Ordinarily, I have little use for the "American Idol" audition episodes, either for viewing or for blogging, but with all the talk about how this season would be "fixed," plus the fact that my usual Tuesday shows have been swallowed up by the oblivion that is the writers strike, I decided to watch and write briefly about night one. Spoilers coming up just as soon as I buy a barrel horse...
Well, you could tell the difference immediately, as the season started off with somebody who could actually, you know, sing, in Skinny Joey. We saw, I think, 10 of the 29 people who got Golden Tickets, including kickboxing Kristy Lee Cook (who once upon a time had a record deal, though this isn't an "Idol" no-no; I believe Tamyra had a similar deal that fell apart before season one), former child singer Beth Stalker, R-rated movie opponent Brooke White, and legacy-minded Chris Watson.
As Fienberg argued, though, is there any way that Angela Martin -- pretty, outgoing, not a bad singer, and mother to a cute little girl with a debilitating medical condition -- doesn't sail through to, like, top 3? At least? She's like the perfect "Idol" storm; the only thing that would make her more electable is if she was a Marine who would get sent back to Iraq the minute she gets voted out.
We still saw the freaks, of course, though the show pretended to be nicer to them. The judges apologized for laughing at that guy who thought he sounded like Paul Robeson, and they were beyond gentle with middle linebacker Temptress, who was sweet and polite, but couldn't sing a lick. At the same time, once you know that contestants go through two or three rounds of producers before they even get to the judges table, it makes the new Up With People spirit ring as false as most things "Idol." Everyone knew Temptress couldn't sing, but they put her on camera so they could show how Simon had learned his lesson from last year's "bush baby" incident. The producers and Simon loudly insist that they won't send people through who are just trying to get on camera, but the hairy guy in the belly dancer costume couldn't have been more blatant about his intentions. ("I was gonna sing 'Dontcha' until you stopped me" is about the most self-aware line I've ever heard on this show.)
So, yeah, we saw more talent than we usually do this early in the season, and the judges were nicer to the people whose only sin was self-delusion. But this portion of "Idol" is still largely about the freak show, which is why the ratings will be higher than for any other chunk of the season save maybe the last two episodes.
And now I'm going to watch an episode of AMC's new Bryan Cranston show, "Breaking Bad," to cleanse myself.
What did everybody else think?