Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And The American Idol Finale Winner Is...

Yeah, so Phillip Phillips was crowned the American Idol about an hour ago. Everyone knows this. And some of us *ahem* predicted it quite some time ago. It was fairly anti-climactic. And even though Phillip(s) won the competition, he didn't win the NIGHT. Not by a long shot.

The real winner(s) of the American Idol Finale are Fantasia + Mantasia. Together at last! Their version of Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot" (henceforth known as "Take Me Take Me Yeah Yeah Yeeeeeeah Whooooaaaaaa Yeah to the Take Me Take Me Yeah YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH Uhhhhh Whoaaa Ohhh Mmmm Huh Yeah Yeah YEAH") was the g-d funniest thing I've seen/heard in a long-ass time. Oh man. The wailing. The grunting. The growling. The wailing. The costumes. (Apparently there isn't enough fabric in the world to cover Fanny's legs.) The jerky dance moves. The wailing. Fantasia's weave. The way they got cut off at the end for refusing to shut up. The wailing. I only wish that Lord Cowell had been around to witness it. In his honor, I give the performance 4 WTFs.

I may have an actual recap of the Finale at some point tomorrow but, as usual, it was mostly pointless filler. This was truly the best part. Unless you count Jessica Sanchez attempting to out-diva crazy Jennifer Holliday while trying to remain a safe distance from her horse mouth. That was pretty hilarious as well.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot

American Idol 11: Phillip Phillips Faces Filipina Filly

Well, well, well. Nothing like cobbling together a recap a half hour before the Finale, huh? I doubt you people blame me. This season of American Idol has been a bit exhausting. It hasn't even been the worst season. Season 9 still holds that title. I think I'm just tired of this nonsense in general.

Anyway, so I don't run smack dab into the Finale, I'm gonna have to give you my P.S. version of last night's performance show. Dim your computer screens, 'cause here...we...go.

Round 1: Simon Fuller's song choice

Jessica Sanchez took on Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" and tried her best to J-Hud it up, but it mostly fell flat. She hit some great notes, as always, but it was completely boring and passionless. She certainly wasn't singing like a woman (girl) who might never see Kevin Costner again.

Phillip Phillips was given Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," the melody of which he quickly ripped apart and gave the full PP treatment. But hey, it didn't sound like any other version I've ever heard, so I guess he gets points for that. However, like Jessica's performance, it bored me to tears.

Since both songs nearly put me to sleep, I'd have to call Round 1 a tie. When Ryan asked the judges who won, Randy gave it to Jessica, Jennifer agreed, and Steven just stared off into space...probably daydreaming about wrapping his giant lips around some BK Chicken Strips.

That Jason Derulo song ("Undefeated") that Ryan has been yammering about all season long was finally unveiled (along with Jason's neck), and it sounded like exactly what it was: something that a bunch of American Idol fanatics who suck down Coke by the case (probably along with their BK Chicken Strips) helped to write.

Round 2: Contestants' favorite songs from the season

Jessica sang "The Prayer," which I didn't even remember her doing, but apparently it was the song that got her into the Top 24. Thanks to Christina Aguilera, this song now always makes me think of back fat. Ill-fitting garments or no, she and Chris Mann did a much better job with this song on The Voice. Hear that Randy? The Voice does nearly everything better than Idol! THEY HAVE SWIVEL CHAIRS, YO! What?? DUDE!

For some weird reason, Phillip chose Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" as his favorite. Seriously? I swear this season has been one giant Punk'd episode for this kid. Good Lord. The song was about as cheesy and irritatingly DMB-ish as I remember it being the first time around.

Again, Round 2 left me with no preference for either Idolette. Steven mumbled something about good eggs going bad...or hatching...or being made into BK Breakfast Sandwiches...who knows. Then he handed Round 2 to Jessica. After the wall of boos tumbled down upon the judges' table, Randy decided to call it a tie and Jen gave it to PP.

Round 3: The always-terrible Idol singles

Jessica's potential single was called "Change Nothing" and immediately had me contemplating changing the channel. It wasn't offensive enough to rival "No Boundaries" as worst Idol single ever, but it was still a steaming pile of terrible. I mean, there weren't even any dreams or magic rainbows in that song. Just a lot of yelling and double negatives. All the judges pretty much agreed that the song sucked.

Phillip, on the other hand, managed to luck out with one of the better Idol singles I've ever heard. Again, there were no dreams or magic rainbows, but there were demons and some talk of facing your fears, so that had to do. It was a perfect song for PP, and he performed it really well. It was good enough as a generic foot-stomping campfire song, but toward the end it got a bit more rousing when the drumline joined in. It was driving me crazy wondering what the whole vibe reminded me of, and then Randy said it: Mumford and Sons. That's pretty on the nose. Steven also threw in a Paul Simon comparison, which was just as valid. J.Lo said that the song didn't sound like anything else on the radio, but that's probably because she only listens to dance-pop stations. And it was good to see that the judges didn't wear out their leg muscles giving Joshua all those standing Os, as they all managed to get out of their chairs for Phillip.

So...on to tonight's Finale. It seems clear to me that Phillip has this thing in the bag as long as Nigel Lythgoe doesn't rig the results to prevent the 5th WGWG in a row from winning the crown. And honestly, I think he should win if for no other reason than he's the only contestant who's ever been smart enough to get a doctor's note to excuse him from doing the Ford commercials. He's like a prettier, taller, Southern Juan Epstein.

We'll see how it goes after the next two hours of our lives are wasted.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Friday, May 18, 2012

American Idol 11: 5/17/12 Results

Who will we give standing ovations to now?
Confession time, folks: I totally zonked out while watching last night's American Idol results show. Lisa Marie Presley lulled me to sleep with her wannabe Stevie Nicks lost and lip synching in a forest of goth weirdos routine. Oh, and because I was so concerned about making sure I didn't miss the three-part Community finale, I forgot to set the DVR to tape the rest of Idol. But hey, the Internet is a wonderful thing. I got to hear second-hand about what happened, and now you can get that same info third-hand from me!

PP prevailed, which is what I predicted. However, he prevailed over the wrong person. I thought it would be a Phillip/Joshua Finale, but Joshua was sent packing in favor of Jessica, proving that standing ovations don't count for anything. If the eventual winner is truly decided by popular vote, PP has it in the bag. If the winner is decided by producers who would be embarrassed by having to crown the fifth WGWG in a row, then it'll be Jessica. See what I did there? I covered my ass either way!

I also heard that Adam Lambert performed a new single. Although I hated his debut album (save for the wonderfully catchy "Whattya Want From Me"), I had to look up his performance. I'm always hoping that one day he'll go back to being awesome. Yesterday was not the day. All I can say is that the song ("Never Close Our Eyes") was not the worst thing I've ever heard. And I appreciate that he's trying to bring neon back. But I honestly don't see a long, illustrious career for Mme. Glambert.

In other news, there's a rumor that Jennifer Lopez might not be coming back to Idol next year. It seems there are people who would be upset by this. I am not one of them. I mean, who cares? What value does she really bring to the show? What value do any of the judges bring, really? It doesn't matter who's on the panel, because they all kind of say the same shit. What is it about a judge's chair that turns a normal person with real opinions into a soft shell (see: Stern, Howard)? We need someone who won't just play nice because they're on camera. Replace J.Lo with Mary J. Ooh, or what about Katy Perry? I seem to recall that she was a pretty great guest judge during the auditions a few years ago.

Maybe Jen's new status as Forbes' Most Powerful Celebrity has her thinking she can force Idol into giving her more money? Maybe she can. But can you believe that THIS ---->
is the world's most powerful celebrity?

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

American Idol 11: Everything in Threes

Last night, American Idol's Final 3 got to each sing three songs (a judge's pick, self pick, and Jimmy's pick, in that order) and show us footage of their homecomings. Obviously, I've waited until the last minute to do my recap of all this, so I'm gonna have to make it short and sweet.

Finalist/Chosen One #1: Joshua Ledet

Round 1: "I'd Rather Go Blind," Etta James
I love Etta. I love this song. I only liked this performance...half of it, anyway. The half before he went full-on Mantasia. And his pointless attempt at scatting was just embarrassing. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but he got a standing O anyway.

Round 2: "Imagine," John Lennon
Joshua did a decent job with this. He cooled it on the screaming for a change, which is exactly why the judges didn't get out of their chairs.

Round 3: "No More Drama," Mary J. Blige
Although I do get annoyed with Joshua's near-constant yelling, I actually thought this was a pretty good performance. It was very "churchy," and he totally committed to it. My favorite part though was the cut to Shannon Magrane and Hollie Cavanagh trying to jam out to it. Gotta love the white girl shuffle (aka the shoulder jerk / I-have-to-shit face combo).

Critique highlights: I loved Steven's delivery of "You are SO FINE." I guess with only one chick left in the competition, Tyler doesn't have much choice but to start hitting on the guys. And somewhere during his critique of Joshua's third song, it became official: "over the top" replaced "beautiful" as his standard compliment. Randy went over the top by declaring that everyone should just stand up and vote for Joshua.

Finalist/Chosen One #2: Jessica Sanchez

Round 1: "My All," Mariah Carey
[sung to the old Nytol jingle tune] "My All" will help you get your Zzs! I didn't think that was very good at all. I think she showed her limitations by covering an artist that she couldn't just imitate. The judges were apparently watching an entirely different show, because they loved it.

Round 2: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Aerosmith
Could there be more of a suckup or just plain sucky choice? Steven gave Jessica a standing ovation and said he thought she "took a great song and made it greater," but I think she took a terrible song and made it slightly more tolerable. It's definitely a song for someone like her to sing; it should never have been an aging rock band's power ballad.

Round 3: "I'll Be There," Jackson 5
This was just aight for me and the Dawg. Look, Jessica can certainly sing. We all know this. But I have to go back to what I was saying about the Mariah Carey song. I think she's 40% really good singer and 60% excellent mimic. (Even J.Lo said she sounded a little like Michael Jackson on this one.) And that's probably why she bores me.

Critique highlights: After the first song, Randy got a chance to remind everyone that he's worked with Mariah, and then after the second song, he said, "Yo, whoa, I'm like, YO. Aight." (I'm not kidding, that's an exact quote.) I was totally confused by Jennifer's comment that Steven has a hard time giving compliments to people who cover his songs. Really? Didn't he gush all over Lauren Alaina when she did the same song in last year's audition rounds?

Oh, I almost forgot...Steven pretty much predicted that Jessica is going to win. Bwahahahaha.

Finalist #3 / #1 in the Fans' Hearts: Phillip Phillips

Round 1: "Beggin'," Madcon (Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons cover)
Steven set Philly up with this one, saying that he wanted to see if he could stick to a melody, so Phillip answered by totally straying from the melody. As much as this kid's DMB-ness makes me batty, I have to admit that I like him. He just doesn't seem to care about any of this, which is quite admirable. And honestly, I really liked the performance, too. It certainly had shades of the usual PP routine, but it was fun and free of screeching, so he automatically won that round for me.

Round 2: "Disease," Matchbox 20
Rob Thomas has one of the most annoying voices I've ever heard, so any cover is usually an improvement. And this is, but it's very standard Philly fare.

Round 3: "We've Got Tonight," Bob Seger
When Jimmy announced that this was his choice, I couldn't do anything but groan. I was all prepared for some awful slice of cheese, but I was really surprised. I think this was the first time I'd ever really heard Phillip's vocal ability, and he's actually a pretty good singer! Sure, it was a little Seger-ish, but I thought he did a great job. And finally, someone other than Joshua got a standing O.

Critique highlights: What did Steven say after the last song that they bleeped out? I swear he said, "You sang like your dick was hard." That should have gotten him about 40,000 more votes from the lonely housewife contigent.

So, it's been apparent for a while that the judges want a Jesshua Finale, but I think Phillip has too big of a fan base to let that happen. Unless some shady business goes on behind the scenes, Jessica is probably going to get sent back to her home(school), paving the way for a Top Two sausage fest.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy National Twilight Zone Day!

I haven't written a non-American Idol post in a while, but I was inspired to rise out of the muck when I discovered that today is National Twilight Zone Day.

In honor of the greatest TV series ever, I've compiled a list of my 20 favorite episodes. The first half of the list is actually a previously published (with a few slight changes) article that I originally wrote for Starpulse back in 2008, prior to the July 4th Twilight Zone marathon. Enjoy...and let me know which of your favorites I left out!

1. "A Kind of a Stopwatch"
Annoying motor-mouth Patrick McNulty (Richard Erdman) spends his days boring everyone to tears and dreaming of a world in which he's a respected and popular man about town. One day, a stranger gives McNulty an old stopwatch that has the power to stop time. At first, he uses the watch to amuse himself, until realizing that it could be the key to making his lofty dreams come true. As happens with all residents of The Twilight Zone, McNulty's repeated temptations of Fate come back to bite him in the end.

I think it's kind of funny that I (via Starpulse) am now linked with this episode's Wikipedia page, as it cites my original article's ranking of it as the best episode of the series. I'm certain that a lot of people disagree with that ranking, and I have no problem admitting that this is definitely more of a sentimental favorite than anything, as it always takes me back to the childlike wonder of daydreaming about finding such a magical watch. But these types of "best of" lists can never be completely objective, so anyone who gets mad over what was ranked where probably spends a lot of his or her time mad about stupid things.

Twidbit: You'll recognize the premise as one that's been recently recycled in the 2002 sci-fi teen flick, Clockstoppers, and Adam Sandler's 2006 comedy, Click. The ep was also parodied in "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off," a segment from The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror XIV.

2. "The After Hours"
Anne Francis stars as Marsha White, a woman who heads to a large department store in search of a gold thimble. (Talk about the times changing. I mean, really, who buys thimbles anymore?) Much to Marsha's dismay, she accidentally gets locked in the empty store overnight. At least she thinks it's empty—but some very lively mannequins have a few surprises in store.

Twidbit: Playing to the common childhood fantasy that store mannequins come to life at night, this episode is a bit more fanciful than frightening, yet still very satisfying.

3. "And When the Sky Was Opened"
Three astronauts crash-land in the desert after a space flight, during which their ship disappeared from the radar for 24 hours. No one knows what happened in that lost day, but strange things start happening upon their return. When space buddies Ed Harrington (the charming Charles Aidman) and Clegg Forbes (old-time über-hottie, Rod Taylor) visit a bar, Harrington disappears from right under Forbes' nose. Immediately after he vanishes, no one has any recollection of Harrington's existence, not even hospitalized astronaut #3, Gart Williams (Timothy Hutton's dad, James). As Clegg vainly tries to jog his friend's memory, he's overcome with a strange sensation of "not belonging" on Earth and runs out of Gart's hospital room. When Gart tries to follow, he finds himself smack-dab in the middle of Clegg's nightmare. An awesome, surreal trip through The Twilight Zone where not everything makes sense, this episode may frustrate people who like their stories wrapped up into neat little packages. Others will love the ambiguity, because it's left up to the viewer to decide what is real and what is illusion.

Twidbit: Watch out for Rod Taylor's fantastic flip-out after Harrington's disappearance, where he can't think straight enough to say anything but, "You're crazy! You're…you're CRAZY! You're crazy, you know that? You're…you're CRAZY!"

4. "Eye of the Beholder"
One of the most universally recognizable and beloved TZs of all, this tale focuses on the plight of Janet Tyler, a disfigured woman going through her last of many failed plastic surgeries. Through most of the episode, the doctors' and nurses' faces are obscured, placing viewers in the same world of darkness in which Janet lives under her layers of bandages. All of this secrecy may also make it easier for most viewers to figure out the twist, but the big reveal still packs a powerful visual punch, and the societal message within is thoughtful and timeless.

Twidbit: This popular episode, starring soap actress Maxine Stuart and Donna Douglas of The Beverly Hillbillies, has so permeated pop culture that references to it can be found everywhere. Perhaps the best-known and funniest parody was a skit on Saturday Night Live featuring Pamela Anderson in the lead role.

5. "A World of Difference"
This episode has often been compared to The Truman Show and Stranger Than Fiction. A remarkably convincing performance by Howard Duff helps make this largely underrated installment a series highlight. Duff is Gerry Raigan, a troubled actor who convinces himself that he is actually Arthur Curtis, the character he is portraying in a film. His vain attempts to prove his identity to everyone else are heartbreaking, but he gets no sympathy from his shrewish ex-wife, Nora. When Gerry's agent tells him that the Arthur Curtis picture is being scrapped, he frantically rushes to the set in the hopes of preserving his "other life."

Twidbit: Nasty Nora Raigan is played by Eileen Ryan, the real-life mother of often-nasty actor, Sean Penn! See if you can spot the family resemblance.

6. "Night Call"
Long-time character actress and frequent TZ guest-star Gladys Cooper plays Elva Keene, a bored, old, wheelchair-bound lady who rarely communicates with anyone but her housekeeper. During a storm, she receives a strange phone call, but can't hear anyone on the other end. She continues to receive similar calls full of nothing but crackling static, until one night when a man creepily croaks that he wants to talk to her. In an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery, Elva contacts the telephone operator who gives her some rather shocking news. The two lead ladies are fantastic in their roles, and that disembodied voice is guaranteed to give you the chills!

Twidbit: "Night Call" is a less gruesome version of an old urban legend.

7. "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?"
During a snowstorm, a bus driver and his six passengers make a pit stop at a greasy spoon. Soon after, two policemen arrive to inform the gang that a UFO crashed nearby and a trail of footprints led them from the ship to the diner. When the bus driver does a head count, he realizes that there are now seven people in his group, and paranoia takes over as everyone tries to weed out the alien. This unforgettable ep serves up a great ensemble cast, and the double twist is the cherry on top!

Twidbit: Illustrating how quickly normal people shift to irrational behavior in the face of fear is a specialty of the Zone. For more finger-pointing panic, check out the classic, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" (more on that in a bit) or the less effective wartime drama, "The Shelter." 

8. "The Midnight Sun"
Nora and her landlady, Mrs. Bronson, are the only two residents left in their apartment complex after a panic sends everyone searching for shadier surroundings. An unthinkable phenomenon occurred one month prior - the Earth's orbit shifted, causing the planet to gradually head closer and closer to the sun. With the end near, Nora and Mrs. Bronson try to comfort each other during their last hours. However, the landlady soon succumbs to the heat, leaving Nora alone and frozen with fear. What seems to be just an interesting character study turns out to be one of the most original plots in the series, with a truly unexpected twist.

Twidbit: Lois Nettleton (Nora), who died in 2008, is often recognized by younger generations as George Costanza's girlfriend's mother, who catches George eating an éclair out of the garbage on an episode of Seinfeld.

9. "Nick of Time"
William Shatner and Patricia Breslin are cast as Don and Pat, a honeymooning couple forced to stop for auto repairs in small-town Ohio. While they wait in a nearby café, Don becomes obsessed with a table-top fortune-telling machine that seems to have all the right answers. Pat begins to wonder which is more frightening: the accuracy of the machine's answers or Don's self-destructive superstition.

Twidbit: The Shat also appeared in another episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," which is far more popular, but far less engaging.

10. "Ring-A-Ding Girl"
An under-appreciated gem, this episode tells the story of Bunny Blake (Maggie McNamara), a glamorous movie star who receives a very special ring from her hometown fan club. The ring beckons her back home, where it continues to send Bunny cryptic messages that hint at an impending tragedy that could affect many of the locals.

Twidbit: Try not to dwell on the supernatural time-space paradox involved, and soak up the atmospheric beauty of Bunny's final scene - one of the series' most haunting images.

11. "The Hunt"
During a nighttime raccoon hunt, mountain man Hyder Simpson (Arthur Hunnicutt) jumps in a pond to save his faithful dog Rip. The next morning, Hyder and Rip head back home, where no one seems to be able to see or hear them. Hyder soon realizes that he and Rip didn't survive their hunting trip, and the duo sets out in search of a place to go. They soon encounter a man who appears to be Heaven's gatekeeper, but when the man tells Hyder that dogs aren't allowed inside, Hyder refuses to enter, opting instead to take his chances on "Eternity Road."

Twidbit: If you're a dog lover, this one oughta bring a tear to your eye.

12. "The Hitch-Hiker"
After Nan Adams (Inger Stevens) has a blow out during a cross-country trip, she begins seeing a shabby-looking hitchhiker at different points along her journey. His presence is merely unnerving until he appears at a railroad crossing, where she stalls out and is nearly hit by an oncoming train. From that point on, Nan is convinced that the hitchhiker is trying to kill her, causing her to become more and more unhinged.

Twidbit: If you're a fan of the '60s cult classic Carnival of Souls, this episode's twist may be pretty easy to figure out! 

13. "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"
One day, a mysterious light flashes over a peaceful neighborhood, after which, everyone's vehicles and electrical devices stop working. The residents laugh off a local teen's suggestion that this is an alien invasion being helped along by a resident who isn't what he appears to be. But when the power starts working for certain people, friends and neighbors quickly begin to turn on each other. As I mentioned earlier, this is a classic episode, and one that so perfectly illustrates "mob mentality" that it's often screened in classrooms to teach children the dangers of prejudice and paranoia. And even though it originally aired in the '60s, it's a great commentary on our ever-growing dependence on technology.     

Twidbit: While this is a stellar episode, much of the acting is laughably hammy. However, Claude Akins (aka Sheriff Lobo!) is pretty solid as the neighborhood voice of reason, and Jack Weston (aka Mr. Kellerman!) is perfectly cast as the biggest pain in the ass on the block.

14. "Nothing in the Dark"
Gladys Cooper gives another great performance in this tale of Wanda Dunn, an elderly woman who has shut herself off from the world in an attempt to evade Mr. Death. But when a young policeman named Harold Beldon is shot outside her door, she decides that she must help him and brings him into her home. Although Wanda begins to warm to Harold, can she really trust that he's not Death in disguise?

Twidbit: Ms. Cooper's co-star is a very young Robert Redford in one of his earliest acting roles.

15. "People Are Alike All Over"
Working equally well as a testament to "always trusting your first instinct" and a snarky burn on the human race, this episode follows the Mars voyage of optimistic astronaut Mark Marcusson (Paul Comi) and fearful scientist Sam Conrad (Roddy McDowall). After a crash landing that ultimately kills Marcusson, a fearful Conrad is left alone to deal with the human-looking Martians he encounters. When the Martians (especially a hottie with a terrible mullet) appear friendly, Conrad finally begins to relax, adopting Marcusson's earlier assertion that people on Mars would be the same as people everywhere.

Twidbit: Vic Perrin, who plays one of the Martians, was best known for his role as the Control Voice of another popular sci-fi anthology—The Outer Limits.

16. "Mr. Dingle, The Strong"
This is one that may not show up on many other "favorite TZ episode" lists, but I've always had a real soft spot for it. Of course, it could be because I have a real soft spot for star Burgess Meredith. This is one of the few straight-up comedic episodes, which follows Meredith's lovable loser Luther Dingle as he is used as a test subject for visiting aliens who zap him with super strength.

Twidbit: Although Meredith is the star, there are also some memorable performances here by well-known character actor James Milhollin and a cranky-as-ever Don Rickles. 

17. "It's A Good Life"
Perhaps the ultimate case for Supernanny, Anthony Fremont (Billy Mumy) is a little boy with boundless mental powers, who uses them to lord over and terrorize everyone in his family and town. But that's not a bad thing! That's good! And you better think good thoughts about Anthony, or you'll end up in the cornfield...or worse.

Twidbit: The episode is based on Jerome Bixby's short story of the same name, which is often considered one of the best science fiction stories ever written. Sadly, it was sanitized and given a happy ending (read: DESTROYED) in Twilight Zone: The Movie.

18. "Living Doll"
I've always considered this (although the case could be made for "It's A Good Life") the one true "horror" story of the series, as most episodes focused on the supernatural or unexplained, with elements of horror thrown in. There's really no message here (other than "Hey, don't be a bastard like Telly Savalas"). This is just about an evil doll that won't think twice about breaking someone's neck. No doubt Chucky has posters of Talky Tina all over his bedroom wall.

Twidbit: This episode was the basis for another of the best Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror segments, "Clown Without Pity." If only Telly had known that it was as simple as flipping Tina's Good/Evil switch, things may have ended differently!

19. "The Dummy"
An at-his-hunky-peak Cliff Robertson portrays ventriloquist Jerry Etherson, a guy with a very big problem: his dummy, Willy, is alive. Oh, and he's possibly evil and trying to take over Jerry's life. Making things worse is the fact that everyone, even Jerry's trusted agent, shrugs this story off as nothing more than the delusion of an alcoholic. But Willy is real. Make no mistake about that. I have to admit that I've never quite understood the ending of this episode, but that doesn't keep it from being one of the most effectively creepy images from the series.

Twidbit: Jerry's agent, Frank, is played by Frank Sutton, immediately recognizable to most as Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.'s Sargeant Carter.

20. "On Thursday We Leave for Home"
When The Twilight Zone took over a new timeslot for its fourth season, the show was forced to expand its episodes to an hour-long format, which nearly everyone agreed was, well, about 30 minutes too long. (TZ quickly returned to the half-hour format for its fifth and final season.) Although it was a disappointing season overall, there are a handful of hour-longs that I really enjoy, like "Printer's Devil" (another Burgess Meredith appearance!), the often heavy-handed but satisfying "Valley of the Shadow," and the underrated love story "Passage on the Lady Anne." But the best of the season was "Thursday," which stars James Whitmore as Captain William Benteen, the self-appointed leader of a colony of people stranded on an unbearably hot planet. When a rescue ship from Earth arrives, Benteen begins to struggle with the desire to go home and the desire to keep his group (and power over them) together.

Twidbit: It's pretty easy to draw parallels between Captain Benteen and another Whitmore character, The Shawshank Redemption's Brooks Hatlen. Both are men who have managed to make the best of a hellish situation, elevating themselves to positions of respect and importance. Both are men who so fear losing that status that they would rather remain "caged" than have to start from scratch as "free men."   

Classics That Didn't Quite Make the Cut:

"To Serve Man" Next to "Eye of the Beholder," this story of big-headed, too-good-to-be-true aliens, is one of the most familiar and memorable TZs. It's definitely a four-star episode, but one that relies heavily on its twist, giving the reruns less impact. On the other hand, The Simpsons' parody, "Hungry Are the Damned," from the very first Treehouse of Horror, is positively hilarious and almost commands multiple viewings!

"Time Enough at Last" This iconic episode is one of four starring Burgess Meredith as yet another milquetoast character. It's a well-executed episode, but this is one instance where the series' signature "ironic twist" actually spoils things. Most of the time in The Twilight Zone, the comeuppance fits the "crime," but Meredith's character, Henry Bemis, is just a nice guy who loves to read! Watching him suffer such an undeserved, harsh fate makes it hard to truly enjoy this story.

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" William Shatner reacting to the gremlin on the wing of his airplane is fun for a while, but this little monster story certainly isn't the most compelling of this historic series.

American Idol 11: The Predictable 5/10/12 Results

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, last night Hollie Cavanagh was shipped back to Wee Britain or wherever she was from, setting the stage for an all-growling, grunting and wailing American Idol Top 3.

In another completely unsurprising turn of events, J.Lo's much-ballyhooed performance was utterly hilarious. I don't know how the woman can sit in judgment of singers, then go on stage and lip-sync and/or semi-sing to an Auto-Tuned backing track. Apparently, her balls are as big as her butt.

I think the only thing I'd give a thumbs-up to from last night's results show is David Cook's performance. I dug his new song. The guy isn't making world-changing music or anything, but I tend to generally enjoy his brand of melodic arena rock. It helps that he doesn't have the douche factor of, say, Daughtry.

On to next week, where the judges' Chosen Ones will have to battle it out with the seemingly unstoppable (by anything other than kidney stones) fan favorite.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

American Idol 11: The Final Four

Tsk tsk tsk...I know, I know. I'm getting really bad at getting these recaps up within a reasonable time. But American Idol is getting really bad. So there.

Last night, the two themes were "Songs by California Artists" and "Songs They Wish They'd Written." The choices were pretty boring overall.

Although I like CCR and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?," I've pretty much reached my limit with Dave Matthews-Bland, so I totally fell asleep two seconds into his performance. Yeah, I pretty much slept through the whole show and went back and watched it on the DVR, but I still fast forwarded through this one. I stopped just long enough to hear the judges praising Phillip(s) as usual.

Hollie Cavanagh sang Journey's "Faithfully," because, as she claimed, she's sort of living the song right now. Right. Because she is clearly the frontman of a successful touring band who is lamenting always being away from his wife and kids. Whatever, she did a pretty good job with it. Randy loved it and was like, "Heyyyy, did I ever tell you I was in Journey??" Jennifer squeezed out some tears, while Steven said something about enjoying watching Hollie's creativity flower bloom. Everything he says sounds either insane or disgusting. Or both.

The gospel choir is still surgically attached to Joshua Ledet, and they propped him up yet again while he sang "You Raise Me Up." Amazingly, no standing ovation came with this performance, but the judges' tongue bath was still standard.

Jessica Sanchez sang Etta James' "Steal Away," a song I've never heard...and I LOVE Etta. I assumed this was probably a track covered by Beyonce for Cadillac Records, but after a quick consultation with the Googles, I found that wasn't the case. So, who the hell knows who picked this song for her or why. She sounded OK, but it seemed a little too "old" for her. But when the judges start tongue bathing contestants, it's a little hard for them to stop, so Jessica got whatever was left over from Joshua's "critique."

Because someone at AI has a good sense of humor, Phillip(s) and Joshua were paired up to duet again. This time, it was Maroon 5's "This Love," which ended up not being nearly as offensive as their take on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Still, Steven's assertion that it was the "best song, best vocal, best duet ever" was nothing more than the ravings of a lunatic.

Hollie and Jessica started out their duet of The Bangles' "Eternal Flame" on giant ribbon swings, which someone should have gagged them with. Seriously, these two girls both have very good voices, yet somehow this duet sucked something fierce. Randy finally presented a voice of reason from behind that table of lies and nonsense and told the girls that it was just "weird."

To waste some more time, we all got to see a video package of Adam Shankman stopping by the Idol mansion to show the kids the long trailer for Rock of Ages. As much as Tom Cruise annoys me, I have to admit that this movie looks like fun. And Tom is definitely less annoying than googly-eyed Idol alum Constantine Maroulis, who is the main reason I never went to see the Broadway play.

To tie in with the movie, the Final 4 sang an '80s power ballad: Foreigner's "Waiting For a Girl/Guy Like You." Ehhhhhhh.

Dave Matthews-Bland kicked off Round 2 with a non-DMB song, which I suppose is impressive in and of itself. He performed Damien Rice's "Volcano" complete with very dark mood lighting and a sultry backup singer. He actually didn't sound bad this time around. I mean, I didn't immediately want to smash his guitar over his head. It still sounded a little DMB-ish, though. The judges' tongues weren't tired yet, so they lovingly lapped Phillip(s) up, down and sideways. J.Lo even went so far as to claim "very few people could've pulled that off." What's that, Jen? Singing a simple, acoustic song? Oh God, I know. No one can do that.

Hollie's second song choice was Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," which Jimmy sort of tried to talk her out of doing since it required more emotion than she could have possibly conjured up...but he didn't try too hard. Because everyone wants her gone. And they'll probably get their wish, because the performance was pretty boring. The judges said as much, and Jennifer suggested that maybe Hollie should have sung the song to the voters, apparently because they don't love her and she can't make them. Ouch.

Taking on the 4th song that was already done this season on The Voice was Joshua, trying his best to copy James Brown on "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World." Yeah, I preferred the Juliet Simms version, which didn't make my ears bleed and my dog go insane. All of Joshua's screamy, runny melisma was clearly giving Randy palpitations, so it's amazing that he was able to get up for the standing O. The ovation and the critiques were even more over-the-top than usual, perhaps to make up for lack of the standing O on Joshua's previous song. Even though Steven's been walking the earth for 90-some years, he claimed that he'd NEVER HEARD ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN HIS LIFE. Jennifer was so blown away that she began speaking in tongues. And Randy bellowed, "That was one of the BEST performances on any show. ANY show. ANY SHOW!!! I'M TALKING ABOUT THE VOICE, EVERYONE, IN CASE YOU COULDN'T FIGURE IT OUT!! WOOPS, DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD? HEY, DID I EVER TELL YOU I USED TO BE IN JOURNEY??"

Jessica closed things out with the diva anthem, "And I'm Telling You," which she announced was her message to America that she is not leaving this competition. Because people like when contestants they already are sick of pull that kind of shit. I honestly didn't think it was that great. I was so distracted by the fact that her feet were FROZEN in one spot. Her one arm sort of flapped around every now and then, but the girl made Hollie look like the most dynamic performer of our time. And knowing that Jessica has been singing this song since she was 7 just makes it that much worse. There was no emotion there. It was all mechanical. But she fooled the judges. Jen thought it was so good that there was nothing she could even say about it, but still wasted several minutes fumbling for words. Randy finally brought back "IN IT TO WIN IT," but only for Jessica, Joshua and Phillip(s).

While it would be hilarious (and musically ironic) to see Jessica get booted tonight, I can't see any other outcome but a Hollie ouster. I can see Jessica in the Bottom 2 with Hollie (because they're girls), but I am telling you, Jessica's not going.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Friday, May 04, 2012

American Idol 11: 5/3/12 Results

Well, I hate to say I toldja so (even though I love when my predictions are right), but our little Skylar was forced to fly the American Idol coop last night. I'll make another prediction right now: she'll be more successful than whoever actually wins this show. I don't care whether you love or loathe country music, but it is undeniably the most popular genre in the United States. And it's also very good to people who want to be a part of it. I think all of the country Idol cast-offs got record deals after their seasons and are still making a decent musical living. (Not everyone can be a Carrie Underwood or Kellie Pickler, but the world needs its Josh Gracins and Bucky Covingtons, too...for some reason.)

Speaking of country, Carrie Underwood returned to the Idol stage to perform her new single, "Blown Away," which I guess is about the terrible Oklahoma weather or something. Perhaps it needed Lauren Alaina in the wings squeezing out fake tears for all the tornado victims, because it actually just came off as an ode to the wind machine that threatened to blow her dress away.

There wasn't much else to report from last night's results show, other than, YO, DAWG! IT WAS LIKE WE WERE AT A COLDPLAY CONCERT! Yeah, U2 Lite got special treatment and graced us with two songs that no one could tell apart. Neither of them were about tornadoes. At least I don't think so.

On to Top 4 Week, the theme of which will be "songs by California artists." No word on whether there will be a second or even third theme since there will be more time to kill and everyone might be performing three songs now. Well, the bassist from the Dave Matthews Band is from California, so if the other two themes are "songs by South African artists" and "songs by artists who have emptied a busload of shit-water on unsuspecting tourists," Phillips will have it made!

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

American Idol 11: Hey Guv'nah, Welcome to the '60s

Instead of just doing the humane thing by cutting the show down to an hour, American Idol continued its trend of having each contestant perform two songs. And because that didn't even take up enough time, they also threw in a couple of group sings and a whole lotta married couple-style fighting from Jimmy Iovine and mentor Steven Van Zandt.

This week, the themes were '60s music and Britpop. Technically, I think "Britpop" was the label placed upon early '90s bands like Blur and Oasis, but apparently AI meant anything remotely poppy that originated in the UK.

Little Steven gave Hollie Cavanagh possibly the best piece of advice ever by telling her not to care about what the judges think, because who the hell are they? He played it off like he was kidding, but I think we all know he enjoyed saying that. Hollie kicked things off with Ike and Tina's "River Deep - Mountain High," and perhaps she took Little Steven's advice to heart, as she seemed much more comfortable onstage. J.Lo said that it was "a different type of Hollie" than she'd seen before. For Round 2, Hollie did a good job with the overplayed Leona Lewis tune, "Bleeding Love," which I still like because it always reminds me of Mark Kanemura and Chelsie Hightower on So You Think You Can Dance. Randy said Hollie was two for two on the evening, and that she was peaking at the right time.

What better to follow the inoffensively pleasant sound of Hollie's voice than the maddeningly overrated Dave Matthews-Bland? Seriously, I'm about to start watching this kid on mute. Phillips destroyed the melody of The Box Tops' "The Letter" in Round 1, and even though he stayed true to the melody of The Zombies' "Time of the Season" in Round 2, it still sounded awful, especially those high notes that he kept trying so hard to reach. Still, the judges loved DMB. And the audience probably still does, too, especially since he was accompanied by a hypnotically twirling tie-dyed backdrop, that was probably just a subliminal message to vote for him. However, considering that Seacrest pointed out DMB's girlfriend sitting in the audience, he could be in trouble with his horny, delusional fanbase.

Skylar Laine was up next, and I was happy to see her doing an uptempo number—CCR's "Fortunate Son"— in the first round, because I love watching her spastically dance. She slowed it down for Round 2 with Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," which was good but not quite as entertaining as the first song. And I was very distracted by her snakeskin dress, because I kept wondering if she actually wrassled, killed and skinned that snake herself. I'm willing to bet that she did. The judges all had great things to say about Skylar, as they should, but I have a feeling that she's going to be the one leaving us tonight. She shouldn't be, but I don't think she can compete with the judges' two-headed love child, Jesshua, or the tween/cougar poster boy, DMB.

Jessica Sanchez took on the second Tina Turner song (by way of CCR) of the evening with "Proud Mary" and tried her best to do the Tina hair tosses and shimmies, but she just didn't have it in her. In Round 2, Jessica was sprawled out on the floor, surrounded by fog and a shit-ton of candles. It looked like we all just accidentally stumbled onto the scene of a virgin sacrifice. Evidently, her very nice version of "You Are So Beautiful" appeased the dry ice gods, as her life was spared. Jennifer said that she keeps forgetting that Jessica is only 16, despite the fact that they mention that she's only 16 every week. Steven certainly didn't forget, and dropped this nugget of Tyler widsom: "The only thing that gives experience a run for its money is a 16-year old." That probably means something completely innocuous, but coming out of his mouth it just sounds...I don't know...rapey.

If you can believe it, they saved Joshua Ledet for the pimp spot! It was even more appropriate this time, as he kind of dressed like a pimp in Round 1. It was a no-brainer that Randy would love Joshua's ridiculous, striped-sleeve jacket, just as it was a no-brainer that the judges would treat Joshua's performances as if they had healing powers. Against all odds, he didn't get a standing O for his Round 1 cover of The Temptations' "Ain't to Proud to Beg," but the judges made up for it in Round 2 by not only giving Joshua's scream-tastic performance of the at least partially Australian Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" a standing salute, but also by escalating the compliments until they reached the most hilarious level possible. (#1 - Steven: "You're one of the top two best Idols of all time." #2 - Randy: "You're one of the best singers ever on this show." #3 - Jennifer: "You're one of the best singers of the last 50 years.")

As for the group performances sprinkled throughout the night...the less said about them, the better. Although Hollie, Jessica and Skylar gave "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher" the cruise ship treatment, it was far preferable to Joshua and Phillip's cover of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Baby, something beautiful was indeed dying. It was that song. If you've ever wondered why Fantasia and Dave Matthews have never done a duet, now you have your answer. Seriously, that was just outrageously bad. Of course, the judges ate that shit up, rolled around in it and rubbed it all over each other.

Speaking of stool, who's gonna be in the uncomfortable stools tonight? I think it might only be a Bottom 2 from this point forward, so I'm gonna guess that it will be Jessica and Skylar, with Skylar going home. Unless DMB's fans are really really pissed about that girlfriend.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

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I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

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