Saturday, June 24, 2006

Brandy thinks she's Randy

If there's anyone out there wondering what I'm watching on television now that American Idol is over, on Wednesday night I did turn on the Simon Cowell-produced, America's Got Talent, which is basically American Idol crossed with The Gong Show. But I don't think it's going to become a regular habit or a subject of this blog.

For the first half-hour I was kind of intrigued, but by about the 45-minute mark I started to get bored. And one of the major reasons was the general lameness of the judges. So you have some British guy named Piers Morgan, who is supposed to be Simon except he smiles too much and isn't nearly as critical or interesting. Then you have Brandy (is her music career dead already? Paula Abdul had been off the charts for almost a decade before she ended up on Idol), who one would think would be the Paula Abdul-type judge but wants to be the Randy Jackson judge, since in the first half hour Wednesday night she said that "That was hot" twice and "You did your thing" another time. And then there's David Hasselhoff, who seems to like everyone and therefore takes the Paula slot.

Aside from the judges, my problem with the show is that I don't really understand how they have the post-audition weekly competition aspect of it like Idol does. Is the 70-year-old male stripper that somehow got put through to the next round going to do a new routine every week? How about the guy who snapped his fingers to "Wipe Out"? Sure, he can do the Addams Family theme the first week, but what next? And there were those guys who did the basketball dunking routine with trampolines and flips--the kind of act you can see at halftime of any NBA game any day of the week. How many different versions of that act can they come up with week to week? I can't imagine too many, so despite all these freaks being put through, we'll just end up with mostly singers anyway. And why would I want to watch an inferior version of American Idol? Having said that, maybe a comedian would make it through, and I did find the 8-year-old comedian amusing if somewhat frightening. So maybe I'll give it another chance in a few weeks when they get past the audition phase.

And why does every show Simon Cowell produces always include three judges--the inventor show, this one and Cupid? Can't he think of another concept? And the reason his previous shows haven't succeeded--the jury is still out, although the initial ratings were good, for America's Got Talent--is because the judging is an essential, but not the only, element making Idol a success. It's also the thrill of the performance. Going on a good date can be a thrill if you're part of it, but watching someone else go on a good date, as the audience did in Cupid, really isn't a thrill at all, especially if you don't know them--unlike how watching someone sing well can be thrilling on Idol.

To finish what I started, here's some of what I have been watching this summer: Entourage (Enjoyable, although it seems like it could be a better show than it is--maybe that's a topic for a different post), reruns of the third season of The Wire on HBO (an incredibly dense show about crime in the inner city that's fascinating) and Hell's Kitchen on Fox. Hell's Kitchen is the perfect summer show--I doubt I'd watch it during the regular TV season, because there are a lot better shows on. But in the summer, Hell's Kitchen's can be appreciated for what it is--a fairly insubstantial and yet sometimes entertaining show that takes very little brainpower to appreciate on a hot Monday night. I do wish they'd spend less time on Gordon Ramsey's yelling and more time showing us why exactly the cooks are so incompetent (How does it end up that Maribel puts cold duck wellington on a plate? Did she not cook it? Did it sit out too long? Can't we get some kind of explanation?), but I guess that might be a show that belongs on the Food Network and not on Fox.


Blogger Amy said...

You are too hard on Entourage. The past 2 episodes have been some of the best yet. Last night was excellent. You seek too much sometimes.
And, how can you comment on America's Got Talent when you watched 45 minutes of a 2 hour show? There was some good stuff and Piers was mean on some of them. Not everything is going to be American Idol or its phenomenon. But, it is different and good tv for a summer night when you need to watch something. Kind of like the gong show which is funny but still this is the first round of who gets through ...we have no idea how the rest of the season will play out.

6/26/06, 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I tried to watch AGT but also became very bored after a short while. The criticism I thought about too was how do you possibly compare all those acts to get a "winner"? Someone says jumproping a car is "more talented" than Bobby BadFinger (who was on Howard a months back by the way)? If you're looking for something more like Idol, I suggest "You think you can dance". Not that I'm an Idol expert, but I think it's actually a pretty good show. Different types of dancers have to learn a completely new style from what they are comfortable with each week (hip hop has to learn ballroom for instance). It's also actually possible to judge at home which performances were improved on, whatever. I realize this is completely off-blog - just wanted to put it out there. By the way, I do like Hell's kitchen too (Ramsey used to be a professional soccer player by the way), but then again I like most things British...

6/26/06, 3:10 PM  

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