Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Drama-rama

(Testing out my new attempt at spoiler protection, this morning's entry, in order, will include "Idol" results, "Gilmore Girls" and "Scrubs.")

Well, call me a minx and slide me over a plate of sal-mon and calamari, because I never would have guessed Kellie Pickler could go from bulletproof to gone so quickly on "American Idol." Yesterday, I boasted "I have no doubt it's going to be one of" Kat or Paris going home, and while Paris had another scare, Kat was in the top two, while the Pickle, who had never even been in the bottom three, got kicked off so fast she couldn't even sing a farewell.

(Probably for the best. I don't think anybody wanted to suffer through her "Unchained Melody" again, and the bit where she said she wouldn't be on TV much longer because a commercial was coming up was the most authentically charming thing she's said in a while. Or maybe I'm just going easier on her now that she's gone.)

So what went wrong with my "better to suck than to be mediocre" theory? It usually stops being effective around final four or final three, when the gap between the genuinely talented singers and the ones getting by on personality becomes so obvious that the audience at large overwhelms the crazy fanbases. There was a talent gap between Pickler and everybody else so wide Robbie Knievel would break both legs trying to jump it, not to mention she gave two absolutely horrific performances in a row. The pity vote will save you one week, but when you're hideous back to back...

...ahhh, what the hell do I know? If that was the case, John Stevens wouldn't have lasted remotely as long as he did. Let's stop trying to analyze Pickler's demise and just enjoy it. Next week's theme is a twofer: Songs from the Year You Were Born and Songs From This Week's Billboard Top 10 Lists. Open-ended themes generally lead to boring shows, but with the deepest final five we've ever had, maybe we'll finally, finally, finally get the damn goosebump performance I've been whining about for weeks.

(And speaking of which, either in the comments for this thread or yesterday's "Idol" thread, anyone who wants to suggest their all-time favorite "Idol" performances, have at it. I'm finally writing up the goosebumps theory for a column next week, and I want to be able to cite some classic performances beyond the obvious ones like Kelly's "Stuff Like That There," Clay's "Solitaire," Fantasia's "Summertime," Bo's "Whipping Post," etc.)

Moving on from the show we all dislike and yet are obsessed by, let's get back to some of the Tuesday shows I missed, starting with "Gilmore Girls." While the episode was written by new showrunner/crazy person David Rosenthal, I'm not sure how well it serves as a barometer for what next season will be like. When you have obsessive/prolific showrunners like Amy and Daniel, or Milch, or Sorkin or David Kelley, it doesn't really matter whose name is on the script, because by the time the showrunner has taken a few passes through it, theirs is the only voice you hear.

A good episode in some ways, not so good in others. The opening scene with Sookie and a hungover Lorelai was damn funny, particularly the recreation of Lorelai's drunk "Next Top Model" audition video. ("I didn't come here to make friends!") And for the first time ever, Luke gave a reason for not wanting April and Lorelai to spend time together that actually sounded plausible (his fear that April would prefer Lorelai to him), but way too late in this stupid storyline to please me. Sherilyn Fenn's reasoning was also good, but again, I just hate everything about this subplot -- except April herself, who wouldn't be a bad addition to the show if she wasn't being used as such a lame obstacle for the wedding -- that I don't even care when people make sense about it.

Or maybe I'm having a hard time getting the big honkin' spoiler in the middle of the Ausiello interview interview with the Palladinos. (Michael does good work, but simply putting in the words "Spoiler Alert" and immediately following them with a ginormous spoiler doesn't work; the eyes can't always just slam on the breaks like that.) If it's true, then I'm doubly pissed: both that Amy and Daniel would try such a stupid, soapy plot twist, and that they would blow up the show and then leave someone else to pick up the pieces. (When Sorkin left "West Wing," you at least knew he was trying to fuck over his replacements.)

Over in Rory-ville, the Paris phone call to the doctor wasn't believable, but I laughed, anyway, and I liked Rory's angry call to Mitchum and his silent entrance to the hospital. We all bag on Alexis Bledel, and rightfully so, but she's a decent dramatic actress; it's really the comedy where she falls down, especially when she's not working with Lauren Graham.

And speaking of the age-old interchange of comedy and tragedy, we have the darkest "Scrubs" since Brendan Fraser died, if not ever. Lord, McGinley is good at this stuff, but I'm afraid Cox's shame spiral is going to get so bad that it could turn into a comedy black hole for the next few episodes.

Or maybe not. In the same episode where Nicole Sullivan finally bit it and Cox was getting ready to throw himself off a cliff, we also had the first-ever Todd-centric B-story. Just last week, there was discussion here about whether The Todd was a virgin or gay, and now we know that he's... neither? I think? Really, I'm appalled by the whole thing -- which I think was the point. Though much as I love The Todd and his banana hammocks, the funniest thing in the whole episode was The Janitor's chiropracting career; Donald Faison sold Turk's fear and pain so well that I hurt laughing at it.

Allegedly, I'll be getting a copy of "Veronica Mars" this morning, and I'll spoiler-protect my review somehow for the benefit of people waiting for the Sunday airing because of basketball pre-emptions. To answer a question I've been getting a lot in e-mails: no, I don't think this is going to affect the show's future. In talking to people who will be involved at the CW, they're paying little to no attention to ratings for the UPN shows since the merger was announced, since the soon-to-be-former UPN affiliates are doing anything and everything they can to make the product damaged goods for the CW (i.e., basketball pre-emptions). If the CW winds up having just mind-boggling development, then maybe "Veronica" doesn't come back, but I still feel pretty confident about the start of a third season. (Now, whether it makes it all the way through a third season, or even to November sweeps...)

9 comments:

Julia said...

For the great American Idol performances, I always liked Tamarya Grey's version of "Touch Me in the Morning." Or maybe I just really like that song.

No tears now that the Pickle is gone, but I did think it was sweet how she thanked the crew and gave a shout out to all the backstage guys - I don't remember another contestant having done this. I was never a fan of hers, but I thought this was classy.

Fred App said...

I have to admit that I've thought Pickler was overdoing the innocent little naif bit, but now I'm convinced that it's all true. From her line about the commercial to the thank-yous to the crew to her admission that she thought she deserved to leave, she just struck me last night as very genuine. Maybe not particularly swift, but genuine.

As for great performances, how about George Huff's version of "Lean on Me." Sure, it was so early in the competition that he only got to sing about a minute of it, but by the time he got to the gospelized refrain, I was ready to leap up and start praising Jesus -- and I'm Jewish! I can't remember anything else on the show sounding quite so joyous.

Joey Smallwood said...

I read somewhere that Cox will be drinking himself into a stupor during his downward spiral. The show had implied that he likes to drink, I wonder if alcoholism will seem plausible here - I trust the writers, but it seems tricky, how do you keep the funny and not trivialize his situation? We'll see.

lady t said...

Thank you for holding off on the VM review-such pettiness from the affliates is not only an insult to the fans but to the cast and crew of VM who put in alot of hard work and it shows.

Glad to finally see Pickler leave(interesing how they didn't make her sing the Song of Shame-not that I wanted to hear her slaughter Unchained Melody again!) On the flip side,Bo Bice's acapella number(sorry,can't remember the song title)last year gave me chills.

LV said...

My "goosebump" American Idol moment was during Fantasia's rendition of "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?" in season 3. Yes, "Summertime" was great but I believe this performance sealed her win.

Matt Hunter said...

My Idol "Goosebumps" moment was when Bo Bice sang "Within A Dream" a capella. Just a really strong performance with nothing to hide behind.

Mrs. Davis said...

Pickler getting voted off has restored my faith in humanity. I, too, expected Paris or Kat.

My favorite performances....Ace Young's "Father Figure", Bo Bice's a capella song. I've lost a lot of interest in AI now that Ace is gone. He was great blog fodder, and fun to watch.

John Stevens was actually the impetus for me starting to actually watch AI. I was intrigued by someone with so little talent making it that far into the competition, but also found him kind of charming, in a "what a nice young man" kind of old-lady way (and BTW, I'm only 37).

undercover black man said...

Don't beat yourself up about calling it wrong, Alan. Just savor the sweet unpredictability of life, and look forward to this Fabulous Final Five as they dig down deep to deliver something special, which one or more of them is bound to do. Goosebumps will be forthcoming! After all, Kimberley Locke's "Where the Boys Are" came in the Round of Five; Bo Bice’s stunning a cappella “Within a Dream” came in the Round of Three.

I downloaded mp3s of both today. Surprisingly, I wasn’t so moved by Bo’s performance out of context. Much of what was so amazing about it, in real time, was the audacity of the choice. In competitive terms, this was Bo telling the other singers, and the judges, and the audience: “All right, motherfuckers… deal with THIS!” Yeah, he sang it great. But that performance, removed from that moment, doesn’t really floor me.

K-Lo, on the other hand… that mp3 moved me to tears. Which was a surprise too, because my memories of the performance include a closeup of her face while singing it; Kimberley never got her due as a radiantly beautiful woman (no doubt because of the “plus-size” thing), so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to audio alone. Oh my God… When she builds from “I’ll climb to the highest steeple and tell the world he’s mine” into ”Till he holds me…” I nearly cried.

That’s what’s always impressed me about this performance beyond all others; she committed emotionally -- totally -- to a song that’s considered so corny. She found the human truth in “Where the Boys Are”!

What’s Kimberley up to now? Well, day after tomorrow she’ll be signing autographs at a Lane Bryant in Memphis. No joke.

Dark Tyler said...

Luke gave a reason for not wanting April and Lorelai to spend time together that actually sounded plausible (his fear that April would prefer Lorelai to him), but way too late in this stupid storyline to please me.

I don't quite see it that way; to me it was obvious from the get-go that this was Luke's reasoning for not letting Lorelai around April (and fear of destroying her first real relationship, especially after almost losing Rory, is Lorelai's for not insisting on meeting April). It makes sense, and it really is something that I would expect from these characters.

This whole fan outcry throughout this season reminds me of Buffy's 6th year and once again I find myself in the minority! I won't deny a couple of pacing problems, but beyond that... I dunno. To each his own :)

Of course, the big difference with Buffy is that Joss, Marti and David Fury did not leave the show after the 6th season (lol). If "Super Cool Party People" was any indication (altough I agree that it probably isn't) then the show could actually avoid dying a miserable and undignified death.

Re: the Ausiello spoiler, I, too, find it troubling story-wise, but I still want to see how will things get there, and what the reprecussions will be (Amy says that they knew where they were going to go with this and maybe David Rosenthal will work with it in mind)...