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by Terry Sawyer

19 Mar 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.

by Steve Leftridge

17 Mar 2010


The shock, the denial, the pain, the guilt, the anger. Still waiting for the acceptance. It’s been a rough week for American Idol after a devastating week of cuts, for a season that can hardly afford it. Last time out, I called for Paige, Katie, Tim, and Aaron to go home. All four survived to make the Top 12, which is a drag, but not nearly as suckful as missing out on a few more weeks of Katelyn Epperly, Todrick Hall, and especially Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott. Fans of both Alex and Lilly have been doing everything from circulating petitions to organizing boycotts, reflecting the general outrage over how America could’ve gotten it so wrong. There hasn’t been this much righteous indignation over voting in this country since hanging chads.

I still don’t think Vote for the Worst is influential enough to swing this thing, by the way, mostly because I refuse to believe there are that many people out there who are devoted to malicious, mean-spirited, bottom-feeding. What kind of person is driven to disappoint the largest possible number of people, anyway? Yes, there are thousands of VTFW voters out there, but total Idol votes number in the millions. It’s much more plausible that Lilly suffered from the three-way-split in the girl-with-a-guitar vote that broke heavily to Crystal and Didi this time. Tim received glowing praise from the judges last week, which played way more into his making the cut. Mike, Casey, Lee, and Andrew all have different niches and voting bases, so when the judges heaped the praise on Tim, it sealed Alex’s fate at the cute-guitar-playing-shaggy-haired-teen-boy fangirls gravitated toward Tim.

by Jessy Krupa

17 Mar 2010


Parenthood seems to be doing well, its ratings are okay and Entertainment Weekly put it at the top of their “must list”. So now that we know it’ll probably stick around for a while, let’s review what happened in the third episode, in case you missed it.

Everyone keeps describing Zeke as “the patriarch” of the Braverman clan, but I disagree with that. He may be the oldest member of the family, and he occasionally serves as comedic relief, but it seems like Adam’s in charge instead. For example, after Julia complained to him that her daughter was getting too attached to the dubious Racquel during her daddy-daughter “Zen swimming class”, it was Adam who told her to just try to teach Sydney how to swim herself.

by Steve Leftridge

11 Mar 2010


Wednesday night was a death match for the guys in a field that has, to this point, been defined by mediocrity. It’s safe to say that this week was a solid one for both girls and boys, and voters have successfully whittled the field down to an acceptable, if slightly underwhelming, final sixteen. What helped was saying adios last week to John Park and Jermaine Sellers, although in the case of Sellers, it was a major slap in God’s face.

I hate to raise an ugly subject, but how has race been a factor so far in the voting?  While the judges did commendable work in offering a cross-section of ethnicity in the initial Top 24, voters have skewed very white since then. Last week alone, three of the four castaways were black (Sellers, Haely Vaughn, and Michelle Delamor), and the fourth was Park, an Asian-American. The week before, two of those sent home were Latin-Americans. The sole African-American girl, Paige Miles, faces almost-certain expulsion Thursday, and, of the guys, Todrick Hall has been hanging by a thread. Is Michael Lynche the Great Black Hope?  Can we really chalk this up to colorblind merit?  Has the viewer demographic changed since Ruben Studdard and Fantasia went the distance?  Is someone going to say that this is related to the economy?  What do you think?  The phonelines are open.

In any case, the boys went big on Wednesday—big song choices, big performances, and, in some case, big turnarounds. Here were the night’s Biggests:

by Steve Leftridge

10 Mar 2010


The girls are down to eight and looking to cut two more this week, merging with the boys for the Dirty Dozen. Michelle Delamor was cut last week, after failing to connect with audiences, perhaps because everyone hates Creed. Haeley Vaughn was also shown the door, to great relief, but not before delivering one of the most skin-crawlingly awful performances in Idol history. It’s one of the show’s most peculiar rituals—making the contestants sing immediately after voting them off the show. Such a tradition is simultaneously compassionate and cruel, leading to a flood of emotions that often leads to bizarre final performances like Haeley’s and to melodramatic tears from the remaining hopefuls. (Haeley was endorsed by Vote for the Worst, by the way, so so much for that group. If they can’t even concentrate enough votes to save a singer when there are ten to choose from, then VFTW has, without question, no real impact on results. But I’m sure it’s time well spent.)

Tuesday’s Ladies Night was a tight show—eight songs in an hour, which, by Idol standards, is flying. The judges still took up a majority of the airtime, and most of their commentary was typically redundant. They did, however, find plenty to admire as the girls, for the most part, continue to improve. After Tuesday, a clear favorite and a clear clunker had emerged among the women. The other six are all knotted up together, but one of them has to go, so we’ll be saying goodbye to a worthy singer no matter who gets sliced. I’m in a bad mood, so for these awards, let’s focus on the worsts.

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