Yay, it’s almost time for us to frantically vote for the season twelve champion! So far, everyone and their dogs (and some dogs, too) seem to be rooting for Hines, but I remain unconvinced. Yes, athletes always seem to win. Yes, Hines is cuddly as a teddy bear and has an equally heartwarming personal story. Yes, Kym deserves the sympathy vote for coming the closest to ending up in a wheelchair. But I’m still giving Chelsea the leg up for one simple reason – she’s just the best dancer. And, saying that, she’ll probably screw up royally tonight. So let the games begin!
Justin Timberlake has helped â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ produce two of its strongest episodes in recent years. Lady Gaga is as popular as popular music gets right now. Normally putting these two on the same episode of â€œSNLâ€ would guarantee a classic night for the show. (The possibilities inherent in â€œLonely Island + Timberlake + Gagaâ€ boggle the mind. â€œBorn this Way with a D#ck in a Boxâ€, anyone?) But nothingâ€™s so sure anymore for the sketch comedy institution. Will they pull out all the stops on this, the final episode of the year? Or have they already burned out, leaving us with a limp finish to the middling season?
Only one way to find out. As always, Iâ€™ll be grading each sketch as they air. Onto the final recap for the 2010-2011 season!
This is our last Thursday "American Idol" Results Spectacular of the season. Yup. In case you haven't been paying attention, next week's "Idol" episodes are Tuesday and Wednesday, rather than Wednesday and Thursday, because the May Sweeps period (and The Official 2010-2011 TV Season) ends next Wednesday and FOX doesn't want to waste its "Idol" finale on a Thursday that effectively doesn't count. Thus, we can expect several helpful reminders from Ryan Seacrest during tonight's episode. And we can expect to send either Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina or Haley Reinhart home. But let's be serious: We're not sending Scotty McCreery home, are we?
Click through for Thursday's (May 19) results...
As we open on this finale episode of "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 16, let us engage in a moment of silence for Hannah. She of the weeping eyes and high-flying winged eyeliner will not be backcombing her hair into a Dee Snyder hawk’s nest and walking in a Vivienne Westwood fashion show for the finale. No! That honor is reserved for Molly and Brittani, one of whom will score a spread in Italian Vogue, a Cover Girl contract, representation with IMG, and the cover of Vogue Something or Other But Definitely Not Italian Vogue.
We’re down to just six chefs, and I’m sure it’s getting harder and harder for the judges to find a weak link at this point. After all, if you’ve made it this far your food must be pretty predictably solid. So when the chefs walk in for the Quickfire Challenge and discover a pile of what appears to be bondage gear, I’m wondering if the producers have just thrown up their hands and decided to make a food-related porn movie with our valiant chefs. Okay, not really. It’s a challenge of their senses. So nothing to fear, foodies!
It's time for the "American Idol" Top 3 and Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and charging darkhorse Haley Reinhart are singing thrice apiece on Wednesday (May 18) night. Their first performance? Personal choice. Second performance? Jimmy Iovine's choice. Third performance? Judges' choice.
Who gained the upper hand? Click through for the full recap...
Singer: Scotty McCreery
My Take: Dude. I wanna be mentored by Beyonce. She loves Scotty, but she's worried about his confidence with his upper range. It's a mighty predictable song choice for Scotty, but what's the point of a personal song choice if you aren't going to pick an utter no-brainer for yourself? Equally predictably, Scotty's much better in the lower-ranged verses than in the build to the chorus, which pushes him to a high point where he's getting lost in the excessive arrangement and background singing. There are at least a couple notes which benefit from being lost. He closes with a nice, assertive note and a smile.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Steven Tyler thinks Scotty keeps getting better and somehow imagines that Scotty got angry somewhere in the song. I don't even know what that means. Jennifer Lopez loves that Scotty took her advice and started doing vibrato on every note. Randy produced a version of the song and therefore he thinks it was a great song choice. And oh gosh, Randy actually noticed the pitchy parts. Crazy, right?
Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: "Wild One"
My Take: I'm very pleased that Lauren didn't do one of three or four Faith Hill songs I'd instantly have guessed. Beyonce advises Lauren to be fearless and a diva. I'm not sure what character Lauren is playing tonight, but it's another character she can't fully embody. And this is yet another song that accentuates that even if we think she's a sweet girl and we like her spirit, her voice remains disappointingly thin every time she's asked to live up to the standards of her idols (or the standard she set in her very first audition). There are rough notes, strained notes and whispered notes aplenty. And guess what? Nobody's going to mention this to Lauren, because all season long, nobody's had the heart to take Lauren to task for not showing any vocal growth in four months of coaching and training.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: J-Lo compliments Lauren for attacking the song. What an utterly worthless comment. Randy loves seeing Lauren having fun. He loves that in her heart, she seemed to be loving it. But what about THE WAY SHE SANG THE SONG? Steven loved the way Lauren was singing. "You're ready for America to just be all over you," Tyler leers inappropriately.
Singer: Haley Reinhart
Song: "What Is and What Should Never Be"
My Take: This is why I like Haley. She's insane. It's like she's channelling her buddy Casey Abrams and intentionally trying to confuse and alienate the judges and viewers. And doing an initially version of a Led Zeppelin classic? That's just bonkers. And presumably the dude playing guitar stage right is, indeed, Haley's dad. Her smile and the infusion of warm seeing him is perhaps the most unforced emotional reaction of the entire season. The performance? Well, it's a bit frantic, even before Haley trips falling up the stairs. Total face-plant. Total. Like, "Uh-oh. What do you do when that happens?" The answer is that Haley drops a couple words before picking herself back up like an utter champ. She's initially unsteady, but pulls right back into the song and she smiles broadly til she reaches the end, at which point the judges stand for her effort. I think that wins her a lot of support, because you wanna talk about bouncing back? What Haley just did was take what would have probably been a derided or questioned performance and turn it into a "heroic" (again, true heroism isn't often found on reality shows) triumph. And with her dad there with her? That's a Moment. Girl turned faceplant into faceplantade. The only bad part of that performance for Haley? That it came in her first performance rather than her third.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: "This is what it's all about," Randy cheers, calling her "fearless," and one of her best performances ever. "Haley, did you fall for me," Steve Tyler says and adds, "It's not about how many times you fall. It's about how many times you get back up." J-Lo says that when people fall down, you keep going. Randy declares that "hands down" Haley won Round One.
Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: Jimmy's Pick: "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?"
My Take: I don't know this song, but it's Guitar Scotty, so I approve. It is, in fact, a pretty boring song. But Scotty turns it into a solid vocal -- better than his first performance, because it requires less strain -- and a vocal that plays directly to the teenage girls (and really inappropriate older woman) who love him. Simple. Smart. Savvy. Successful. Scotty.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Steve says Scotty was living that song. There were so many moments J-Lo loved. "Can you shave your head for the finale," J-Lo requests. Scotty, you'd best take J-Lo's advice. Randy agrees on the short hair and thought it was a good pick for Scotty. Randy then absurdly says that Scotty was "approaching the Garth level." Finally Randy runs off two cliches: One, it was like being at a Scotty concert. And two, Scotty is in it to win it. Will Scotty return for his third performance with his head shaved? And then Ryan and Randy go off into some banter about chest-waxing. It's just not the same without Simon, is it?
Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: Jimmy's Pick: "If I Die Young"
My Take: Haley falls flat on her face, so Lauren has to create a near-tragedy of her own. In this case, her hose have ripped and she has to remove them and get a rub-down. On-air. Sigh. Now her legs are distracting shiny. I shouldn't be commenting on Lauren Alaina's legs. Stop. Jimmy's doing well on the song-picking. This is a song that doesn't require that Lauren have a Faith Hill or Carrie Underwood-sized voice. The first half of the song is situated right in her range and asks her to do nothing she isn't good enough to do. And she sounds good. Then Lauren has a gaffe of her own mid-song. Does she lose the melody? Does she lose a word? Stop trying to be Haley, Lauren. From that point, the song gets bigger and Lauren starts fumbling, as she does. Still, in the end, instead of thinking about her limitations, all I'm thinking is "That's not the right dress to be sitting down on the stage in, young lady."
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: J-Lo says Lauren has "the most beautiful tone of our finalists." I disagree. But OK. Randy and Steven both praise her for the blunder. Lauren explains that she missed a key change. Ah. Ooops.
Singer: Haley Reinhart
Song: Jimmy's Pick: "Rhiannon"
My Take: Didi Benami did this one last season. As much as I love Didi Benami, she didn't have the voice for it. Haley does. Before the performance, Haley warns us that her problem is going to be when the lyrics get a bit fast and wordy. That is, indeed, where she runs into trouble a little trouble. And who can blame her? That's also when the wind machine and fog machines kick in simultaneously. Is this Haley's Dream 1989 Music Video? It's mostly a growl-free performance, which should make the Haley-haters happy. But after her first performance? How could she top it? The solution was not wind-and-fog. What this is is another typical Haley gear-change, something she's better at than her two "Idol" rivals, if voters happen to appreciate things like that. After a long season -- and in the middle of a string of lengthy days of upfronts coverage -- I appreciate the variety and versatility.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Randy thought she did a good job with it, praising her pitch. Randy's disappointed that guys don't get wind and fog machines. Steven's all, "I get that stuff all the time." Steven's a fan of the performance. J-Lo thought it looked beautiful, but she wanted a Haley wail in the end. Ask to judge Round Two, Steven gives it to Lauren Alaina. J-Lo gives it to Scotty. Randy agrees with J-Lo.
Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: Judges' Choice: "She Believes In Me"
My Take: Although his hair remains unshorn, Scotty's done enough to lock up his place in the Finals. I can't even begrudge his presence there. Given these three options, he's definitely one of the best two, even if he's a little sharp on the higher notes in the chorus here. He's holding the microphone straight, hitting the lower notes well. Once again, it's a straight-to-the-base performance. Why change strategies now?
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Tyler's happy. J-Lo said they all wanted to see if Scotty could hit the big chorus. She says the answer was "Yes." I'd say the answer was "Mostly," which is good enough. Randy says he was "sweet and tender in the front." Ummm. OK. Scotty's dad is proud of him. And Scotty's dad sings a few notes. It's Father's Day on "Idol."
Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: Judges' Choice: "I Hope You Dance"
My Take: Yawn. Uninspired song choice from the judges. And uninspired production choice sticking Lauren with the fog machine as well. The result is foggy, utterly acceptable note-for-note karaoke. Vocally, this is Lauren's best performance of the night, but I'm not sure it should be enough.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: J-Lo has "goosies from head-to-toe." Then J-Lo says that Lauren's won this round for her already. Really, J-Lo? BOO. Randy loves Lauren's sea-foam dress and tells Ryan that Lauren is in it to win it. Tyler says Lauren sang it perfectly.
Singer: Haley Reinhart
Song: Judges' Choice: "You Oughta Know"
My Take: The judges apparently want growling. But what did Dave Coulier ever do to Haley Reinhart? The song is deceptively low through to the first chorus. Much too low for Haley. MUCH too low. She fights through the first verse with its sanitized raunchiness ("Would she go out with you to the theater?"), but when she gets to the chorus, she gets to wail. And nobody does it better. And because she's a trooper, Haley even goes running up and down the stairs, this time without incident. Without question, it was the night's sexiest performance, but Haley's drained. You can tell. The arc of the show was such that she had to put so much effort into the first two performances that she'd probably have killed for closing torch song of some sort. Instead, she had to deliver the night's first and second highest energy performances as the bread, with freaking Stevie Nicks as the filling. That's hard.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Will the judges admit that they choice a song that wasn't really right for Haley's voice? Randy loved hearing Haley rock out and gives Haley her second "in it to win it" of the night. Steven calls it perfect and says Haley nailed the choruses. "There's nobody who can match you there," J-Lo says of the choruses. And yay! J-Lo mentions the lowness problems, though doesn't take responsibility for the choice. Steven gives Round Three to Haley. J-Lo and Randy both give the third round to Lauren. Wow! What a shocking coincidence that Randy and J-Lo both gave each of three singers one round apiece.
TONIGHT'S BEST: Your Finale *should* pit Wire-to-Wire Favorite Scotty against Underdog Haley.
TONIGHT'S WORST: Lauren was not bad. Of this group, she's just got the weakest voice and the least performing confidence. I don't hate her. At all. She's gonna sell albums. I don't doubt that. But the finale will be ever-so-much duller with her in it.
IN DANGER: I said it last week and I was wrong, but I'll try it again: A girl is going home this week. Scotty's the only one who doesn't need to worry.
What'd you think? And did you laugh at seeing the stars of FX's "Wilfred" -- the dude in the dog suit and Frodo -- in the audience?
I've been up since 5 a.m. covering TV's upfronts, so it's either going to be a blessing or a curse to get to turn off my brain for an hour to watch eight people scream-yell at each other in Tuesday (May 17) night's second round of Battles on "The Voice."
Let's see how things turn out, after the break...
There are some weeks in which “Glee” is the gift that keeps on giving. Not from a viewing perspective, but a writing perspective. It’s never much of a struggle to write about the show, even if it’s often a struggle to figure out what the heck is supposed to be going on in a particular hour as an audience member. “Funeral” contains a little bit of what’s great about the show, and a little bit of what’s horrible about it, but mostly this episode will be remembered spending its second-to-last episode of the year aping another FOX hit.
[Full recap of Tuesday’s (May 17) “Glee” after the break…]
I hate to say this, but I suspect Ralph is going home, although I can’t count out Kirstie getting the boot. Admitting you were once a big cokehead on national television (not something she’s ever kept a secret or anything, but might surprise some viewers) is either a fabulous Oprah-worthy way of bonding with viewers or a huge mistake. We’ll find out.
It’s long been nearly a foregone conclusion, but this week NBC made it official that “The Event” will not be returning for a second season. So for those true few of us who have remained with the series through the first season, any satisfaction or payoff that we’ve so dutifully been waiting for must come within the final two episodes.
Well, make that the final episode, as the penultimate (and lazily titled) “The Beginning of the End” offers little in way of either satisfaction or payoff. In fact, while not as routinely terrible as the past few weeks, this episode only added to my frustration as the season’s plot lines started coming together in the most expected and unexciting ways, making it clear how this season (and the series with it) will end, and why satisfaction and meaningful payoff are probably much too far out of reach.
[Full recap of Monday's (May 16) "The Event" after the break...]