"Idol" Tortures Everyone as it Reveals Top 24

By Craig Berman
|  Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010  |  Updated 11:48 AM PDT
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"Idol" Tortures Everyone as it Reveals Top 24

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It’s not just the singers who have to deal with "Idol" torture. The TV audience takes a hit as well.

American Idol” clearly is a big fan of borrowing elements from other entertainment programs, and Tuesday’s episode was evidence of that. It had the time-travel element of “Lost,” the feel-good profiles and the manufactured tension of NBC’s Olympic coverage, and a nickname that came straight from “The Blind Side”

Even more than that, it has the usual torture that would be too much for even Jack Bauer on “24.”

The “Idol” torture comes in many levels, but you have to give production company 19 Entertainment credit. It’s not just the singers who have to deal with it. The TV audience takes a hit as well.

It was bad enough that the first hour of the show was filled with more nonlinear editing than an episode of “Lost,” jumping from Hollywood Week to the three rooms to the initial auditions to the Oceanic Air crash … OK, now even I’m getting confused.

We learned poignant personal details about everyone, right before saying goodbye to many of them. Apparently, the personal hurdles overcame by the “Idol” hopefuls rivals that of the Olympians, and the show sold “parents getting a divorce” as heartily as it did the death of one’s best friend and the effective abandonment of another by his parents.

There was also the multiple-room gambit that the show loves so much. At the end of Hollywood Week, it divides people up into small rooms, doesn’t give them any news from the outside world, keeps them uncertain as to their ultimate fate — everything outlawed by the Geneva Convention is an integral part of the show. Forget about Guantanamo. The military should just have judges Simon, Kara, Randy and Ellen take charge of prisoners.

At least that part of the day wasn’t much of a shock. We said goodbye to Room Two and Mary Powers, who had no chance of winning anyway given the editing that made her seem like the biggest diva ever. But it sadly meant the end of the road for Lloyd Thomas, the funniest of the auditioners.

And let’s not dwell on the dancing, except to say that Kara clearly sees the void created by former judge Paula Abdul’s absence and is eager to fill the role of Designated Dancer. There was no Hollywood contestant bad enough to keep her from getting her groove on. She also has taken over from Paula in the “judge portrayed as having the hots for the male contestants.” If she starts acting loopy and making nonsensical comments in the coming weeks, we’ll need to make sure the show didn’t do a brain transplant.

Then we get to the point where the remaining contestants are whittled down to the 24 semifinalists, which now is a two-day process because it allows for the extra hype, product placement and commercials.

Seven of the 24 were picked on Tuesday, including Michael “Big Mike” Lynche, which is no surprise to anyone with access to the Internet. Casey James didn’t have to take off any articles of clothing to make it, nor did Leo Dewyze, Todrick Hall or Aaron Kelly. Kelly might want to invest in a memory aid before the semifinals start, however, as he got a pass despite problems remembering his lyrics.

 

Only two women got good news Tuesday: Didi Benami and Katelyn Epperly. Shelby Dressel got the boot, which Simon muttered was the wrong decision. Maybe that’s why he’s quitting the show after the season — he’s angry at being overruled.

Jessica Furney also got cut and then tried to argue the judges out of their decision, which never works at this stage. If I were one of the judges, I’d have kept her, but sadly, no “Idol” producers ever called to get me on the panel, and she got tossed off.

That leaves 17 more singers to be picked, and 37 still in the waiting room at the Kodak Theatre waiting for their fate to be revealed. Some shows might have made it easy on us and done this all in one night, but that’s just not the “American Idol” way.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/craigberman.

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