Monday, May 18, 2009

'American Idol' finale preview - Sepinwall on TV

Like an episode of "Early Edition," you're getting tomorrow's newspaper story today, as I preview the "American Idol" finale and look back on what went right and, mostly, wrong this season:
"American Idol" is a show that's more or less idiot proof, as demonstrated by how interesting the end of this season promises to be despite all the backstage idiocy leading up to it.

There have been tweaks aplenty, virtually all of them blowing up in the show's face, and yet here at the end, we have the most compelling, and maybe evenly matched, finale the show has had in several seasons.
I may be away from a TV set tomorrow night for the final performance show, but Vicki Hyman is lined up to pinch-hit again at NJ.com, and there's always always Fienberg, Throwing Things, etc. And with "Lost" wrapped from the year, I'll be covering Wednesday night's finale myself.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

If they want a fourth judge and another woman they should get former Pop Stars judge (and Clay Aiken baby mama) James Foster. She knew what she was talking about and didn't have a problem being harsh when she had to be.

Ben said...

I think Alan brings up a great point; the show at one point was about the singers. But between the product placements, the celeb spotlights and the bigger emphasis on the judges, it rarely seems to be just about the singers now.

I have watched every season and for the most part (the Fantasia and Jordin seasons were not very compelling) have enjoyed them all. At the same time, I would not be upset in the least if the powers that be said next year was it. Things have gotten off course and I'm not sure they can (or want to) right the ship.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people spend a lot of time watching, writing and commenting about really bad tv. Watch Stephen Mangan as Dr. Stephen Mangan disco dance his way into work on the latest episode of Green Wing. It's about the best 30 seconds of television in recent memory. I mean, the average, free Hoops & Yoyo card is better than AI.

Let the sycophants rant.....

Anonymous said...

Correction: as Dr. Guy Secretan

Michael said...

"American Idol" is a show that's more or less idiot proof

As ThinkGeek says (with stickers!), "Make it idiot-proof, and someone will make a better idiot."

Adam said...

We'll have our Throwing Things preview/overview tomorrow morning, and will likely be using CoverItLive during Wednesday's grand finale.

I'm still troubled by how much producer's assistance Lambert got (three straight pimp slots at the end?), even though I'm thrilled he's in the finals. My vote is up for grabs -- both men earned this.

Anonymous said...

hey i heard chuck was renewed but with some cutbacks could you explain what this means for the actual show (quality wise, etc.)

Linda said...

What makes me sad is that if Kris wins, the ONLY thing you're going to hear from the press is that it was the result of homophobia, despite the fact that Adam has, as Alan points out, a far more polarizing singing style that could easily lose entirely on its own.

Kris has played the game of the show very, very skillfully, and I'm sad knowing that if he pulls off the victory -- which I consider substantially more likely than most people do -- he's going to get no credit for anything he's done. Since winning versus coming in second doesn't really mean anything in terms of one's future career, I sort of hope Adam wins, just so those stories aren't written and Kris doesn't wind up with that accusation hung around his neck.

LA said...

Bang on perfect analysis of what's wrong with this show. Of all the grievances you covered, the most annoying for me was the emphasis on the judges.

The only reason the show is going to be good this week rests squarely on the talent and charisma of Adam and Kris despite the judging and advice they got all season.

caitiedidit said...

I wholeheartedly concur with this editorial about Season 8 shenanigans by the guys over at What Not To Sing. The producers have always had their thumbs on the scale, but this season has been ridiculous. If the producers are going to cast the Top 12, fine, but spare us the months-long pretense of a search for "undiscovered talent" and the unending semifinals.

At this point, I'm so annoyed about the hijinks and the overly effusive praise for Adam and Danny that I'm going into this pulling for Kris Allen in a big way. I don't quite agree that it's his to lose. He's a very professional, workmanlike contestant, but he's going to need another "Heartless" or "Ain't No Sunshine," and that's a tall order, especially if they're limited to a reprise, Simon Fuller's picks, and whatever odious song they've written for the winners this year.

Adam said...

We changed our mind: Throwing Things preview now posted.

Linda: only if Kris really screws up. Otherwise, I can't see that being used to explain his win -- the same folks who might otherwise trot that out are, I think, admirers of Kris as well. Were it Hokey Gokey besting Adam, however ...

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

A bit unfair for Katy Perry to give a shout-out (on the back of her jacket) to her favorite, Adam Lambert, and thereby influence her fan base in terms of for whom to vote. No?
I wanted Danny Gokey to win, so it shows you what I know.

Do check out "marjorie-digest"....
Thanks.

(above comment removed for typos)

Liz Coopersmith said...

I started seriously paying attention to AI around the time Adam did his sitar or whatever version of "Ring of Fire", which was overindulgent, smug, and just...horrible. From that moment, he just came off to me as a general tool, who wasn't nearly as talented as he thought he was. They gave him pimp slots, stuck the other singers with obscure, difficult songs while he got stuff like U2 (U2! For god sakes, which Adam then had the nerve to phone in), and let Katy Pery parade around with his name on the back of her cape. The fix was definitely in,but did you see the shocked looks on the judges faces when Kris nailed "Heartless" last week? I've bought two of Kris' singles on itunes, just like I bought two of the songs David Cook sang last year. I'm hoping for the same result.

Linda said...

"the same folks who might otherwise trot that out are, I think, admirers of Kris as well."

I hope you're right. The many Adam fans I have already seen on the Internet trotting out this very theory ("The only way Adam can possibly lose is if people are hateful and homophobic") make me fear that's not the case, as does the weird hive mind I've seen in most of the coverage of this season, which has assumed Adam's greatness as something on which all people of good faith agree (see: everything EW writes about Idol this season).

Hopefully, you're right and I'm wrong. I have a feeling we're not going to get a chance to find out, but we'll see.

Mike F said...

Alan, so say we all...

its so simple...its called American Idol, so make it about the Idols...this season should have been called Idol Judges...

if they need a new judge, they should replace an old one...and they need to bring somebody in with MAJOR credibility...bringing in Kara this year was the equivalent of George Bush appointing his personal attorney to the Supreme Court

the show makes tens of millions of dollars per year...why not shell out more money to acquire the rights to better classic rock songs and some more current music...why not hire a judge with more clout...somebody big-time...replace Paula with a MAJOR female pop icon...somebody who's opinion people would really want to hear

how about everybody associated with the show take a step back and realize that "the show" is getting in the way of "the show"

the one adjustment I did really like this year and I hope they stick with is less emphasis on the horrific auditions...and more time spent in the hollywood weeks...though they still managed to not show as many hollywood performances as I'd have liked

what I'd really really like to see is them make use of the website a little more...and have clips available of every semi-finalist's auditions and hollywood rounds...so going into the semi's, we'd get a chance to see more of who's who and what they can do

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maura said...

I wholeheartedly concur with this editorial about Season 8 shenanigans by the guys over at What Not To Sing. The producers have always had their thumbs on the scale, but this season has been ridiculous. If the producers are going to cast the Top 12, fine, but spare us the months-long pretense of a search for "undiscovered talent" and the unending semifinals.I'm not too sure they proved their point in that piece. Or, to be more accurate, I'm not sure what their point was, because if it was that the producers had an agenda, well, no kidding. That's not exactly news. If you (the general "you") believe that there's a Chosen One, and that Danny was it early on; and if you believe that Kris was put through instead of Ricky Braddy because the producers thought Kris would just be fodder, that pretty much backfired on them. Yeah, Danny stayed longer than he should have, but ultimately, he was out of there. I'd say Allison is the only other person who had a chance to make it to the top 2, and she was memorable enough, and made it far enough, that she can have a career if she wants.

I remember a whole lot of "Kris Who?" early on. He had minimal screen time, but here he is in the finale. He may have been put through as fodder, or maybe the producers saw something in him that Ricky didn't have. I mean, I don't know. I'm just speculating.

There was a ton of Adam buzz among the viewers from the beginning. Almost everyone on the message boards I go to were really excited about him. I hope that the producers know by now that the people who vote won't be manipulated for long. You can't change the mind of 14 year old girl, and the adults are, or should be, smart enough to know who they like without being told. All the pimping in the world wouldn't have mattered if he hadn't won over so many viewers.

I'm not saying that there weren't any shenanigans this season, because I think there were. The pimping that Danny and Adam received from the judges was ridiculous. But I just don't buy that the judges influence how people vote. The only one I listen to is Simon, and I disagreed with him at least half the time this year. Although I don't vote, so maybe I have a different mind set than the people who do.

When it comes to who makes it to the top 13, there's a point where they're making decisions about people with equal levels of talent. Someone who deserves to stay goes home so that someone else who deserves to stay makes it through. They might as well put their names in a hat and do random drawings.