Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Think Idol is Trying to Kill Idol

So it’s clear my DVR hates me.


Thanks to the crazed scheduling of all the channels I now have to tell my DVR what NOT to record in the event that there’s a three-way tie.


I realize I could do something like get a second DVR, or put a second TV in the house and watch that from time to time, but, eh.  Look, I don’t have THAT much time for TV.  Frankly, I’m sometimes glad there are so many commercials, because now I can watch a show in 20 minutes, which is about how long it takes me to eat, and then get other things done.


Granted, that means the commercials in question aren’t getting my full attention, like, ever, but frankly that hasn’t happened since the invention of the VCR.


At any rate, I keep telling it to skip a show that’s NOT American Idol, and the DVR swears up and down that’s it’s TOTALLY going to record Idol, and then it decides to skip Idol anyway. 


Also, it recently decided that two episodes of The Walking Dead takes up 45% of the DVR’s space, which is insane.


It’s been rebooted, and I flat-out cancelled a show, and hopefully there aren’t any more problems (just these two things suddenly made my DVR 10% full).  I don’t really care who wins Idol this year – even less than other years – but getting behind on the show renders watching it pretty useless.  After all, if you know who lost every week, why waste three hours finding out?


(Much the same can be said for the Oscars.  I missed all four hours and then read the results in about two minutes when it was all over.  To this I say, “Yay, Argo.”  And also, I don’t enjoy Ang Lee movies at all, and I don’t get the hype on that guy.)


So okay.


Now I’m caught up on Idol, and I wanna put forward a theory: I think they’re actually TRYING to kill the show this year.


Stick with me, because I think they’re being subtle about it, but follow along and you’ll see what I mean.


Watching Idol, it’s become clear to me that everyone involved just isn’t feeling it.  At first I kind of blamed Nicki, and that whole Nicki/Mariah thing, but as I sat and watched the kerfuffle build and build, I was struck by how boring it was.  So these two ladies didn’t like each other very much.  So what?  Why was this a big deal to the tabloids?  Why even bother to address it on the show?


Obviously, the big fight was being built up to because it was all over the news (because there’s not any real news to cover, of course) and I guess they had to say something about it.  But they kept acting like it was a selling point for the show, when really I think it made most people just go, “Eh,” and wander away.


I felt like the editors were trying to create some new characters this year, with Nicki as the bad girl and Mariah as the good girl, and Keith as the nicest man ever, based on the fact that he’s Australian and seems to be missing the top button on most of his shirts.


This is where it gets weird, though: It’s starting to feel like the editors are deliberately messing with us this year.


I guess you could argue that they’re trying to shake things up, but do it in the strangest way possible, but…


Okay, I’m getting confusing here.  Let’s try again.


This week, we saw ten of the top twenty ladies and ten of the top twenty guys.  And the majority of them were a nearly complete mystery to me and my wife.  We kept going, “Wait, who is that?  Why is he/she here?  Have we seen them before?”


And this goes back a ways.  Every year they toss three or four dozen people at us and give us these elaborate backstories on them, and the majority of the people who get a “story” make it through because, well, they’re a little preordained due to the fact that we had to listen to someone yap about them for five minutes.


But this year?  Who ARE these people?


Granted, I’ve always been bad with names, and I keep getting worse at faces, but almost none of these folks were memorable, and I’ve taken the time to check a couple of heavy-duty-watchers’ blogs to make sure I wasn’t crazy.


Most of the people with truly interesting stories are now gone.  The only one left from the top twenty is probably Charlie Askew, and while I guess I’m glad they like him, the kid is awkward, and getting more so the longer he’s on the show.  I mean, he seems like a nice guy and it’s clear he has an impressive range and loves performing.


But I literally cannot see anyone running out to buy his records.


And so it went.  Paul Jolley, who also got through, gave an okay performance, but the only thing I remember about him is that he looks like Wil Wheaton.  If there’s a market for a singing Wil, he’s got a lock.


Devin and Elijah…  I… I don’t even know.  Devin handed out a lovely vocal of a song I didn’t care much about, and I hope that works for him.  Elijah?  I have almost no memory of this kid, and his vocal this week wasn’t good, and I’m well aware they’re putting him through because they have to put SOMEONE through.


And Curtis?  Great vocal.  But we see this guy every year.  Last time it was Joshua.  Before that it was Jacob Lusk.  I guess he has different initials, so that’s something to cling to…


Over on the girls’ side, we had Kree, who totally crushed her song.  CRUSHED it.  And Amber, who also rated as a, “Who?”  Then she gave a great performance, and I remarked to my wife, “Hey, those two matter.  The rest are just cannon fodder.”


Which is to say, ten people have gone through, and among them we’ve scraped together maybe four really great voices.


Now, maybe this was the weak week (er… sorry) but if next week plays out much the same, we’ll be stuck with perhaps eight or nine great voices in a top twelve whittled down from something like 150,000 people.


To which I say, feh.


This is where I come back to my theory.  As the bad piled up this week (and there was at least one performance that I don’t even know what was happening… it was out of time and off key for the entire performance) you can see the judges going, “We got paid something like fifty million dollars, and we put these people on TV?”


I’ve gotta ask here, what’s the deal?  They couldn’t find a few more great voices amongst the 150,000 contestants?  Do they just not care?


And what’s with the editors?  Most of these people are a complete mystery to me.  It’s clear you’re not too much into caring about them, so why am I watching your show?


Meanwhile, Idol is getting slapped around on Thursdays, not only by The Big Bang Theory, but by 2 ½ Men, a show that’s almost the same age as Idol.  It literally can’t put down a decade-old show that lost its star a couple years back.


And the judges, set up by the editors, are… man, I apologize for all the ellipses, but they tried to set up a war that didn’t lead to much of a kerfuffle at all.  Everyone seems fine now, and they’re even mostly making actual comments designed to be helpful to the people going forward.


This leaves us with a bunch of people who are largely unknown to us.  If reality TV thinks it’s important to craft a narrative, the narrative this season is, “Something could happen.  Or not.  To some people.  Some of whom you might have heard of.”


I guess you could argue it’s laziness, or maybe the editors guessed wrong up to this point who would be important and who wouldn’t.  But they have months to work these things out, and years to figure out what the judges and audiences are looking for.


Which is why I’ve developed my theory.


Am I right?  I have no idea, really.  But at this point last year, I felt like I had a decent grasp of the major players in the game.  This year, it’s a bunch of random faces, many of whom aren’t impressing me much.


Bad guesswork?  A smaller pool of applicants?  Or a deliberate choice on everyone’s part to shove some people through and get this show axed?


You got me.

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