Reality Frontrunners Hit Stumbling Blocks
Reality Frontrunners Hit Stumbling Blocks
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Editor's Note: This is a weekly guest post from the TV staff at Film.com. Check back here on Wednesdays for more Film.com stories about your favorite shows: Big Brother, The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, American Idol and America's Next Top Model.

By Susan Young, Film.com

How the mighty have stumbled and slipped as we cruise through the first half of the spring reality show season.

Was it really all that long ago that Melissa Rycroft looked like she was going to waltz right through Dancing with the Stars and glide easily into the winner’s circle? And who among us didn’t have Lil Rounds as our choice for at least the final four of American Idol?
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Sure, Melissa is still close to the top with the judges, but her performances have been a little flatter lately while still managing to be technically correct. And this week’s blatant exploitation of her Bachelor humiliation seemed like another way of rallying votes. Dance partner Tony Dovolani told her in rehearsals that she should droop her hand as if she had a big ol’ diamond on it. Oops. Bad analogy, Tony. The dancing duet is still getting the job done, but the wow factor has certainly slipped. Despite the fact that on Monday’s show the judges gave them a better score than the week before, we’ll see if the audience is still enthralled.

But Melissa’s slight slide is insignificant in comparison to the massive fall of Lil Rounds on American Idol. What in the world has happened to the singer who inspired the Idol judges to pull out every cliché including the well-traveled “she could sing the phone book” to praise her pipes?

Bad song choice was the original diagnosis, but there’s something even more foul going on than that. She’s lost her spark and we don’t see her igniting that furnace any time soon. We’ve watched the demolition of a star right in front of our eyes, but we can’t figure out how it happened or how to fix it. If she gets the boot this week, she’s got no one to blame but herself.

While we hate to see Lil Rounds get her flame snuffed out, she’s not the only one who might get blindsided this week in reality land.

A quick glance over at Survivor shows us just how bad things can go when miscommunication mixes with trust issues. The alliance of Taj-Brendan-Sierra-Stephen hit a major snag when the newly merged tribe decided Brendan had to go. Since Taj doesn’t think Brendan is going to hold firm to the alliance – although viewers know he’s just laying low so that the secret alliance doesn’t get revealed – she’s ready to boot his behind. Poor Brendan. He’s thinking final four, we’re thinking it’s a good thing that Joe’s leg got infected. When Joe had to be evacuated, it put off tribal council. No Brendan blindside for now, but the once power player doesn’t have much time to save his game.

Which brings us to the surprise frontrunners over at The Amazing Race.

No one could have predicted that Margie and Luke, a mom and her deaf son, could dominate the challenges and outwit the competition with their semi-shady tactics. After all, they did do the dirty work on another team by giving Amanda and Kris a blind U-Turn a few weeks back. Good thing that couple got eliminated.

And even Phil says they aren’t playing a completely clean game. After a misunderstanding in the last episode with Kisha and Jen, things only get uglier.

But a team’s gotta do what a team’s gotta do, and Luke and Margie are the team to beat now, while attorney sibs Tammy and Victor have clearly blown their early advantages. They seemed like the team to go the distance, but now they’re just part of the field.

As Heidi Klum could have told them all, one day you’re in, the next you’re out.

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