Archive for February, 2009

Come On Barbie, Let’s Boldly Go Party

Friday, February 27th, 2009

 This year marks both Barbie’s 50th anniversary and the flashy 90210 reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise, and what better way to celebrate these two awesome moments in our cultural development than a Barbie Girl/Star Trekkin’ mash-up?

But sadly no-one has done that (as far as I know - I’m too frightened to actually check), so instead we’ll have to settle for the new Star Trek Barbie dolls, out this April. These have been made in the likeness of the movie’s stars, so check out this awesome likeness of Zachary Quinto as Spocklar:


Impressive, isn’t it? The resemblance is striking. Or it would be, if they had cast Anne Hathaway as Spock. Maybe this is Barbie as Zachary Quinto as Sylar as Spock? (As a bonus, it’s worth noting that the shirts all double as ShamWows.)

The sculptors have better luck with Chris Pine as the Captain Ken T Kirk Doll:


Of course, it helps that Chris Pine already looks like a Ken doll. This is an unavoidable side-effect of being made out of vacuum-molded plastic. (But admittedly Chris Pine is made out of very pretty vacuum-molded plastic. I’m actually all in favour of making our movie stars in molds. The only danger there is that they wouldn’t be naturally biodegradable, but judging by Sofia Loren, this is not a new problem.)

It wouldn’t be much of a Barbie range if they didn’t have a Barbie, of course. There has been a Star Trek Barbie before - a perky blonde in a Starfleet tunic - but in keeping with the fact that they’re basing the Barbies on the movie actors, and based on the fact that there’s really only one woman in space in the future (because someone has to answer the phones - ah, the future), Mattel had to do something it doesn’t normally do. Black Barbie.


As a likeness of actress Zoe Saldana, this is actually not too terrible. In fact, compared to the other two dolls, this one looks like a runaway success, but then I suppose the people at Barbie probably are better at making Barbies than Kens.

I’m being a little unfair on the black Barbie front - there have been a few Barbies of colour over the years, including ‘Colored Francie’ and ‘Oreo Fun Barbie’ (I wish I was making this up). Some of them have even been called Barbie, rather than Christie, DeeDee or Simone, which is such a generous concession. There was even an African-American Barbie friend called Nichelle! (I’d like to stress that I have had to look these things up. These are not things that I already know.)

So there you have it, the new Star Trek Barbies. No word yet on whether or not they’ll follow it up with Wolverine Barbies, but I’m first in line if they do.

Idol: The Seconds Feel Like Hours

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I admit it, last week I let my fear get to me and I underestimated the American public. I thought Tatiana was better than a lot of the pack and that she’d had enough exposure that she might actually have won some fans. I was wrong. She did not make the cut, and with any luck she won’t be back in the wildcard round. She shouldn’t be. She’s not right in the head, and the show needs to stop exploiting that.

Setting Tatiana aside, my next three choices to win after last week were Downey, Alexis and Michael, and those were indeed the winners. A lot of people are shocked that Anoop didn’t get through - Slumdog fevah, yo - but I think he’ll be back in the wildcards, sadly. With Tatiana sent home, there was some expectation of a flame out from her. She let us down. All she managed was a melting crying fit, as if she had forgotten that she was one of nine people being sent home and believed that she had been singled out for cruel and unusual punishment. Everyone else who lost was congratulating the winners, bu she was completely obseesed with her own sorry self.

But that was last week. Let’s put the horrors of last week behind us. What about the horrors of this week?


Cat-faced Jasmine Murray is first, and she’s one of the girls I’ve picked to go far, but she starts her number too low, and it’s not because she’s planning to do some soaring later on. The song is some bland half-cocked mess called Love Song, and it’s terrible. After last week’s atrocious song choices, everyone ought to be reaching for the solid gold genius songbook this week, but maybe these kids are too young to know what good music sounds like? If all they listen to is Rihanna and Taylor Swift. (Are we allowed to pick on Rihanna again yet? If not, pretend I said… oh, hell, let’s stick with Rihanna.)

Ryan seems a bit more relaxed this week. I worry about him. It’s hard to go through life wearing a mask, carrying the burden of a secret that prevents you from relaxing and being yourself around people.

Matt Giraud is doing Viva La Vida by Coldplay. Er… OK. At least he’s exploiting his options, but it’s not a particularly good singer’s song. If it were, Chris Martin wouldn’t be singing it. Matt sings it like he thinks he’s Michael Bublé, and it’s nasty. Matt was another of the big hopes for this week’s group, so it looks like we’re destined for another awful show. The judges make the point that he’s not doing what he’s good at, which is blues, and that’s true. At this stage in the competition you do not show off your range; you do the one trick you know you’re really good at.

Jeanine Vailes sings This Love by Maroon 5. Whatever you might think of Maroon 5, that is one of the catchier pop songs of the last few years, and I always think girls singing boys’ songs (and vice versa) is a good idea - it sounds original and helps the singer to dodge comparisons. But it turns out it’s not the right song for her. She screeches like a cat in a kettle, and even her friends in the audience look like they know it’s a disaster. Paula can’t think of anything nice to say. Everyone tells her how nice her legs are, the camera dutifully gives us an upward pan. Classy.

I don’t know what to make of this tonight. We’re a quarter of the way through, and each singer has been worse than the last. There needs to be a steward’s inquiry into whoever is coaching these kids.


Next up is Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle, and it’s looking good for him tonight. He really ought not to stand a chance, but even if he’s atrocious, he’ll still be more memorable than all the other bad singers. Thankfully he’s singing in character, and he’s doing And I Am Telling You, with more camp than a jamboree. Even when the jokes are bad, it’s still shamelessly entertaining, and while Simon says he hated it, even he clearly enj0yed it. 

Allison Iraheta has the rock voice, the rock hair, and judging from the interview she gives Seacrest, the insolent disinterested rock attitude - which doesn’t get you any votes on this show. But she sings Alone by Heart, and it’s well in her comfort zone, and it’s an anthem, so she’s able to give it some welly. She’s basically the only singer who has bothered to turn up today.

Kris Allen is this week’s pretty boy. I’ve never seen him before, so the kid must have had zero exposure in the auditions. He sings Man in the Mirror, and it starts very shaky and uncomfortable, but he warms into it a little. There’s nothing very pleasing about his soulless pop voice, so he’d better hope his pretty eyes and winnng smile can get him through. Interestingly, Simon is pulling for him, and given how bad everyone else’s notices have been tonight, that gives this kid an outside chance - it worked for Michael Sarver last week. Ryan Seacrest is totally hitting on this guy.

Megan Joy Corkrey is an all-American girl who is cunningly using make-up to de-emphasise her Jennifer Garner man-chin. She sings Put Your Record On, which I happen to like even if it’s not the least bit cool to do so. It’s a very summery song. She’s unsteady but not horrible. Not by tonight’s standards. Oh God, I think I might put my back out the way I’m lowering this bar.

Matt Breitzke is the fat bald blue collar fella that the judges used to get oddly excited about. He’s a pleasant enough singer, but a very unremarkable one, especially here, and I’m too bored by his performnce to even note what his song was. 

Jesse Langseth is singing Bette Davis’ Eyes, and she’s got the right voice for it - a sort of Chrissie Hynde/KT Tunstall pop rock mewl. Jesse gets a passing grade - she’s achieved the bare minimum to deserve to be here. I don’t think she’ll go any further, but at least she didn’t disgrace herself. That said, she makes herself thoroughly unlikeable in the judging section by trying to be too cool for school, and Simon thankfully kicks her feet out from under her by telling her she’s forgettable. Good. I hate precocious wannabes. (Why do I watch this show again?)


Kai Kalama looks like he should be busking on a boardwalk. He gives us What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted, which is a bona fide classic, but perhaps not one the kids can groove to, and not really in keeping with his surfer dude appeal. Also, Jimmy Ruffin may not be a household name, but he gave a pretty indelible rendition of this song, and Kai Kalama is no Jimmy Ruffin.

Mishavonna Henson (who was named by her godfather Jar-Jar) sings Drops of Jupiter. That’s unexpected. It’s such a song of its time that I half expected it to cease exist once we got midway through the 00s, along with Nickelback. (That did happen to Nickelback. Don’t try to tell me otherwise.) She drives the last note into a wall, but apart from that it’s… pleasant. I’m sorry, I can’t seem to get this bar any lower.

Last up is my favourite theatrical, Broadway boy Adam Lambert, of the emo-glam dress sense and the overcooked voice. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some showmanship from Adam - he is the last, best chance to redeem this horrible evening. These performances aren’t even bad in a nice meaty way that I can easily mock. 

Adam’s song of choice is Satisfaction, which bodes well. He sings it like a drag Elvis. But, hey, straight girls these days love their emo gay boys; they’re sexy in a safe, let’s-do-each-other’s-mascara way, and they can make girls wet with just one smoulder through the fringe. Adam puts on a good show, and is easily the best and most confident guy of the night. Simon calls it love-it-or-hate-it, which is code for, “you’re a homosexual, and this is America”. Randy compares him to Robert Pattinson, and Adam ingeniously takes the opportunity to say how much he likes the Twilight books, which is catnip to girls. It’s like telling middle America you love God. He’s going through based on that alone.

Besides Adam, I expect the other finalists going through this week to be Allison and Norman Gentle. Yes, after my wrongfooted pick of Tatiana last week, I’m doing it again with Norman.  If not Norman, then maybe Jesse. I’d expect to see Matt Giraud back in wildcard week.

Next week is Lil Rounds week. Some other people will also be singing. One of them is blind. Two of them are dreadful vain screeching mentally unstable theatricals. Surely that show can’t be boring?

Oh, Oscar!

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The world’s most glamorous dog and pony show has come and gone for another year. Hugh Jackman was the host for the 81st Academy Awards, and if he seemed like an odd choice given the show’s tendency to favour comics and professional talkers in the role, all fears quickly faded the moment he sang the word ‘excrement’ into Kate Winslet’s face. The jokes were a little pantomime, the songs were a little ropy, but one thing Jackman has in spades is charm. The opening number also gave us Anne Hathaway as Richard Nixon, and the blissfully barefaced cheek of the ‘I haven’t seen The Reader’ song, which was the most brilliantly stage-managed snub I’ve ever seen.

I’m getting ahead of myself, of course. I haven’t talked about the red carpet, where all the buzz was about Brad and Ange - he looking immaculate, she looking a little vampiric. Not only did they give short shrift to Ryan Seacrest on E, they also breezed quickly past the fawning official Oscar broadcast. Brad and Ange don’t stop for anyone unless they’re holding fresh orphan.


Beyoncé came dressed as a lacquer vase. Jessica Biel forgot to take the napkin out of her dress after dinner. Tilda Swinton wore a bizaare dress with a golden top half and a black bottom half. True fact - if you tipped her upside down she became Cate Blanchett.


Kate Winslet’s two-face dress aptly had me in two minds. I think I liked the steely retro Tamara de Lempicka-flavoured under-dress more than I liked the Spanish widow over-dress, but I think she carried it off well.

The stars of High School Musical and Hannah Montana were all there, of course. Good to see the Mario Lopezes and Elizabeth Berkleys of tomorrow out in force and getting their due recognition. I’m only sorry that there was no sign of Lizzie McGuire or the Jonas Brothers.

There were no real trainwreck speeches, but my favourite of the night was the heartfelt speech from Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose win seemed necessary in order to give him that platform to speak out about gay rights and gay acceptance. The white ribbon he wore on his lapel was a wedding knot, the symbol for the fight for gay marriage equality.

What we learned at the 81st Academy Awards:

  • Frank Langella is the real Richard Nixon, according to Hugh Jackman. (When Skeletor does it, that means that it is not illegal.)
  • The ceremony just isn’t long enough. In order to add vital minutes to the running time, the acting awards all need to have five presenters, made up of a carefully selected squad of past winners including at least one barely-remembered veteran, one legend, one lunatic, and one person you’re quite sure shouldn’t have won an Oscar in the first place. How nice it was to see Cuba Gooding Jr up on that stage again. (Traditionally one would make a joke about Marisa Tomei at this point, but since she got nominated again this year, I guess that’s no longer a joke.)
  • They only asked Cuba Gooding Jr up there so that they could have a black actor talk about Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder, and they only had Christopher Walken up there because talking about unknown nominee Michael Shannon is boring, but Walken is always entertaining.
  • Angelina Jolie smiled during Jennifer Aniston’s bit. STOP THE PRESSES! This is doubly shocking, as Jennifer Aniston’s bit was not funny. And why the hell is Jennifer Aniston at the Oscars? Couldn’t they afford to get the dog from Marley and Me?
  • Everyone loves a montage. The action montage! The romance montage! The comedy montage! The Oscars are turning into the MTV Movie Awards. Soon there’ll be an Academy Award for Best Kiss.
  • Seth Rogen likes to promote both DVD piracy and gay panic. Ha ha ha, gay panic never stops being funny. Good work there, Milk star James Franco.
  • Ben Stiller probably paid Joaquin Phoenix to act strange on Letterman so that he’d have something to do at the Oscars. (But it was still pretty funny.)
  • Rogen and Stiller are both a lot funnier than Jerry Lewis ever was. The Jerry Lewis montage powerfully demonstrated the limits of Lewis’ schtick, which was basially just one facial expression. (And yet Renee Zellweger has built her career on so much less.)
  • Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles singing Abba in a montage from the musicals will do more to recruit homosexuals than Harvey Milk ever could. 
  • Actually, that medley was kind of painful. If the rebirth of the musical means more exposure to the stars of High School Musical and Mamma Mia, I’ll just stick to my Rogers and Hammerstein DVDs, thank you very much.
  • When Peter Gabriel throws a snit about not being allowed to perform his nominated song in its entirety, the Oscar producers are forced to fall back on that old standby John Legend. Swapping out Gabriel for an act that kids have actually heard of must have had the producers kicking themselves.
  • It was a great night for Slumdog Millionaire, and the more awards the movie won, the wider director Danny Boyle’s giant toothy smile got, until he was forced to hold his teeth in to stop them from escaping. 
  • Paul Newman totally won the deathreel popularity contest. Sorry, Charlton Heston. (Getting Queen Latifah to sing along to it was a nice touch.)
  • Jack Nicholson is either unwell or missing, as there were no cuts to him all night. How can you have an Oscars without shots of Jack Nicholson wearing shades and grinning, every five minutes? Even if he was busy that night, couldn’t they have got a film crew to follow him around wherever he happened to be? Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning in the supermarket. Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning while he reads the sports pages. Here’s Jack wearing shades and grinning while he has a nap.
  • If they must have montages, I’d most like to see a montage of the best Academy Award Jack Nicholson cutaways from the past 81 years.
  • Sophia Loren is so terrifying that even the usually unsinkable Meryl Streep looked daunted while being addressed by her. Loren seemed to be getting ready to wrestle Streep for the title of world’s greatest actress. Then she would have torn Anne Hathaway in two with her teeth and sucked the youth right out of her.
  • Kate Winslet is now Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, and about bloody time. Judging from the reaction in the theatre, I’m not the only one who felt that way. After calling Angelina Jolie ‘the other one’ at the Golden Globes, she seemed to make a point of going over to Ange on her way to the stage. We’re all at peace with Angelina Jolie now.
  • Sean Penn deservedly won for Milk, but his acceptance speech probably wasn’t as good as the one Mickey Rourke would have given, despite the line about ‘Commie homo-loving sons-of-guns’, and the powerful message about how those who voted for Proposition 8 would make their future grandchildren ashamed. If Rourke had gone up there, there was always the chance that he might have melted under the lights, or vomited blood all over Amy Adams.
  • At one point the camera fixed on the weird dragalicious man-shambles that is Rourke, and over his right shoulder we could see tousle-haired vampire pretty-boy Robert Pattinson, and over Rourke’s left shoulder we could see sexy schoolmarm and comedy goddess Tina Fey, and in that shining glorious moment the zeitgeist of the last six months was tied up in a tidy package and wrapped with a dainty bow. And now we can all move on to the next thing, whatever that is.

Dollhouse: No Big Hunk Can Steal Her Away From Me

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Two episodes in to Dollhouse, and our hero Echo is once again having sex with men for money. Since she can’t give consent, this makes her TV’s most rapeable action heroine. Fox, if you want to use that in your promos, be my guest. I think it gets across the message you want to sell.


I’m beginning to worry that this show is Joss Whedon’s mid-life crisis. While it does seem plausible that rentable reprogrammable people would be used for sex, let’s bear in mind that Whedon invented this flaky, dubious concept. These rich men hiring hot girls for sex are doing so because that’s what the writers want them to do, and we may be only a few weeks away from an episode in which someone hires two girl dolls to dress up as nurses and wrestle in Jell-O ‘because the plot demanded it’. It’s worth remembering that most mercenaries do not moonlight as hookers. 

I think the show might be a game of chicken that got out of hand. Apparently the concept arose because Eliza Dushku told Joss Whedon over lunch that she was looking for roles that would stretch her as an actor, which tend to be few and far between for women in the business. Whedon came up with the Dollhouse concept to serve that need, but he hasn’t made it work. I suspect he would have scrapped it if it weren’t for Dushku, and that Dushku wouldn’t have done it if Whedon hadn’t written it for her. Whedon can’t write this; Duskhu can’t act it; but they’re both obligated to ride it out because of the other.

Dushku’s acting improves a little this week when she’s playing the girl-in-peril, which is a role that’s well within her range. The problem is that she can’t do the innocent naif part that’s the lynchpin of the character (for want of a better word). When attempting ‘child-like’ she can only manage ‘what’s that smell?’

The plot this week - a Most Dangerous Game ‘tribute’ - was a step-up on last week’s kidnap nonsense, though it did take a quarter of the episode to get to it, and improving on last week is not a challenge. Whedon didn’t write or direct this week’s but there were some Whedonesque lines that may have been him - especially from Xandrew - and they still don’t click. This just isn’t a witty show, and Xandrew is too weaselly to be charming. This week’s choicest dialogue clunker came from Dushku, though, who gave us, “You know what gives someone the right to live? Not hunting them!” That is so true.

What did we learn this week?

  • When dolls die, they die in dainty hide-the-genitalia poses.
  • Harry Lennix’s greatest skill is the ability to pull guns out of his arse.
  • The audience is very stupid and does not know what ‘tabula rasa’ means. We must have it explained to us. Possibly every week.
  • We’re going to have to put up with that “Did I fall asleep” thing every week, and possibly also the elevator scenes where Echo says, “Wait there; I really want to go back to that guy and snuzzle”.
  • The trust-imprinting process requires the recital of dialogue lifted from As The World Turns or General Hospital. I feel they cut that sequence short, as we didn’t get as far as, “You complete me”.
  • The set of the Dollhouse is actually Wolfram and Hart, but they’ve added a zen reflection pool and some beanbags.
  • Plot alert! The naked guy at the end of last week’s episode was Alfa the broken doll, who is obsessed with Echo/Caroline. This is potentially the show’s most interesting thread. This is potentially the show’s only interesting thread.

And now, a little spoileration. If you don’t want to know the results, look away now.

During the production phase of the show there were several actors cast as ‘dolls’, including two dolls named Victor and November. In recent pre-publicity it was revealed that those characters had been dropped from the show, but the actors had been retained and new roles were being written for them. Because, yes, that’s what happens in the caring, nurturing world of television. They just can’t stand to see an actor go without work.

No, unless you’re Ali Larter, this is blatantly not the case. I think Victor and November are still in the show, and still dolls, and they’re the ones Mrs Dr Evil is using to keep an eye on Agent Hotness. We met one of them last week - the Russian mob lackey - and the other this week - the smitten next-door-neighbour. 

And in case you hadn’t already twigged - Alfa, Echo, November, Sierra and Victor are all names taken from the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet. This has me very excited for the possibility of guest appearance by 80s British TV cop Juliet Bravo. It also has me wondering if there are dolls called Golf, Hotel, Kilo, Xray and Uniform. I’m most looking forward to meeting Romeo and Yankee (I’m picturing Rodrigo Santoro and Chris Evans), and wondering if they can get away with Zulu.

Idol: The First Cut is the Weakest

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

It’s the first ‘live’ show of the season, and Ryan Seacrest is wearing… a dun-brown sweater and slate-coloured jeans. That’s not TV clothing. That’s not even date night clothing. That’s cleaning-out-the-loft clothing. Are the gay rumours getting to him, so he’s decided to slob down? Ryan doesn’t seem into it tonight. He can’t get into the patter, he doesn’t flinch in the face of Paula’s ramblings, and he doesn’t respond to Simon’s taunting. Don’t you care any more, Seacrest? You are paid to care, you know.

The theme is ‘Hits from the Billboard Hot 100 since the charts began’, which is not a theme, it’s just ‘all commercial music ever’.


Jackie Tohn opens with a lounge version of Little Less Conversation, and it starts listless and quickly crumbles into crazy. The timing is off, the style is all over the place, and there’s no spark at all. For a contestant who was big on personality, she’s really not showing herself off well. Ryan then conducts the world’s emptiest interview with Jackie’s parents, and it’s clear we’re in for a long, long night. 

Ricky Braddy is next. He’s sort of cute in a Will Young way, and he has that Will Young vibe, if you follow my meaning. He even has Will Young’s stage mannerisms and similar vocal tics. He gave up serving chicken fingers to be here at American Idol. That’s an amazing story, Ricky. I can’t wait for the biopic. The song is Song For You, which I’ve never heard of, but it’s pleasant, and the performance is very smooth.

Alexis Grace is being played by Toni Collette. Alexis is all punky truckstop girl now, and it’s hard to remember how wholesome she was in the auditions. I actually had her confused with someone else at first, she’s changed so much. She’s singing I Never Loved A Man (nope, no idea), and I like it. It’s blues with a country twang, and I could happily listen to that over a cold Martini. The judges love her, so she could be a wildcard contender if she loses tonight.

The post-performance family interviews are really painfully awful, especially the way the singers have to squeeze in halfway through. Clunky and amateurish television, and Ryan just isn’t awake.


Brent Keith is lovely - a sweet, handsome Southern boy with a lovely smile. Unfortunately he’s a very stiff performer, and whatever the hell country song he’s singing, it does nothing to excite me. I swear, they’re pumping nitrous into that studio, because everyone is soporific, especially the audience, and it just isn’t a very good show. Kara points out that Brent had more soul in the auditions, and she’s absolutely right. Someone needs to be coaching these kids better, because if they pick the wrong song at this point, it’s the only song the audience will ever hear them sing. 

Saucer-faced Stevie Wright is doing a Taylor Swift number in an effort to sound young, having sung ‘At Last’ in the auditions. She is very young, and it shows; the girl is terrified, and her voice is fluttering like a butterfly. She’s trying really, really hard, and it’s sort of endearing, but it isn’t good. Even Paula can’t find nice things to say about it, though she is at least gentle. Simon isn’t. Stevie takes it with unusual grace considering the circumstances.

Time to start fast-forwarding through the trainwreck interviews. Anoop Desai is next, and Indian is the new black. Anoop looks like a software billionaire, and he sings a bit like I’d imagine one might - weedy, whiny and sharp. But at least I actually know his song, Angel of Mine. Which also means I know that he’s mangling it. Paula says she thinks Anoop will be here for a while, and then remembers that only three people are getting through and pulls a rictus grin to cover her doubts.

Casey Carlson has a good recording artist name and a bit of a Vanessa Hudgens look, and she’s singing Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, which, you know, is a proper song. All the signs are good. Then she starts singing, and it’s instantly and obviously a very bad song choice, and she does not have the chops to ride it. It’s beginning to look like bluesy Alexis is going to get a free pass into the next round, because none of these girls can touch her. Paula is torn between offering advice and having a small breakdown. This is weird, as Paula never normally offers coherent advice.


Roughneck Michael Sarver is next, and please God let him be decent. We need someone to get this series started. But, no. He’s singing I Don’t Wanna Be Et Cetera And So On, and it’s a trainwreck start, and although you can hear what his voice is capable of doing, he’s not doing it. Oh God, what happened to this show? I will say, though, that I think he’s adorable enough that he could still get through.

Ann Marie Boskovich is the girl who sang really well in auditions and then got sent away to put on some lipstick, come back and sing again, for really no reason at all. Tonight she’s doing Natural Woman, which is a very smart song choice. Hit the notes and you can sail through on a song like this. She hits most of the notes but, magically, she makes the song really, really dull. For the first time in my life I’m wondering if I have the strength to watch this show week after week. I need a drink.

Gin in one hand and Dairy Milk in the other, I’m now ready to venture onwards, safe in the knowledge that the horror of Tatiana Del Toro lies ahead. But first, soulful Stephen Fowler, who forgot his words in Hollywood and walked off stage. Remember when Simon said “forget the words and you’re out?” Yeah, apparently not. Stephen’s song is Rock With Me. A little bit of MJ is sure to lift the mood! (Unless there are children present.) But Stephen delivers a banal and pedestrian performance, and I’ve already finished my Dairy Milk. Damn it. 

Here comes Tatiana - and on a night as shitty as this one, the devil could actually come out on top. Some people are obviously enchanted by Tatiana’s psycho craziness and her inability to speak without either giggling or crying. She sings Saving All My Love For You like she’s a man pretending to be Cybill Shepherd, but rather tragically she is actually better than most of the other singers who performed tonight. Vote for the Worst will be disappointed; she is far from the worst. What’s really weird about Tatiana tonight is that she’s shifted her game plan now we’re on the live show; she’s turned off ‘character’ Tatiana and is trying to be sane and balanced, which just makes her seem even more schizo. The fact that she’s now in ‘normal’ drag - even her laugh has changed, and that is just damn sinister - may actually lose her some of the votes she was getting for being ‘crazy Tatiana’.

Finally, Downey Gokey. Will they mention the dead wife? Will she be propped up on the interview sofa? Let’s find out! And even as I type that, the dead wife gets a mention. Also, he’s singing Mariah’s Hero, because of ‘what he’s gone through’. So, he’s going to get the votes, and we don’t even need to hear him sing. But, for the record, he sings serviceably well. Raising the bar, there, Downey! 

Predictions: I think we’re stuck with Tatiana - the girls were mostly so awful that it’s made life easy for her, and a lot of viewers won’t have seen the audition shows. I think Downey is sailing through as well, because the judges overreacted massively to his performance. The third slot should either go to Alexis or Michael, and whichever of them doesn’t get it will be in the running for a wildcard slot. Ricky or Brent could be in with an outsider shot.

I won’t be blogging the results show tomorrow night, so come back next week for more of this tortuous hell.

Idol: The News Is Not Fabulous

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I didn’t get around to posting my Idol thoughts after last week’s episodes because last week’s episodes were far, far too boring. There was an hour of people sitting in rooms weeping, and two hours of the judges sitting in big red thrones in a hideous Hollywood approximation of Versailles, and that was basically it. They barely even sent anyone home! They did get rid of the elevators, though, thank God. (Elevators are like lifts, except they never go anywhere nice.) 

The only notable moments were Simon throwing a hissy fit when a pretty but talentless blonde got the boot; Kara telling the blind guy, “we want to see you again” (high five!); and doolally devilchild Tatiana screaming, “I’m going to prove it to every guy who told me that I had to sleep with him to get my album out; this is for all of you”. I think not, dear. Also, Paula tried to do Simon’s “the news is not good… it’s great” swerve, but came out with “the news is not great”, realised her mistake, and had nowhere left to go but, “it’s fabulous”.

Today we get to the first of the live shows, and there’s been a change in format. For the last few years the show has had 24 finalists, whittled down across 14 weeks. This year the contestants are voted in to the final 12 from a pool of 36, divided into three groups. Three go through each week, and the final three are picked by the judges in the ‘wild card’ week. 

What does all this mean? Well, it means singers have very little chance to impress. At least a third of the finalists will only get to sing once before being sent home. There is no cushion for the merely so-so, because avoiding the bottom two is not enough. Only the top boy, the top girl, and whoever comes second or third will survive. Exposure in the audition shows will be a big advantage.

Hopefully that doesn’t apply so much to the contestants who got exposure because they were hideous wrecks. I refer, of course, to hellish Tatiana Del Toro and whiny drama queen Nate Marshall, whose only redeeming quality is the face of horror he pulled when he saw that Tatiana had been put through. The new format should prove an interesting test for Vote for the Worst, which has already given its endorsement to Tatiana for tonight’s show. The only reason anyone would ever vote for Tatiana is because of Vote for the Worst - even her own mother surely does not love her, which would explain a great deal about Tatiana - yet if ever there were a ‘worst’ to vote for, she’s it. 

The new format makes predictions tough - we don’t even know how the second and third groups of 12 will be broken down - but I’m going to take a stab at it anyway. Based on nothing more than my personal hunches (with consideration given to talent, memorability and screentime), here’s who I think will make the final 12, and the order in which they’ll be voted out:

Matt Giraud (first out)
Jackie Tohn
Norman Gentle
Mishavonna Henson
Michael Sarver
Taylor Vaifanua
Jasmine Murray
Scott McIntyre
Stevie Wright
Adam Lambert
Danny Gokey
Lil Rounds (winner)

If I’m even close to right, I’ll look like a genius. If I’m completely wrong, we’ll never speak of this again.


Jackie Tohn is the ‘funny girl’ contestant, and while she’s an acceptable singer, she’s also extraordinarily annoying, and the sort of girl who hangs out with her brother’s friends and does not get on with other girls. Many voters are going to hate her.

Norman Gentle (aka Nick Mitchell, not to be confused with Nate Marshall), is the ‘funny guy’, who sings in comedy character mode. He’s a good singer, but not anywhere close to good enough, and he’s funnier than he ought to be, but also not funny enough. I’m putting him in to the top 12 as an outside bet, based on exposure alone - but I freely admit that it’s a slim chance. That he has got as far as the live shows at all is a surprise.

I’m hoping that Brent Keith will make the final 12, because he’s the best-looking guy left, but I don’t think it will happen, so that leaves oil rig lump Michael Sarver as the closest thing to man-candy with a plausible shot, and he’s really more ‘teddy bear adorable’ than ‘rock star hot’.

Scott McIntrye is the blind guy, and apparently that in itself is a sob story. He’s got a shaky voice, but I can see him doing well because, hey, he sure is a trooper!

Despite saying that theatrical contestants never do well, I’m putting Adam Lambert in my top three. Yes, even after he sang Cher in a shrill showtunes style last week. If he fixes his breathing and stops channelling Ethel Merman, he’ll be one of the better performers in the competition with a good chance of building momentum, and his theatricality will seem muted compared to the likes of Nate Marshall and Norman Gentle. He’ll be a wildcard pick, and go on to finish strong.

I’m already bored of smoky-voiced Downey Gokey - by the latest shows I actually thought his star was fading and his friend Jamar’s star was rising, but Jamar went home and Downey is still here. Like Eliot Yamin or Taylor Hicks, I predict he will develop an inexplicably strong fanbase that will carry him through to the final. Also, everyone loves Robert Downey Jr these days.

For a more scientific method; Based on the number of comments contestants are receiving under their photos on the American Idol website, the final 12 will actually be Adam, Alex, Anoop, Ariana, Danny, Jasmine, Kristen, Matt, Michael, Nate, Norman and Tatiana, but obviously there’s a lot of internet hating going on with some of those, and Adam only has so many comments because his photo is first. Worryingly, a lot of people actually seem to like Tatiana.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the person I think will win almost never does. Melinda Dolittle? Katherine McPhee? David Archuleta? No, no, no. That bodes ill for Lil Rounds. Usually the person I think will come fifth or sixth seems to win it, so put your bets on Jasmine Murray, kids!

Austen Powers

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single author in possession of a good following must be in want of a zeitgeist. Or something. Look, what I’m saying is, that bitch Jane Austen just will not die.

All of her completed works have been adapted at least twice - four of them in just  the last two years! She only wrote six of the damn things! Only Emma has enjoyed any period of dormancy of late, having not been touched since the mid ’90s, when it was adapted three times - as a movie, as a TV series, and as Clueless. Now even the unfinished novel Lady Susan is getting a BBC Four series.

And then there’s Pride & Prejudice. Adapted six times for television; three times for cinema; at least six times for stage, frequently as a musical. (I’m still haunted by the terrible lyrics to the title song of the dreadful Pardon My Prejudice, which my sister appeared in many years ago.  ”Pardon my prejudice, pardon my prejudice, if you can; I’ll pardon you, if you pardon me, you proud, proud man”.)


All of that is without counting Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Jane Austen Book Club, Bride and Prejudice, or the recent TV series Lost in Austen. And now things are getting really strange. Having seemingly exhausted Austen proper (at least for now), and having apparently also exhausted the modernisation angle, those seeking to further plunder the Austen franchise for gold are now looking to cross-breed the Hampshire hussy’s work with other concepts. 

Lost in Austen was an attempt to put a girly twist on Life on Mars (Life on Venus, if you will), with a modern day gal finding herself magically transported into the book. Such is the appeal of the concept that it’s being remade as a movie by Sam Mendes.

Then there’s this thing:


Two tired slices of zeitgeist wheezily leaning against each other for support as they stagger ever onwards. And now comes news that Elton John’s production company is making a movie called Pride and Predator - in which, yes, an alien crash lands in 19th century England and tears a bloody swathe through genteel country society. It is probably not a witty and well-observed study of social manners and mores.

Worryingly, even the new TV spot for this summer’s Wolverine movie shows Young Wolverine discovering his powers in a quaint period setting with puffy sleeves and waistcoats (taking a misguided cue from the dreadful Wolverine: Origins comic, which saw the rough and tough action hero starting out life as Little Lord Fauntleclaws). Admittedly it looks more Bronté than Austen, but the fact that I’m even using those words to describe a Wolverine trailer is a bad sign.

With any luck we’re now coming to the end of the Austen Translation period, and eventually the Godzilla of English literature will return to her dormant state. However, just in case there’s cash in the old girl yet, here are some ideas you might want to adopt and adapt for your own Bastard Austen project. 

Pirates & Prejudice: The Bennet household is all atwitter when Netherfield Park is boarded and raided by pirates and dashing Cap’n Jack Darcy comes raping and pillaging in Pemberley.

Sense & The City: The Dashwood girls come to modern New York and experience the pitfalls of internet dating, ‘bad boys’, and not knowing how soon is too soon to call. Alternative title: He’s Just Not That In Want Of A Wife.

Dark Persuasion: Anne Elliott’s former fiancé comes back into her life, only now he’s a sexy brooding vampire with pale skin and attractively messy hair. Yearning. achingly tender sexual awakening ensues.

Emma Mia: Just like regular Emma, but with the songs of Abba. 

Mansfield Planet: Fanny is a human raised in a family of aliens on a strange foreign planet. Can poor Fanny fit in and find love in a world where she knows she does not belong and everyone looks down on her as an inferior race? And is handsome and reprehensible Henry Crawford secretly a treacherous Cylon? (Yes.)

Harry Potter and the Abbey of Northanger: The money pretty much prints itself. As does the cease-and-desist order.

For the record, if you successfully adapt any of these ideas, I want half.

Dollhouse: Tear Your Playhouse Down

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

The first episode of Dollhouse, the new series from Buffy creator Joss Whedon, aired last night. Whedon is a messianic figure among nerds, and Dollhouse has been hotly anticipated by his acolytes - so much so, in fact, that campaigns to save the show from cancellation have been underway for months. 

Those fans may want to sharpen their pencils and dig out the addresses of the Fox executives. I suspect this show is not long for this world.

Dollhouse is a tough sell even before you’ve seen the first reel, as the concept is outright bizarre. Eliza Dushku stars as Echo, one of several personality-free operatives who can be imprinted with new identities and new skills and hired out to do, well, anything. If you have the money, you can hire a doll to do whatever job you want. So they could be mercenaries. But they could also be prostitutes. It’s the best little dollhouse, in Texas or anywhere.


There are two problems here. First of all, it’s creepy. It sounds like a show about sex dolls who fight crime. That’s not nice. Whedon calls himself a feminist, but he’s really more a fetishist, with his particular thing being strong-but-vulnerable babes. He grew up reading Chris Claremont’s X-Men comics, and Claremont’s damsel/dominatrix complex has imprinted itself on Whedon. Like a lot of nerds, I don’t think he treats women as equals, but as something exotic and ‘other’, and a show about controllable superwomen seems like suspect territory for him to head into. (There are male ‘dolls’ as well, in theory; I don’t know how much time the show will spend with them.)

The second problem is that the concept is not very compelling. There are many places you can take a premise like this, but there’s no clear and obvious conflict. A vampire slayer fights vampires. A space cowboy goes up against outlaws and the law. A supernatural detective solves supernatural crimes. There’s no audience hook to ‘kick-ass sex doll’ except Whedon himself.


There is conflict, of course. The Dollhouse is an illegal operation, and FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) is the Van Helsing looking to shut it down. There’s also an internal conflict for Echo, who used to be a troubled girl named Caroline, and is perhaps not entirely done with being Caroline.

This is all rather troubling as well, because most of the characters work for the Dollhouse, and the Dollhouse is essentially a slavery/prostitution racket - verging on child abuse given how innocent the dolls are in their dormant state. At one point Echo is even said to be getting her virginity back, which is just icky. If we’re meant to like the characters at the Dollhouse, the show has problems, and if we’re not meant to like the characters, the show has problems. If characters like Amy Acker’s Dr Saunders and Harry Lennix’s Boyd are meant to be sympathetic, it doesn’t work.


And then there’s the Dushku problem. I like Eliza Dushku, but she is not a versatile actress. This show will require her to play all kinds of different roles and personalities, and in just the first episode she already runs into trouble trying to convince. As a girlfriend-for-hire in the opening scenes, she scrapes by (but the girl cannot dance). As a bespectacled and besuited hostage negotiator, she comes across like a soft core porn secretary waiting for the wah-wah to kick in. 

I’m already more interested in the other ‘doll’ featured in the pilot, new girl Sierra, played by Australian actress Dichen Lachman, and that’s less because of anything she does and more because she looks extraordinary, and therefore interesting. 


Even in spite of all its flaws, Dollhouse might still have been watchable if it had borne the chief hallmark of Whedon’s writing - wit. Unfortunately, this is a very humourless show, and again that perhaps comes down to the dry, dark concept. There’s not much room for wit in a show like this. The character being dubbed ‘Xandrew’ gets the only jokes, and they’re not funny ones. This leaves Whedon writing dreadful lines like, ”You ever try to clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.” That’s neither good nor true! Add to this a run-of-the-mill child kidnap plot and there’s nothing here to get very excited about.

That said, I did like about the show was the sunken beds the dolls all slept in. I’d like a sunken bed; it looks like it could be cosy. They totally ripped those sleep-pods off from the Backstreet Boys video for Larger Than Life, though.


In the end, Dollhouse’s problems come back to the concept. It didn’t sound good on paper. It doesn’t feel good in execution. It’s too unpleasant, too convoluted, and it doesn’t make much sense. If you have enough money to hire a mercenary or a prostitute, why not just hire a mercenary or a prostitute? The character of Agent Ballard attempts to answer this question in the show, and the best he can come up with is, ”If you have everything, you want something else. Something more extreme. Something more specific. Something perfect”.

In other words, there is no answer. I was hoping to see how Whedon would make this concept work. He didn’t.

In A World Where Weevils Are Easily Recognised

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Torchwood is back soon. Hurray! I can’t account for why I’m so fond of Torchwood when its awfulness is a truth I hold to be self-evident. I find it actually embarrasses me to think that this is one of the more widely watched examples of British TV out there in the world today. I’m also baffed to discover that a lot of the people who watch it overseas think it’s brilliant, sophisticated drama. Everything on US TV is better than Torchwood! A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila is better than Torchwood!


Sorry Jack. Sorry Gwen. If it’s any consolation, I’d still rather watch Torchwood. In fact I wouldn’t want to miss an episode. Partly that’s because its awfulness is frequently compelling, partly that’s because watching it is like a creative puzzle where you try to work out how a writer, a director and team of actors might have handled the same premise, and partly that’s because I keep wanting it to get better, and I’d hate to not be there when it does.

For the new series, the show has been culled from 13 episodes down to just five, broadcasting a single story across five nights, because tearing off the sticking plaster is better than peeling it off slowly. The story is called Children of Earth (other names considered were ‘Common Songs of Garden Birds’ and ‘Plant Pots of the Outer Hebrides’, but those were deemed too exciting), and the trailer has now arrived on the intertubes. Let’s take a look, shall we?


The hook is, ”As far as we can tell, at 8.40 this morning, every single child in the world… stopped”, and already I’m buckling in for a breakneck thrill-ride. Children standing still, you say? They haven’t quite grasped the spirit of Stephen Moffat’s trick for turning playground fears into compelling stories, have they? Children standing still is not scary; children standing still is a successful episode of Supernanny.

Still, Torchwood do investigate, because they’re interfering shits. Also, there’s some sort of worry that ‘they’ have come back. Who could ‘they’ be? What terrible and dastardly alien threat could possibly have such a hypnotic effect on an entire generation of children? I have a theory, and let’s just say the new ‘klaatu barada nikto’ may be ‘eh-oh, Tinky Winky’.


Half way through the trailer things kick up a gear when a black-clad bitch assassin blows up Gwen Cooper - which is all I really ask for in a quality drama, to be honest - and we get exciting scenes of Ianto running, Jack wearing a coat, Gwen hilariously doing a John Woo leap out of the back of an ambulance with two guns, and a man in a suit saying ‘we’re in deep deep shit’. Adult. Edgy. Grr. Jack and Ianto enjoy a quick snog, which is immediately followed by the sound of a man screaming in horror. Not a slasher, I take it. Oh, and someone gets smacked in the face with a piece of plywood. You don’t see that sort of action in 24, you know.



Same Torchwood. Fewer episodes. Who says this show never gets any better?

Idol: Hooray for Hollywood Week

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

“I’m one of those kids that’s been through a lot, and it means something to me becase music has always been the anchor that keeps me from freaking out when something bad happens or when I didn’t have people around me to support me like other people. And I just want this more than anything. It’s on my skin, and it just bursts out of me whenever I’m on stage, and I don’t know why.”


Welcome to the world of Nate Marshall. Nate wears a headband, and sometimes a tie, and flip-flops, and sometimes a pair of cheap plastic seaside sunglasses that probably cost eighty bucks at Urban Outfitters, and he has acne piercings and haystack hair with a swoosh. Nate is an American Idol contestant, and Nate is what we like to call ‘theatrical’.

‘Theatrical’ is a word that Simon Cowell likes to use dismissively about many of the male contestants. On a show about standing on a stage and singing for public acclaim, we are told that it is bad to be theatrical. And the public sits up and listens. In last year’s final 12 boys there were four ‘theatricals’. Colton Berry got sent home in the first week; Jason Yeager in the second; Danny Noriega in the third; and David ‘gay go-go dancer’ Hernandez in the fourth. There is no room for theatrics on the stage of the Kodak Theatre! In Hollywood!

Still, in Nate Marshall’s case it’s probably fair to be concerned. He is theatrical, but it’s one of those free theatres you get in the food courts at amusement parks, where cheesy teens recite their parts by rote for the thirteenth time that day while you try to ignore them and plan out the best route to get to all the remaining rollercoasters after lunch. Unfortunately, Nick survived the first week of Hollywood week. (Hollywood week airs across two weeks; it’s confusing, but no more so than the fact that ‘group night’ always happens by day.)

The first hour of bootcamp this week was all about the singing line (one: stand in a line; two: sing), which gave everyone a chance to bellow like horny walruses. Even Lil Rounds, who is surely destined for the competition’s top three, managed to deliver ‘I Will Always Love You’ as more of a threat than a promise, but the judges just love her (”I just love you,” Paula said, probably), so they all pretended that this did not happen.

Also bellowing for all he was worth was Von Smith, who had to sing after two talented black guys with big voices and unwisely tried to match them. Von Smith is another theatrical. Von Smith is Shirley Bassey trapped in the body of boy scout and screaming to get out. Von Smith is a ‘YouTube star’, apparently, which is worrying new territory for this show. In spite of a performance that Simon calls “indulgent nonsense”, Von Smith gets through, so apparently singing terribly is no bar to success in this competition.

Other theatricals take to the stage. Adam Lambert, of the dreadful assymetrical hair, stupid boots and wonderful theatrical voice, sails on through. Norman Gentle has a bumpier ride. Norman is the comedy character who somehow survived longer than any comedian has ever managed before in the face of Simon’s withering scorn, possibly because he’s both a decent singer and genuinely quite funny. He sings that one bellicose Dreamgirls song, which I think is called, “And I Am Yelling At You, I’m Not Singing”. To everyone’s surprise, Norman survives, to be sent home another day.


Also surviving the first day in Hollywood against all odds is Hey Everyone Come Look At The Tiny Triangle Of Cloth Covering My Pubic Mound Girl, who has been more widely dubbed ‘Bikini Girl’ (above; bikini not pictured). Simon does not find Norman Gentle funny, but he finds his own schtick where he keeps putting the slutty skanky girl through even though she can’t sing absolutely hi-la-rious. Keep the laffs coming, Simon, you wit.

Some people who are neither theatrical nor quirky also get through, but who cares about those people? Actually, I do care a little about oil rig worker (and adorable giant teddy bear) Jeremy Michael Sarver, who was ‘Jeremy’ when he first appeared on the show but is slowly transitioning to ‘Michael’ and is currently in that awkward ‘two first names’ stage. (This is not the first time a contestant has done this, but I might be the only person who has noticed this strange phenomenon, which I think is called ‘we can’t market someone called Jeremy; what’s your middle name?’). Jeremy Michael has a lovely voice and absolutely no idea what to do with it, but I’m hoping they can fix that.

And so we head into the second hour of Hollywood Week; ‘group night’. Group night is when all the contestants form into groups (ah, you see?) and try to put together a group performance of a song, thus testing their ability to create a showpiece and work well with others - skills that have absolutely nothing to do with this competition! They might as well have juggling night, or a Ready Steady Cook round.

No, the reason there’s a group night is not because it’s useful to the competition; it’s because it creates a tentpole of interpersonal drama in the middle of Hollywood week, between the first solo round and the second solo round. Group night has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with finding out who’s a bitch.


Tatiana (above) is a bitch. Tatiana is a world class bitch. And she has no idea she’s a bitch; she thinks she’s the nicest person in the world, trampling through life with her satanic empty giggle and her disregard for the feelings - and possibly the existence - of others.

When Tatiana says, “This is everything to me. You don’t understand. This is not a game to me. This means everything to me. I’ve been to hell and back to be here”, she either honestly believes that she’s the only person who feels this way; or else she just thinks that if she says it loudly enough it can only possibly be true for her. Tatiana is certifiably bugfuck. When one girl says how tired they all are in the group, Tatiana replies, “Don’t say that about me. Ever. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever.” All with a broad, nutty, I-will-kill-you grin on her face.

Despite the fact that Tatiana is both an awful person and an awful singer, she survives the week, as does the rest of her group, who come out the other side of the process looking like they have known war and seen death and understand the true horror of man’s inhumanity to man.

Yet such is the effect of Tatiana that the tremors of her tantrums manage to reach out and destroy the chances of Nancy Wilson, who is in a completely different group! (Of course, Nancy Wilson already had a career with Heart and is now in her 50s, so she shouldn’t even be… oh, different Nancy Wilson. The jazz singer Nancy Wilson? No, it’s not her either. Reverend Nancy Wilson of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches? I need to spend less time on Wikipedia.) 

Nancy Wilson will return to the spotlight one day, as I think she’ll hunt down and kill the dumb blond girl she was singing with. Meanwhile, the machinations of Tatiana will surely claim more victims before the week is through. On getting through the day, she proudly proclaims, “You all make this a part of me. You’re all a part of me.” Psycho.

Bikini Girl also tries her best to destroy the hopes and dreams of the people around her, in her case by going to bed while the rest of the group is still rehearsing - she needs her trampy sleep, poor thing - and then by claiming she’s too ill to get up for more rehearsals the next day. But she’s magically well enough to slip on a slutty little nothing and shimmy on down when it’s showtime!

Thankfully the scheme doesn’t work, and Bikini Girl gets sent home, despite claiming that she only went to bed because she has scoliosis. (”You wanted to go to bed early because you were in high heels all day”, says Simon brilliantly.) Unfortunately her rejection does not seem to matter in the least to Bikini Girl. She did not come here to sing; she came here for exposure. She’ll probably never sing again. You can see from the steely glint in her eyes as she sashays off the stage that she’s already moving on to phase two.


One of the strangest things about group night is that apparently every group needs a name for their once-in-a-lifetime performance, so Nancy Wilson and Nate Marshall are part of ‘Team Compromise’ (nothing says ‘reach for your dream’ like the word ‘compromise’; was ‘Team Give Up And Go Home’ already taken?), Bikini Girl is part of Team Diva, and Danny Gokey (above), the Robert Downey Jr lookalike I choose to think of as Downey Gokey, is in Rainbow Coalition. What? Are they named after the former ruling coalition of Kenya? The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition in Israel?  The ruling coalitions of Finland from 1995 to 2003? (Back on Wikipedia again; sorry.)

Incidentally, Downey Gokey has a great voice (and a dead wife; don’t forget the dead wife), but it’s such a soulful and - may I say - black voice that I keep expecting him to come out with, “I know what dude I am. I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude”.

On which note, the worst name of all the groups may be White Chocolate, but they were the first group to perform, and their inspired arrangement of ‘I Want You Back’, complete with beatboxing and rap, was so completely brilliant that it probably made everyone else in the theatre vomit their hearts out into the aisles. 

Among those who lost their cool were a couple of surprises. Rose the Hippie hated Bikini Girl so much that it made her forget her lines. David Osmond of the Utah Clan Osmond is sent home despite the fact that he’s a motherfucking Osmond, and even the chipper little ‘yay spirit team’ kid, who is president of every club in his school, did not get through. Not that he seems at all bothered. Gee willickers, tomorrow is another day! 

And thus ends the second hour of Hollywood Week. The week continues next week, with the second solo rounds, and a full hour of people standing in a lift. TV does not get more compelling than this.