Okay, this is just getting stupid now. After everyone got so angry last week about "American Idol" running five minutes long (despite only having seven performances to stretch out over an hour) and cutting off people's DVR recordings of "Glee" (and after people were torqued that the "Idol" Gives Back results show ran 17 hours long and prevented part of America from enjoying Tim Urban's elimination), the show somehow ran long again last night. It was only by a minute or two, but once again people watching "Glee" on a DVR delay lost part of the final musical number.
After the jump, I look at who's potentially to blame, and what can be done to fix things...
Okay, so our candidates for blame, in no particular order:
Bruce Gowers: He's the director of the show (Emmy-winning director, no less, even though they can't bring it in on time and the cameras are never where they should be), so on one level the buck stops with him. By now, he should have realized they're having trouble with time and ordered some things cut, whether it's judge talk, or Ryan Seacrest chatting up Shania Twain to fill time that ultimately didn't need to be filled, or what have you. Keep the show lean and mean for the first 2/3rds, and if it looks like there will be time, you can do a little padding around the last few performances. In a live telecast, the director is calling the shots, and Gower has failed miserably in this area.
Ryan Seacrest: Keeping the trains running on time has always been one of Seacrest's specialties, but he's been flaky in a lot of ways this season, including this one. If Gowers isn't telling him to cut the judges off when they start to bicker, or to go straight to the phone numbers once Simon's done talking, then Seacrest needs to take that initiative on his own and get things moving. Again, save the contestant-judge dialogue for late in the show if it's abundantly clear you have time to spare.
Four judges: It still boggles my mind that it occurred to no one on the show last year that bringing in a fourth judge would consume air time, and that something else would have to give. What's given, for the most part, is the number of songs - we're only going to get 5 next week, when in the pre-Kara days, we would have gotten 10 (two from each contestant) - even though that's the whole point of the show. But even when stretching 12 songs over 2 hours, or 6 songs over 1, the judges still consume way too much air and airtime. And it isn't just that there's an extra judge, but that Kara and Ellen are both chattier than Paula was (Paula, for all her insanity, seemed aware that she should stop talking after a while). So by the time we get to Simon (the other major reason for watching), the other three have gone on so much that the show is running long, and Simon gets cut off abruptly more often than not. They all need to be given earpieces so that Gowers (or, hopefully, someone more competent) can tell them to wrap it up and hand things off to the next judge. That, or they need to be given shock collars that go off if they run over their allotted time.
The producers: Again, four judges is too many. They either needed to not replace Paula when she left (and I was saying that even before Ellen turned out to be a complete waste of time), or they needed to be willing to sacrifice some other part of the show. I don't care if that's the mentor clips, or the Seacresterviews (which, admittedly, Coke sponsors), the introduction, or what have you, but something had to give, and nothing has. And as the bosses of the judges, Seacrest and Gowers, they should have authority to speed things up. But they don't seem to care.
Fox: The sense I get from talking to people at Fox is that they're as annoyed by this as the rest of us - several "Fringe" episodes got messed up this way last spring, and now it's happening to "Glee," a much more important piece of the network's future - but they have no control over the "Idol" producers. When a show is as big a hit as "Idol" is - single-handedly carrying Fox to a first-place Nielsen finish season after season - the producers realize that the network needs them more than they need the network, and they can do what they want with impunity. What's Fox going to do? Cancel "Idol"? Cut off the telecasts at 9 no matter what? (That would anger even more people than are being irked about the "Glee" thing.)
Basically, until Ken Warwick and company decide they care about ending on time, we're stuck with this mess. So if you watch "Idol" and/or "Glee," make sure your recordings are padded by a minimum of five minutes every week. And even that wouldn't have helped you with last week's results show. Sigh...