a year instead of a new pair each week. This is the kind of performance that caters to his fanbase, but it's way too much shouting for me. Like Lil, he oversings most of it. Lucky for him (coincidence?), the judges can't pan him too much because we're running out of time.

Allison gets the Pimp Spot, which should bode well for her. Like Lil, Allison is given to shouting, and she doesn't disappoint. I wasn't wowed and I didn't think it was worthy of its prime placement, but nor was it bad. The judges rave about her; what do we think Simon drew on Paula?

The Good
Adam, "Tracks of My Tears"

The Bad
Kris, "How Sweet It is"
Danny, "Get Ready"
Allison, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"
Lil, "Heat Wave"
Anoop, "Ohh, Baby Baby"
Matt, "Let's Get It On"

The Ugly
Michael, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
Scott, "You Can't Hurry Love"
Megan, "For Once in My Life"

Who should be in the bottom 3:
Megan, Michael, Scott

Who will be in the bottom 3:
Matt, Megan, Michael

Who should go home:
Megan

Who will go home:
Megan

To sum up:

Adam had his defining performance. The bottom tier performers didn't help themselves. Megan will be going home, although it could be Michael.

Today is my stepdaughter's birthday and we're taking her out for dinner; I shouldn't miss any of the show, but if I do, I'll catch it on the DVR.

If anyone other than Megan gets whacked, I'll be surprised.

So say we all!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DWTS Results: Lightning Edition

The Steves are safe? What the frak?!?!?!?!

I'm not surprised that Holly and Denise were on the chopping block; neither had an even remote shot at winning, but I expected at least The iWoz to be back on the dance floor tonight.

I guess that just goes to show the power of the geek vote. And the bots they write to email in votes to ABC.

Idol got bumped by the Grand Fromage so that means the next two nights are Idol only. At least until the DVR tells me I have to choose between my recording of the Idol results show and Mrs. High Lord's recording of Ugly Betty.

It's Motown tomorrow and I think it should be a good night for everyone.

So say we all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dancing With the Battlestar

I'll get to the dancing show later, but first I'm going to make you sit through my thoughts on the best show to grace television over the last four years: Battlestar Galactica.

If you just rolled your eyes and thought, "But that's sci-fi!" you obviously don't know what the show's about. Here's your chance to get the scoop.

In 1978, empowered by the success of Star Wars, Glen Larson launched what was--at the time--the most expensive TV show to ever hit the airwaves. The basic premise was that 12 "tribes" of humans were warring against a race of machines they had created called the cylons. After a truce was declared, the cylons ambushed the humans and sent them across the galaxy searching for a fabled planet called Earth.

The original show only lasted a single season before it was canned. There was a second series titled Galactica 1980 that everyone gives the "Highlander 2" treatment and pretends never existed.

Different networks and different production teams kicked around resurrecting the series for about 20 years when the NBC subsidiary SciFi channel picked it up when former Star Trek: The Next Generation write Ronald Moore pitched a "reminagined" version of the show.

The basic premise was the same, some characters were changed, the mood became darker and less campy and soon after 9/11 the show got greenlit. Sauntering on for four seasons, it turned the basic conventions of science fiction on TV on their ears. Even though the show is decidedly futuristic in its scope, the themes are very relevant: the use/abuse of technology, what is torture?, when good people do bad things, religion . . . everything.

As soon as I heard the show was coming back, I was a fan. I liked that they were making Starbuck a girl. Same with Boomer, and I was floored to find out she was a cylon. The new show had the Blade Runner style "used future" that was a far departure from Star Trek, 2001 or even Star Wars.

I liked that I sometimes found myself rooting for the cylons. I liked that the show asked tough questions about what we are doing in the world today. Battlestar Galactica is a provocative, moody show that was one rollercoaster after another. It sometimes devolved into cliche, but as often as not took a left when you expected it to take a right.

Sometime last year, Sci-Fi canceled the show because it costs too much to produce. They're replacing it with a show in the same continuity that is planet-based (to save money).

Was four seasons too short of a run? Probably. Of course, seven seasons would have been too long. Remember of the Star Treks that went on that long, only DS9 had anything remotely resembling a strong finish. I think I'll have to go back and watch BSG in re-runs and on DVD to fully appreciate it. But undeniably, with the sole exception of Firefly, there has been no other show in the last decade that made fans out of non-sci-fi watchers. Name another, I dare you.

In case you don't know what's going on with the show, here's an 8 minute recap of seasons 1 through 3.

The last six or so episodes have been devoted to wrapping up loose ends. Characters have died, the plot holes have (mostly) been filled in.

So here's a list of things I liked about the show:
  • The humans finding Earth. Or Earth 2.0.

  • The Old Girl going out in style. That's both Galactica and Roslin.

  • The Adamas (all of them) getting closure.

  • Athena plugging Boomer.

  • The two greatest curse words that the censors have to let through: frak and feldercarb.

  • Kick-ass gun battles that leave you breathless.

  • A show that's not afraid to address humanity's basest instincts and desires.

  • Baltar gets the best lines.

  • Cylon spines that glow when they're having sex.

  • Books with no corners.

  • Tragic heroes and heroic villains.

  • Space battles actually pay attention to the laws of physics.
I'm sure there are more, but here are some things I didn't like:
  • The 37 Lord of the Rings-style endings.

  • Cavil's demise. You can't tell me he wouldn't rather go down fighting or at least trying to kill Hera so the humans don't get her.

  • The "All this has happened before and all this will happen again" stuff. The premise is okay, but the way Ron Moore beat us over the head with it at the end got tiresome.

  • "All Along the Watchtower"? What the frak?
I don't know what I'm going to do with myself on Friday nights now. I can't trust Fox to keep a good sci-fi TV show running. Look at their track records: Firefly, Brimstone, Millenium. All gone.

On the other networks, Heroes is okay, Lost is ending and there really aren't any other good shows out there. The WB? Give me a break.

What was great about BSG is that there were no crappy-looking and implausible aliens. The show was solely about humanity. It was about us at our best and us at our worst. Often, we were somewhere in between.

I have heard rumours of a couple more movies or even a feature. I hope they see the light of day, although there really isn't much more story to tell; any new project would be about filling in the blanks not continuing the story.

If you haven't already, get the BSG mini-series from Netflix. If you like it, get the entire run of the show. If it's not your cup of tea, that's okay, but give it a shot.

Now on to the dancing . . .

Last week, Belinda was the first person voted off. However, unlike Tucker Carlson and Kenny Mayne, she wasn't the worst dancer on the show. I'm sad to see her go, especially since both of the Steves are still around. Tonight's dances are the foxtrot and the samba; I'm looking forward to both.

My DVR and I are having our first spat. It's not wanting to record DWTS because it's also set to record 24. It's done both in the past, so why start this now? Oh, well, as long as Mrs. High Lord doesn't start channel surfing, I should be okay.

Dancing the samba are Denise and Maks in the lead-off spot. I didn't need to see Maks dressed up as the Chaquita Banana girl. I'm sure Jennifer didn't need to see it either. Of course, she's probably happy to see him with his shirt open. Denise is obviously counting along in her head. And what's up with the music? I'm not sure about the choreography. Maks is right; she does need to lighten up. Last week, they called Denise the most improved, but this week, she took a step back. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either. The song selection left much to be desired; Bruno said it didn't have the "party" and carnivale feel, but the song didn't help.
The Judges's Scores: 5-6-5
The High Lord's Score: 6

Next up are Chuck and Julianne. Has anyone seen Big Bird lately? After last week, I think someone needs to go down to Sesame Street and see if he's still got his feathers. They give us the first foxtrot of the night and it's pretty good. He looks stiff, but that could also be the dance. She's still doing more dancing than he is, but it's better than last week. Whoever is paying for licensing for songs at ABC must have had their budget cut in half this season, 'cuz the music blows.
The Judges's Scores: 8-7-8
The High Lord's Score:

Next week, I'm going to be out of town for training. I'm going to try and blog DWTS and Idol from my hotel, but I won't have access to the DVR. If anyone wants to go out for crabcakes next week, drop me a line!

Holly's augmented chest is falling out (not a complaint) and Dmitry is just happy to be there. She's also doing the samba and there's some contrived drama between the two in the intro piece. Just as Lacey had some growing pains last year, Dmitry is in the barrel this season. I'm hypnotised by her frilly bikini. Her movements are stiff and she's got that counting problem, too. I know she got a late start, but if she doesn't loosen up soon, she won't be around much longer. And was there a lift (however unintentional) there at the end?
The Judges's Scores: 5-6-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

What's with Carrie Ann and the 5 paddle tonight?

Next up are Steve O and Lacey. He's a scary-looking dude. His eyes are freaky; not quite at Blind Scott level, but freaky nonetheless. It's foxtrot time for them and I hate this song. Steve plays it mostly straight and misses several cues. No one who's trying ever deserves a 4, but they may get a couple. It was, in a word, bad. The judges try to say nice things about him, but the fact of the matter is that he's probably going to be the worst of the night.
The Judges's Scores: The Generic Phone Exchange
The High Lord's Score:

Are you a sci-fi nerd and really bored? Check out Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions website.

Lawrence and Edyta are doing the samba and I have low expectations. He had to stop playing golf for the show. I think if he had drawn Cheryl, Julianne or even Kym, he'd have an outside shot at winning, but Edtya just doesn't have it in her. He's obviously trying hard, but he's simply too heavy on his feet. Where Warren Sapp could cover his deficiencies by being likable, LT cannot. I think he'll be gone within a month.
The Judges's Scores: 7-6-7
The High Lord's Score:

So far tonight, the first five dancers have underwhelmed me. Are they backloading the show?

Wrapping up the first half of the show are Shawn and Mark. I hope her outfit this week is more age-appropriate. How shameless is her "Vote for Shawn and Mark" shirt she and Mark wear during rehearsal? She's solidly in third place and does nothing to advance her position, but nor does she regress. Mark does a good job by not overwhelming her with choreography. If she can steadily improve, she'll be one of the three people who is still around for the finale.
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score:

I think 27 is a little high, but it's good to see that the judges didn't lose their big-number paddles. Tom then reminds us that Hall & Oates & their Botox will be performing on the show tomorrow night. Sounds like a definite no-filler show for me.

If this is Dancing with the Stars, I wonder how Gilles got invited. Mrs. High Lord is very happy about that, though. He's lucky he got Cheryl as his partner. I think he'll do well since the latin rounds favour him. Mrs. High Lord likes the red. If they gave Shawn 9s, Gilles has to pick up a 10 or two. Technically, it's the best samba of that night and he pulls it off. Cheryl may become the first three-time champ this season. For once, the celeb held his/her own against the pro.
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score:

The second-luckiest guy on the show this season is DAG who gets to dance with Kym. David does a lot of standing around at the beginning. Technically, Kym didn't demand too much of him, which is a mistake. I think he can do more, but he's kind of clumsy; not bad, but not great either. I didn't see a lot of content in their dance; it could have been better.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-8
The High Lord's Score:

Why do John and Kate have two dogs to go with their eight?

The iWoz and Karina had to dance twice last week. I have a feeling that he'll be in the dance-off a lot for as long as he's on the show. Doesn't he have a broken foot? Is the hospital trip a ploy for sympathy votes? Karina wants to throttle someone for sticking Steve with her. Predictably, he's a wreck. As the night has gone on, the music has become more dance appropriate. Steven is trying, but he's just not very good. If you're a voter, do us all a favour and vote for someone other than him.
The Judges's Scores: 4-3-3
The High Lord's Score: 5

The 4s and 3s were utterly uncalled for. I think if someone's trying (which Steve is), they deserve at least a 5.

Melissa and Tony are solidly in second place among the couples, which makes me wonder how they would be doing if she had the full six weeks of lead time. She's got Shawn breathing her neck, while at the same time, she's hot on Gilles's heels. Now that Tony knows just what to expect, I think he's going to open up the playbook a little. I just hope he doesn't torpedo her like he did to Stacy with his crappy choreography. I like Melissa; she's a quick learner and has the most natural talent of the celebs.
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score:

I didn't think they were as good as Shawn and Gilles, but good for her.

Looking like a mini-Janet, Lil Kim shakes her moneymaker at Derek's urging. Outside of the Big 3, Kim could make a strong charge and sneak into the finale. The trick for her will be getting people outside of prison to vote for her. It helps that she has a partner who choreographs to her, not in spite of her. She loses a step or two, but overall, she had a good, solid performance.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-9
The High Lord's Score: 8

Ty and Chelsie wrap up the show. After the quickstep last week, they should have an easier time with the foxtrot. Just as Mark is trying not to come off a creepy with Shawn, Ty is doing the same with Chelsie. If there's anyone who deserves to stay based on being the most improved, it's Ty . . . at least until he drops Chelsie. They recover nicely, though. While their dance has its share of flubs, I think he's truly the "every man" who's doing his best and coming along nicely. Why do they pan The Woz when he tries, but praise Ty? The judges softball his scores, probably in a shameless attempt to keep him around longer than some of the others.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

One of the Steves needs to go. Preferably both. Lawrence and Holly could also be on the chopping block.

Tomorrow night, there's no Idol 'cuz it's being bumped for the Prez. The DWTS results show will be on, but I'll be waiting until about 9:45 before I fire up the DVR.

See you all then.

So say we all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 people are getting ready for the tour . . .

. . . And one more person will be left watching from home (along with Amanda Overmeyer and Vanessa Olivarez).

For the first item of the night, I'd like to briefly address the story that the Idol Final Four has been fixed by the producers. Of course, this story is nothing new. It seems this comes up every year.

In fact, there is a whole group of people who believe Idol is just one big conspiracy.

Personally, I don't subscribe to any of that hogwash. Fixed? No. Maneuvered? Yes.

It goes without saying that Idol plays favourites. Just look at all the face time they've given Gokey and Michael Sarver this year. Or what about The Arch last year? Or Carrie Underwood a few seasons back?

When was the last time someone with virtually no face time advanced deep into the show once they went to the Big Stage? That would be Bo Bice. This season's no face time poster boy is Kris, but I don't see him making a strong charge.

On the other hand, there is a guy on this season who would not be on if 1) he didn't get massive face time, and 2) wasn't blind. Getting shown on TV and having the semi-finalists being cast for their "story" is something that happens every year. We should be used to this by now.

However, when it comes down to it, the show is a popularity contest. It's not a singing competition. Nor is it really about finding the next great pop star. And sometimes, the most talented person isn't the most popular. Nor is Fox/19E/Freemantle's favourite always the most popular.

If you need evidence of the fact that Idol is not fixed, look no further than David Archuleta or Taylor Hicks.

Had the TPTB that run Idol truly wanted to fix the "competition", Archuleta would have won and Taylor would not have won.

Yes, the public is maneuvered into rooting for certain singers, but I don't believe the show is fixed.

Having said that, on to topic #2: Adam Lambert.

I've read a lot of folks who think he's the next greatest thing and a lot of folks who despise him.

This will be his undoing.

Remember back to season 4 when Chris Daughtry got unexpectedly got whacked and finished in fourth place? If you don't, please take a trip back in time as I congratulate myself for being one of the few people in the blogosphere who got it right.

Mark my words, this is what will happen to Adam.

In an informal and unscientific survey of the people who sit near my cubicle, everyone falls into one of the following three categories:
  • They lurve Adam
  • They despise Adam
  • They think American Idol is a waste of time
There is no in-between with him. While this will carry him on for about six or seven more weeks, it will catch up with him and he won't win.

Here's why: Once the dead weight starts falling away (Megan, Kris, Michael, Scott . . . that means you), the object is no longer getting people to vote for you. When there are six or seven singers left, each remaining singer has a core of powervoters who will vote for them regardless of what they do or how their actual performance goes.

The trick is for each remaining singer to pick up as many of the powervoters whose votes are now up for grabs. The Claymates were the first bloc of voters to flex their collective muscle, but the advent of the powervoter came in season 3 when Diana Degarmo got all of southern Georgia to vote for her, not just once, twice or ten times, but hundreds of times.

Here's where Adam has to tone down his schtick. He's already got people who are hanging on his every word. What he needs to keep in mind is at this point, he's got to start picking up new voters. That means having come crossover appeal to the people who might otherwise have voted for Michael or Megan or even Anoop.

I think he needs to borrow a page from the A-Dawg's playbook and come out once or twice and just sing a song. Resist the temptation to go over the top with every performance. Show off your pipes. David Cook did this last year when it was ALW night and things turned out for him pretty well. And don't go out of your way to insult the people who like an entire genre of music. Especially when those people (the country fans) wield a considerable amount of power in the Idolverse.

The last singer who was this polarising was Sanjaya. Adam has much more talent, but I don't see him expanding his voting bloc. Why people like or don't like him varies; ultimately it's not important, but the simple fact is that most people have already made up their minds about him is.

If you are an Adam Lambert fan, and there a lots of you out there, you need to do what you can to encourage the fans of other, second-tier singers to vote for your guy. Otherwise, when we get to the top 4 or 5 (when the Judges's Save can't help him), Adam will be left standing without a chair when the music stops.

Now on to the show . . .

Seacrest starts us off and says the results "may" shock us. Then again, it may not.

According to our friends over at Dial Idol, three girls are in danger. They predict that either Megan, Alexis or Allison will be eliminated. Everyone else is safe.

I don't think Allison should be in danger, but I don't know that she has a legion of fans lining up to vote for her. Plus, it could also be that her fans have gotten complacent because she's been so strong lately.

The group sing tonight is "Trouble" and the first thing Mrs. High Lord said is that this crew has a lot more group chemistry than in some seasons past. Of course, they don't have Jason Castro around to not take the group sing seriously and Brooke White there to screw up everyone's harmonies, either. Whomever survives tonight will be good on tour; I'd almost be willing to pay money to see this crowd.

Look, Idol is paying some bills . . . no wait, that's just another crappy Ford commercial. Have I told you why I will never pay money for a Ford Motor Company product? Picture this: It's prom night and you're driving your parents's 1987 Ford Taurus. It's you, your date, your best friend and his date. You're sitting at a red light when the battery light comes on. The light turns green, you step on the gas and the car doesn't go. Now, that's not the real reason why I hate Ford. It's the dealer who quickly figures out your mom doesn't know jack about cars and tries to tell her that a new alternator will also require the head gasket to be replaced to the tune of $1,100. So Ford, if you wonder why you're facing bankruptcy, it's because you spent many, many years building a crappy product and allowing unscrupulous dealers to screw people over in your name.

We see a nice piece on Jasmine and Jorge getting eliminated, then Fox hands Michael and Megan about four million sympathy votes.

Now it's time for some results.

Danny is first and he's safe. Duh. Did you know that his wife died only four months before he auditioned for the show?

Lil, not "Little", is next. She's also safe. Now it's Anoop's turn. He'll be safe . . . and he is.

It's almost time for someone to get called to the stage. Allison and Michael get called next. Did you know that Michael has a little girl and that he works on an oil rig?

If you're playing the Idol drinking game, you get to chug because Paula's rambling again.

Allison gets called to the stage, which is a crime. Michael is also in the bottom 3. That's no surprise to me since he had a bad night.

This week's mentor was Randy Travis, but the guy who's shilling his new CD is Brad Paisley. I am resisting the urge to sway in my living room. Not really.

Who will be put in the third seat? I'd say it will be Megan. Speaking of whom, it looks like she's going to be sick . . . no, wait, she is sick. And they surprise me by declaring her safe.

Looking at the seating order on the couch, the last two to get their results will be Alexis and Adam. Is Adam the shocker?

(That's: Is Adam the shocker, not did Adam get the shocker?)

Kris and Matt get their results and they're going on tour. Simon stands by his rightful criticism of Adam's gawdawful rendition of "Ring of Fire". Randy then confuses Allison and Alexis; that's okay Dawg, they all look the same to me, too.

Adam is declared safe, meaning that Alexis is also in the bottom 3. Unlike Megan, Seacrest doesn't leave us hanging and he sends Allison back to the couch.

A few years ago, J-Hud got whacked because she, LaToya and Fantasia were basically the same singer. When she was eliminated in the infamous Top 7 results show when the show first pulled the "George" stunt, there was outrage. I, however, wasn't surprised. She was splitting votes and I think that's what may happen to Michael this year.

He's okay and a nice guy. However, he doesn't really stand out. While he's gotten more than his share of face time, he's not super-sympathetic (Gokey), super-distinctive (Adam), a good vocalist (Anoop) or have a disability (Scott). Instead, he's stuck splitting votes with Kris and Matt. The fact that he had to sing first last night won't help him.

After a quick commercial break, Seacrest brings Carrie back to sing a duet with Randy Travis. He's not there in a desperate ploy to get people to buy his new CD! My already-high opinion of him just went up.

What the hell did Carrie do to her hair? And why is she shouting so much? Or is it just that the sound guys don't know what they're doing?

I lurve Carrie. I lurve (in a manly way) Randy T. This is fab. I'd pay money to see them tour together.

Seacrest doesn't throw to commercial and instead asks Simon if they'd use their save on one of them. I don't see either of them being kept around. That would mean that two people will get canned next week and then how do you figure out who gets to go on the tour?

We come back from the break and Michael is declared safe. Alexis gets the mic in a last attempt to avoid elimination. I don't think they'll save her.

Isn't the teasing they do with the Judges's Save a real kick in the crotch? Not only did the singer get the least amount of votes, but then the judges kick them to the curb again.

Next week is Motown week, but they're singing on Wednesday with the results on Thursday because the Prez is going to be on TV. Speaking of the Grand Fromage, I'm turning his bracket in to the office pool tomorrow. Hopefully, he won't let me down.

Come back this weekend and we'll talk BSG.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A night at the Opry

Last week, it was MJ, this week it's the Grand Ole Opry. This theme seems tailor-made for Michael, although there are several of the others who could do well, too.

Test Pattern over at MSNBC has an article about possible themes for Idol, some serious, some tongue-in-cheek. Of course, I suggested Screw Your Buddy Night™.

In case you forgot how that works, each singer draws a name out of a hat. No two singers are allowed to have each others' names (so there's no retribution). Each singer gets to pick the song for the name they draw out of the hat. Do they softball each other? Or do they pick the hardest song from the catalog?

Imagine this: Danny Gokey says, "Hey, Lil, I may be a church choir director back home, but I'm here to win. Your song is 'It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)' by REM. Take that, biotch!"

Next up is Allison. She turns to Michael, "I think your oil rig buddies would really like to hear, 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now', one of Celine's unsingable songs. So long, sucka!"

Or what about Scott who gets to pick for Megan. "I can't see you very well, but you sound hawt. I'd like to hear you try your hand at 'Baby Got Back' cuz that's how I picture you."

How great would this be? Everyone write in to Idol and ask for a Screw Your Buddy™ theme night on Idol!

My other theme ideas are a duets night and the Wheel of Death™. What themes would you like to see.

With Idol on for two hours and DWTS on at 9:00, it means I'll be live-blogging Idol and going no-filler to see one of the Steves get canned.

Seacrest opens the show and it looks like Sarver is getting the Pimp Spot. Either that, or he's going first. I'm not sure I like creepy announcer guy introducing the judges from the stage. How much money do you thing they spent on this set? Looks like gobs and gobs. It's good to see someone thriving during this recession.

After running his yap for a few (too many) minutes, Seacrest reminds us that the people who advance to next week will get to go on the tour. Who ever gets canned tomorrow will not go on tour. Hey, there's Randy Travis! He's the next mentor. I hope he's a good one.

Randy agrees with me in thinking that the field this year is very strong.

First up is Lt. Rasczak who's singing Garth. This will either make Mike very happy or it will make him cringe. On the difficulty scale, this checks in at about 9 ("One Week" by Barenaked Ladies being a 10). Michael does a good job from the Dead Man's Spot, although I would have liked to have seen him do something that showcases his vocals and isn't so twangy. He flubs a couple of words (very easy to do), but he covers well. The judges wish he'd picked a better song, but he's there to have fun, and that is a fun song.

Simon starts off the night showing his obvious dislike of the genre. They should just give him the night off when it's country music night.

Allison is singing a Patty Loveless song. She's starting to shout a lot, although her voice is good for this song. Her performance is a little campy but that's okay. I like that she's one of the few singers who will never be overpowered by the big band. The judges like her and I agree. I think she can crash the Adam/Danny finale Paula has forecast.

Eschewing another commercial break, Seacrest brings out Kris, who is also singing Garth. I hope he doesn't go all AFE on us every week and sing a powerballad because that's where he's headed. He's vocally okay, if unspectacular. I think he's counting on sliding by on his looks and charm. We get a gratuitous shot of Kris's hawt wife and a little too much falsetto at the end. Paula's friend Pitchy shows up for the first time this year. I didn't like him as much as the judges did.

When the new, reimagined BSG ends on Friday night, I wonder who's going to end up dead and who's going to live. If I were laying odds, these are the chances of each of these characters surviving the series:
  • Cavil - 1,000,000 to 1 (he's too evil to end up anything but dead at the end)
  • Boomer - 500 to 1 (Helo will kill her)
  • Adama - 100 to 1
  • Roslin - 100 to 1 (they'll go out holding hands)
  • Starbuck - 50 to 1
  • Baltar - 30 to 1 (a single act of self-sacrifice)
  • Helo - 25 to 1
  • Tigh - 10 to 1
  • Athena - 5 to 1
  • Caprica Six - 2 to 1
  • Apollo - 3 to 2
  • Hera - 1 to 2
  • Galactica - not gonna happen; the ship is going out in a blaze of glory
A part of me thinks everyone will end up dead. But since this has all happened before and will happen again, I don't think that everyone will die, but they've killed off plenty of prominent characters before (Dualla, Callie), so it wouldn't surprise me if half of the main cast is lined up and mowed down.

Going in the four-hole is Lil who's wearing a lot of red. Shouldn't she be wearing green today? She's singing Martina, which is generally a good move. Lil's voice isn't right for this song. Or maybe the sound guy is just a little off his game tonight. The chorus is much better than the verses. Her performance is nice and understated, unlike Michael's manic dancing and near stage diving. I don't hate it, but I think she just wants to get through this week and on to themes that are a little more to her liking. Lil reminds me of the person who should have won season 3, LaToya London, although I don't think she's as versatile.

One of the things I hate about this show is that once Idol crowns its TCOs, I have a hard time evaluating them objectively; I automatically start to dislike them. I know it's not fair, but that's the way I roll. Such is the case with EBA. Last week, I think Adam discovered a new dinosaur; Screechasaurus Rex. I hope he just sings this week instead of shouting a lot. Like Lil, he gets a sit-down interview. He's singing Johnny Cash which is sure to make my friend Vince cringe, because Randy doesn't like it either. I'm sure the judges will rave about him being "original" when he's just covering an unknown arrangement. The first part is okay, but he soon gives in to the shouting and the screech. I could see him and Nick/Norman going out and performing in drag with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I'm not a fan, and I didn't care for his performance tonight. Simon calls it "indulgent rubbish" and he's right. Randy (Jackson) slurps him, as usual.

Mrs. High Lord didn't like Adam tonight. She generally does, but she thinks that he was really kind of insulting country music by choosing an obscure, non-country arrangement. I just find his voice grating.

TBG also goes to the Martina songbook, which Randy Travis thinks is a bad move. I agree. He's also going to be one in danger of going AFE all season. However, given his disability, sitting at his piano isn't a bad idea. I really wish Randy had given him some sunglasses. I'm not crazy about the arrangement; it's too slow. He picks up later on and should have sung at that tempo for the whole thing. The "false" at the end was unnecessary and off-key. I give him a big aiiiiiight. Paula spent all of Hollywood and the Wild Card telling Scott she couldn't wait to see him at the piano, but now she wants him to step out from behind it. Make up your damn mind! Simon just tell him he needs to pick better songs.

How deep do you think the catalog is? In the past, there have been stories of 12 singers having only 25 songs to choose from. Do they get the entire Grand Ole Opry songbook? Or just off a list of 20? Is Idol so cheap that they can only afford to buy licensing that lets the kids choose from a dozen songs?

DWTS just started on the DVR, but now it's time for Alexis who should do well tonight. She's singing a Dolly song that isn't "I Will Always Love You". She doesn't oversing (as is very easy to do with Dolly songs). The high notes are a little rough for her, but the verses are good. Until she starts shouting at the end. It could have been better, but given the low bar for tonight, it was more than adequate. Simon says it was a little "soundalike", but didn't he just tell Anoop not to mess with a classic? Make up your damn mind!

I don't usually watch commercials, but this one always cracks me up.

In a bad move, MWJD is singing a former Idol's song. He's another TCO I dislike because Idol has already crowned him. Look, he's singing "Jesus, Take the Wheel"! Whooda thunk it? I'll bet he was inspired to do so by his wife. The judges will slurp him, too. What's with the Andrew Dice Clay jacket? The vocals are generally good; what are the odds that Simon calls him "soundalike", too? I'll give you a hint: Zero. Kara rightly disliked the first half of the song. Paula cannot put together a coherent sentence . . . no, wait, that's just the meds.

The A-Dawg is singing Willie. I wonder if he smells like Willie, too. It's a nice change of pace from "Beat It" last week. In what is a nice, subdued performance, Anoop does a good job. He doesn't try to do too much. If anything, it's just a shade too slow. I liked him a lot. To me, this was the best of the night. While it wasn't off the charts hot, it was the kind of nice performance that shows off his vocals without being a straight cover.

Not getting a sit-down, Megan tries her hand at Patsy. This song was once massacred by Pickler so let's see how the tattooed girl does. Like Lil, she's in red and letting the girls hang loose. I like the arrangement, if only because it's got a little old-fashioned twang to it but also has a little bit of jazz thrown in. This is much better than last week, although she might have a "relevancy" problem if she keeps going of 50 years into the past to pick songs. Do the judges mention the flu to get her some sympathy votes?

"Drawing" the Pimp Spot this week is Matt. He's also singing Carrie, which Randy advises against. I'm not a Matt fan, but he must have gotten to go last for a reason, right? He's also "bringing it down", which I think is a mistake. Why is Paula sniffing Simon's arm? She is definitely high. Is Paula going to tell him to step out from behind the piano, too? Make up your damn mind! He has some really weird, Joe Cocker-like faces when he sings and plays. Maybe he and Scott should have a piano duel. It was a big meh for me.

The Good
no one tonight

The Bad
Anoop, "Always On My Mind"
Allison, "Blame It On Your Heart"
Kris, "To Make You Feel My Love"
Danny, "Jesus, Take the Wheel"
Lil, "Independence Day"
Alexis, "Jolene"
Matt, "So Small"
Megan, "After Midnight"
Scott, "Wild Angels"
Adam, "Ring of Fire"
Michael, "Ain't Going Down 'Til the Sun Comes Up"

The Ugly
no one tonight

No one was awful tonight, but no one was great either.

Who should be in the bottom 3:
Adam, Michael, Scott

Who will be in the bottom 3:
Alexis, Megan, Michael

Who should go home:
Michael

Who will go home:
Michael

I think going first won't help Michael, despite all the face time he's gotten. The TCOs are on cruise control, but in about three weeks, the field will tighten up because this crew is fairly deep.

I skip the Idol recap and switch over to DWTS to see who gets whacked. During one of Idol's commercial breaks, I saw Belinda dancing a few minutes ago, so that means she was in the bottom 2. I wonder who the other one was . . . I guess I should watch it on the DVR, but I'm too lazy.

Tom brings them back from break and The Woz is the other half of the bottom 2. Who's it going to be? I'll bet it's Steve and Karina.

(scary music)

It's Belinda and Jonathan. That makes me sad. She is so much better than either of the Steves. Have I mentioned that I used to have a crush on her?

Maybe she can go on The Surreal Life like Jane.

So who are your picks to go home tomorrow night? Who's going to live and who's going to die on BSG?

High Lord. Out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tommorrow is Patrick's Day . . .

With the first round of dancing over, it's time to handicap this "season's" dancers.

As with Idol, all predictions guaranteed wrong or your money back.

Here's how I see them finishing this season:
  1. Steve & Karina
  2. Steve-O & Lacey
  3. Lawrence & Edyta
  4. Ty & Chelsie
  5. Chuck & Julianne
  6. Lil' Kim & Derek
  7. Holly & Dmitry
  8. Belinda & Jonathan
  9. Gilles & Cheryl
  10. David & Kym
  11. Denise & Maksim
  12. Melissa & Tony
  13. Shawn & Mark
Honestly, I have no idea who's going to win. What strikes me as odd about this gang is that there is no obvious favourite. The biggest surprise is how good Melissa was given that she has basically had no chance to practice with Tony.

Unlike past seasons, I don't think the athletes automatically have a leg up on anyone. LT is no Emmitt Smith. Heck, he's not even Jerry. The only thing I am reasonably sure of is that Steve Wozniak needs a minor miracle (a miracle on par with keeping Brooke Burke in her dress during a West Coast Swing, not the got-your-nose type miracle) to avoid being eliminated tomorrow.

The show opens and the first thing everyone notices is that Lacey has no partner. The second thing we all see are iWoz's pants up to his armpits.

Last week's dances were the waltz and the cha-cha. This week, they're all doing the salsa or the quickstep.

First up are Holly and Dmitry. I had forgotten Dmitry was on SYTYCD. I think she has a fair amount of natural talent and probably some childhood dance lessons. Her footwork is far from perfect, but given that she has about five weeks less time to train than the other celebs, they're pretty good. Dmitry takes a page out of the Tony school of learning fast and doesn't overwhelm Holly with too much. They do many of the basic moves and virtually no stunts. The judges coach her a little too much. I know they're not going to cut her any slack, but I think she and Melissa should get at least a three week grace period before there's any serious consideration about eliminating her.
The Judges's Scores: Satan rears his ugly head
The High Lord's Score: 7

Drawing the #2 spot are DAG and Kym. They're doing the salsa and I see a trainwreck coming. I really hope he sticks around because I don't know that I can stand Kym being eliminated early (again). She's doing way more dancing than he is. They lose sync a couple of times. Overall, it wasn't bad, but I don't think he did himself any favours tonight. As with Holly, the judges pack in some good coaching and reasonably constructive criticism.
The Judges's Scores: 6-5-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

The judges are being a lot harder on the celebs than last week. Maybe it's some tough-love or maybe they just didn't want the celebs to quit after only one show.

After a quick commercial, we find out Steve O hurt himself while practicing the salsa. Then it's time for Denise and Maks to show off their quickstep. They should be safe at least for another few weeks. I don't think of "Grease" going well with the quickstep, but we've seen stranger things on this show. Denise is obviously not comfortable with this dance. Still, she holds up well, but looks stiff throughout.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score:

An interesting commentary about the casting of DWTS says "real" celebs don't need to do shows like DWTS because they either already have jobs or don't want the stigma of being associated with "reality" TV. I think there's some truth to this. I also don't know how long they can keep going with two "seasons" a year. How long will it be before they run out of celebs?

I thought Belinda and Jonathan were better than the judges said last week. She's definitely less creepy than Priscilla, even though they bear a striking resemblance. The actually looks like she's having fun. There's a little bit of counting going on in her head, but not so much that it's painfully obviously. I thought it was better than the judges did.
The Judges's Scores: 6-6-6
The High Lord's Score:

Since I have a blog, I figured I should also have Twitter. So if you do, too, come visit me at Twitter. I don't know how often I'll update, but it's worth joining, right?

Ty is a likable guy, but he's new to dancing. Chelsie is just new to the show. He seems like a good guy and I can appreciate the effort he's putting in. After all, he signed up to dance "against" his wife and now he's out there on his own. Chelsie doesn't ask him to do too much, although he's trying too hard and not just trusting in his muscle memory. I hope he makes it another couple of weeks because he could be the "most improved", even if he doesn't have a chance at winning. The judges are largely complimentary; I thought they'd get better scores than the judges (ahem . . . Len) gave them.
The Judges's Scores: 7-6-7
The High Lord's Score:

Next, we have Shawn and Mark who were very good last week. I feel kind of creepy watching her in the outfits since she's only 17. Can we get a rule that everyone on the show needs to be 18? That and the half-hour results show thing. Her footwook seems a little off in places. Mark is doing more dancing than she is. I think the judges are going to rave about them. Her advantage is that she's used to doing the same thing over and over in a routine where some of the others (even the athletes) aren't used to that level of repetition.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-8
The High Lord's Score:

As I said last week, I don't think anyone who is putting forth a reasonable effort should get less than a 5, yet The Wizard of Woz and Karina got 4s. Like Denise, Woz draws a song that would be better used on swing night. He's actually not bad. His posture is awful and he misses most of his marks, but I enjoyed it. Look, it's Kathy Griffin! She's there to watch her buddy, the Woz. If he survives tomorrow night (not likely), I don't see him making it to April.
The Judges's Scores: 6-5-6
The High Lord's Score: 6

Karina is pissed off at the producers for sticking her with Steve.

Unfortunately, Chuck hasn't been dumped by the Future Mrs. High Lord. Yet. He feels like a sissy doing the salsa. I am mesmerised by her pants. More than usual. He's not bad, but being dressed in black is an obvious ploy to get people not to pay attention to him and instead focus on Julianne. Bruno says he underachieved, and he's right.
The Judges's Scores: 6-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

ABC gets in some cross-promotion by showing Captain ("The Hammer is My Penis") Tightpants. If you haven't had the chance, check out Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog.

Lawrence and Edyta are next and he needs to lighten up. I think he's taking himself a little too seriously. He's also a big guy who's clumsy on his feet. His footsteps are just too heavy. I think he really wants to win, but he's not built for this competition. He's also spending too much time counting along in his head. I don't think he's horrible, but he's got a lot of ground to make up on this season's top tier.
The Judges's Scores: 7-6-7
The High Lord's Score:

We find out Steve O hurt himself in practice when he fell and landed on his microphone. He and Lacey are the "rebel" couple this season and they're not on tonight. They show his dress rehearsal performance. He still looks a little stiff, although he does look like he's having more fun this week than last. In parts he seems to be moving at about half Lacey's speed.
The Judges's Scores: 5-4-5
The High Lord's Score:

Even if Steve survives tomorrow night, I don't know much longer his back will hold out.

Lil Kim is dancing to make her mamma proud while Derek seems to have lost his razor. Why do they get genre-appropriate music? Like the other celebs who do the quickstep early, she has some footwork problems, but over all, she's not bad. It helps that she has a partner who knows not to overwhelm her. I think they'll get a nice mix of 7s and 8s. Grumpy Len makes his first appearance of the season.
The Judges's Scores: 8-7-8
The High Lord's Score: 8

Did you know that Tennessee women's basketball coach has a 100% graduation rate? Even the great John Thompson of Georgetown's graduation rate was only 97%. Even if you don't like Tennessee basketball, you have to love Pat.

Last week, Melissa and Tony got the Pimp spot with only four days of practice. She's got some big stripper hair and some wicked hip action. I'm so glad the Bachelor dumped her so she could be on this show. Being a professional cheerleader/dancer certainly helps her out. Of the "replacement" dancers, Melissa much better than Holly, although it's not because of the effort; she simply has more training. The judges are a little overly-effusive in her praise. I'll bet we see our first 9 of the year.
The Judges's Scores: 9-8-9
The High Lord's Score:

I think Tony is very happy Nancy withdrew from this season because he actually has a chance to win, something he's been lacking since season 2.

Wrapping up the show are Gilles (who?) and Cheryl. They got the high score last week. We'll see if they can do the same this week (not likely after Melissa and Tony's exhibition). He takes off his shirt in rehearsal in a blatant ploy for votes (Mrs. High Lord is calling as I type). If he has a "Superman" shirt underneath his suit, I'm going to throw up. He's not as good as last week. It may be the shoulder, but I don't think he's cut out for ballroom. I don't think I was watching the same dance as the judges. And yes, I felt nauseous when he ripped open his shirt.
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score:

The dancers in the top tier are almost certainly safe. I think the emerging top tier is Gilles, Melissa and Shawn. Pretty much in that order. Kim's knocking on the door, but she's not there yet.

Tomorrow's elimination will be one of the Steves. I'd lay even odds on both. If they pull and Idol and whack two people, both will be gone, but I'm betting it's the Woz.

The title of this post comes from a little girl Mrs. High Lord and I used to babysit. When she was about three, she came to see us for a weekend and she said, "Tomorrow is Patrick's Day."

"That's right," I said. "What do you do on St. Patrick's Day?"

"You wear green," Kyra told me in her serious voice.

"Very good," I smiled. Thinking she would tell me about being the Patron Saint of Ireland and chasing all the snakes away, I asked, "What did St. Patrick do?"

"Patrick's a starfish," she replied.

So happy Patrick's Day to everyone tomorrow!

High Lord. Out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Not everyone likes the new rules

Apparently, someone else hates the "Judges' Save" rule more than me.

For more things Hitler hates click here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two for one eliminations

Just what is the twist in tonight's show? Will the audience love it or hate it? If the judges are involved, doesn't that take the decision out of the hands of "America?

All those questions and more . . . and we only have to sit through an hour-long show to find out.

Several of the blogs I read have either stated themselves or had readers comment that they think this season is dull. I disagree.

If you mean that there is no one who leaps out and grabs you right away, then it probably is dull. If you mean that there is no Carrie Underwood or Ruben Studdard in a top tier of singers who blows everyone else away, then it probably is dull.

However, I think those days are long gone.

The talent gap has shrunk between the good and the also-rans. We saw this last year and the year before. To me, what's telling is that none of the 13 finalists make me cringe. Last night, there wasn't one Leah Labelle or Lindsay Cardinale performance that reminded me of fingernails on a blackboard.

Remembering back to last year, even the season's whipping girl KLC would have had a reasonable shot at finishing in the top four or five in seasons two, three or four. Despite the fact that there are four singers who clearly stand no chance of winning this year, none of them are absolutely awful.

Like last year, this season--based on vocals alone--could be up for grabs between four to six singers. When could any of the earlier seasons make such a claim?

I think what makes people think the show is dull is that the level of self-awareness among the singers has risen and they're afraid to do anything to tick of potential voters. Gone is the freshness of uncanned interview responses and predictable blather between the judges and the singers.

While not every singer can be Nick Mitchell or Chris Sligh and openly admit that they're using/abusing the system, they all are. Everyone is guarded in their comments and I have no illusions that the people who mention their kids, their late wives, the tornado that destroyed their homes or the recent passing of their grandfather aren't doing because they were asked a simple question. They're all playing the game.

It is we, the audience, who have become cynical and jaded at the way we view the singers and this "contest".

Here's a shocker: the selection process eyes people to fill a role. How did we miss that when we first saw Carrie Underwood milking cows on her farm back home? Here's another one: the producers love to grease the skids for a favourite and talent has nothing to do with it. That's why David Archuleta advanced to the finale, Melinda Lira got cut after one song and why Lisa Leuschner was smacked down in the Wild Card rounds.

Simon tells us week after week--he may even believe this--that Idol is a singing competition. It's not. Never has been. Never will be. American Idol is a popularity contest. Accept it. Move on.

Why do you ask? Isn't Fox interested in finding the next, great thing? Of course not. Fox wants a ratings powerhouse to sell product placements and advertising. 19E has a stake in the winner only as much as a guaranteed recording contract, but as we saw with Taylor Hicks, they really don't care about that either. After all, a million dollar recording contract is a drop in the bucket to a big multimedia conglomerate. Even in this economy.

Everything that goes into the show is designed for one thing: Get people on their sofas and watching the tube (remember when TVs still had tubes in them?). Everything else is secondary. They want controversy; it brings in viewers. They want people to be good (Carrie & Bo) or bad (Sanjaya) because that fuels the interest machine which in turn runs the sponsorship mill.

Once you understand that, the "drama" of the show is easier to take.

Now on to a couple of other things:

How about Rush Limbaugh doing his damnedest to tear the Republican Party apart? Here's a shocker for David Steele and the rest of the GOP: Rush doesn't really care about what you guys do. He's like Idol and only wants to sell advertising. His nation of "dittoheads" followers may number in the millions, but general elections are won by the moderate middle who outnumber the extremes of both ends. If we (and I'm a moderate independent) feel that one party is only catering to the extreme base, then we're not going to vote for you.

Here's another commentary on Rush the the Republicans.

In my opinion, here's what the GOP needs to do in order to get back in the good graces of the public:
  1. Admit the George W. Bush years were a mistake.

  2. Stop saying that tax cuts are the only component of your economic policy.

  3. Get out of the hip pocked of the fundy Christian right.

  4. Work with the Democrats. The public wants bi-partisanship and right now, Obama and the Dems have done all the reaching across the aisle.

  5. Stop talking about fiscal responsibility when you're not in power and then turn around and spend like crazy when you are in power.
It saddens me that the once-mighty Republican Party--the party of Abraham Lincoln (the greatest president in the history of the United States), the party of Grant and the party of Eisenhower--has been reduced to a shell of its former self. And the way I see it, you only have Karl Rove and others of his ilk to blame. Either find a path back to relevance or you'll find yourselves gone the way of the Whigs and the Bull Moose.

In the world of football, what do you think the over-under is on how many games into the season TO goes before taking a dump all over Trent Edwards. Does he know that Buffalo not only isn't very good, but it's freezing-ass cold up there? I'll go Week 11.

Also in football news, I'm happy to see my guy Fred Taylor go to the New England Patriots. Arguably the greatest player in the (short) history of my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars, Taylor has a chance to wrap up his career as a role-player on a team that might deliver him to the promised land. Assuming Tom Brady comes back healthy, New England should be a player in the still-mighty AFC East and I hope it gets him the ring and recognition he's been missing while playing in the small, northeast Florida market.

Should I admit that sometimes when I'm at work or just sitting around, I find myself humming the tunes that play along on my Wii? Should I also admit that my Mii is just a little too plump for liking? I guess that's just part of the motivation, huh?

I'm going no-filler tonight, so until about 20 minutes into the show, I'm watching "The Big Bang Theory" on the DVR. Since I only really watch four shows on TV (football and NASCAR don't count as shows), I hate that two of them are on Monday nights. And then Mrs. High Lord watches 24 in the same time period. I hate it when they do crap like that.

Speaking of the other shows I watch, I'm willing to bet that Adama uses the Galactica to ram Cavil's basestar, killing off the psycho cylons. Roslin is at his side leaving Lee running the show as the Prez and one of the Sixes as the Admiral in charge of the fleet. Of course, that would be too predictable, right? And we know that Ronald Moore and his crew never do anything predictable. My other theory is that the cylons have a couple of captured battlestars sitting around somewhere and the Sixes, Eights and Twos give one of them to the humans after the human-cylon alliance kicks the crap out of the Ones, Fours and Fives.

What do you think tonight's group sing will be? I'm betting it's not a Chris Brown song.

According to MSNBC, the possible change they alluded to last night is giving the judges veto power over the public vote. I'm not sure how I feel about that. SYTYCD has a similar system in which the judges actually have some influence over the results and it prevents a bloc of voters such as the Claymates, The Soul Patrol or VFTW from keeping someone around longer than they deserve. I am not against that.

However, they run the risk of alienating a lot of viewers. Some people have never believed that the results are 100% controlled by the audience, but to totally give up the charade that the votes matter seems antithetical to the way the show has worked for seven years now.

If I were going to tweak the system, I propose one of the following:
  1. Vote people off. Simple enough.

  2. Each judge gets to "protect" one singer each week. This can be one of the frontrunners or it can be someone who just had a bad night. Those four cannot be eliminated. This goes on for the first five or six weeks, then everyone is fair game.

  3. Like SYTYCD, the judges each nominate someone to be voted off. "America" then votes for their faves among the four who are on the chopping block. When there are six people left, it's a free-for-all.
Anyone got a better idea?

As far as themes go, Michael Jackson songs wasn't a bad way to start the year. I prefer genres to artists, though. I wonder who else will show up to shill for their latest project or CD . . . like Kelly Clarkson who's on tonight. Coincidentally, her new album just dropped yesterday. At least she's an alum.

I still would like to see a duets show, The Wheel of Death™ and Screw Your Buddy Night™. Other themes I think would kick ass are Meatloaf (everyone has to call him "Mr. Loaf"), Weird Al, 80's hair bands, showtunes not by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Disney theme park songs and Schoolhouse Rocks!.

So now it's almost 20 minutes after and I'm on to the show . . .

Secrest opens the show and announces that 33 million votes were cast. That's more than were cast for the season 2 finale between Rueben and Clay. Powervoters unite!!!!

Paula's falling out of her dress. Someone must have slipped something into her drink early. That wasn't a complaint by the way.

After the early intros, Seacrest announces the long-anticipated change to the rules: Once per year, the judges can unanimously save one person from being eliminated until the top 5. Simon defends the practice, although I don't know that I like it. At least it can only happen once, and it might have kept J-Hud or Chris D. from getting whacked. We'll see if they invoke the save early or even at all.

After showing off the house the Top 13 lives in, we get a group sing featuring a Jackson 5 medley. Scott's dancing is almost as good as Jason Castro's. Gokey's . . . not so much. The group this year has much better chemistry without Castro and Brooke to screw up their harmonies.

Then we get to the obligatory recap. The people I liked last night, I still like. The singers I didn't like, I still don't like. And I still think Paula hasn't been out of the sauce.

Michael sticks to the script and shills for Ford. Freddie Mercury is rolling over in his grave and vowing revenge upon Idol as we speak.

Without going to commercial, Seacrest starts the results. Lt. Rasczak is first and he's safe. What's with Seacrest calling the guys by their last names? Allison is next and she's safe, too. ¡Hay caramba!

Jasmine is next and she's in the bottom 3. Matt G.'s name is called and he starts for the stage, but he's safe. Kris and Megan are both asked to stand, and Kris is safe.

Seacrest says either Jasmine or Megan will be eliminated. Seacrest doesn't delay and announces that Jasmine is one of the two lowest vote-getters. She sings "I'll Be There" again in hopes that the judges will use their save on her. I bet they won't, which seems kind of cruel. Tonight was better than last night, but overall, she's just a middle of the pack singer.

I'm sad to see her go, but she wasn't going to win. Seacrest gives her some re-assuring words. Remember, she's only 16!

I think she's a victim of too many singers splitting votes and being young.

Who the hell picked this rendition of Motley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home"? At least use the original to take people off.

After Fox pays some bills, Kanye West comes out. I'll bet you never hear the following words come out of his mouth: "President Obama doesn't like black people."

Then it's time for more results.

TBG is up first and he's safe. I'll bet he didn't see that coming. Get it? Ha, ha! Yeah, I'm driving the bus to Hell for that one.

Alexis got the Pimp Spot last night, but didn't get the phone sex line as her number. She's safe. MWJD is next and he's obviously safe. Anoop is the first person from the front row to get the bad news.

Based on the positions people are sitting in on the couch, Jorge will be the other person also facing elimination.

EBA gets his results and he's predictably safe. There is so little drama tonight, it's not funny. That leaves Lil and Jorge. The only reason why Lil might be on the block is that she was in the Dead Man's Spot. Of course, Jorge is the other person facing elimination.

I'm betting that Jorge is the other eliminated singer. Anoop just has too many fans. Mrs. High Lord agrees with me.

I just caught up to the broadcast in real time on the DVR. Kelly makes her (triumphant) return to the show. She's probably thinking, "Where the hell is Dunkleman?"

Do you think any of the other Idols will ever come close to the success Kelly had? Carrie is the only one who comes close, and she doesn't get played on pop stations much. The other Idols have struggled, both the winners and the also-rans. Some of Kelly's charm is that she was the first and got a lot more backing than the rest. It seems to me that once the season ends and the winner is crowned, it's like they're already moving on to the next season.

We come back from break and Seacrest announces that Anoop is safe for at least another week. This means Jorge is going to sing and the possibly get saved. Probably not.

This means we get to hear not one, but two swan songs. That's double the craptitude packed into the [sarcasm=on]shortest hour of television. Evah.[/sarcasm]

Why is Paula dancing? And do you think Randy and Simon are really talking about whether or not to save Jorge? Or are they saying stuff like, "Do you want to go out for sushi later" or "I could grab Paula's butt right now" or "It's a good thing I'm getting paid so much for this show because my 401(k) just went into the tank!"

As Jorge's farewell montage plays, Seacrest tells us that it's Miss Underwood covering "Home Sweet Home". I never figured her for a Crüe fan, but then again, my friend Mike says she does a spot on cover of GNR's "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City" on tour.

Jorge never had a shot at winning and after last night's show, no one should be surprised at his ouster. I hope tonight was a wake-up call for Megan and Anoop. Hopefully, they'll pick better songs in order to keep up with the TCOs.

With Jasmine and Jorge gone, I'm now 0 for 2 in my predictions, but neither was a surprising elimination. I think Jasmine, if she sticks with this singing thing, will have a bright future in a couple of years. Jorge, I'm not so sure about.

Anyway, that's it for me. Thanks for sticking with the blog tonight.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Handicapping the baker's dozen

With the dancing starting last night over on ABC and the finals starting on Idol, the Spring Competition Season is officially open. MSNBC has an article laying out who the faves are for Idol, and for the most part, I agree with them.

Each year, before the singing starts, I predict the finishing order and to the best of my recollections, not once have I been correct. So why stop now?

Here is my take on the 13 finalists for this year.

Just Happy To Be Here
Kris got no love from the editors during the auditions and Hollywood. I don't look for him to last very long unless he wows everyone. Of course, he earned his ticket outright and didn't have to go the Wild Card round, but he can't afford to have a bad week.

Another guy who survived despite the fact that other people sang on his night, Michael is coasting on his face time. His voice is average, but not great. He needs to come up big early. I think there's a good chance he gets whacked tomorrow.

Little Girls, Big Voices
Two teenagers who could either soar like Jordin or crash and burn like Leah, John Stevens et al, Allison and Jasmine have their work cut out for them. Both have good voices, but Allison has a tendency to shout too much and Jasmine hasn't always picked the best songs. They'll capture the tween vote, but they can't afford any missteps.

Can't Afford to Put on the Cruise Control
Anoop should have beaten Michael for the third spot in Semi-Final Week 1, but he had to go the Wild Card route. So did Matt, who I don't care for. Still, a lot of people like these two and if they're smart, they'll think of their second chances as borrowed time and not play things safe.

Yo Hablo Ingles
Everyone's favourite Puerto Rican Jorge has a big voice, but can he sing more than power ballads? He could be this year's Anthony Fedorov, or he could possibly turn into Clay (don't tell the Claymates I said that). I think he'll land somewhere in between, but he could quietly sneak into the Top 3 if he's the last one standing as the TCOs knock each other off.

Girls, Girls, Girls
There's no belter style diva (ie-a black girl with a big voice) this season, so Megan, Lil and Alexis are all trying to occupy the same basic space. Who comes out ahead early will determine which one of them is still around to make the Top 5.

Don't Ask Me to Dance
With an above-average voice, but no performance skills to speak of, Scott is relying on his "inspirational" story to get him a spot on the Tour. I like him, although he's not as great as the judges want you to believe. Once he gets behind his piano, though, I think he'll be force to be reckoned with.

Watch Out For the Early Exit
Many folks out there lurve Adam, but I'm not a fan. He's gotten a fair amount of face time and benefited from The Pimp Spot in Semi Final Week 2, but if there's one guy who could be this year's Chris Daughtry, it could be him. Actually, I think he's more like FRC who's projecting a certain image, but I don't know that he's actually as emo as he wants you to believe. He's got a core of fans, but I don't know that others will flock to him once the eliminations start.

The Chosen One
Each year, it seems Idol rams one singer down everyone's throat with their "story". Last year it was Achuleta. This year it's Danny and his late wife. Look, I feel for the guy and I think it's great that he's using her as his inspiration. But if this is a "singing competition" (as Simon seems to wail every week), then we have to evaluate this guy on his merits. He's okay, but not Sliced Bread (that would be Joey Logano). Right now this is his to lose.

So after hearing them once (or in some cases twice), here are my picks for finishing order:

13. Michael
12. Matt
11. Kris
10. Megan
9. Jasmine
8. Jorge
7. Anoop
6. Alexis
5. Scott
4. Adam
3. Allison
2. Lil
1. Danny

Remember, all predictions wrong or your money back.

Is the introduction order the singing order? If it is, Lil, Scott and Danny are the first three and that can't be good for them. Of course, it can't be that simple, can it?

Tonight's theme is Michael Jackson songs. Do you think he was there to molest mentor the singers? Oh, wait, he wouldn't have anything to do with them; none of the singers are boys under the age of 12. Plus, we find out that they're going to whack two of the singers in the first results show. I'd have thought they'd be extending the show an extra week to get in that extra-valuable product placement and advertisement time.

Lil leads off the show in the Dead Man's Spot. I wonder if they're counting on her already-large fanbase to carry her through. Either that or they're deliberately flirting with danger. She leads off with "The Way You Make Me Feel", which is a good choice. I'm happy The King of Pop isn't known for power ballads. Lil's got a big voice and a big ole booty (that's a compliment). Lil resists the urge to oversing for most of the song. I think she'll evade the bottom 3 tomorrow. And here's another prediction: She'll never give a shout-out to her girls in the Federal Detention Center.

Next up, TBG wastes no time in reminding us that he's legally blind. The guy who helps him around turns out to be his brother. His song is "Keep the Faith" and sure enough, he's behind his piano. I don't mean to sound like hater, but he needs to put a pair of sunglasses on because his eyes are freaking me out. This is another good outing, but his vocals are once again exposed to be average when compared to other singers who have made the Idol finals. Scott tells us he just learned the song this week, which isn't nearly as impressive as Holly and Melissa learning a ballroom dance in four days (or less).

MWJD is going in the three-hole. Why are they throwing all of their TCOs to the wolves early in the show? Obviously, they don't believe in the power of the Pimp Spot. With those big chunky glasses and the hair, he reminds me of Ted Allen. He's singing "PYT" and unleashes the falsetto on us early. The performance is better than the singing. Michael Jackson was so good back before he was a punchline (you know . . . when he was still black). I'm still not a fan, but Danny was good. Paula is already drinking the kool-aid and projecting him to win. All the judges slurp him like they did Archuleta last year.

Another guy who has been featured a bunch on TV is Lieutenant Rasczak. He's singing "You Are Not Alone". With all of Michael Jackson's hits out there, why pick a crapfest like this? His voice cracks in a couple of places and pitchy shows up in a big way. It doesn't help that he's following Idol Pimp King of the Year. About the nicest thing you can say is that he wasn't awful. His little girl is cute, too. Vote for her daddy!!!

What's up with Simon tonight? He's being uncharacteristically nice.

Jasmine reminds me of Paris (Bennett, not the Prince of Troy), only without the annoying talking voice. I don't think she'll crack like Camile Velasco, but it's early in the season. She gets the inexplicable sit-down interview. Her sisters are hawt (I'd say that about Jasmine, too, but that makes me come off as creepy). She's singing "I'll Be There" which is almost a violation of Idol Rule #1, but I'll let it slide since it was originally a Jackson 5 song. She oversings a bunch and walks on her own face in the former "mosh pit." Vocally, it got away from her in a couple of places, but that could have just been first night jitters.

So far, everyone is swinging for the fences. Not everyone is hitting it out of the park, but I'm happy to see that people aren't settling for a safe one-hopper into the gap.

(How was that for a baseball metaphor? I don't even like the sport!)

Seacrest introduces Kris from the band's balcony. Look, he's from a musical family! Who'da thunk it? He's been married for only five months, which means they still like each other. Like Scott, he whips out his instrument of choice for "Remember the Times". He seems so much more relaxed than he was during the Semis. I don't think he'll go very far, but at least he seems to be having fun. Why do I keep expecting Magic Johnson to come out dressed as Pharoah and start dancing? Like Michael, he wasn't awful, but nor was he top tier. Kara likes him with the guitar, but she needs to remind him not to turn his back on the audience.

Someone needs to check Paula's meds because she seems a little further off her rocker than usual. And Simon needs to stop looking over at Kris's wife and thinking, "Yeah, I'd hit that."

Eschewing another round of commercials, Seacrest throws us right to Allison who likes to sing at furniture stores to adoring crowds of dozens. I like the red hair, but I'm not keen on the helmet. Her song is "Give in to Me". She's taking the mantle of "rocker chick", and she actually does it pretty well. My only problem with her is that she's 16 going on 28, but when she talks, she's almost as goofy as The Arch. I like her big voice and the fact that she doesn't seem to let the band overpower her. Jasmine Trias could never have pulled this off.

Seacrest sends us to break with the sight of A-Dawg doing the "Thriller" dance. Now that we're officially into the second half of the show, it's good to see that nobody is sucking. Not everyone is great, but everyone seems to have stepped it up. My stepson doesn't like him because he's a Tar Heel (the boy is a Dookie). His parents whip out baby photos and they seem like very nice folks. Anoop tries his hand at "Beat It", only the background is right out of the Matrix. Did he go authentic 80s and find a Members Only jacket? Like Danny, his performance is better than the singing. I think he's riding his personal popularity, which is a shame because he's a pretty good singer, but he could be better.

Paula says this song is "untouchable" . . . then why the hell do you go to Michael Jackson's catalog? Personally, I never would have picked this song, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. The judges pan him undeservedly.

Jorge and his unibrow get to go next. He slips into ballad mode with "Never Can Say Goodbye". He's got a good voice, although there's something about him I find a little creepy. Maybe it's his weird facial expressions. Or that Lionel Ritchie jacket he's got on. So far, he's turning into another OTP like A-Fed. It's my personal preference, but I didn't get the Yo!

Just as 12 dancers are too many for Monday nights, thirteen singers are too many for Tuesdays. My ass has planted roots on the floor in front of the TV and there are still four singers to go.

Wearing red tonight, Megan gets a sit-down interview and a shout-out to her brother on his birthday. Did you know Megan's a single mom? I guess if Gokey is going to exploit his "story", she should, too. "Rockin' Robbin" is an old-school song and I like it. The dancing is nothing to be proud of and in a couple of places, she resorts to shouting. I have a feeling the judges are going to pan her for not being "contemporary".

Note to the interns at Fox: If you're going to cross-promote your shows, make sure everyone is wearing a microphone.

I can't figure EBA out. He's trying his hand at "Black or White" which isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I think he's this year's FRC. He also shouts too much. Mrs. High Lord says he is the only one of this crop who could have pulled off "Beat It". I started out liking him, but at the end, not so much. He wasn't as good as the judges said. They slurp him almost as much as they did Gokey.

Matt is not one of my faves, but he seems like a good guy. He makes his dad cry, and not for all the wrong reasons. Let's hope there's no hat and scarf this week. Matt's version of "Human Nature" starts strong, although he tries to do too much with the song. Hey, Matt, I will give you $500 in cash if you sing one song without any vibrato or runs where there was none in the original version. I think that's what annoys me most about him, because his voice is pretty good. At least until he unleashes his falsetto on us. Blech.

The Pimp Spot has been money so far this season; is there any reason to believe it won't be for Alexis? Her problem is that she wasn't shown incessantly early on and we haven't heard from her in a month. Maybe that's why she gets to go last. Her daughter also makes her tear up. "Dirty Diana" was never one my my favourite MJ songs and if the judges wanted her to "dirty up" earlier, she's gone all out showing off all her legs and way too much pasty, white skin. I like Alexis; it's a shame I dislike the song. Going last among a crowd of 13 will help her. I wonder if she got last pick of songs, too. There was too much shouting.

I revised my standings and put Megan, Kris, Jorge and Michael in the bottom category for the week.

The Good
Lil

The Bad
Danny
Allison
Adam
Jasmine
Scott
Alexis
Matt
Anoop

The Ugly
Megan
Kris
Jorge
Michael

Who should be in the bottom 3:
Jorge, Kris, Michael

Who will be in the bottom 3:
Jorge, Kris, Megan

Who should go home:
Kris, Michael

Who will go home:
Jorge, Michael

I think Anoop might make a surprise appearance in the bottom 3 tomorrow.

Tomorrow, two people will be eliminated. I've heard rumours of a judges-decided sing-off between the bottom 2 singers, which is something I have been calling for since about Season 4. I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

High Lord. Out.