Too Many Endings

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What a week for endings.

LOST closed a six year run Sunday night. One thing I love about that is that they chose to end the show. Viewers were strong and loyal. But the story had run its course.

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24 aired it’s last episode Monday night. I was a fan for a while. But it just didn’t vary it’s theme enough to keep me interested. Maybe Jack could have done some time travel, fought a polar bear, or run from a smoke monster or something. Anyhow, there’s no denying the popularity of this show. Maggy never misses 24.

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American Idol has now aired the last night of competition, featuring the top two performers. Crystal Bowersox has been my choice to win for a long time now, but Lee DeWyze has risen to the challenge. Tonight’s performances really showcased Crystal as a pro, Lee as a hopeful. I will be happy for which ever one wins. They will both have contracts for sure. Although I love American Idol, winning is not a sure ticket to stardom. Some of the losers have had big hits, some of the winners have faded into oblivion.  Tomorrow night will be the last of the season.

And this is the last season with Simon Cowell.  I didn’t want the judges to change. I didn’t like it when Kara was brought on board. Ellen looks totally lost. I really didn’t like it when Paula departed. And now Simon is leaving.  Yes, the show is about the competition. However, the personalities that stay constant are what holds the show together from season to season. Many people do not like Simon, but I have to say that generally agree with most everything he says. In my mind the loss of Abdul and Cowell is the kiss of death for American Idol. Even though they do have the best host on television – Ryan Seacrest.

Well now what? I can’t seem to really get into much of anything on television these days.  I like a few other shows, but very few. Criminal Minds is almost always interesting, but after watching for a while the formula begins to emerge. I liked House when it first came on, but again, it’s the same formula in each episode. I thought 24 was that way. I know whenever I watch Everybody Loves Raymond that there is at least one guaranteed belly laugh per episode. Oh, that show is over too.

Perhaps it should tell me something about myself that all of my favorite shows have been cancelled or come to an end. Too many endings in one week. bah.

Thanks for reading,

John

What Happened American Idol?

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I think there is general agreement that this is the worst season of American Idol. It just doesn’t strike the same chord of inspiration and fun that previous seasons have. To be clear, I discount the initial episodes of tryouts. Those can be funny but the real season begins with the top 12. After hearing thousands of voices we are to be assured that these are the best of the best – and the winner is among them.

There always seems to be a Sanjaya or John Stevens or Jorge Nunez… and even they have their fans. I have no argument with that. Musical tastes are as varied as the landscape of people among whom we live. However, if we are to believe that the process of choosing these contestants is genuine then the future of performing arts is endangered!

In my opinion there is one clear winner this year, and no one even comes close. I don’t want to jinx them by mentioning their name (I’ll brag later if I’m right!). And truly all of the contestants seem like really nice people. But aren’t we all just biding our time while they’re all voted out so we can actually have our Idol. In my mind there is no tension at all … there are several really nice and fairly talented singers, and one who is ready to go professional today.

Ryan Seacrest continues to be an outstanding host. He is perfect for the job. Simon Cowell continues his absolutely accurate analysis of the performances. The audiences often boo him, but I’m usually thinking that he has said exactly the right thing. Kara Dioguardi is still a mystery to me. I’m not sure of her role on the judge’s panel. Ellen DeGeneres brings a needed bit of kindness to the panel, often unwilling to say what she thinks about a bad performance. Sometimes funny but maybe not as funny as they had hoped she would be. Randy Jackson contributes a coolness factor none of the rest of them have.

The judges … the host … the process … a proven product … not so good selection of singers this year. You know, it’s kind of like eating at a buffet where all the food was freshly cooked, tasted ok, was filling, but you’re just not satisfied with the experience.

What’s missing is obvious, and that is Paula Abdul. Yes, we sometimes thought she was a trainwreck in the makings. True, there were questions of sobriety at times. And we have read stories of relationships with contestants that might not have been allowable. But there was a heart there – someone who really cared about the contestants – and who was genuinely concerned about them making it big. The rest of the judges do their job well, but there is a distance that they do not care to bridge.

paula-abdul-gothic-necklaceThat’s why I think American Idol is not so good this year. It lost it’s heart and became just another game show. Let’s face it, when Ellen tells a young lady she looks great and fashionista Abdul says the same thing – it takes on a new life. When a young man wants to sing a love ballad and he zeroes in on Paula, he’s got inspiration. You don’t see that here. (Even though Kara embarassed herself with over-the-top flirting with Casey James. He seemed totally disinterested in her advances, a credit to him.)

So, Paula, it’s not just that we miss your antics. It’s that when you didn’t return the show lost it’s heart. And while it’s not the Gong Show by any means, it’s not what it used to be. That’s what happened to American Idol.

A Bit Random…

*If you get a fruitcake for Christmas, I’ll take it. I actually like them!

*If you were in trouble, would you want to see the team from Criminal Minds walking in a line across your lawn, all slow motion and serious, coming to help you? Awesome.

*I do not like to walk into an establishment and have 5 employees shouting “welcome to ________” or “good morning!”. First, they’re not even looking at you. Second, they do not expect a response. Third, what if I was trying to sneak in?

*Does it bother you, like it does me, that the Netflix popup ads evade all popup blockers? This is the ONLY pop up ad I ever see anymore. They have a special arrangement with websites … and it is an evil plot to bring back popups to the web. I will not subscribe to Netflix as long as they continue this evasive and invasive practice. Unless I want to.

*I really like the new show Men of a Certain Age … but come on… in a 40 minute show do we really need 50 anatomical refrences and 30 profanities? Are the writers struggling that much to come up with decent dialogue? Great cast, great story developing, but I’m disappointed.

*OK, Reebok,  disbelieve your ad about how your new shoes can help someone have a better butt. And really, must you fill the screen with a butt to demonstrate? I mean … the person is lying down… how much good are the shoes doing anyway? I won’t be buying your butt building shoes!

*Man, Illinois must have been really bad this year to get Gitmo Detainees for Christmas.

Thanks for reading!

JD

24

24I am evidently part of a small minority of people who do not care for the television program 24. The Blog Prophet, Brian Nicklaus, says that “LOST is the best drama ever on TV…”, and I tend to agree. I watched 24 and quickly picked up on it’s formula. Fans will say, “so what?” … and rightfully so. AFter all, every program has it’s formula designed to tell a story, stimulate viewers, and thus create advertising opportunities.

Tonight the new season of 24 begins. I feel sure Mrs. Dobbs will be watching Jack Baur get beaten endlessly, and when all opportunity has passed and it seems too late, he will revive and get something done to save the world. yawn.

There are no polar bear bones in the sahara dessert, endless supplies of Dharma Initiative supplies, no mysterious smoke clouds that consume people and sound like dinosaurs tromping through the forest, no whispering in the woods before someone dies, no invisible Jacob who directs all things on the island, and no way to move the entire island if the plot demands it! What’s left to like?

Ah well…poll time again!

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Let me know what you’re thinking!

JD

Almost Time to Get LOST!

Thanks to Dr. Clif Mims there’s a little widget there to the right telling us just how many days, hours, and minutes before we can plunge back into the adventure that is LOST. I lost my way a little last season. I was very excited about it all, but was interrupted several times as we had work going on at the house on the Coast, I had already started preaching at Forsythe and was traveling … so I’m going to have to catch up. Thankfully just before Christmas my LOST season 4 DVDs arrived. So I’m in a race to get caught up before that upcoming night when we rejoin the cast for another great season. What are you thinking about LOST? Take the poll!

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If you have thoughts about LOST, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

John

American Idol Top Three – Great Performances!

David Cook

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Syesha Mercado

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and my pick for the new American Idol, David Archuletta

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My top three picks from the beginning were David Archuleta, David Cook, and Michael Johns. I still think it was a major mistake to boot Michael Johns – but it was his own fault due to poor song choice. Tonight’s performances were somewhat surprising to me. I was very surprised that Syesha chose ‘Fever’ as her pick … out of all of the songs available. She did it well, but it was really broadway to me, not pop. The judges rightly pointed that out. When I heard that Cook was going to have to sing ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ I busted out laughing. I thought…is this a joke? Maybe an attempt to bomb Cook off of the show? But he pulled it off beautifully. Archuletta took a risk with his own song choice but I thought he finally looked like a 17 year old. Interestingly, this drew criticism from the judges – maybe the most criticism he’s had the entire season. An attempt to swing the vote between the Davids into a virtual tie? There’s no question in my mind that Syesha is the weakest of the three. This will be David Vs. David for the finale. And in my opinion, we all get to be winners because they’re both fantastic.

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A few personal things here. I’m back in Mississippi for almost two weeks. Maggy and I plan to visit with my parents today. I’ll be preaching at Central this coming Sunday. I will present my message to graduating seniors (of which my son is one): Proverbs for Graduates. I’m looking forward to seeing all of my friends that I have missed for the past few months. I’ll be working on not becoming all verklempt in the worship that morning! I haven’t been blogging as often as usual, and I hope to get back on a regular pace with that. I’ve been a bit sidetracked by TWITTER – where I’m blogging throughout the day rather than saving it all for a post. If you’re not twittering, you’re missing out! If you haven’t figured out TWITTER, here’s a two minute tutorial. Also I’ve been chatting live on Ustream HERE in the evenings and that’s been a lot of fun. Check it out sometime in the evenings and join in the talk. So is just a slowdown in blogposts for me … an evolution into a deeper richer web 2.0 experience … or what? I don’t know. But I do thank you for stopping by!

John