Friday, 5 June 2009

My whole body is an engine. This is a fireplug and I'm gonna light him up.

As anyone who has read this blog for more than two posts will know, I watch an awful lot of movies and television. In fact I'm kinda like Mike Teavee out of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Except I've never had a fantasy about pumping someone full of lead. Nor have I ever been shrunk to one inch in height. Nor have I ever found a Golden Ticket and been invited to a creepy old man's business where a bunch of orange faced midgets victimise me while singing inappropriate, jaunty tunes. So really I'm nothing like Mike Teavee. But I do watch a hell of a lot of television.

The problem is that a lot of stuff that I watch has now either finished for the season or shuffled off this mortal coil all together. Shows that I've developed an almost religious love for such as Lost (Gee Note: By the way, did anyone else get the feeling that the writers of Lost had kinda painted themselves in to a corner by the end of the last series? "Jack, were stuck in 1977. How are we going to get back to 2007?" "Ummmm. Gosh I don't know. Hey how about we blow ourselves up with a Hydrogen bomb?" "Dude, why did we ever make you the leader?") have come to a close, leaving me at a loose end.

It also means that American Idol has departed our screens for another year. Now I should probably mention at this point that I have a soft spot for "Reality TV". No really I do. As long as it's not one of those contrived celebrity programmes along the lines of "At Home With Some Random Z list Former TV Star/Musician/Wrestler who was famous in 1980's but now… no… not so much" then I'll quite happily watch it. I don't know. I guess I'm just a sucker for ordinary people making a success of themselves, which deep down is what all reality TV should be about.

So it should come as no surprise that I like American Idol. Or at least I did. Over the past couple of years my enthusiasm for it has tapered somewhat. A combination of lack lustre performances, as well as the American public's insanity when it comes to deciding who has talent and who doesn't, has left me feeling a tad under whelmed with the competition.

Obviously I'm not the only one, as this year American Idol introduced a raft of changes to the format. This included introducing a fourth judge in Kara Dia… Diu… Digor… Kara the song writing lady, as well as a wild card round, and allowing the judges to keep hold of a contestant they felt was booted out too early. Also Paula Abdul seems to have consumed less bourbon changed her on air style so that now she says things like "I think that the showmanship and musical skills you bring to the stage transport us and the audience to a wonderful fantasy land". Which is still all kinds of crazy, but slightly less confusing than "What I see… is… you know… like a mouse… that needs to be eaten by a hawk".

Still all those changes amounted to less than a hill o' beans in the end, as the most recent American Idol finale drew it's lowest ratings since the very first season 8 long years ago. The reason? Well truth be told no amount of format tweaks or bells and whistles would have been enough to prop up this flagging horse. Because if we're honest the competition lives and dies by it's contestant's ability to put on a good show. And this year they simply didn't.

That's not to say they weren't a talented bunch. They were of course. But out of the four most gifted Idol hopefuls, Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, and Allison Iraheta, only Lambert made it to the final. Gokey, who's dead wife and gravely voice made him ideal for singing slushy ballads, was undone when they tried to make him dance in the semi-final. Iraheta was killed off the week before when nobody bothered to pull her to one side and tell her that although "Cry Baby" is a great record A) Very few members of the public have actually heard of the song before and B) Nobody should try and out sing Janis Joplin. Because if you do then, let's face it, you're bound to come off second best. Rounds didn't even get the chance to hit her comfort zone, having been voted off during "Disco" week. I don't know if you can imagine what Erma Franklin would sound like belting out Bee Gee tunes but, trust me, it wasn't pretty.

The rest of the contestants, including the eventual winner Kris Something-or-other, where so lifeless and in some cases out of tune that they could have very easily been replaced with a set of toasters and nobody would have noticed the difference. No really, by the time week 4 rolled around wading through the droning wails of Kris and co for an hour and half became a chore. By week six, it was practically unbearable. Amazingly it appears the voting public took perverse pleasure in having their eardrums assaulted as certain members of the toaster club lasted long past their sell by date. Conversely dear Lil was pretty much voted out at the first given opportunity.

Still maybe I shouldn't be too harsh on the contestants of American Idol. After all they did have to put up with (Gee Note: Randy Jackson. Seriously is that guy stuck in his own private time warp where it's, like, constantly 1994? I swear if I hear him say "That was off the hook!" one more time…) living with a ghost.

Allow me to explain. In a news item that some of you might have missed the Jennifer Anniston Weekly National Enquirer has over the past month or so gone a bit mad and reported that the American Idol Mansion, where all the contestants live while the show is on the air, is… wait for it… haunted.

Actually I'm doing the Enquirer a slight disservice here as it's only one reporter who keeps banging out this story. Step forward and take a bow Mr. Mike Walker, a journalist for whom no story is too small obviously. In fact your typical Mike Walker report is something along the line of…

"Famous actor/pop star/athlete was at a restaurant last week when the waiter approached him/her for an autograph. Charming/grumpy star gladly signed the piece of paper and invited the waiter to take a load off and share a salad/told the waiter that they were enjoying a private moment and demand to speak to the manager before balling out the poor server in front of all the other customers! What a swell person/absolute rotter!"

Anyway at the start of May someone did an interview with a couple of Idol contestants, namely Rounds and Anoop Desai. During the discussion Desai (Gee Note: In what might have been a brilliant tactical move to discredit a rival. Mind considering he decided to impress the judges and the American public by singing "Dim all the lights" by Donna Summer, abstract thought might not be his strongest quality) let slip that Iraheta was convinced the house was haunted by a female ghost named Phyllis. He went on to say that he had never seen the ghost himself but that it was "just a friendly troublemaker. She bangs around and keeps people awake. Allison hears something in her room every night. I don’t know if someone’s just creeping around in there or what.”. Rounds was quoted as saying “Allison said she lives in her room. She’s heard growls. I was like, ‘What?!’ It’s craziness. The rest of the girls swear they saw glimpses of her and different things like that, but I never saw it.”

And off to the races we went.

Now despite the fact that the only evidence for the spectre was two people saying they hadn't seen it, the media picked up on it instantly. Magazines and newspapers that really should know better such as People and, er, The Sun published articles on the story, as did Mr. Walker in The National Enquirer. Unlike those other rags who gave up on the tale after that initial burst (Gee Note: Tsk. No stamina these tabloids) Walker displayed a level of determination Napoleon would have been proud of. In fact in the following edition, regardless that there wasn't really anything to report in the first place, Walker decided to follow up on it.

The next week the editor of the National Enquirer a "show insider" had spilled some juicy details to Mikey boy. Apparently Phyllis had stepped up her ghostly game over the past seven days. However rather than doing the usual poltergiesty type things like bending forks, breaking glasses, talking to five year old girls through static television, and generally scaring the bejesus out of JoBeth Williams, Phyllis had instead started pitching awful Reality TV program ideas to, of all people, young Allison. Indeed according to Walker a sleep deprived Iraheta was being kept awake by Phyllis' wails of, and I quote, "I want to be famous too-ooooooo!".

Now two things are immediately striking about all of this. One is that, well, Phyllis is dead right? Now I don't claim to know much about the spiritual realm but wouldn't being, you know, deceased give you a different perspective on things? I mean presumably Phyllis can walk through walls and stuff, so all you'd have to do to become a Reality TV star would be follow Brooke Hogan around for a couple of weeks and, bingo, your on television baby. Plus that way you could have fun trying to freak out Hulk Hogan's trap jaw daughter in the process. You know moving her hairbrush when she’s not looking. Changing food labels around in the fridge so she thinks that butter is slimming. Drawing a circle around her and telling her to go stand in the corner. That kind of thing.

Secondly I’ve been thinking about this for a good two hours now, and the only title I’ve come up with for a phantom based reality show is “The un-corpoReal World”. Which is probably why Hollywood isn’t banging on my door right now, demanding they pay me a lot of money for my services.

Then tragedy struck. On May 12 during dress rehersals for that night’s show the set of American Idol collapsed. A crew member by the name of Debbie Williams was walking down a flight of motorised stairs when they suddenly started to retract, causing her to fall some 20 feet to the floor. The plummet injured her fairly severely, causing a rather nasty gash on her leg. Admist all of this a glass tower at the back of the set fell down, shattering upon impact and adding to the chaos.

Now any rational person would look at all this and think "Hmmm. What an unfortunate series of accidents." Mike Walker on the other hand had obviously left "rational" at home that day, because he ended up putting two and two together and coming up with five hundred and six.

The reason, stated Walker, that poor Ms. Williams made an abrupt drop was all due to Phyllis. This time however it wasn't an attempt to showcase her new high concept show "When Accidents Happen to crew members on American Idol". Instead Phyllis had developed a crush on, as Walker puts it, "My Favourite Metrosexual" Ryan Seacrest (Gee Note: How Ryan qualified for that honour is anyone's guess. Is there a scoring system? An arm wrestling competition perhaps? You know like that Stallone movie where Sly arm wrestles some dude with a beard for the chance to win a truck. It's called "Over the Top" I think. And it's choc-a-bloc full of shots of sweating biceps and angry men shouting such macho things as "You're going down buddy!". Remember that montage in Rocky IV where Rocky's bench pressing wood and pulling pickup trucks by himself, while Dolph Lundgren is injecting steroids and lifting weights with electrodes attached to his nipples? Well it's kinda like an hour and a half version of that. With less nipples. And more beards).

Apparently Seacrest had only just sauntered down the staircase himself when Williams decided to descend. Says the show's insider "The women on the show say they could feel the ghost's passion for Ryan - and believe she got insanely jealous as Debbie followed him down the staircase". Sadly how they came to this conclusion is left unreported, possibly because it's all made up. Although it would be hilarious if a spooky voice shouted "Back off Bitch!" before hand. Anyway Mike finishes off this torrent of nonsense with another quote from American Idol's version of Deep Throat. "Debbie was badly hurt and rushed to hospital - and now the women are whispering, "Don't get too close to Ryan".

By the way - for absolutely no reason at all - here's a video of Ryan Seacrest getting dissed by Angelina Jolie.


Rounding off all this was a hokey "Stay tu-u-u-uuuned" from Walker himself. Thankfully the American Idol final followed a week later. And since then, without further incidents of Ryan Seacrest being stalked by a ghoul, Walker returned to his usual beat of telling us how Ben Stiller has become, oh, such a diva recently.

And to be honest with you, if all American Idol can do these days is fuel blatantly insane stories and offer dull viewing then, frankly, I'm glad it's off the air.

1 comment:

Bill Austin said...

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

Your award will go live sometime on June 9, 2009

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Thank you,

Bill Austin