Film and TV

Idol Beat: Mass Hysteria!

Shock! Outrage! Shenanigans! Casey Abrams voted off! Last night, American Idol had all the signs of the Apocalypse rolled into one (all the Ghostbusters ones, anyway).

Dogs and cats living together? Well, James Durbin is like a big puppy dog, and Pia has a certain cattiness about her. Check. 40 years of darkness? It certainly seems like Season 10 has been that long, sometimes. Check. You even had the dead rising from the grave, as a refreshingly profane Marc Anthony emerged from his mausoleum long enough to offer the contestants some help with their pitch.

And then Casey got the boot. Lest we forget, the top 10 contestants are the ones who get to travel the fairgrounds and Indian casinos of this great land on the Idol Summer Tour, so there's literally tens of dollars at stake. Would this outrage stand? Or would the judges use their only save of the season to bring him back?

I know there's no way anybody reading this doesn't already know the answer, but let's just play along, hmm?

It was another hour-long episode that felt oh so much longer. We started off with another group performance ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough") followed by a "surprise" appearance by true Motown legend Stevie Wonder. I say that because the judges look like they're about to shit themselves in astonishment. Wonder wasn't there to provide encouragement or advice, but to sing "Happy Birthday" to Steven Tyler, who is 98 years old today.

The first to find out they're safe were Scotty, Pia, or Lauren, whose new low-cut look may have incidentally tapped into potentially lucrative leering pervert demographic. The Sugarland performed. I don't know anything about Sugarland except their lead singer was dressed like Batman's sidekick. I breathed a sigh of relief when the Joker failed to emerge at the end of "Stuck On You" and beat her to death with a tire iron.

More tomfoolery followed, as the contestants blew off some steam with their wrestling moves. James is a big fan. Jacob is not. Shocking.

Even more shocking: the Hulkster! Oh, if only wrestling wasn't fake and he really shattered Ryan Seacrest's cheekbone...ah, well.

Oh, and Paul and James are safe. No real surprises yet.

Of minor note, Thia and Stefano both go into the Bottom Three. He's a no-brainer, Thia's fall from early season grace is somewhat more of a stunner.

Christ, Seacrest is short, which probably gave guest Jennifer Hudson even more of a last laugh than her successful movie career.

Sorry, were we talking about surprises? Casey's ouster certainly qualifies. His first appearance at the bottom might have seemed a bit of a surprise until you thought about it. I mean, how often have Idol voters put up a winner who strayed outside the realm of conventional attractiveness (though overweight seems acceptable if the contestant is Africa-American)? Besides, they already have one guy with facial hair. Can't go upsetting the televised natural order.

So on the one hand, the judges electing to use their one save on Casey is a vote for beardos everywhere. On the other...the Idol voting public is patient, and intolerant. They wait. I doubt Casey lasts past April.

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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