Thursday, April 12, 2007

False 'Idol'

As "American Idol" watchers know full well, wild-haired, no-talent Sanjaya survived yet another vote while leggy Haley Scarnato was voted off, bringing the total of contestants left to seven. (The male patrons at the establishment where I was playing poker last night were particularly disappointed to watch that.)

The unprecendented success of Sanjaya has demonstrated a flaw in the process that has existed with "AI" since the show began, namely, the unscientific voting process makes what is supposed to be a talent show into a popularity contest.

Now, with Web sites and people like Howard Stern encouraging fans of the show to vote for the worst singer instead of the best, Sanjaya has a genuine shot at winning this thing. Imagine if fans voted during the auditions: William Hung might have won the "AI" title.

For people who hate or are indifferent to "AI," they feel the mega-popular ratings champ is getting its comeuppance. But really, it exposes a potential long-term problem for the show. If the Sanjayas of the world are advancing along instead of the more-talented singers simply because fans can artificially inflate the vote totals, then what is the point of watching?

Had this happened a few years ago, former winners-turned-superstars like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson might not have won their seasons and thus not launched their careers. "AI" has already flirted with disaster before, when seemingly dodgy vote totals gave Ruben Studdard the title in Season 2 over Clay Aiken. It hasn't helped that Aiken has become a star while Studdard has seemingly entered the witness protection program.

The problem for producers of "AI" is that there is no easy solution to this problem. It's not like they can take the vote away from the fans - that's the basis for the show. But if the voting process continues to be skewed, it poses a real threat to "AI's" popularity.

R.I.P. ROSCOE LEE BROWNE: The veteran character-actor, who had one of the most magnificent speaking voices you'll ever hear, died Wednesday at 81 after a long bout with cancer. Browne won an Emmy for a guest stint on "The Cosby Show" in 1986.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: ABC launches its new comedy, "Notes From The Underbelly" at 10 p.m. tonight with back-to-back episodes. The network, which hasn't had a successful sitcom seemlingly since "Happy Days," is putting on clip shows of "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy" ahead of "Underbelly," not exactly giving it the best launch.

"Underbelly" focuses on a couple, Andrew and Lauren (Jennifer Westfeldt, Peter Cambor) seeking to get pregnant. As they enter into this decision, they find themselves influenced by their friends. One couple is already pregnant and gung-ho about it, while Lauren's other best friend, Cooper (Rachael Harris) is dead set against the concept.

"Underbelly" has gotten mixed reviews so far; I haven't seen it, what with ABC keeping me off its screeners' list and all.

Last week's episode of "The Office" (NBC, 8:30 p.m.), in which Michael (Steve Carell) referred to getting his negotiating strategy off Wikipedia, caused that entry to get so many hits that the Webmasters had to limit how many people could add to that entry. Whether or not Michael learns his safety training off the same site is another matter, but that's what tonight's installment is built around. It's preceded by the first new "My Name Is Earl" in a while, and followed by new episodes of "30 Rock" and "Scrubs," as well as a new "ER" at 10 p.m.

CBS is also all-new, with "Survivor" at 8 p.m., followed by "CSI" and "Shark."


Edge said...

Ok, a couple of things regarding AI.

First, Sanjaya (?sp) will get voted off before the end. There are enough people out there who do not like him and will not vote for him. But because there are still 6 other people who are getting votes, they are splitting up the votes. Now when it gets down to say the finial 3 then the voters will be more bound together and therefore Sanjaya will go. This is not the first year a bad singer has gone though this far(anyone remember chicken little?).

Now a good way to help prevent this would be to limit the numbers of votes you can make. That way these idiots who have nothing better to do than call will be limited.

And speaking of 'those' people. Why would you go to so much trouble for a show you don't like. I don't get it. If you don't like it fine, then don't watch. But don't go ruin it for everyone else just because you're bitter w/ life and bored.

Phillip Ramati said...

Are you sure? By advancing an untalented vocalist like Sanjaya, AI is, by definition, knocking off more talented ones, weakening the overall candidate pool.

Hey, it's not as if AI gets it right a lot of the time anyway. I've heard Fantasia (unfortunately) and she is pretty awful. Taylor Hicks over Katherine McPhee - seriously, AI voters?

And as I've pointed out many times before, winning on AI isn't necessarily a forerunner of success. Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and others are doing just fine, thanks very much.

OK, so maybe the joke of voting for the bad singers will wear thin after Sanjaya, regardless of whether he wins or loses. But if it doesn't?

Edge said...

Oh, I did forget to mention the fact that AI must not be all that upset with Sanjaya. After all they have received more free publicity than any other year. I mean every show I see latley (news, late night, ect) does nothing but talk about AI and Sanjaya. Of course this can backfire if he really wins.

Phillip Ramati said...

Yeah, but it's definitely going to backfire on them if A) He wins or B) he loses in the finals, but people continue to vote for Sanjaya-like contestants in future seasons of AI, bypassing better singers.

And with all this publicity, I think it has led to more people voting for Sanjaya than it might have had the publicity not been there.

Anonymous said...

(this is zodin2008)

As someone who vehemently hates AI and everything about it, I am rooting hard now for Sanjaya. I hadn't realized this earlier, but if it means hurting this egotistical, overblown show because some not talent, weirdo kid wins? I think I might have to visit that website and plug in votes as well for Sanjaya!

So yes, those who are schills for AI can feel free to call me an idiot...but I am an idiot who would like see less crap on TV (like AI) and more quality, well acted, well written dramas ala "The Shield", "Rescue Me", "Veronica Mars" and "Friday Night Lights".

I am not bored (Edge) but I am bitter that garbage like AI with little to no redeeming social value, continues to get far better ratings then quality, well written fare like "Lights".

This lie is further perpetuated by an antequated Nielsen system that simply isn't accurate. It's already been proven over & over that quality shows like "Lost" and "The Sopranos" are now down in the ratings...more and more people DVR/Tivo those shows and watch them later or online.

Anything I can personally do to help damage AI, count me in. People like Edge can call people like me bored or an idiot, but I genuinely feel smarter because I choose to spend my evenings watching smart TV like "The Shield" or "Lights".

Edge said...

Zodin, there are 4 networks, and over 700 channels of TV to watch. OK so YOU don't like one show (but millions of people do). Get over it and watch something else. The TV world does not revolve around just your taste. If you want to WATCH AI then vote for your favorite Sanjaya then fine that is your choice. I hope you are the first to go buy his wonderful first CD too, not to mention all the great air time we will hear on our Radio's.

The point is this Zodin WE GET THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE AI!!!!! And yes you must be bored if you spend any more energy on the topic, ecpecially if you pick up the phone to vote. So I am going to finish by saying you are very mean spirited (to me), you put too much energy into hate, and your life will always remain bitter as long as put others down for not agreeing with you. It's fine you don't like AI, just like it is fine that I don't like Buffy. If everyone like the same thing then I guess all we would need is one channel now woundn't we.

Note: Has your mother ever told you the saying "if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all..."

Phillip Ramati said...

Guys, Edge and Zod, let's chill for a minute.

As I have said ad nauseum, everyone has different tastes in TV, all of which are perfectly fine. There are people who love AI and those who hate it. People who love Buffy, and those who hate it.

I've written a lot more about AI than I ever thought I would, even though I personally am not a fan of the show, but because so many people are. People generally do care who wins and who doesn't. Certainly, the show has launched a lot of careers, which seems to be its original purpose.

I pointed out the flaws in the voting system, because I generally like the finals of anything to be down to the best people. AI is hardly alone, however, with voting problems. Everything from Survivor to The Weakest Link usually involves strong competitors being bumped early in lieu of weaker ones. The major difference with AI and Dancing with the stars is that the American public has a say in the votes.

Anyway, guys (I'm using the generic "guys" here, not trying to offend you in case you are ladies) let's keep the debates civil. Feel free to post positive or negative things about shows or even what I post, but let's not get mean-spirited with each other.

If comments get too mean or become profanity laced (this is a general rule, I'm not talking about anyone individually) I will remove them.

That said, let's keep the debates rolling!

Anonymous said...

Phillip, since you know who I am, it's OK to refer to me as a guy.

That being said, I don't really care what Edge has to say on AI...there's a reason many of us call it the "Deathstar" (including most critics).

In that case, let me be Luke Skywalker in a ship.