How did the great Satchel Paige used to say it? Don't look back, American Idol might be gaining on you? Wednesday's bloated Idol result shows just keep on sneaking deeper and deeper into the 8 p.m. hour and this week's (April 2) episode manages to start at 8:57 p.m. ET. How did we spend our hour before elimination? Well, let's see...
8:58 p.m. ET Ryan Seacrest promises a jam-packed hour including performances by Dolly Parton, the Clark Brothers and... shudder... viewer questions. Repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result may not actually be a definition for "insanity," but it's mighty stupid.
8:58 p.m. After being spared individual covering last night, "9-to-5" is tonight's Group Sing accompanied by some mighty half-hearted line-dancing from the Idol singers who aren't Brooke White. Ramiele Malubay has a microphone malfunction, Jason "Clifford the Muppet" Castro has a conniption fit and Kristy Lee Cook's two or three lines are sassy and sexy enough to make me wish she'd be able to do this one on Tuesday. The performance goes from the stage out into the crowd and I believe I can speak for all in Idol-dom when I say what a relief it is to see David "The Leader" Cook seeming healthy and palpitation free.
9:04 p.m. Dolly Parton Night. It seems like it was only yesterday. "That was the show," Ryan says after the clips. Thanks.
9:07 p.m. Ah, the Sofa of Paradise and the Stools of Devastation. Who will go to each side? Well, Aussie bluesman Michael Johns was among last night's best, so he gets the first shot at the comfy couch. Presumptive American Idol Winner David Archuleta found yet another song that touched him last night and he, in turn, touched America. But not in an inappropriate way. Thankfully. Ick. He's safe, OK. Safe! David and Michael exchange the world's most ungainly hug.
9:09 p.m. Ryan teases Carly Smithson by letting her state a preference between safety or 50 minutes of torture. She indicates she'd just as soon not go to the stools and she's then surprised when Ryan accepts her preference. I'm actually a little surprised myself.
9:14 p.m. Well, at least we're getting the viewer questions out of the way early. Syesha Mercado's asked what she misses from home. She says her family, which is enlightening. David Cook says he wishes he were more organized. Randy's asked if there's anybody he hasn't worked with and he'd like to. He says he'd like to work with this season's winner, who he speculates will either be a boy or a girl.
9:16 p.m. OK. This is so bad I'd rather watch the Yankees game than listen to any more questions. I return in time to hear Simon apologize for apologizing after criticisms.
9:16 p.m. Never again? Please?
9:17 p.m. The evening's first performance comes from the Clark Brothers, who several dozen viewers will recall won FOX's The Next Great American Band. Fans of TNGAB liked to emphasize that just because the show's ratings were low even by FOX Friday standards, the series showcased some actual musicianship. I can't argue, especially if the point of comparison is Jason Castro's dorm room strum-n-wince.
9:21 p.m. Set to "It's Tricky," this week's Ford commercial features some of the least convincing body-double work I've ever seen to try to make us buy that our Top 9 wouldn't get humiliated on a basketball court. The only Idol contender who looks believable in a sporting context is Kristy. I take that back. I totally buy David Archuleta blowing a whistle as a ref.
9:22 p.m. Ryan brings David Cook to the stage and leads a discussion of the medical emergency that David insists was "blown out of proportion." David's gestured over to the couch. Clutching her hands to her neck like a nervous little girl, Ramiele couldn't look smaller or less at ease. She's the first in the Bottom Three, after several weeks of inexcusable safety. Kristy is next, holding a carefully lettered sign that reads "Kristy's Seat," expecting another turn in jeopardy. The note proves prescient, as she marches off to the Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool, which was filled by somebody else's bottom last week.
9:25 p.m. Paula thinks that both Kristy and Ramiele, sticking out her lower lip in disappointment, had good nights on Tuesday.
9:29 p.m. Nashville has been good to American Idol, as Bucky Covington, Phil Stacey and Bo Bice try to emphasize. Actually, Bo tries to emphasize that he's had a hard time, but he hasn't been a failure. He's been sick and building himself back up. I hadn't realized that Bo had a second album out. I only barely realized he had a first album out.
9:33 p.m. Who will join Ramiele and Kristy? It won't be Syesha. But it will be either America's Nanny or Clifford the Muppet. Brooke takes out her ruler and tries to make Simon apologize for snubbing her violinist last night. But is that exactly the shtick that America's tiring of? Brooke's in the Bottom Three and, as is her way, she assures both Ryan and America that it's OK. The sight gag of Ramiele standing between the two blonde Amazons looking up and making funny faces is the sort of thing that makes me wish I knew how to do a screen capture.
9:36 p.m. Simon's a bit awe-struck that American got the right Bottom Three. Feeling contrite, Simon also tries to explain to Carly that he thinks she's cute and he meant for his criticisms of her fashion choices to be helpful.
9:42 p.m. Your Idol Gives Back money helped a little Ethiopian girl find her sister in Addis Ababa. I have no joke here. Think about giving next week, eh?
9:44 p.m. Hello, Dolly. Last night's episode actually had me looking into buying a couple old Parton albums. Tonight's performance makes sure that I won't be buying the new one.
9:48 p.m. She ends with a whoop of, "Halleluyah... Simon, how are ya!" Dolly's a hoot.
9:54 p.m. We've finally killed enough time. Randy guesses that Ramiele is out. Simon just says it won't be Brooke, who's still in tears from the Idol Gives Back footage and Dolly. Brooke's so sincere that Ryan can't help but send her to safety.
9:55 p.m. Kristy will be around for another week, meaning Ramiele's going home. Kristy holds Ramiele close for a long hug. I suspect that the embrace is about giving the younger girl the chance to regain her composure. If that's the case, it's a pretty sweet gesture.
9:57 p.m. We don't have to hear anything more about the nefarious pinoy conspiracy keeping Ramiele around. She's probably been due to depart for several weeks, but it was never possible to begrudge her protracted presence. Oh lo.
9:58 p.m. The remaining Idol women (and, um, David Cook) gather behind Ramiele to provide support for her last performance. The rest of the men join in.