American Idol: The Unfortunate Case of Oversells and Fillers
American Idol: The Unfortunate Case of Oversells and Fillers
It doesn't need repeating, but what the heck: this year's American Idol audition episodes have been different, and not really for the better.

Shall I enumerate them again? There's either an extended sob story (and you know how much I hate them, even though I get why they are there) or an extended train wreck (which is not really welcome). The guest judges, while interesting, actually distracted from the talent being shown. There was a "best of the rest" episode two weeks ago, an unusual move designed to either pimp the rest of the eventual Top 24, or just show all the other sob stories they failed to squeeze into the past episodes. Later, Hollywood round had more contestants, in Ryan's words, going "against the odds"--err, going through breakdowns and dramatic moments and bitchy fits.

And then there was last night's episode. It was two hours long and it only involved the final round of Hollywood week, where the 71 remaining singers performed one last time in front of the judges, hoping that they make it to the Top 24.

I expected to see a little more singing that group day (which was, let's face it, the longest train wreck Idol has ever done). Maybe some behind-the-scenes footage interspersed in between the singing, and then the judges choosing, and then the selection. And, as we found out a couple of days ago, some of the Top 24 will be announced too, which meant the show would be extra tight, right?

Well, it came off as a drag. The editors wanted tension, so they began with the 72 contestants going into those three rooms. And then, moment after moment, contestants feeling confident after their performances, and later losing it entirely. At first, I thought it was genius. Cinematic, actually. Non-linear storytelling! And then they use flashbacks. Amazing! Well, not, because they were to the very sob stories they showed during the first episodes, and during Hollywood week--same footage, same sound bites, same everything.

You'd probably want to blame the editors for this. Yes, it's no secret some contestants are favored more than others, but the way the past episodes have gone, it seems things have gone to an all new level. Why do we have to repeat Andrew Garcia escaping gang culture, or Didi Benami continuing her friend's legacy, or Hope Johnston not knowing she was poor when she was young? Why the entire episode on Michael Lynche's wife giving birth? Why Mary Powers? To drill it in our heads, of course! It automatically pops up. Not that I'm downplaying their talents, but sometimes overselling something turns people off.

That would've been the simplest answer, but the producers didn't really do it by themselves. Remember Our Little Genius, the game show that Fox had scheduled after Idol on Tuesday nights? Remember that show's producer, Mark Burnett, pulling out all episodes before they could even air because of unforeseen production issues? That left Fox with an extra hour to fill, and rather fill it with repeats, they filled it with sob story after sob story after repeated sob story. I guess circumstances are just not on Idol's side. But I won't dwell on that. Seven of the Top 24 are already revealed, and the rest's on tonight. And then, the real singing starts. Yesss.

(Images courtesy of Fox)