American Idol
Didn't She Almost Have It All?

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First Dubya, now this

Tuesday. Melodramatic Announcer melodramatically reminds us that R.J. was booted from the competition last week, leaving him with nothing more to do but to bitch about Simon to the media at every possible opportunity. Because, as we all know, Simon voted R.J. out. Tonight, the remaining four blah blah blah.

Credits. Ryan "Just a Gigolo" Seacrest and Brian "Maniac" Dunkleman head out from the back of the stage to The Octagon of Judgment to greet the audience. Wait, actually, let me start over. Brian walks out while Ryan bounds out across the stage like a chimpanzee that has been injected with heroin, jumps off the front of the stage, humps Randy's leg, rubs his ass along the carpet, chases his tail, howls at the moon, and pees in the corner. Somebody pull his choke chain and calm him the fuck down. Seriously, Roberto Benigni thinks Ryan is a bit hyperactive. Somebody's not getting enough attention at home. Come on, Simon. Now that Christina's gone, you can scratch Ryan's belly now and then, can't you? Eventually, Ryan makes his way back onstage, while Brian pretends that he has actual friends in the audience. The audience cheers (well, not for that). Some kids are holding up letters that spell out "ELLY." I think that's because Ryan has snorked up all the Special K, if you get what I mean.

Black and Decker finally get the show on the road with an unfunny joke about Randy's tendency to repeat himself three times. Nobody laughs. Tonight's songs are from the '80s and '90s. The audience cheers, because they're tired of all those songs from eras that had good music. Oops, did I show a bias there? Actually, I like a lot of '90s music, but I hated about 95 percent of all pop music from the '80s. ["Fired!" -- Sars] Also, each finalist will sing two songs tonight. I took that to mean that they had to sing a song from each decade, but that's apparently not the case. Black and Decker introduce the kids. The audience cheers. There's that missing "K." Keep it away from Ryan. And the "E," too.

Black and Decker send the kids back off-stage while they introduce the judges. Brian introduces Randy "Hungry Heart" Jackson as their "very own crop circle." I'm sure there's a universe where that joke is funny. But in this universe, since Randy is round in three whole dimensions, the joke falls a little flat. Er. Sorry. Randy is wearing a shirt with a giant "EU" on it, which stands for Ecko Unlimited, not the element Europium. Ryan introduces Paula "I Want A New Drug" Abdul with a joke about her crying while watching Signs. Actually, that wasn't a joke at all. Have they managed to work product placements into the judge intros? Paula is wearing the same insanely stupid little leopard-print hat she wore to the Pasadena auditions. The only people on earth that think the hat isn't ugly are Paula and Anna Nicole Smith's interior designer. Ryan concludes that they have the president of the Simon Cowell Fan Club there tonight, before revealing that it's Simon "Der Kommissar" Cowell. The fifteen women in charge of the various Simon fan clubs across the world flick Ryan the bird. I believe Kaya from Temptation Island is sitting in the first row, wearing a shiny pink shirt. I'm sure Ryan is relieved that there's somebody here gayer than him. Simon has a new haircut, prompting Brian to snit, "Hire a lawyer; sue your barber." And then sue Brian for stealing your jokes. "Unfiltered Dunkleman," Ryan observes, which I'm pretty sure was a phrase used in EW as a sort of sarcastic criticism of Fuckleman (tm Sars). Ryan hates Brian. Hates him so much. He ran off the stage at the beginning of the show just to get away from him.

Let's see what sort of idiot clip show theme is going to be forced upon us all night. Black and Decker explain that not only do the finalists have to deal with the pressures of their performances and the voting, but they also have to learn to deal with the press. Because the entertainment press is known for having such tough interviews. So they sent the kids to those hardcore journalists who make up the staff of YM magazine. I don't feel familiar enough with this esteem-destroyer of a girl's magazine to give a withering comment, but perhaps Sars will oblige. ["Actually, I would have a more withering comment, but Christina Kelly of the late great Sassy recently took over the helm at YM and banished diet stories from the mag, so it's not as much of a suck as, say, Seventeen." -- Sars] The kids drive up to the magazine's offices in their [product-placed cars] and are introduced to the staff. Alyssa Vitrano, the "entertainment director" of the magazine, tells the camera that kids have been "thrown into the world of being famous, immediately." Okay, cruise ships have entertainment directors. Magazines have entertainment editors. Regardless, I hope she writes better than she speaks. Abby Gardner, the "beauty director" (blech) of the magazine, repeats essentially the same thing Alyssa said, but with different words. This "education" experience about working with the press is primarily an excuse to show a half-dozen recent YM covers to us: "Ashanti tells you about her boy problems"; "What to do about your big fat crush"; "Why you are fat and ugly and need to buy the stuff in our advertisements or boys won't like you." Tamyra asks them how they choose which artists they cover. The ones whose publicists return phone calls. Kelly asks how much control an artist has over a photo shoot. Geez, what did that guy from Us Weekly do to these kids? Abby offers her "prediction" about the winner, much in the manner that Paula Abdul offers her criticism, i.e. she doesn't predict anything at all and says the kids are great and have their own style and blah blah blah.

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