American Idol
The Final Five 2004

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On the Ass with Ryan Seacrest

A pointless interview special? It's so nice to be able to tell when sweeps have started without even having to look at a calendar.

After the transgendered liquid metal idol poses for the haunted cameras in the opening credits, the words "Halfway Home" appear, which was the name of the special last year. Which took place when there were -- wouldn't you know it -- six contestants left out of twelve. Math is still for losers.

Ryan Seacrest greets the crowd and us onstage wearing an outfit he stole out of a Shriner's closet. It's a powder blue jacket and a white shirt with brown stripes and jeans. If only he were wearing white khakis or something, he'd be ready to move into a retirement community in Coral Gables, Florida. He blathers on about the drama surrounding the show and says there have been "dramatic exits that are still sending shockwaves through the country." Is he referring to the series finale of Friends? Ryan tells us that tonight we're going to forget about the competition -- except for the many, many times he will inevitably bring it up during the interviews -- forget about his annoying "after the break" teases, and forget about the judges. Can we forget about the contestants, too? I'd like an hour of just Debra Byrd singing with Michael Orland and the Great Unknown. Ryan says that the kids will chat away and sing their favorite songs tonight without fear of criticism. From the three absent judges. The rest of us are welcome to lock and load, of course.

Clip show! How did we get to this horrible place in our lives where this sub-par talent contest has practically caused riots? Ryan tells us as we are reminded of the screaming teens of the initial rounds that finding the next American Idol "is like searching for a needle in a haystack." A haystack where every little straw insists that is, in fact, a needle. And then goes "Woooooo!" Oh, and if you're going to show us more clips of the cheering kids, you might want to crop out all the production assistants standing off to the side prompting them to shout louder for the cameras. Just a suggestion. The judges tell ugly people with bad outfits who can't sing to go home. The 70,000 wannabes were culled down eventually to the thirty-two semifinalists. Ryan insists voters picked the best top twelve ever.

And after picking them, it was time to start destroying them utterly. Poor Leah went first, having developed a fan base of about seventeen people (all of whom emailed me to defend her horrid singing). I almost feel sorry for her. She seemed so harmless in retrospect. Then smarmy Matt got the boot, because America gets plenty of cheese at fast food restaurants. Amy had bright red hair, which meant that she wasn't going to win. She got booted. They sneak in yet another shot of Camile in a bikini. Classy. Eventually, voters were no longer unable to overlook her inability to sing in tune, and she was booted. Jon Peter Lewis inexplicably fascinated a certain segment of the population with his deranged capering, scary facial expressions, and horrible voice, but he was finally ejected. Then Jennifer was ejected, and despite having never been voted into the finals in the first place, having been in the bottom two twice already, and having been the first African-American contestant ejected, said booting caused an unbelievably stupid race argument all over the media because horrid crooner John Stevens wasn't gone yet. But America fixed that problem the following week and booted John. If only we paid that much attention to actual racial problems in our country. Oh goodness. There's a brief shot where they take a clip of all twelve finalists on to Seal and make it look like the seven ejectees were transported away, Star Trek-style. See, that's the real secret of the Xindi. They're all former American Idol contestants who were voted out, and that's why they want to destroy humanity.

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American Idol

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