It was bound to happen at some point. Every television powerhouse eventually hits the proverbial Moldavian wall. For Facts of Life, it was Edna’s Edibles. For Ally McBeal, it was Robert Downey Jr. And for American Idol, it’s Sanjaya Malakar. To be fair, however, the roach-like survival of Malakar is the least of AI’s problems.
Here are some ideas to help get the reality giant back to the top of its game:
More Crazy Paula - It has been rumored that producers gave the “Straight Up” songstress a firm talking to regarding her bizarre behavior, which is really too bad. Her nonsensical babbling and wacky outbursts make for entertaining television even when the performances are sub-par. I say keep refilling that giant “Coke” tumbler and let Abdul do her thing.
Give Simon the Day Off – Is it just me or does our beloved Simon seem a bit exhausted? His recent sophomoric gay slurs lobbed at Ryan Seacrest indicate that Cowell has run out of snappy one-liners. Also, missing in action is his signature “tell it like it is” contestant critiques. These days he can barely muster up a “that wasn’t good enough.” Give the guy a few episodes off to regroup and find his crabby inner child and a shirt with a collar.
Shorten the Road to Hollywood – I’m a Gong Show fan like everyone else but nearly three weeks of guys in Uncle Sam outfits singing Celine Dion was arduous, to say the least. The freak show element needs to be toned down. How about more clips of people who can – I don’t know – sing? Cram the best and worst performances into two nights and get to the heart of the competition.
Cast Actual Singers – When a cast is so bad it actually makes you long for the days of Bucky Covington and Mikala Gordon, it’s time for a change. The judges need to have stricter criteria when it comes to picking hopefuls. A smaller amount of fixer-upper types like Sundance Head and more semi-professionals like Melinda Doolittle would finally elevate beyond the occasionally hokey talent show trappings.
Limit the Voting – Before I get a thousand “I H8 U” text messages from angry teenage girls, let me explain myself. Back in season three, Jasmin Trias made it to the top three simply because the entire state of Hawaii called in. Soon it was pretty clear that the competition was more about who was the most popular kid in school and not who was the best singer. Now three years later, it’s spun out of control. Being from a particular state, belonging to a certain religion, or appealing to a specific ethnic group have nothing to do with a performer’s talent. The Sanjaya effect proves that the voting just doesn’t work. The UK’s X Factor (also created by Simon Cowell) accepts call-in votes only when the group has been narrowed down to the top five. I think this is a great idea. Limited voting would open doors for more Kelly Clarksons and Jennifer Hudsons.
Besides, if the judges picked the top five, we could go back to being mad at them and not each other.