Film and TV

Idol Beat: Summoning "The Big One"

I know the episodes of American Idol I'm watching were filmed months ago, and that what I'm seeing is not taking place in simulcast with this week's...Snowphoon (seriously, do you know how hard it is to come up with a quasi-humorous pun for blizzard anymore?). Even so, it's hard not to recall the words of the mighty Bill Hicks anytime the city of Los Angeles is featured:

Oh, won't we party hard when L.A. goes "kersplash." Oh...grin from ear to fuckin' ear, won't we? L.A. fell in the ocean? AHHH-HAHAHAHAHA! There is a God...He loves us all so much.

The night's first contestant, Victoria Garrett, was proof there might actually be a supreme being, and He has a pretty good sense of humor. She went from praising His divine plan to bring Idol to Los Angeles (solely for the purpose of honoring her skills, of course) to devolving into a decidedly un-Christian slagging of Jennifer Lopez's singing abilities. What would Jesus do?

Probably not call J-Lo a bitch. Then again, who knows if he's seen Gigli?

I'll admit, after the the two-hour installments of the last couple weeks, these 60-minute shows have been almost...merciful. Sort of like the way putting someone in front of a firing squad is more humane than staking them to a fire ant mound.

But last night and Austin seem to give peculiar credence to my theory that American Idol really has siphoned all it can from the nation's dwindling talent pool. The handful of passable auditions this time around were far outweighed by the likes of Daniel and Isaac, best friends laboring under horrific hairdos and a shared delusion brought about by two many Glee marathons. Add what has to be the weakest sad bastard story in Idol history (Isaac has lied to his mother about staying in school) and Season 10 is shaping up to be a disaster of Cop Rock proportions.

The rejects were at least marginally entertaining, if not outright terrifying. Something called a "Tynisha Roches" lisped and "ow"-ed her way through a right proper butchering of "My Way." Behold the pride of Hoboken:

Roches embodies another problem with this week's shows. Why is a Jersey girl auditioning all the way on the other side of the country? And why did Ft. Worther Tim Halperin travel all the way to L.A. and not two hours down I-35 to Austin? I realize different people have different travel requirements, but this commuter trend among the contestants makes a mockery of regional braggadocio.

Then you had the unfortunate Jeannette Manning. Frankly, I have no recollection of what she sang, because the image of her atrocious grill has burned most short term memories out of my cerebral cortex. Matthew "Big Slats" Frankel was the living embodiment of that David Cross bit about how Los Angeles is full of delusional head cases:

They're all gonna make it. They're gonna be the next Drew Barrymore... the next Fred Durst or whatever marginally talented artist you can think of... About 13 of them will make it, maybe 14 if you count the woman who goes on Blind Date and then poses in Playboy."

Here's an academic question: what becomes of parody when the subject no longer realized -- or cares -- that they're being mocked?

I don't have a lot to add, really. Of the "winners," none were anything special (my notes on the matter: "Belly dancer Heidi's last name is 'Khzam,' which I believe was the sound Randy and Steven's boners made when they slammed into the table. Props to the 59-year old nutjob for making it past the screeners.

This week has been a total waste. Austin was crap, and Los Angeles worse. Fox could have scheduled an extra two hours of Super Bowl coverage, because even 120 minutes of Terry Bradshaw's synaptically challenged blathering would have been preferable to this.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar