Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fox TV Round-up

Fox, Monday night.

If Prison Break never aired another episode, I’d be completely happy with that.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike the series. In fact, I liked this past season the best. Each season has had its distinguishing characteristics, from the first’s planned escape, to the second’s fugitive treasure hunt, but the third season, dropping Michael and company in the no holds barred, perpetually sweaty Panama, truly tested each enduring character’s real mettle. Watching Lincoln strong arm his way through his brother’s master plan was an exciting exercise in the timeless brains over brawn dilemma, and beholding Bellick’s and Mahone’s “badge syndrome” disintegrate into pure bestial self-preservation was a justified delight two years in the making. Of course, Wentworth’s Scoffield remains the world around which these tough guys orbit, and his emotional stability in the face of frustration and death is admirable -- the most unbelievable element in a world of aligning coincidence and conspiracies. This Panama prison brought out his best and worst, and sans tattooed pre-planning, put his intelligence and integrity to the utmost test. He passed.

So, the season finale, and we have Michael pursuing the conspiracy that framed his brother and killed his beloved. Though many questions are still unanswered, again, I’d be satisfied with this as a resolution, if only to affirm that Scoffield is the kind of guy that always needs a cause. If he, Lincoln, LJ, and Sara rode off into the sunset, I don’t think he’d be happy for long. Come on, this is the guy that tattooed a cryptic blueprint on the better part of his body and help up a bank at gunpoint to save his brother. Can anyone walk away from such a righteous, complicated project and not suffer some post-traumatic stress? Further, Lincoln, LJ, and Sofia look like a nice happy family now, and though Sucrae is back in jail, he wasn’t exactly innocent in the first place. That T-Bag has become the self-proclaimed king of said prison, well, talk about a pig in . . . you know.

If Prison Break fails to pull anything off successfully, it’s increasing tourism for Panama. Based on this season, Panama is one half naïve tourist trap, one half corrupted justice system. I’d hate to short change the guy from whom I’m buying that snow globe -- I’d end up holding T-Bag’s pocket.

Fox, Tuesday night.

American Idol. Last night’s offering of male performers was the worst selection of “top 12” candidates I’ve seen since this show began. First of all, ranging in age from 17 to 29, all of them struck me as incredibly metrosexual, if not blatantly gay. I don’t have a problem with that, but when Simon insists that the purpose of the series is to find a contemporary pop star, he must realize that a homosexual singer couldn’t appeal to widespread mainstream audience. Remember what happened to Clay Aiken when just the rumor of homosexuality clouded his career? He certainly wasn’t invisible, or invincible, or whatever his hit song was . . . and he’s proven the critics wrong by becoming a Broadway star.

Further, is assigning the first night’s performances a ‘60s theme the best way to find a contemporary singer? I’m sick of Simon criticizing singers as “too karaoke” to make it big. Yes, Simon, your whole show is the very definition of karaoke -- vocalists performing to pre-recorded songs performed by a canned studio band. The inclusion of a few guitar players doesn’t elevate Idol to real Hollywood audition status. When it comes to music, I idolize artists that are capable of capturing their emotions via originally written material. By the time Idol gets to its top five contestants, the kids should have to write their own stuff. I guarantee you’ll end up with at least one better than “Since U Been Gone.” At least they’ll take the time to spell the whole word.

I do often agree with Simon’s other critiques, particularly his oft eye rolls toward Paula Abdul. Last night, she praised a singer for his many colors. Listen, Pocahontas, you’re making me wonder if there’s more than Coke in that big red cup of yours, if you’re “seeing” the music. Randy was on Letterman last night praising your new song -- Why don’t you try to become a real idol before judging others’ capabilities? When you sang “Opposites Attract,” were you talking about you and, uhm, talent?

The contestants are obviously over the judges anyway. They got everything they needed from America’s favorite pop culture trinity -- it’s up to us, the voting public, now. Good thing we’re already in a voting mood, what with Obama and McCain whetting our appetite for grander schemes. Now, there’s a couple of men’s men.

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