American Idol
The Final Three 2004

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You know, people always ask us why we don't recap sitcoms, but nobody ever asks why we don't recap talk shows. Now you know why.

Credits are pretty much as usual, as usual. We can hear the live audience shrieking at the world-conquering transgendered terminator in the background. A cheap font that comes with your computer declares "The Final Three" at the end of the credits.

Ryan Seacrest heads out onto the Seal wearing a bland beige suit, and a shirt with a pattern on it that sort of makes it look like he's wearing an ascot. He says that we can't get enough of American Idol. No, we can't get enough of arguing about American Idol. The stuff that isn't actually young pretty people competing for our love? We don't care. Really, go check the ratings. He muses out loud, wondering who will win the title. Pavlov's Dawgs pick up their cue to shout out names. He reminds us that it will either be Jasmine, Fantasia, or Diana. Except for the Jasmine part. Sorry, I needed to get the regular recap squared away before tackling this. Just pretend that it's one of those clever stories told backward. Except that it doesn't have any plot. It's like a WB drama shown backward. ["And then, due to other issues, the finale aired before I was able to finish this. Oy." -- Shack]

So, we're going to have yet another round of pointless interviews with our three remaining finalists. But that's not going to fill up an hour, so Ryan is going to torture the judges (more than usual) with interviews as well. First up will be Randy Jackson. He shuffles out applauding for himself and doing the rock horns, or "hang loose," or whichever gesture that is. They've brought the comfortable chairs back onstage for the interviews, denying us the amusing sight of Randy trying to sit on one of those drinking fountain stools. Ryan asks him what's going down. He doesn't know. Stuff is going down. That's what stuff does. It goes down. Ryan continues perpetuating the lie that Randy was harsher this year than in previous seasons, and asks him why. Randy tries to insist that he wasn't, which is true. They just show more of it now. Ryan forces Pavlov's Dawgs to agree with him and force Randy to answer a question he doesn't even think is accurate. He still doesn't quite agree with the premise of the question, but he says that this is the third season of the show and everybody's seen it. Everyone has seen what great performers Kelly, Clay, and Ruben are, so they should know what they're expecting when they come to audition. So he thinks the contestants should really "bring it" and know that the judges are looking for real quality before coming to audition. Except for the really bad ones, who are there to entertain us. Don't forget them! Randy said that this is the best top twelve they've had. Does he still believe it? Yes. He says they "set the bar higher" (oh, I'm sorry -- I didn't see you there, Noel Roman, Jesus Roman, Lisa Wilson and all those other really crappy final thirty-two contestants) and just got better talent. He says that there were three or four good singers last year, and seven or eight this year. Funny, he said five on the show a few weeks ago. I think the ratio of good singers to bad between Seasons Two and Three were pretty much the same.

What does Randy think has grown the most in the competition? Randy responds, "Simon Cowell's ego." The pot and the kettle stop arguing long enough to roll their eyes at Randy. He thinks what has grown the most is the talent they've found. Especially in the girls. He said they all believed during the auditions that the girls were going to dominate the show this year, and they were right. What does he think is the best performance of the season? He already said it weeks ago: Fantasia's performance of "Summertime." Really, is Ryan even going to ask Randy a question that he hasn't already answered? Oh, of course not. Silly me. Why should Randy be any different? Oh, here's another question that gets the journalist in me cringing: "You talk about singing a song well, and standing on a stage and connecting, but do you believe [Fantasia] has something that's hard to put into words?" Because, see, the judges have been so understated in their praise of Fantasia. It must because they can't figure out what to say. Randy ignores the stupidity of the question and says that Fantasia just has star quality. She was "born" a star, like Elvis and Michael Jackson. Well, Fantasia certainly has a lot to look forward to, then, doesn't she? Should she just ruin her life now and get it over with? What does Randy think about Diana Degarmo? He thinks she has what it takes to be a star, and has been championing her from the beginning. He thinks she has a great voice and poise. He mentions the arguments about her age. He says Diana reminds her of a lot of other singers like Leann Rimes, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears, who all started at an early age. And they've all turned out just fine! Fine! Why does Simon argue otherwise? Randy just thinks Simon is disagreeable. He thinks that Diana is a great talent, and if she keeps growing, she'll just be unbelievable. Which is sort of Simon's point, Randy. Let her mature a little bit.

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American Idol

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