Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Not-Exactly-Live-Blogging American Idol Season 1 Episode 2: Not-Exactly-Hollywood Week

The first ever "Hollywood" Week was held in Pasadena, which is at least somewhat closer to being Hollywood than Anaheim is to being Los Angeles, so they're already one up on a certain major league baseball team.

Personally, I never cared much for Hollywood week, wherever it was located. There were rarely any memorable performances, and the way the challenges are set up, if you tried to do them for a sociology experiment, someone from your institution's Human Subjects committee would come and have a very stern talk with you. But at least in the first season it all took place over one episode, rather than the bloated, ratings-chasing deathmarch it would become in later years.

(I'm pretty sure I really liked this show, but reading that last paragraph over again I'm not so sure. Perhaps this is just an elaborate trick I'm playing on myself.)

Anyway, on with the show.

0:12 We open with a recap of the bad singers from last week, just in case you haven't gotten enough of the idea that there are people who have no talent for singing, but try anyway.

03:24 First performer sings Aretha, first criticism from Simon is that she's too fat to be a star. We're off to a great start.

03:46 "I don't believe that if Aretha entered this competition, she would win it." I'm not sure if I should be sorry or relieved that Twitter didn't exist for this episode. (Bear in mind, folks: This is the first singer we see. This is what they wanted to lead with.)

05:47 A stab at justifying making the contestants work overnight is made, as being something they might have to do in the music business. Personally, I think they only rented the building for three days.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Not-Exactly-Live-Blogging: American Idol Season 1, Episode 1

There was a time in my life when I was very into American Idol. I mean, quite into it. On the road trip for which this blog was founded, I chose at least one overnight stop based on needing to be in my motel room in time to watch it. I think I may have even voted a couple of times. I'm not going to admit that I saw "From Justin to Kelly" in the theater, because who would admit to that? (Okay, I did. But at least I'll protect the privacy of the person I saw it with.*) I haven't watched it in a while, because you don't always keep loving the things you loved when you were twenty-five, but I've always maintained some affection for the show. So, when they announced that this was going to be the last season, I decided to check back in, for old time's sake. And maybe the nostalgia is getting to me, because after watching the first couple of episodes, I got that old, early-2000's urge to start blogging again.

But I'm not going to blog the current season. There are plenty of people doing that who are more interesting about it than I am (I particularly recommend Michael Slezak at TVLine and Dave Holmes at Vulture). And I'm finding it difficult to summon enough emotion about these made-for-TV children to say anything more than "that was okay" and "that was less okay, but whatever, kids these days." So, instead, I thought I would look to the past, and blog about the first season, as long as nobody pulls the low-res clips on YouTube that are the only way I've found to watch it.

Let's start at the very begining:

Episode 1: June 11, 2002

0:02 We open with Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman introducing the show against a dark background, that lights up to reveal the Kodak Theater. I have to wonder: In this moment, what did Mr. Dunkleman think his future would hold? Did he believe that this was going to be the opportunity that would open the door to bigger and brighter things, to hosting red carpets and Rockin' New Year's Eve, and producing a multi-million-dollar reality TV franchise based on a fifth-string socialite with a sex tape? Or did he, even then, recognize the unstoppable force of ambition to his left, and already feel the icy grip of irrelevance closing around him?

Or maybe he was just happy to have the paycheck. Hard to say.

0:33 Original opening credits music, complete with cheesy CGI figures. Even after all this time, I still get a little frisson of excitement hearing it.

1:28 It is explained that this is based on a British show. The hope is that it will be at least as successful.