American Idol 9 Top 6 review: The Shania Twain station week…

The Twain Is Leaving The Station… Corny!!

Tonight was kind of a close night with respect to performance scores in our book.  There was one absolute standout, but for the most part it was an evening of mediocrity.

The problem is all the artists were asked to do a Shania Twain song.  This led to repeated jokes like the “Twain left  the station”, etc.  Ellen D. was off tonight and just didn’t draw any laughs.

The other judges also seemed out of whack again, not being able to discern a bad performance from one you would actually want to hear on the radio.   The judges ran hot and cold, making some calls right and missing some badly.

One major problem the judges had tonight is one they should have gotten over long ago.  It is the tendency to rate artists based on their prior performances rather than relative to the rest of the talent of a given night.  That is one reason we think Daughtry was eliminated early on a cold Elvis night.  He was a quantum leap better than the other performers, but the judges were down on him because it was his worst week of the season.

Shania is that kind of catchy artist that has a decent range of music and acts well as a mentor, but we believe that her repertoire is way too limited for this kind of competition.  It led to some out of character performances and songs we found difficult to identify with. Still, stars should shine given any circumstance, right?

Let’s get to it.

1. Lee Dewyze – “You’re Still the One” Lee did this “one” very well.  It was not all that recognizable, but still had a major “turn up the radio” factor.  It is not the quality of the vocal as much as it is the uniqueness of the sound.  He could likely sing Happy Birthday off key and make it a hit. While we don’t see Lee as the best singer, he seems, at this juncture, to be the most recordable artist. (9/10)

2. Michael Lynche – “It Only Hurts When I Breath” We did not recognize this song at all.  Michael did a nice job on it and we could see it as nice background music, but not a hit.  Still, well performed, on key, and no fish lips made it a decent performance. (8/10)

3. Casey James – “Don’t” Now here is a prime example of a performance in which an artist can shine.  After a sad and off key debacle last week, Casey created a version of this song we wanted to hear again and again.  The style seemed out of character for him, it seemed like the tune was not relevant, and it seemed like the style would be boring.  It was instead great and by far the best performance of the night. (10/10)

4. Crystal Bowersox – “No One Needs to Know Right Now” This was a prime example of where the judges go astray.  This was a very nice tune, well performed, but out of character from what we know of Crystal.  We associate her with more powerful performers like Janis Joplin not pop pinkies like Shania.  Crystal did this performance all country, including a country band complete with pedal steel guitar. It was not her usual driving style, but it would have grabbed most country fans’ attention.  The judges compared it to her prior performances and were very negative, but she was still, at worst, tied with Michael, whom they praised.  Because the judges have proven they can impact the audience, we think this is a poor method of judging because it could imply Crystal was downright poor relative to the other performers tonight and that is so far from the truth it is silly.  But it is exactly what did Daughtry in, not that it mattered for him in the long run. (8/10)

5. Aaron Kelly – “It’s in the Way You Love Me” Please send this boy home.  The judges were way off the mark praising this performance.  It was mostly off key, dull and had a major radio “change the channel” factor.  The look of the kid is wrong and his immaturity is just too much to bear.  We are surprised that votefortheworst did not jump on Aaron after finally losing their poster child last week, but even they probably expect there is no saving Aaron, and they don’t want a new poster child every week.  The judges praised Aaron, but to even say he as good as Crystal when she is singing in the john is a stretch. (6/10)

6. Siobhan Magnus – “Any Man of Mine”

we have no idea what the judges were listening to, but we hated this performance.  The attempt to move about the audience looked fake on Siobhan’s part.  She is the new postergirl for votefortheworst.  We feel she earned her place on that website.  She was off key, her screams at the end out of place, the song not recognizable…need we go on?  The judges were off by a mile. (6/10)

In the end, if all you heard were the judges words, you would send Crystal home.  Isn’t it sad that the judges can be so off the mark and not have the ability to actually critique this as the week to week contest it is?   It is so obvious Crystal still beat out most of the artists here tonight, but the judges have become so obsessed in putting her down relative to her greatness that they could accidentally cause another Daughtry incident, and that severely damages the rest of the season, but it wouldn’t hurt Crystal one iota, just like it didn’t impact Daughtry’s career.  After all, we know which of these artists we would pay money to see, and it ain’t Aaron or Siobhan.

This year, so far, we have been almost 100% right  We once again called last week’s bottom three and the elimination child once again.  And that demonstrates the audience is in tune with the music even if the judges have no clue.

Based on the scoring, the bottom three are:

  1. Siobhan Magnus
  2. Aaron Kelly
  3. Crystal Bowersox or Michael Lynche

Wow, we did put Crystal as a possibility for the bottom 3, but only because there are only six contestants left and Casey and Lee nailed their performances.  We think the judges could have driven her into the bottom three, but it won’t matter, because the audience will not vote her out, and she was better tonight than most artists are at their best.  We would have to go with Michael as the bottom 3 candidate instead, but still, he did well tonight.

We see Aaron going down this week.  We have been surprised at his staying power to date, but he is painful to listen to, and we would never want to hear him on the radio.  Maybe as a country artist, he could pull something off, but we aren’t country fans, so that is not something we can truly judge.

Siobhan will likely survive as the last hottie of the season.  But this performance was horrible and painful.  We don’t think she is finalist material, and shouldn’t last past next week unless Michael survives and does a fish face.

Well, there you have it.  We have been dead on pretty much so far this season, but you never know…

News and views on ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Fringe,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and much more

A few bits of news mixed in with a few thoughts and opinions about various TV shows. Yes, it's TV Grab Bag Time!

  • Mad Men Don DraperUPDATE : As expected, HBO has announced that there will indeed be an eighth season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which will be filmed this summer in L.A. and New York.
  • UPDATE: The Wrap is reporting that "Parenthood" has gotten a second season from NBC.
  • AMC has set a return date of July 25 for "Mad Men." Splendid. I mean, I'm dying for the show to return, but does it have to return the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con, when my nerd brain will be melting? Ah well, never mind. Welcome back, Don Draper.
  • By the way, AMC has said that weekend reports that "Mad Men" would end after six seasons weren't exactly accurate. "No one wants to see Don Draper wearing a leisure suit. We trust
    Matthew's vision and that he knows where to take the show. But with
    that said, 'M*A*S*H' figured how to stretch the Korean War for more than a
    decade, so stay tuned!" a network spokesperson told the L.A. Times Showtracker site
  • I would like to see Don Draper wearing sideburns. No bell bottoms or leisure suits, please, but at least give us the 'burns.
  • AMC's newest series, the political thriller "Rubicon," which stars "The Pacific's" James Badge Dale, debuts Aug. 1. There's more on that show in the AMC press release below.
  • Dear CW: Do not renew "Life Unexpected" unless the show does this one thing: Stop playing music continuously through every scene! It's unbelievably annoying! I tried catching up with the show, which I'd fallen behind on, over the weekend, and I found the ubiquity of music — including music with lyrics that competed with dialogue among the characters — made me want to throw things at my TV. The soapily repetitive plot that doesn't necessarily draw on the fine cast's strengths — yep, that could use work too. And I have no problem with soundtracks in general, but good Lord, "Life Unexpected," learn to use yours sparingly. Please do not fall prey to ABC syndrome, in which viewers are not allowed to have their own emotional response to a show because an insistent soundtrack is constantly hammering at them and telling them what to feel (Michael Giacchino's outstanding "Lost" score is the exception to the frequently annoying ABC rule). Whether it's executives or someone else forcing the constant music on the show, it very grating and should stop (if the show gets another season).
  • The fourth season of Felicia Day's excellent Web series "The Guild" will arrive this summer, and the third season is now available both online and on DVD. I love this series and hope to write more about it some time this year.
  • The episode of "Glee" directed by Joss Whedon that features Neil Patrick Harris as a guest star airs May 18. Molly Shannon, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff also guest on that episode.
  • "American Idol" is soooo boring this year. Can we just fast-forward to the part where Crystal Bowersox wins?
  • The new promo for Season 4 of "Friday Night Lights," which arrives May 7 on NBC, is here. How is it that this show can make me feel choked up in less than a minute? It's "FNL's" superpower, I guess.
  • Several things occurred to me as I watched the last three episodes of "Fringe," which have been consistently pleasing: First of all, consistent quality is something the show's had trouble with, but lately it's been good week in and week out and I hope that continues. "Fringe" has had a subdued but extremely effective atmosphere of near-melancholy, but it's also been very well paced and intriguing from a story perspective. The emotional relationships among the characters have been the best part of the show, and Walter has been less "funny" and less crazy and far more heartbreaking (John Noble was always the main reason to watch this show, and he's still incredible even as the show around him becomes more emotionally grounded). And as someone on Twitter pointed out, the show has a firm grasp of its mythology and things are getting quite interesting in that arena too. All in all, this latest run of episodes since "Peter" have been among the best hours the show has done (and I spoke to executive producer Jeff Pinkner a little about what we might expect later in the season).
  • We have a "Fringe" musical episode to look forward to on April 29 too. Martha Plimpton guest stars May 6 and Leonard Nimoy returns as William Bell May 13 (the show's season finale is May 20).
  • Later in the week, I'll post long features on "Party Down," which returns to Starz Friday with its terrific second season, and on "Game of Thrones." There are "Party Down" clips in the video player at right.
  • On Saturday, I interviewed George R.R. Martin, author of the book series on which "Game of Thrones" is based (he was in Chicago for the C2E2 convention). We talked for a long time about Martin's own experiences in the
    television industry (he spent 10 years working on "Beauty and the
    Beast" and "The Twilight Zone," among other projects), about the next "A
    Song of Ice and Fire" book (no, he's not done yet) and about his
    interaction with his devoted fans.
  • One little snippet from the interview, which should appear here later this week or early next week:

"The irony of 'A Game
of Thrones' and where we are now is, I wrote the books almost in
reaction to my years in television," said Martin, who confirmed that he
is writing the eighth episode of "Thrones" first season. "My
scripts were always too long, they were always too expensive. I was
always having to cut them. There were too many characters, too many
matte paintings. 'We can't have all these matte paintings, we can't have
this giant battle scene that you've written because we can only afford
12 extras.' 

"So when I went back to books, I said, 'I don't care
about any of that any more. I'm going to write a story that's going to
be as gigantic a story as I want. I'm going to have hundreds of
characters, gigantic battles, magnificent castles and vistas — all the
things I couldn't do in television, I'm going to do in these books and I
hope people like it.' So now here we are doing it for television. But
fortunately it's David and Dan [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the
executive producers of the series] who have to figure out all the
problems, not me."

AMC's press release on its summer programming is below.





debuts with a special 2-hour premiere


New York, NY – April 20, 2010 – AMC announced today that Sunday, July 25th will mark the highly-anticipated return of television’s best drama, AMC’s “Mad Men.” Airing Sunday nights at 10 PM (ET/PT), the award-winning series returns to the network for its fourth season. On Sunday, August 1, AMC will debut its newest original series “Rubicon,” starring James Badge Dale (“The Pacific”), with its first two episodes airing back-to-back, from 8PM-10PM (ET/PT), followed by “Mad Men” at 10 PM. Following its debut, “Rubicon” will move to its regular timeslot, airing Sundays at 9 PM (ET/PT).

“Sunday nights are where you find the best of premium television so it should be no surprise that AMC — the home of premium television on basic cable — is stacking our original dramas there as well,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC.  “We welcome back ‘Mad Men’ and look forward to introducing ‘Rubicon’ all on Sunday nights this summer.”
AMC’s “Mad Men” made history in 2008 and 2009 as the only cable series to win back-to-back Outstanding Drama Emmy® Awards and the only series to win the Golden Globe® for Best Drama for three consecutive years. It burst onto the scene when it debuted on AMC in July 2007 and continues to be one of the most talked about shows on television. Created by Emmy and Globe-winner Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men” follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising. The award-winning ensemble cast includes: Golden Globe-winner Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Rich Sommer, and Aaron Staton, and guest stars legendary stage and screen actor Robert Morse. The series is produced by Lionsgate.

“Rubicon” is a conspiracy thriller set in a NYC-based government intelligence agency, API, where nothing is what it seems. The series focuses on a beleaguered analyst, Will Travers, who, faced with a shocking tragedy, begins to uncover clues that point to a complex and sinister conspiracy. The show’s cast includes James Badge Dale (“The Pacific”), Dallas Roberts (Walk the Line, Flicka, “The L Word”), Jessica Collins (“The Nine,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”), Christopher Evan Welch (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Lauren Hodges (“Law & Order”) with Arliss Howard (Full Metal Jacket, Natural Born Killers, The Sandlot) and Oscar®-nominated actress Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow). Henry Bromell (“Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Chicago Hope,” “Brotherhood”) is the series showrunner and it is produced by Warner Horizon Television.

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NBC’s 2010 Sunday Night Football Schedule: NFC Championship Rematch; Manning vs. Manning

Drew Brees | Photo Credits: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

NBC will kick off the 2010 National Football League regular season with a rematch of last year’s NFC championship game, the network announced Tuesday.

The Super Bowl XLIV winners, the New Orleans Saints, will face the Minnesota Vikings for the…

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Castle Exclusive: Guess Who’s Coming Back Into Castle’s Life

Monet Mazur and Nathan Fillion, <i>Castle</i> | Photo Credits: ABC

Beckett’s new love interest on Castle isn’t the only obstacle to a Castle-Beckett pairing.

Monet Mazur will return as Gina Cowell, Castle’s ex-wife and book editor, in the Season 2 finale, has learned exclusively.

Castle‘s Stana Katic: Beckett’s ready to tango with new love interest

Cowell, who last appeared in the show’s pilot, turns up because Castle (Nathan Fillion) has fallen behind on his latest book. Gina hopes to get Castle back on track — in more ways than one…

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Lost Episode Recap: "The Last Recruit"

Lost | Photo Credits: Mario Perez/ABC

On tonight’s episode of Lost, we’ll see what happens after Hurley and his merry men arrive at UnLocke’s camp. Will a nasty skirmish break out? Or will peace prevail?

Also: Who is the titular last recruit? I’m not sure if this is a hint, but the post-815 segments of this episode are apparently Jack-centric. So it’s probably not a surprise that we’ll be seeing David, Jack’s son, again. But why are Nadia and presumed-dead flight attendant Cindy back on the scene?

I’ll post a full recap later; in the meantime, please use this space to comment on “The Last Recruit.”

Watch full episodes of Lost in our Online Video Guide or with our My DVR and follow on Twitter for more breaking news and scoop

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Cameron Douglas Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Cameron Douglas | Photo Credits: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Michael Douglas‘ son was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday on drug charges, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman announced Cameron Douglas‘ sentence after the 31-year-old apologized with his father in attendance. Douglas pleaded guilty to…

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