9:00 p.m. ET Which two people got the fewest votes? And what is this new rule all about? These questions, and possibly more, may be answered by Ryan Seacrest and "American Idol" company over the next hour of Wednesday (March 11) night.
9:01 p.m. Nearly 33 million votes were cast after Tuesday's show, the most "Idol" has ever had at this point in the show.
9:02 p.m. After last night's bizarre guest announcer, Ryan is back to introducing the the judges.
9:03 p.m. We aren't wasting any time building suspense about that new twist on the show's rules. Using Tamyra Gray, Michael Johns, Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry as examples of contestants who may have been eliminated too early, Ryan presents the concept of The Judge's Save. The judges can eliminate one contestant from elimination during the course of the season. The Save can only be used once and it has to be unanimous. When the Save is used, it becomes a non-elimination episode and the following week becomes a double-elimination episode.
[Full recap after the break!]
9:03 p.m. Simon says that, quite the contrary, this new policy doesn't change the democratic nature of the show. I like how Ryan makes it sound as if the "premature" eliminations of these contestants had nothing to do with the voting of the American people. The Judges' Save was introduced on the French version of the show, where one time per season the French judges also have to capitulate to the whims of invading German judges.
9:04 p.m. They're back to living in a house together again! After several years in a hotel, separated and getting to live their own lives, the Top 13 has been put up in a fancy mansion with a basketball court, a bowling alley, a screening room and possibly multiple pools.
9:05 p.m. The Group Sing is set to a medley of Jackson Five hits. Except for a little gratuitous groin thrusting from Danny Gokey, nothing in the medley is worth mocking and trust me, I would if I could.
9:09 p.m. Tonight's "Don't fast forward through the commercial!" clip is from Nathaniel Marshall's audition, which we never got to see originally. It's OK. He still probably shouldn't have been in the Top 36.
9:10 p.m. Last night's show was dramatic, but is it more dramatic than a March Madness showdown between Robert Morris and Mount St. Marys? How can I be the only person who thought that Matt Giraud wasn't any good last night? That's probably what I get for liking Megan Corkrey.
9:14 p.m. I like that they aren't shying away from the fact that Paula Abdul eliminated 10 weeks of work and put Adam Lambert and Danny "The Redeemer" Gokey in the Finals. Between this and the Judges' Save, "American Idol" Democracy is dead.
9:15 p.m. Entirely unprompted, Michael Sarver says that one of the coolest things they've gotten to do was their first Ford Commercial. Ryan's all, "Ford commercial? Did somebody mention a Ford commercial? Funny you should mention it, because we have a Ford commercial right here!"
9:16 p.m. Set to "We Will Rock You," it features the Top 13 projected on Los Angeles buildings as a very handsome automobile navigates through the city.
9:16 p.m. We're already up to results. Michael Sarver is the first member of our Top 11. Up next is Allison Iraheta, also safe. "You were scared," Michael tells her. "I was!" Allison agrees. Was Jasmine scared? She should have been. She's called to the center of the stage and abandoned, while Ryan turns his attentions to Matt Giraud, who accidentally headed to join her. Instead, he's safe.
9:19 p.m. How about Kris Allen? Who? He's left standing. Megan Joy stands with him. One of them is in the bottom group... Ryan says "Kris." He starts walking. Then Ryan adds, "...is safe." Megan joins Jasmine center-stage.
9:20 p.m. Wow. This is really abrupt. Megan is safe and Jasmine is done unless this is the right opportunity for the premiere of the Judges' Save. Jasmine gets to perform again while the judges' confer. Yeah. They're totally going to waste that Judge's Save now. This means that each week, the eliminated contestants will get two slaps in the face, first when they're eliminated and then when the judges decide not to save them.
9:22 p.m. Jasmine re-sings "I'll Be There" and she's under every note. It's brutal. Ryan asks Randy if the judges are going to use they're save. "It's not gonna work," they tell her. Jasmine is in tears. This really isn't the way they want to do this in the future.
9:29 p.m. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Kanye West performing "Heartless." This is already an improvement over that season it seemed like Acorn and Macaroon Five kept showing up over and over. Sigh. Yes. Akon. And Maroon Five. I *know*.
9:32 p.m. Kanye can't really sing, but he isn't daunted by the "American Idol" stage, bopping around, grabbing his crotch (it was Michael Jackson Night on Tuesday, after all), using the judges' table as a prop and stirring up the ladies in the front row.
9:37 p.m. Scott MacIntyre gets a huge squeal from the crowd and he's safe. Sigh. He wasn't good, y'all. Alexis was a bit better, but she was stuck with the out-of-left-field call-in number. Viewers weren't confused. She's safe. Alexis' daughter is very happy. Danny "The Redeemer" Gokey was one of last night's two best and he's safe. Anoop, not at his best on Tuesday, knows he's heading to the center and gives Ryan a little nod. Ryan agrees.
9:42 p.m. Jorge goes to join Anoop center stage.
9:43 p.m. If we assume that we were effectively pulling a Bottom Four this week, this means that three of the four least popular singers were the contestants put through via the Wild Card last week. Not only does this put a lie to any suggestion that the exposure from an extra week's singing would give the Wild Card picks an advantage, but it also makes me wonder if this is evidence that the judges need to be given less power rather than more.
9:46 p.m. Anoop and Jorge are still waiting to hear their fates, but they're going to have to wait through a performance from Season One "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson. Ryan and Kelly make the same jokes about getting judged and how long it seems since she won. Kelly tells Ryan that he's the inspiration for "My Life Would Suck Without You." Then Ryan jokes that it's actually about his relationship with Simon. Oh, the hilarity.
9:50 p.m. Kelly performs. I watch college basketball. The Cuse is in the House.
9:56 p.m. Back to Anoop and Jorge... Ryan goes "Anoop..." Anoop has learned not to react. "You... are... safe." Jorge nods.
9:57 p.m. Ah, ironic song choice alert. "Never Can Say Good-Bye."
9:58 p.m. Jorge wasn't good last night, but there are at least four people continuing on who aren't nearly on his level. If the judges don't use their Save, this will be the second consecutive season for the lone Latino contestant to be eliminated Week One.
9:59 p.m. Will the judges use the Same? "No," Simon says tersely.
10:00 p.m. Farewell, then, to Jasmine and Jorge.
So, did the right people go home? And what do you think of the Judge's Save? Good idea? Bad idea?
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