American Idol
World Idol, Part I

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Jesus wept

We open with a clip montage of London (Airports! Buildings! Birds! Speedboats! Ferris wheels! Desperate young people who want to be famous forever and ever!) as a couple of Brits voice over that Idol winners from eleven different nations have arrived here to compete for the title of "World Idol."

Ew. I thought the opening credits for American Idol were cheap. It looks like they just wrote out "World Idol" on a piece of paper, scanned it in, and used Photoshop to make it look a bit shiny. After a brief glimpse of a world map, it switches into the well-known opening of the liquid metal transsexual.

Oh my. This stage is hysterical. It's like the set for the last iteration of American Bandstand mated with the set for the late kids' game show, Fun House. Don't ask me why I know that show. I thought J.D. was hot. Shut up. The set, combined with the somewhat grainy filming and the really bad clothes and coifs in the audience, makes me feel as though I've gone back in time to the '80s and am watching television at about 2 PM on Saturday.

And now your hosts, Marilyn McCoo and Andy Gibb. No, not really. The hosts are Ant and Dec (short for Anthony and Declan), the duo who hosted the original British incarnation of the show. Ant looks like he's about 60 percent head, but they're both more entertaining and less pathetic and self-absorbed than Ryan Seacrest, so I can live with it. Apparently, viewers in various countries got different taped hosts, making me wonder exactly who Ryan Seacrest pissed off. I wonder if it's a whole Joan Rivers/Tonight Show thing where he didn't tell them he was getting his own syndicated talk show and now they're furious with him. Or maybe he's in rehab. Or getting plastic surgery. Or had an accident with the tanning shower and now he glows in the dark. Whatever. Ant and Dec tromp down on stage to a cheering audience. They greet everybody and explain the history of the show, apologizing for their responsibility in making Simon Cowell a household name. They've adapted the show for twenty-two different countries so far. You're next, Mongolia! Ant and Dec introduce the eleven contestants down on the stage, as the audience cheers some more. I'll save the details for each performance, although I'm sure the folks in the many nations with various differing cultures in the Middle East just love being referred to like a single country called "Pan-Arabic Region." After each contestant, we get to see their allies (or maybe just Brits bribed to wave their flags) in the audience. England's representative, Will Young, gets the most cheers, of course. He's still got that awful mullet.

Oh, and we get eleven judges, too. Why, it's 3.666666 times the pointless conflict disguised as entertainment! Ant and Dec introduce them all to us: Zak Werner from Canada, wearing the finest car seat money can buy; Kuba Wojewodzski from Poland, who…well…I don't want to give it all away now; Elias Rahbani, the "Pan Arab" judge, who smiles and pretends it's not insulting to have his national identity stripped from him; Nina De Man from Belgium, who is terribly pretty, even with the Lisa Loeb glasses, and is my second-favorite judge; Jan Fredrik Karlsen from Norway, who has '60s Beatles hair; Henkjan Smits from Holland, who gives us all a thumbs-up to indicate how many minutes of screen time he's probably going to get; Ian Dickson from Australia, who has '70s Beatles post-break-up hair; Randall Abrahams from South Africa, looking a bit like Bryant Gumbel at some angles; Shona Fraser from Germany, who by smiling threatens to destroy the world with her overbite; Peter Waterman from the United Kingdom, looking far too normal to be here; and Simon Cowell, representing the United States, because why even have the contest at all if nobody's going to be humiliated? Simon is the only one to get booed. He's also in the last spot so that he can get the last word.

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American Idol




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