American Idol: Season 6 Finale

American Idol Season 6, Fox, 2007. Winner Jordan Sparks.

Well, thank god that's over with at long last.

The country's cheesiest reality show wraps up another season. This one, as I have said before, was very clearly the worst ever. After watching the bloated and wrong-headed finale last week, I have now concluded that the reason Season 6 sucked so badly was not the contestants - it was the show itself. I blame the judges, and most of all, the producers.

Ten Minutes Too Long. Wake up, you morons. This is the age of TiVo. Since we got our first Tivo eight or nine years ago, I almost never watch a show in actual real time. Even if I watch it "at the same time" - as I almost always do with American Idol - I'm still anywhere from a half an hour to a full hour behind, due to dinner, bathroom breaks, phone calls, etc. So it wasn't until about 10:45 that we caught up to the 10pm time on American Idol - and the recording simply ended, no winner yet announced. Frank and I were furious. After putting up with 2 hours of dreck, only to find that the show went over time by 10 minutes. We found out that Jordan won by watching the 11pm news (I didn't want to check on the Internet, it seemed to go against the spirit of the thing).

I can understand how an actual awards show like The Academy Awards goes overtime - but American Idol? Puh-lease. For christ's sake, they have exactly one thing to announce, and they have two hours to do it in. It should be trivial to have the program end on time. That's why I'm pretty sure that Fox padded the show on purpose by an additional 10 minutes at the last minute. Why? I have no idea. My best guess would be it was an attempt to win the Nielsens for the 10pm hour as well. Or maybe they were actively trying to piss off DVR owners. If so, congratulations, Fox! You definitely succeeded in pissing me off.

Where Were the Finalists? Uh... guys? This show, it's called "American Idol". So how about, you know, showing us the frigging American Idol finalists once in a while? By my count (and of course I'm not counting the missing 10 minutes at the end), Blake Lewis and Jordan Sparks were on-screen for all of about 11 minutes during the entire 2 hour show. Each had one duet with a somewhat lame celebrity, and they did one duet together. I expect - and I am now formally demanding - a finale that is a celebration of all things Idol, with a smattering of celebrity guests here and there where and when they support the Idol contestants.

Celebrities with No Connection. Now, I forgave last season's Prince performance because... well, because it was Prince. Last season, he was the only guest who performed solo, having no interaction with the Idols. But this time? That was the rule. Bette Midler, Tony Bennett - they just appeared and sang their songs. Gwen Stefani, who was not even at the event, "phoned in" a performance (which very frankly had all the earmarks of being pre-taped) from a concert stage somewhere else entirely. What the hell do any of these people or performances have to do with American Idol? At least Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, and Joe Perry actually performed on stage with appropriate matching Idol contestants.

The Golden Idol Awards. These were sad, pathetic, and squirm-inducing last year. It's like shoving a few minutes of "The Office" in a light and frothy romantic comedy. It Does Not Work. Bringing clueless losers from the auditions on stage to give them fake "awards" is just plain uncomfortable, and takes away completely from the spirit of the evening. We're here to celebrate the winners, not to engage in another round of schadenfreude from the auditions. I wish very much we had fast-forwarded through these segments... seeing these people the first time during the auditions was bad enough. Seeing them a second time, still clueless and now being openly mocked on live TV, was excruciating. And I cannot say enough times how wrong in tone this was for the whole event.

It Was Forty Years Ago Today... What was with the Sgt. Pepper's thing? What the hell do The Beatles and/or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band have to do with American Idol? The only thing I can figure is that Idol was able to use songs from the Beatles catalogue for the first time ever on this episode, so they decided to go for broke. Maybe when they paid for "I Saw Her Standing There" at the beginning, they got a two-fer if they paid for all the songs from Sgt. Pepper at the same time? That's the only thing that I can figure. And if they had the rights to use Beatles songs, why on god's green earth didn't they use them during British Invasion Week earlier in the season?

Where Were the Judges? No interviews. No funny little skits. No "digital shorts". Hardly a peep from them at all, other than a few "yo yo dogs" and "you're all winners". In years past, we've had mock rock videos, man on the street interviews, and many other opportunities for the judges to be seamlessly woven into the finale. This year... they just sat there and stared.

And All the Rest. Several mentions of the horrifying heinousitry (hat tip to Tim Graf for coining that term, by the way) that was Idol Gives Back, including bringing an African children's choir on stage to sing (once again, by themselves, with nary an Idol contestant to be seen). 75-year-old Clive Davis rambling on and on about the "American Idol Franchise" and how much money it is making him and his partners, with a few snide jabs at Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Hicks thrown in for good measure.

All in all, this was a painful, bloated, and depressing affair. Which leads me to my conclusion...

Idol Resolutions for Next Year. Six years of devoted watching is enough. I will probably still watch American Idol next year, but I will no longer make it a "must see" event. I resolve the following:

  • I will skip all of the audition shows entirely. I'll start watching once "Hollywood Week" begins. The auditions are painful, no longer funny, and stretch on for way too long. The first season, the auditions took up one week. Now, they take up an entire month. And the producers only show the bad "funny" auditions nowadays.
  • I will skip the finale. This season made it painfully clear that the days of the finale being the "ultimate Idol" are long gone. The last show I watch will be final performance episode. I'll just watch the news to see the winner, which is apparently what Fox wanted me to do anyway.
  • I will fast-forward religiously.
  • I will not watch any Idol-themed charity events or charity announcements.
  • I will not vote for or cheer on any "bad" candidates solely for their humor value.

And so ends the worst season of American Idol yet, and the first of my 2007 Season End blog entries. Next up will be "Lost" and "Heroes", both of which had excellent finales. Henderson... Out!

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