Why is it that when anyone asks "Can I be honest with you?" no one ever has the sense to say, "Well, actually, no. This isn't a good time for that in front of sixty million viewers."
Instead, we got Paula Abdul telling Ashley, the 17-year-old skating waitress (did she ever get a last name?), that makeup that comes with a free trowel might not be such a good idea. Ashley, who may have recently seen Memoirs of a Geisha, did get off a very witty (though possibly accidentally so) riposte. "I understand, you're just giving motherly advice here."
Still, I'm sorry America didn't get to hear the rest of Paula's advice which would have been, "Look at me, cosmetic surgery is far more effective than large quantities of makeup."
In addition, there was the terrific theater of Eboni, her pal, appearing to have real talent. Have you ever noticed that whenever there's a pair or group of auditioners that invariably the better or best singer just happens to be the one who goes last?
In any case, I believe reality TV works best when the big moments unfold rather than get staged by the producers. An even better case in point was Bruce Banner and his cousin the Hulk, aka Akron Watson and William Green. It was Green who chose to fake "losing it" on his exit from his audience with the judges to punk his cousin and it was a genuinely funny and yet touching moment.
Yes, there were all these layers in the sequence. You could see a tenderness in the relationship. Green was there not only to support his cousin who actually could sing some, but rather cannily helped give him a little more personality or at least made him more memorable by contrast. It's too bad that the ultimate reality caught up with Akron Watson and the producers decided to revoke his golden ticket for some reason likely tied to a conviction of some kind. In this instance, it felt like it was the participants doing the staging, not the producers, and the result was much more compelling.
In the same show, Ryan Seacrest scored some points with me. You never could figure out exactly what the judges were laughing at, but no matter how poorly Jasmine Holland sang, they were unquestionably being both rude and unprofessional. She was perfectly justified in losing it for a bit. As for the bizarre show outside the double doors, Ryan's ad libs took the edge off just the right amount with "I think we'll have to send Simon back to British…" and "Hey, two of the judges are good friends of mine."
I'm not a big fan of Ryan in the elaborate setups, but now and then he's genuinely charming. Oh, where have you gone Brian Dunkleman, a nation sings its lonely voice out for you?
Oh, by the way, does it seem strange to anyone else that this week's Paula Abdul appeared so composed and professional? The auditions happened months ago, but last week they stir up the Courtney Love thing and show Paula doing odd things, then the next week Paula's edited to look subdued and coherent.
In the meantime, as the show's producers squeezed another two hours of network commercial time out of its auditions, I've been doing finger aerobics as I prepare to vote for Paul Kim. No, it's not because he was necessarily the best singer, though he was at least pretty good. I'm an Asian male too and I want to see William Hung's fifteen minutes of celebrity ended. I figure this Soeul Brother has got a chance to do that. If only I can talk Elvis into helping me with the project.