American Idol
Auditions Day 3: San Diego

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You know, one thing I miss least about recapping The Amazing Race when it's not on is sitting around on Sunday nights waiting an hour or more for a late-running football game to end already. Sometimes the term "professional sports" is misnomer.

We start (an hour late, in case I hadn't mentioned) with dramatic white titles on a black screen, over shots of a docked aircraft carrier. "Somewhere near the Pacific Ocean [could you vague that up a little, subtitles? Because that's about half the planet], 10,000 hopefuls arrive with a dream to change their lives...forever. What they don't know is, this audition is unlike any other." It's being aired at 11 PM on a Sunday? No, the subtitles are referring to the fact that it'll be held on the USS Midway, the aforementioned aircraft carrier docked in San Diego. Ryan welcomes us to American Idol, with the judges standing spread out behind him on the flight deck. Random fact: when landing on an aircraft carrier, pilots must aim their planes at a big light on the flight deck called a "meatball." But normally there's only one of them.

Even the judges seem confused about what they're doing here today. As the obligatory "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins plays, the judges and Ryan get their own Top Gun-style call signs flashed up on the screen: Steven is "Rock Star," Randy is "Dawg," Jennifer is "Fly Girl," and, Ryan of course gets the perfect call sign for evoking his unique characteristics: "Ryan." The audition room, complete with the ovals and judges table and all the hall-of-fame stand-ups, is set up in a small open hangar with the door open, so we can see a parked fighter jet immediately behind the judges' table. Alas (or fortunately, as the case may be), the door also allows in a great deal of noise from jets coming in and out of San Diego International Airport, just two miles away. But who cares? That fighter jet looks cool. Look is way more important than sound, after all.

The first person we meet in San Diego is Jennifer Dilley, an ethnically ambiguous chick in denim short-short-shorts and a red-and-white-striped bikini top. That's a very American look. If she just had stars on her ass she'd look like Slutty Wonder Woman. Ryan makes her walk up the stairs to the audition room twice, just to make sure the camera caught every nuance of her butt-cheeks yearning to breathe free and coming awfully close to succeeding. She presents herself in front of the judges like the trade show booth babe she's dressed herself as and makes exactly the impression she was planning to. She sings about four lines of a song in a pretty weak voice, because if she had a voice, she probably would have worn clothes. She asks the unimpressed judges for another chance, and Randy will only let her go ahead and sing "Hero" with the understanding in advance that the judges don't have to say anything after her second song if it isn't any better. She does, and they don't. Sure, now it's quiet out in the harbor. From here, Jennifer is presumably headed somewhere to put some clothes on.

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American Idol

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