Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Idol Recap :: Allenized

8:01: The two-hour extrava-meh begins with Ryan introducing us to the two finalists, Kris Allen and Adam Lampert. They just returned from 1999, where they apparently raided the closets of the Backstreet Boys.

8:03: Judges introductions: Randy looks like he just auditioned for the role of "Shoe Shine guy #2" in "Newsies"; Kara is sporting her power-diva earrings; Paula is looking more and more like a Bratz doll; And Simon still hasn't figured out the purpose of buttons on shirts.

8:07: Fame-succubus Micalah Gordon is in Conway, Arkansas (Kris' hometown). Stay away, Angelina Jolie, lest Micalah lock you in her basement and feed on you for months!

8:08: Carly Smithson is in San Diego (Adam's hometown). She's representin' cuz she's also from San Diego.

8:08: Top 13 sing Pink's "So What". Look! There's what's-his-name and blond girl - and Spanish guy! They are all dressed in white, with slight variations. If this was an episode of the "Twilight Zone", you'd think it was heaven until (twist!) -- it's revealed as hell! It's more or less a hot mess with everyone cavorting about having their own mini-concert. Except poor Scott has no idea where to look, so he chooses "vaguely upward". The "Brady Six" style choreography is mostly ignored. They look like the cast of the new FOX show, Shovin' Buddies (video here).

8:14: David Cook sings his new song, "Permanent", a tribute to his brother (who just died of cancer).

8:19: The ridiculous "Golden Idol Awards". Look! It's all those horrible guys from auditions you already forgot about! And Normund Gentle (who you just almost forgot about).

8:26: Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah. "They are black. They are women. They sing. Let's pair them together," thinks Show.

8:33: Anoop and Alexis Grace with the awesome Jason Mraz. Soon joined by the rest of the Idols. Maaaaaan, why didn't they pair Kris Allen with Mr. A to Z?

8:36: Kris Allen's story. You only need a few highlight words: Humble. Dark Horse. Creative. Likable.

8:37: Kris Allen and Keith Urban sing "Kiss A Girl." The song is written from the POV of a twelve year old, but the guys sing it well. They have some good energy together.

8:44: Girl Power Sing-a-Long, "Glamorous Life". Megan Joy sings off tune. The girls sway in emotional unison like Stepford Idols. Fergie joins them for some "Big Girls Don't Cry," that damn infectious song (not that I've ever left it on the radio... much). Then it's the whole Black Eyed Peas. Related Trivia: Fergie used to star in the Idol-esque music show, Kids Incorporated, not that I ever watched it.... much.

8:51: More "Golden Idol Awards". Bikini Girl. Alexis Cohen 2.0. Random blond girl. Bikini Girl wins - and accepts the award donned in a bikini - with some new fun bags as well. Then she sings and Judge Kara joins her (disproving Bikini Girl's criticism of Kara earlier in the season). The they sway and hug - and Kara rips her dress open to reveal a bikini! "It's all for charity," they tell us. This, undoubtedly, is what Susan B. Anthony fought for right after that whole suffrage thing.

9:00: Allison and Cyndi Lauper sing "Time After Time" (one of the best pop songs, like, ever, so respect!) It's actually a bad vocal fit for Allison's low growl, but Cyndi is awesome. They manage to harmonize nicely so all is forgiven. PS with a bit of "wow, this song is that old": This song was released 6 years before Allison was born.

9:04: Kris' parents being adorable and gracious.

9:05: Adam's family, nervous.

9:05: Danny Gokey singing "Hello." It's ok but it doesn't hold a candle to David Cook's version which I love muchly. Then Lionel Ritchie enters and sings a duet with Danny Gokey of an unknown and utterly horrible song. Then Lionel and Danny sing "All Night Long." (a nod to the duration of this results show, perhaps?) Danny does his bad white-boy dance. One gets the feeling than Danny is operating under the delusion that he can dance. Self-awareness is your friend, Gokey.

9:15: Adam Lampert story. The Show tells us he was born in a manger and died for our sins. No, wait, that's Jesus Christ. After this season, you understand their confusion. You only need a few highlight words: Unique. Star. Incredible.

9:16: Adam sings "Beth" looking like a the evil mirror universe version of David Bowie from "Labyrinth." Then Adam introduces Kiss and joins them for a medley of songs. In the context of Kiss, and singing with them, it all works. Even Adam's occasional shriek. Then Kiss almost break a hip smashing a guitar.

9:26: Carlos Santana sings with Matt Giraud. Soon, all the Guy Idols join in. Then the girl Idols. They are all wearing black and red, like they practice the Santeria.

9:29: Kris and Adam in a final Ford music video. It's a "clip show" with all the music videos past. Kris and Adam are harmonizing well. Then there's the obligatory "the finalists get a Ford" segment, where they pretend to a) be surprised and B) want a Ford.

9:31: Steve Martin in a bizarre music segment with Megan Joy and Michael Sarver. Hello, fast-forward button! I'm glad you could join me this evening.

9:37: Guy's Sing-a-Long to "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy". Rather toothless, all things said and done. Rod Stewart joins them - looking, singing, and swaying old.

9:44: Last "Golden Idol Award" Bad female singers from auditions we already forgot about. And Tatiana, who we all want to forget about.

9:52: Kris and Adam singing "We Are The Champions". Then... what's left of Queen (?) joins them. They sound good and look like they are having fun. Didja know Adam and Kris were roommates at Idol house? They both seem like nice guys and it's cool to see them supporting each other and having a good time up there moments before the final results.

10:00: Seacrest was right. We are running into overtime. Simon has some nice words to say, "I don't normally mean this, but I thought you were both brilliant [...], incredibly nice people and [...] the future is all yours."

The results: The winner of American Idol 2009 is... Kris Allen.

Yes, Kris Allen.

That sound you just heard was the space-time continuum collapsing upon itself. Kris looks absolutely shocked. Speechless. (like the judges, I'm sure). Adam looks happy for him. Cut to Kris' family crying. Cut back to Kris Allen in a complete state of shock, and manages "Are you freakin' serious?" and "Adam deserves this. I don't even know what to feel right now. This is crazy."

Crazy indeed. Awesome crazy.

10:03: EVERYONE is giving Kris a standing ovation except Simon, who is sulking. "wah!" Douche.

10:05: Kris wonders if it was better to lose when he once again is forced to sing "No Boundaries." He sings it better than last night, I think. The other idols join him. Confetti rains.

Wow, a pretty crazy season overall. Who ever thought Kris Allen would take it all? Adam Lampert will undoubtedly get a record deal as well (and that's great for his fans, too), but... well, wow. Kris has been the Little Engine That Could all season long. Good for him.

Until next year, Idolers....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idol Recap :: Two Boys, Three Songs, No Boundaries

Last week, justice was served by a diminutive frosted-tipped reality tv show host. Yes, for everyone who thought at least one American Idol finalist would be adorned in a flashy pair of Lens Crafters... well, nope. That's right, peeps, Kris Allen made it to the finals while America put the "Go" in Gokey. (Insert "suck it" yell here) I still can't decide if Gokey is mostly churchy and just a little bit douchey, or mostly douchely and just a little bit churchy. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs?

My first "spoiler alert" moment on the Wednesday results show, though, was in watching the hometown package reels. Gokey's was surprisingly light on the whole "dead wife" tragedy, except for Gokes' one comment about the "triumph from tragedy" story that was his. Instead, Gokes hung out with his best friend that The Show kicked to the curb earlier in the season. About as heart-string pulling as a "Bosom Buddies" TV reunion show. Meanwhile, Kris Allen gets tender momentTM hug with his pops that lasted 100 years and a two days (sidebar: "awww."). This caused his mother to get emotional and for Kris to whisper "Don't cry momma..." Your can't script that, folks. That shit is butter.

So I sez to myself, "Hmmmm", I betcha Kris mighta pulled this off. And soonish, it was bye-bye Gokes.

But now back to the cold, cruel reality. The Show has already made a pact with the devil to ensure Adam's victory (Call Dr. Saperstein for the tannis root, Rosemary...) . I can't recall the last time a contestant was pimped so hard. And, although there's five great ways to pimp a contestant, I do believe The Show has discovered at least a dozen more this season.

Adam "Mad World"
Adam's life retrospective: he screamed as a baby (and apparently never stopped?) Adam is reprising "Mad World", the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version popularized by the Donnie Darko . It's a copy of a cover song, but "shhh", we don't take the lord Adam's name in vein. There's smoke and blue lights, like a Broadway musical of Jack The Ripper. Sort of "Glam-tom of the Opera." It's one of Adam's better performances, because there's no screeching and screaming. It might actually be better than his first performance of this song.

The judges love it to death, with Simon calling it "a little Phantom Of The Opera." (hee) To that, Randy yells this very important (?) distinction, "No! No! Twilight!" Because singing teenage vampires would skew higher than disfigured emoting introverts, one presumes?

Kris "Ain't No Sunshine"
Kris gives his mom "singing coupons" so she can listen to him sing whenever she wants. The Allens are so getting their own show on ABC Family at some point. They make the Waltons look like a den of crack whores. Kris is singing "Ain't No Sunshine," which was the exact moment in this season where everyone starting taking note of him. Excepts the judges, on account of their supreme asshatery (I would totally lose at Scrabble). Much like Adam, I think this performance is possibly even better than the first time out. Simon applauds with a face that says, "ma, do I have to?"

The judges toss around words like "best performances ever" and "you have a way of creating an intimate bond with everyone in the audience" and "unique way of Allenizing [...] every song you sing." Simon even admits he wasn't sure if America got it right last week but he "takes it all back after that performance." Soooo, where was all this Kris love all season long? Supreme Asshatery.

Adam "Change Is Gonna Come"
Simon Fuller's choice for Adam. It's a bluesy kind of song by Sam Cooke, which is something Adam would probably never choose for himself. If you can't cut yourself to it, it's a' no good, see? As for the performance: In the part where it's controlled, it's good. Really nice, as a matter of fact. But towards the end, Adam can't help but anally rape the song with some shriek-singing. Change is not only gonna come, it's going to bleed rectally.

Judges are passing the crack pipe and throwing out stuff like "best performance of the season" and "best I've ever heard you sing" and "with every fiber of my being I know you are going to be iconic." Did the meaning of the word "iconic" change when I wasn't looking? Also: Maybe I need to make an appointment with the ear and throat doctor, cuz I ain't hearing what they's hearing.

Kris "What's Going On"
Simon Fuller's choice for Kris. Kris gives it a quiet acoustic vibe. It's Kris Allen: Unplugged. It starts off a little low on energy, then completely comes live. It's original, it's cool, and it's contemporary. It's an all around a great performance, totally downloadable.

Randy liked it mostly. Kara liked it, and, is it just me, or is she judging like a sassy black neighbor from a 70s sit-com tonight? It's all head weaving and finger pointing, child. Mmm-hmm. Paula liked it. Simon thought it was "too laid back" and just seemed like "three guys sitting in a room strumming a guitar." And, why is that bad exactly? Does everything have to be a glamstravaganza?

Adam "No Boundaries"
The treacly triumph-victory song, written by Kara. There's talk of "climbing mountains" and "just when you almost gave up on your dreams." There's probably also some "running" involved, as often is the case in these songs. And liberal use of the word "heart." Am I listening to White Lion circa 1989? Anyhoo, it's typical Adam. The guys can sing, no doubt, but there's the theatrics of his sing acting, his trembling bottom lip and his screeching. He only makes it to mid-screech at least. But he gets the pimp rocker lights.

Randy declares it "a'ight". Kara thanks Adam for singing her song that she wrote with Wilona, JackeƩ and Florence. Mmm-hmmm. Paula is a "fan forever" (stalker alert!). Simon refuses to judge the song (hee) and calls Adam "one of the best and most original contestants" and believes they've "found a worldwide star." Please tell me which world you are refering to, please and thank you. Interesting that only Randy judged the actual performance.

Kris "No Boundaries"
We get to hear Kara's song again. Maybe Kris should have gone first after all. Kris does an ok job with it, but it's not his type of song since it's one of those pre-packaged pop ballads. It's made for belters, not crooners. There's some nice moments, but the performance isn't something that will blow you (or the judges) away. Adam's voice has the definite edge with this song. Conspiracy theorists: do we need to discuss anymore?

The judges know the song's pitch was too high for Kris. The judges, though, do have a lot of nice things to say about Kris, and all agree he deserves his spot in the final two. But... They all "congratulate" Kris as if he's already lost.

Kris mentions that he and Adam agreed they "weren't competing, they just came out to give a good show tonight." They really seem to be pals, and that's cool.

Seacrest cautions everyone to program their dvrs to go over, just in case, cuz two full hours might not be enough time for the second half of the season finale. Dear Show: "Citizen Kane" was under two hours. Just some cultural perspective to chew on.

So who's gonna win? Well, the judges, The Show, and Katy Perry's Elvis jacket say Adam Lampert, and who am I to anger the gods (and the King's raiment)?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Idol Recap :: Three Dawg Night

Last week, it was down to Allison and Gokey. By all rights, Gokey's primal goat bleating noise that passed for a note from "Dream On" should have earned him a ticket home. Instead, Allison was sent packing, as Gokey smiled ever-so-smarmily. Gokey shoulda gone, we know it, he knows it, and Joel McHale knows it. What more do we need?

Also, Paula Abdul "treated" us to her "live" performance of her new song, “I’m Just Here for the Music.” It's the lesbian cousin to her last comeback attempt, "Dance Like It's No Tomorrow." As a matter of fact, if you played these songs back to back, I'd dare you to tell me which is which. Anyhoo, The Show gave us a retrospective of Paula's career, and nothing shows artistry like som' bitch dancing with a cartoon cat. And Paula's "live" performance? A lip sync of her over-produced new song. But she was dancing to her own choreography, I'll give her that.

And look for the new remix coming soon: "I’m Just Here for the Music and the Painkillers... now wait, just the music. Sorry, Ladies Home Journal.” Paula never told Ladies Home Journal she was addicted to pain killers at all, silly. That was just the meds talking.

Meanwhile, Seacrest was probably clutching last week's damaged American Idol logo and whispering "my precious." And stage manager Debbie Williams, who needed more than 50 stitches? Still no mention of her. But the logo has made a full recovery and thanks everyone for the cards and flowers.

OK, so tonight is the final 3. Judges pick a song for each. Each Idol picks a song for themselves. And The Show lines up producers for Adam's first album. I mean, c'mon. Adam is emblazoned on the cover the latest Entertainment Weekly. Simon picked him to win on this week's Oprah. It's sorta like when Oprah backed Barack Obama for presidency; The decision has been made and our votes are "cute" formalities, at best.

Danny Gokey "Dance Little Sister"
Danny's hometown visit get very little play. The song is Paula's selection. Not familiar with the song, but the whole thing is a lot of "meh." Gokes is exactly the same as the day he walked through Idol's doors. He's a good singer, but not a great artist or performer. It's another karaoke-like showing from da Gokes. It looks like something you might see walking into some random blues bar anywhere in the United States. The judges like it anyway, cuz they've wanted a Danny-Adam finale for the past 100 years.

Kris Allen "Apologize"
Kris gets more play than Gokey in his hometown (maybe because people like him?) Kara and Randy chose this song for Kris. They also call him out as the "dark horse" of the competition, but that's only because every week he fails to get props while Gokey slides by on karaoke crapola. You created this dark horse, asshats. Kris has been thrown under the bus so much, he can probably apply for a job as a Greyhound mechanic and claim experience.

It's probably not a good song choice for Kris, who has "popped" when reinventing old songs and giving them new spins. With such a modern song choice, he can't really reinterpret - and yet, those original vocals are very tough to mimic. The result? It's OK, but it never soars. So? Some conspiracy theorists (video recap here!) may suggest that the song choice was sabotage. I would be one of them. The don't like it alot, shocker! Kris takes it all in with a look that says, "Color me unsurprised..."

Adam Lampert "One"
Simon's pick. Simon also manages to name drop U2's Bono as saying he would "love" to have Adam sing this song. Just in case Adam needed more thumbs-up. Next up on Idol: Jesus uses his second coming to text his vote for Adam.

The song starts off really nice and low key, and I really think I might like it. But it's just a big tease. Adam the Rock God rises and screeches through the rest of the song. Yeah, yeah, I know Adam is talented. I can agree to that. But the shrill theatrics? I'm just not a fan. The judges though? Love and kisses.

Danny Gokey "You Are So Beautiful"
Danny chose a good one for his vocal range... a Joe Cocker joint. He's switched up the arrangement a bit. There's violins and band members on stage. You know this will be a sincereTM performance. The mosh pit visually cosigns this notion by gently swaying their arms in unison. It's a desperate attempt at a "moment". Like the Bo Bice acapella bravura performance. Or Fantasia splayed all over the floor singing "Summertime." But this? This is not a true moment. It's a manufactured attempt at one. It's actually the first and only time Danny has shown an ounce of originality. The result? It's OK, but nowhere near as breakthrough as he probably thinks.

The judges all lie and use words like "stunning" and "breathless" and "master class" and applaud him for doing his own things to it. Um, like Kris Allen has been doing every week for the past 6 weeks, bitches?

Kris Allen "Heartless"
Kris chose "Heartless" by Kanye West. And he gives it a total Jason Mraz makeover with the sing-phrasing and riffing, rather than rapping. It's totally reinvented. It's what Kris does best, and this blows away what Gokey just gave us. Also, "Heartless"? Kris' subliminal message to the judges? Conspiracy theorists: discuss.

The judges though? Actually love and give props and love. Randy even thinks Kris has a chance at the finals; And Simon had written Kris off with "Apologize" but now claims this performance has him back in the running. Conspiracy theorists: are now confused.

Adam Lampert "Cryin'"
Adam chose Aersomsmith's "Cryin'". He get the rocker lights, "is if he even needs them," harumphs The Show. Of all of Adam's performances, this is one of the better ones for me. Steven Tyler's voice is probably a close cousin to Adam's voice, so this works. There's one part where the back-up singer is almost singing a duet with Adam, so that throws me off a bit. But overall, it's Adam doing what he does well. The judges all love, and Simon urges us not to be complacent.... because if everyone voted for the second-placers, that could cause an upset and knock Adam out completely! And the world would also probably spin out of its axis... and Jesus already used up his second coming to text his vote. Man, we'd be screwed.

Everyone knows this is Adam's to lose, but I give him credit for being gracious, and even complimenting Gokey and Kris. He does seem like a fairly genuine guy.

So who's going home? If you ask The Show, they'd be happy to pack Kris' bags for him.

Sadly and regrettably, I'm going to guess that Kris is heading back to Arkansas.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

STAR TREK review

Just saw, STAR TREK last night. Overall, I enjoyed it alot. The franchise was in deep need of new life, and this movie does that. It's fun, action-packed, thrilling, breezy and full of feisty exuberance... something missing in the franchise since, well ... It's got a dangerous, puckish charm that we haven't seen since STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES. As enjoyable as the new 90s Trek series were at times, they did become mired in politics, diplomacy and pedantic morality.

The cast is superb all around. Zachary Quinto (the best thing about HEROES, and they know it, as Sylar by all rights should have been killed 2 seasons ago) is perfect as Spock. There are moments, in his better-written scenes, where it's quintessential Spock. Pitch-perfect. Karl Urban as McCoy and Simon Pegg as Scotty are standouts, evoking the originals without descending into any sort of parody. And Chris Pine take a few minutes of getting used to, but by the end of the movie, he's become a respectable Kirk.

There's also plenty of cool bits for the old fans to enjoy. A lot of character callbacks from the old show. Leonord Nimoy is used to great effect. And there's a plot point that honors the entire Trek history in a way I didn't expect. Continuity-crazed fans will like it.

It's not as elegant a "reboot" as CASINO ROYALE was for the Bond franchise, however. That reimagining was a little more mature than Trek gets here. There's still some busy Hollywood-isms scribbled in the corners (like young Kirk joy riding to the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", which stands the test of time musically, we are to assume). And as a surprise gonzo-box-office surprise, it doesn't quite reach the high entertainment factor of last year's delightful "Iron Man", a deeper, more rousing and funnier action movie.

But minor quibbles aside (some plot mechanics and ever-so-slight Hollywood excess), The STAR TREK movie mostly soars. I give it a B+/A-.

Didja see it yet?
If so, scroll down for some MAJOR SPOILER observations and criticisms...












Ok, last warning...




The first scene was awesome. Bam! Right into the action. Bam! We witness the birth of Kirk. It's action-packed, emotional and everything you need an opening scene to be.

Then, I started to worry. We have young-punk Kirk joy riding to the Beastie Boys (some say it's an in-joke to how Shatner pronounces "sabotage", but that's kinda bending over backwards for a joke maybe 35 people get, no?). Quick read: Kirk bucks authority! Later, in a rote bar scene, Kirk hit on Uhura, clashes with Starfleet officers in a bar fight, and it's restless farm Iowa farm boy vs. authority figures! Quick read: Kirk likes ladies and needs somewhere productive to channel his restless rage. OK for character-defining, but a bit too 90210 in execution. And Pike swoops in to talk Kirk into enlisting in Starfleet in an all-too-brief exchange that leads Kirk to do just that.

First, those story "short cuts" (joy riding youth, townie in bar fights bucking authority) are such tired cliches. In a fresh franchise relaunch, I was hoping for something deeper and more mature. It could have been salvaged in his exchange with Pike, which could have been built with father-figure inferences. Also, Pike could have challenged Kirk in a more impactful way, instead of just telling him things he had to have thought about on his own, right? No matter, it goes us from point A to point B?

Equally "lazy" was the Spock childhood scene with the Vulcan bullies. It didn't ring true to me, as the Vulcan kids were chiding Spock for being the product of an emotional Earth mother. Yet, they betray their Vulcan ways by showing emotion by taunting him, openly displaying their dislike and disdain. It could have worked just fine if Spock was merely alienated. Plus, the old show had a lot of fun with Vulcan speech patterns roundaboutly conveying emotion without copping to the fact they were. This was communicated much better in the council scene with Zachary Quinto. Much better.

The good news? Those three scenes were probably the only hiccups in the movie. Once Kirk gets to Star Fleet, we see the "origins" of the Kirk we know. He's brash, bold, and making it with a green alien chick. Also, we get to actually see Kirk subvert the Kobioshi Maru, the very famous test he "cheated" to win, as referenced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It also becomes the origin of his yin-yang relationship with Spock.

Small quibble: We see why McCoy is called "Bones" upon meeting Kirk, when McCoy claims that "the ex-wife took everything. All I was left with is these bones." Now, that seems like a rather serpentine origin to his nickname. Didn't they used to call doctors, "ol' sawbones"? I thought it was, y'know, that simple.

There's another hiccup as McCoy sneaks Kirk into the Enterprise after injecting him with a virus, in need of emergency medical care. Kirk has an allergic reaction, and his hands swell up to Popeye-size, in a silly chase that didn't need the high-jinx comedy of his enlarged hands. It was as if the Farley Brothers came in and directed that one scene. It's the type of scene fans forgive now, in the larger context of the revamp, but will wince at later.

Things kick into high gear as the Romulan Nero abducts Pike, leaving the Enterprise in Spock's hands. There's some great character moments of Spock and Uhura (in a very non-canon relationship), as well as Sulu. After an attack, all our newbies are made into acting officers for the mission, which ratchets up the stakes. Nero's plan involves time travel, tragedy and Spock -- and leads to the stunning and unexpected destruction of planet Vulcan.

Kirk, after challenging Spock's cautious approach, is exiled from the Enterprise, and (rather conveniently) is jettisoned to a planet where time-tossed future-Spock (Nimoy) has been banished, as well as Scotty. Almost ridiculously convenient, but don't think too hard cuz the plot continues to move and there's never too much non-action time to consider such quibbles. (There's a lot of "little" things like that, where I hope the movie holds up well upon repeat viewings.). Spock's explanation of Nero's attack has fairly major "easter egg" for longtime Trek fans. See, future-Spock is from the Trek timeline we know and mostly-love. Now, that timeline has been changed by Nero. So, see, even in this movie reboot, the old Trek series "still happened". "Crisis on Infinite Federation of Planets" if you will. Nifty and nice "present" to longtime fans.

Realizing he has to ignite a fire under Spock, and prove him unworthy of command, Kirk goes back to the Enterprise, and pushes all his buttons. This causes Spock to go ballistic and wail on Kirk something fierce. Here's where I thought a subtler approach could have worked better. All it needed was for Spock to throw a single punch. The build-up, the tension, the release of a single punch... and then the utter silence of a stunned crew. And Spock's disgraced look, realizing he lost control. Less is sometimes more, methinks.

With Kirk now in charge, they launch a rescue mission for Pike, in a rollicking finale that channels "exactly what they would have done" on the old show. Of course, they are successful.

I do think Eric Bana, a fine actor, was a bit wasted in his role as Nero. Bitter at losing his family, Nero blamed Spock and the Federation for setting that in motion. Then, he and future-Spock were time-tossed to the past. His revenge? Wiping out every planet in the federation. Problem? Nero isn't shown to be a madman. His plan is a little... crazy, no? All those innocent lives, for a purported failure of the Federation? He hates the Federation for the loss of his family, yet he's killing millions of innocent families himself? I dunno, I wished they gave us more on how Nero saw things. There were just a few little things like that in the movie... a little extra here and there would have gone a long way.

The ending sets everything right, and all the characters are in the proper "place" as we know them in STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES. (There's also a great scene with the Spocks. )

All in all, despite some quibbles, it's a fun, fresh, frisky restart to the franchise. Lots of potential. Good enough to live awhile longer... and hopefully prosper.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Idol Recap :: Slashdance

Last week, The Show bade farewell to Matt Giraud, who will forever be footnoted as the first contestant to be awarded "the Judge's SaveTM". Which got him exactly two extra weeks on a reality singing show. A year from now, we will fondly remember him as, "Who!?!"

We were also reminded of the blight on humanity known as Taylor Hicks, whose performances are "drunk uncle at a wedding" level bad. I thought after everyone not buying his records and being dropped from his label, Hicks might have the good sense to fade into obscurity. Take. The. Hint. This, the same week Constantine Maroulis has been nominated for a Tony Award. Me am hating this Bizarro world. Me want to to laugh myself to sleep.

Apparently, in protest, the American Idol set reacted: the logo tower on the audience’s left, which had partially collapsed, also caused glass shattering. Suddenly, the American Idol set is my new BFF. Don't anger set, Taylor Hicks. You wouldn't like set when it's angry.

And also, Show doesn't mention that stage manager Debbie Williams fell from the top of a flight of stairs, dangled from a railing, and dropped to the floor. Because, OM-capital-G, The logo fell! Priorities much?

Usually at this time of year, the four finalists would sing two songs apiece. But because Show can't get its shit together, we are getting four solos and two duets. Meanwhile, a team of NASA scientists are trying to discover how adding a fourth judge has caused a tear in the space-TiVo continuum.

Seascrest introduces all the judges and contestants. And there's so much black leather, you'd think they were filming an episode of HEROES set in a future... where everyone is evil and plots make no sense. And then Hiro squints hard and still, nothing makes sense. It's really because it's "Rock Week." Then, the judges make devil horn signs with their hands because, I guess, it's Rock Week. Or, they're asshats. Or, perhaps both.

Slash is the mentor this week. Slash, from Guns N Roses. If you're under 25 years old, look them up on Wiki. The Idolers bob their heads up and down as Slash plays. Gokey adds a sneer, cuz that means he's bad ass, right? Calm down, Gokey, Slash is just here to plug his new solo album.

Adam Lampert “Whole Lotta Love"
Good song choice for Adam, I suppose. Adam takes the stage looking like a Gay Elvis or a Butch-Leather KD Lang. I'm not quite sure which, honestly. There's a lot of guylining and it looks like a jewelry chest threw up on his neck. The singing? It's Adam so everyone will love it, but I find it too shrill and theatrical. The judges all love it to death.

Also, this week Kara looks like a lesbian biker chick that will cut a bitch.

Allison Iraheta “Crybaby”
Janis Joplin is a perfect choice for Allison. It's not bad, but it's a little shouty and in comparison to the great Janis, you can see Allison's voice isn't as strong. There's some body-in-place hopping and arm fisting, because bitch is serious. Randy and Kara don't like, but Paula and Simon mostly do.

Kris Allen and Danny Gokey “Renegade”
Already covered in a memorable performance by Chris Daughtry in season five. It's an awkward performance because the song isn't suited to be a duet. It also looks like they didn't have time to rehearse enough (Seacrest already noted they didn't have enough time for dress rehearsal). There's the ceremonial "picking up of the mike stand", as Idolers do when "rawking out." The judges don't know how to react. They try to like, except Simon, who decides to go bitchcakes and say "I don't know what to say [...] Danny was better." A completely unwarranted dick move. Kris looks like someone just stepped on his puppy.

Kris Allen "Come Together"
Tough week for Kris, who is not an anthem-style rocker. He's more a Year One Jason Mraz. He chooses a Beatles song, which is probably a good move, because Kris is more about melody than power. He manages to put his own little mark on it as well during the bridge. The judges hate on it. Now, Kris looks like a stepped-on puppy. Looks like The Show decided it wants that Gokey-Glambert finale after all. Or do they? (see below)

Danny Gokey “Dream On”
Slash warns us "it can go either way" with Danny singing this song. He warns us that Gokes needs to hit that high note that everyone was expecting. Slash himself seems wary of those chances. Hmm, the arrangement is switched up a bit and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Gokey has the rasp to his voice that's not the same as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. As in, Tyler's is controlled. Danny? It's like the old lady in church with the 3-pack-a-day habit is singing "Dream On". Then, the high note: It's scratchy, wild, uncontrolled, and I think a Wildebeest is going to enter stage left and hump Gokey's leg.

The judges try to find things to like, but they scramble. Let me help, "This sucked." Randy gives him "an A+ for a valiant effort" .... and maybe a Hello Kitty sticker, too, Randy? Kara thinks Gokey swaggered too much but "commends [him] for taking chances"... but not Kris? Paula polls the audience to ask "how many of you are Danny Gokey fans?" which is the Idol-equivalent of "These are not the droids you are looking for." Simon reality checks Gokey's last note as "something out of a horror movie" and says "it didn't work", but adds "I still think you're going to be safe tonight."

And then, Gokey is all smug at the slight criticisms. If I owned a cheap TV, I would turn it on, and throw my shoe at it thusly. In what universe was Danny's song deserving of less criticism than Kris'? Unless that's Simon's way are making voters complacent and not vote for Danny? And, actually rally support for Kris? Idol conspiracy theorists: discuss.

Allison Iraheta and Adam Lampert “Slow Ride”
Allison is looking like Wednesday Addams turned hooker, while Adam is sporting a Beetlejuice biker ensemble. The scream-sing at each other and bob heads while sneering like Mo-Fos. This is slow ride by way or ecstasy and black leather. They definitely have more energy and sync than Kris-Danny. But, really, weren't the cards stacked against them? Allison and Adam as the "known rawkers" and all? Perhaps The Show wants an Allison-Adam finale now? Idol conspiracy theorists: discuss.

The episode ends, and we get song-recaps, including Gokey's God-awful Wildebeest mating call. Has The Show just dumped Gokes on live TV?

So who is going home? This is a tough one. I fear for Kris, but he may get sympathy votes.
Allison did well enough, but whenever she's done OK, she's bottom-three-ed.
And although Simon declared Gokey safe, that could work against him. Plus? Wildebeest-sex.

Ok, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that Gokey is going to rock out.

At least, I hope so.