TV Recap

They Didn't Kill Kenny!

On ''On the Lot,'' the viewers' votes on the contestants' one-minute comedies result in a surprise survivor and a surprise front-runner

GAS WHO'S LEAVING Claudia's movie fell flatulent
GAS WHO'S LEAVING Claudia's movie fell flatulent

''On the Lot'': The people's choices

Last night's On the Lot made me realize that I haven't watched enough summer TV in my life. Because my reaction to last night's results show was ''This? This gets a whole hour of prime time on the Fox summer schedule? Man, there must really be nothing on this time of year!'' The whole long, cooped-up affair made me wish I was outside in the cool, blue May evening, rustling up a neighborhood stickball game, rope-swinging into a crick somewhere, or at least getting smashed at a bar with outdoor seating.

It was a bad sign going in that you couldn't even hear Adrianna, our host, deliver her opening because the hollering studio audience drowned out her audio. It was another bad sign when she said they were going to take a whole hour to boot off just three people.

As it happened, the sound was quickly fixed, so that we didn't miss a single moment of recapping. There was so much recapping last night that you half expected a quiz at the end. And thanks to shameless commercial breaks, there was even plenty of recapping of the recapping.

So let's get to the recapping. Long story short: The three who got the boot last night were Carolina, the sweet-faced Mary McDonnell look-alike who made the actually kind of okay movie about the woman giving birth; Claudia, the bad-news Italian blonde who made the farting date movie that I too deemed one of last night's three worst; and Phil, the Brit who said last night he had pursued filmmaking instead of crime and came up with a comedy about a 911 call that was better than his sad showing suggests. By way of consolation, guest judge D.J. Caruso offered this to Phil: ''Please don't turn to crime.''

In the meantime, the show announced the three top vote getters too. One of these was a given: America's beloved Zach was a winner for his wacky-lab tracking-shot comedy, and Carrie Fisher revealed that even if he doesn't go on to win the whole show, he can still marry her daughter if he's into it. (According to Wikipedia and IMDB, Carrie Fisher's daughter is 14 years old.) The other winners I wouldn't necessarily have guessed. Will, who made the cute ''Lucky Penny,'' and Adam, who made the superior ''Danceman,'' were competing head-to-head in the same heat, and Will won, possibly because — I'm just sayin' — he had the better life story. I mean, who wants to pretend that this whole thing isn't also a personality contest? Will's made it more than clear that if he doesn't ace the show, he's gotta go back to raising his two kids and give up his Hollywood dream. Meanwhile, the other guy, Adam, walked out on his first day at Harvard Law to go be a filmmaker, the idiot.

The third victor — much to my surprise, even though I voted for him — was Jason, the Kentucky drawler who offended Carrie Fisher, his competitor Phil, and special-needs people everywhere with his short, ''Getta Rhoom.'' Because his movie was the funniest of the bunch, no matter what the hell his main character was, I'm glad America got behind it, even though Jason continued to act so clueless in defense of his own work that I kept wondering again last night if his success was primarily accidental. Say this for him: Right now there's no director whose next movie I'm more eager to see. (Not counting, you know, actual working directors who make real feature-length movies.)

But if the show carries on despite its low ratings, do you think we're gonna have to sit through an hour-long results show every week? I used to watch American Idol back in 2002, so I know that cornball torture is a staple of the form, but when Phil faced off against nice Brooklyn Jessica in the last elimination, I imagined the whole auditorium, right down to the three unseen judges shrinking in their cush seats, stung by the shame of how cheesy and pointless the whole drawn-out thing was playing. ''Jess, I'm sorry,'' said Adrianna, as Jessica steeled herself inside. ''You're going to have to say goodbye to Phil — because he's leaving the lot! You are safe!'' Poor Jessica got the reprieve, but she looked so hollowed out over the next couple of minutes, even into the glimpse of her we got as the credits rolled, that you had to wonder if the show, right then, forever broke off something good and decent in her. Forget Phil and his life of crime: I think last night the streets of Brooklyn just got a smidge less safe, assuming that scarred Jessica ever returns home from this experience.

Anyway, what did you make of it all? If so few people are watching, then so few people are voting, and did Phil lose simply because he didn't have enough British friends in the States to vote for him? Are you surprised Kenny survived the first cut? And since (in a clunky moment that punished all of us for the invention of the DVR) Adrianna asked, I'll ask too: Do you wanna find out how Ford can help you get to that stage?

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Originally posted May 30, 2007
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