AMERICAN IDOL: So far, kind of boring

This week’s Idol double bill was, frankly, underwhelming. Guest judges Shania Twain and Kristin Chenoweth weren’t awful, but the only lasting impression was the question as to why producers sent Chenoweth up at a time or in a city where she could only see one day of auditions. Of the singers we saw for more than 10 seconds, I, like Shania (oh dear!) dug the package that was John Park. And this could turn into the season of the dueling Jermaines, last week’s Sellars and this week’s Purifoy. They set former convict Matt Lawrence up for a redemption arc, but I am not on board with Kara’s belief that he’s already in the Top 12. At least the competition will keep him away from banks and BB guns.

Jarrod Norrell’s audition/arrest was a weak attempt to inject some drama into an otherwise stale evening. Norrell’s “Amazing Grace” was neither amazing or graceful, but his utter shock at the judges’ insulting then fearful responses to his “song” rang true. Randy’s too-quick summoning of security came out of nowhere. Contestants in year’s past were far more threatening once their dreams were crushed (recall some water in the face, Simon?). Jarrod’s agitation with the muscled escorts who eventually cuffed him did not stem from a desire to assault the Simon and Co. but rather bewilderment. Who doesn’t resist and protest when they’ve done nothing wrong? This was Randy taking a cue from a Fox brainstorm session and an idea that handcuffed singers would take the auditions to the next level. But like last year’s infamous Judges’ Save, did he play the card at the right time?

Angela Martin. Yes, the girl has had some bum luck when trying to reach the stars, but barring another court date, she’ll be on the live show (now I sound like Kara; ahhhh!). Here’s the thing (stop it!). Angela is this season’s Carly Smithson. My issue is not with the second chance. It’s the total lack of suspense as we follow her during Hell Week. Look, once we reaach the Top 12, Norman Gentle aside, we pretty much forget about the almost-weres. True, Angela’s past involvement with the competition would have surfaced sooner rather than later. But by setting it up from the get go, the prodcuers are flat out telling the viewers that Angela will be playing the part of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Hardly a novel concept for a reality show (I’m looking at you ANTM Season 7 reject to Season 8 champ Jaslene), but now I won’t invest in Angela, who is talented, until her fate is in the public’s hands. I know that’s where the real excitement begins, but by that point how many others will dial for the contestants not assigned characters and just existing in the space of the show (if such a thing is possible). Next up, Los Angeles. And please. Let’s save the handcuffs for Cops, Fox.

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