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Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010

Going into Tuesday night, we were down to the Top Ten, and perhaps for the first time since the season began, voters finally axed the right singer. Paige Miles was pretty sore when her name was called, and you can’t blame her since she was so close to making the big tour. Nor, however, can you blame America’s speed-dialers and repeat texters, who liked everyone else better, including the much-maligned Tim Urban (barely). In any case, it’s time to turn the Paige so that the real bloodletting can begin, as the finalists start truly wishing the worst for each other. The stakes go up each week, knowing that the closer you get, the meaner your agent is going to be. That is, for every Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, there’s a Kellie Pickler and a Chris Daughtry out there who are also tipping with fifties these days.


One of the season’s most surprising developments, in a season full of them, is the fact that the boys, in the Top Ten, outnumber the girls six to four, especially given pre-season projections that the girls would run away with it. But here we are, and three or four of the boys stepped up even further on Tuesday. In fact, after Tuesday, the competition seems tighter than ever, with at least six of the singers having legitimate shots at winning the whole thing. So instead of coasting, knowing that the tour is set and that the odds of winning are long, everyone appears to be in it to win it and might even have improved enough to, in the final few weeks, salvage what has been a heavily derided year. R&B lothario Usher was on hand, by the way, to coach the Top Tenners, as each chose a tune from the great R&B hitlist. In honor of the Top Ten, here were the night’s Top Ten moments.


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Friday, Mar 26, 2010
Episode was a straightforward zombie movie homage with a twist.

It has been weeks since the last new episode of the CW’s Supernatural aired, and fans called this break a “hellatus”. During this hiatus, the network announced that the series will be renewed for another season this fall, and it’s episodes like this one that show us why.


Supernatural has dealt with the dead rising from the grave many times before, but the last “zombie” reference was Season 2‘s “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”. This episode was more than a mere homage to various zombie films, however, because it had a heart.


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Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010

Okay, raise your hand if you miss Lacey. Me too!  It was clear from Tuesday’s Top 11 debacle, a show that will decide the Top Ten and the subsequent summer tour participants, that Lacey was gone too soon. She did show up on Letterman the other night, sitting in with Paul and the band, holding her own with Dave’s quips, and singing a nice, fluttery version of “What a Wonderful World”. Paul put a friendly spin on her getting voted off: “She doesn’t have to go on the tour! That’s the best thing!” 


But, of course, the tour is huge, as most of these kids will never again play an arena as long as they live, and Lacey along with this week’s reject will miss out on a nice payday, a survey of major-market Radissons, and the chance to pose for copious tour merch. In a perfect Idol world, those t-shirts would feature, along with Lacey, the visages of Katelyn Epperly, Lilly Scott, and Alex Lambert cuddling with six others. As cruel fate would have it, however, we’re going to be stuck with some combination of Paige Miles, Tim Urban, Andrew Garcia, Aaron Miles, and Katie Stevens, which isn’t exactly the gorgeous thought that would have this year’s concert promotors rubbing their hands together.


The voting debacle that has jettisoned some of the season’s most-promising performers was a subject of the night’s lead-in. After a bodiless announcer introduced the judges and Ryan—the show continues to tinker with the format—Ryan prompted the judges to offer PSAs about the importance of voting. Randy and Ellen, especially, seemed downright desperate with the knowledge that audiences have gotten things badly wrong and have aligned the worst Top Ten in the show’s history, a nightmare for a show trying to survive while its best-loved judges exit like rats from a burning barn. But onward we trudge, and it’s not all dismal—some genuine talent remains, and on Tuesday, the singers had to choose from any song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. With that in mind, here’s what was Hot about Tuesday:


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Monday, Mar 22, 2010
As Betty Suarez rushes headlong toward her inevitable destiny of inner and outer beauty, it is time to praise all the supporting players that actually made Ugly Betty worth watching.

What do 24, Lost and Ugly Betty have in common? Nothing. Except that I’ve been watching them all from the beginning of their runs, and they’re all ending this season. 


To be honest, the way I’m watching the swan song seasons of these three shows is not even remotely similar either. Lost has taken TV storytelling to a new level with its final act, solidifying its place as one of the best shows ever. I will miss it dearly when it goes. 24 has me riveted again (against my will) with its high wire antics, even as I scorn the perpetually silly contortions required to sustain 24 episodes. I’m interested to see how the writers will get themselves to the end of another day, but am also relieved that I don’t have to spend another 24 hours in real time next year wondering why Jack Bauer never eats or goes to the bathroom.   


Then there’s Ugly Betty. Look, let’s be honest here. We all knew how Ugly Betty was going to end the day it started. You don’t call a show Ugly Betty unless the Betty in question is going to transform into something that we know is most certainly not ugly. That’s what’s been happening over this season. New glasses, new outfits, new attitude. The transformation is occurring on a weekly basis. And with two episodes left, everyone knows those braces are coming off and Betty’ll probably get contacts. Ugly Betty will end her run just as Betty (or even Attractive Betty). Finally.


Tagged as: 24, lost, ugly betty
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Friday, Mar 19, 2010

For the most part, there just is no saving a franchise like Law & Order. I used to admire the show’s writing for having complex story lines that involved fascinating questions of legal ethics.  And I used to project sad romantic notions on Sam Waterston, bargaining that the best you could probably do with a man was one that ignored you, but at least had a passionate commitment to something else that you could admire. At some point, the drama went into the typical freefall of creative starvation. Knockoffs were generated to try to hone in on our fascination with series as if it were just a bunch of fetishes and cliches.


Let’s give them one that only does sex type crimes and one in which Vincent D’Onofrio plays Columbo like he’s a second away from committing a sex type crime. These “other parts” of the Law & Order office made story secondary; instead giving us character hamster wheels like Eliot Stabler. Stabler is Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet doing cop anger, righteous “this is for my daughter” cop anger, every single, stinking week. If he were someone in your life, going through that much repeated emotional extremism, you would have organized a group of friend’s with tranquilizer guns. But Stabler lives in a world with an incredibly irresponsible Human Resources department. It was during this dreary downfall that the marketing people made the unintentionally prescient slogan “Ripped From the Headlines”, which was supposed to mean fresh and topical, but really meant that that had just fired all the writers and started over with a shredder and scotch tape.


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