Thursday, March 23, 2006


Revenge is a dish best served with cold cuts. Or something like that. And last night I got to see two masterful bits of revenge on my TV screen.

Well, technically, I only saw one of them, because I refuse to watch the "American Idol" results show unless every other channel on my cable system is blacked out and my eyelids have been clipped open. But you have to love the way Simon engineered Kevin's exit.

Simon's been doing this a while now. He knows when his criticism is fueling protest votes for contestants he doesn't like, and he knows how to turn that around and stick the knife in when the audience least expects it. After Kevin didn't so much as make the bottom three last week, Simon decided to damn him with faint praise. He sat through a passable, in-tune rendition of "When I Fall In Love," recognized that the worst thing an at-risk contestant can do is to just be a'ight, and paid Kevin the mild compliment of saying that his fans probably enjoyed that song. In Simon-speak, that roughly translates to "See ya! Wouldn't wanna be ya!"

Frankly, I'm disappointed in myself for not seeing that coming. I was as confident that Lisa was going home as I've been about a boot at least as far back as Anwar in the middle of last season. I should have recognized the power of killing with kindness.

I've seen a few recappers complain that Kevin's early exit is going to make this season less fun, because each year needs that one annoying person who sticks around much longer than they have any right to (Nikki, Carmen, John Stevens IV, Savol) and causing the premature exits of better singers. To that, I say Hong Kong Phooey. Kevin was an easy target, so obviously out of his league and so obviously mocked by the judges (even Paula!) that the joke would have worn thin very quickly. But there are still several people who suck left in this competition, and at least two of them (Ace and Pickler) keep getting overpraised by the judges, either because they fit some obvious mold, because they're doing so well in the votes that the judges don't want to look stupid, or both. When the Pickle outlasts someone like Elliott or Mandisa or Katharine, that's going to be a much bigger outrage than if Kevin had outlasted Lisa or Bucky. A prolonged run by Kevin means that American's are naive but nurturing. A long run by Kellie means that Americans are stupid.

And speaking of easy targets, I wrote last fall that the "South Park" Scientology episode "could have been a lot savager and funnier than it was," since mocking the CoS has become like a turkey shoot. I wanted savage? I wanted funny? I got 'em both by the barrel last night, with the whole Scientology=Super Adventure Club=child molestors bit, the Frankenbiting of Chef's dialogue to make him sound like a pederast, the helpful appearance of a psychologist, etc., etc., etc. That first act may have been the funniest thing I've seen since the opening 20 minutes of "Bigger, Longer and Uncut." I laughed so hard and so long at those early scenes that I think Marian may have already visited a divorce laywer this morning. The episode sagged a little in the middle, but around the time we got the "This is what Super Adventure Club really believes" subtitle (a callback to the best joke of the Scientology episode), it was brilliant again.

Two things I especially loved: 1)The jokes were structured in such a way that even the most litigious people on earth couldn't find grounds to sue, and 2)Through Stan and Kyle, Trey and Matt made it clear that they weren't mad at Isaac Hayes, just sad at what they felt had been done to him (whether the stroke story is true or not).

I won't get to watch "Veronica Mars" and "Lost" until sometime this afternoon at the earliest, so I may not be able to blog about them and "Scrubs" and other stuff until tomorrow morning.

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