TV Recap

Week 1: First Weak Auditions

Is it Scooter Girl all the way? Well, at least we know it won't be most of those deluded contestants, says Nicholas Fonseca -- not that we don't like watching them, mind you

Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, ... | JUDGE DREAD Simon, Paula, and Randy listen to all the contestants
JUDGE DREAD Simon, Paula, and Randy listen to all the contestants

Is it Scooter Girl all the way?

Welcome to the first official Wednesday morning-after of this, the third season of Fox's ''American Idol.'' Doesn't it seem like, well, just yesterday that we were madly wasting time using the office email system to write our friends about the prior night's show? (I just had a painful memory of Carmen Rasmussen's goat-like bleat. Not good.)

Since the execs over at Fox realize that their prime-time schedule needs as much help as it can possibly get, they've gone and stretched out this season's premiere over three hours and three nights this week, pretty much ensuring that I, along with about 30 million other Americans, effectively have no life until Thursday morning. No matter -- it's too damn cold to be outside, anyhow.

I digress, though. Let's get down to business -- namely, ripping on the people who actually dared to bare their mediocrity to Simon, Randy, Paula, and the viewing audience. Simon said something interesting last night: ''You might call this season 'American Idol 3: The Deluded.''' You can say that again… and again and again, buddy! Didn't the last two nights just prove the paucity of real talent on the East Coast these days?!

''Idol'' producers must have realized this rather quickly, because they're happily exploiting a valuable lesson learned early in their run: Viewers absolutely LOVE watching those treacly, godawful auditions. The entire process has become something of an institution for this show. (Considering that Fox cynically rehashed old episodes of ''Ally McBeal'' into half-hour ''comedies'' a few years back, it's a wonder that they haven't just turned ''American Idol: The Auditions'' into a separate series of its own.)

In any case, I'm having a hard time actually pinpointing the best worst singers from New York City and Atlanta, and maybe that's because so many of them didn't even deserve a moment in the spotlight to begin with. I mean, do people like Jacqueline Roman (a.k.a. Scat Girl and, among my friends, She Who Must Not Remain Braless) and Kristen Powell (you go with your 80-pound-losing self, girlfriend, but do NOT wear spandex shorts again) actually believe that they're worthy of a competition that's brought us, for better or worse, the crisp, powerful pipes of Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken? Is their fantasy land that forgiving?

As for the talented tryouts? Well, Fox only let us see a few of them, so I haven't much to go on, people. I'm already annoyed by supersmiley Michael Keown and supermuscley Alan, the nicely coiffed mama's boys who used a touchy-feely flirtation with Paula Abdul as their ticket to Hollywood. Eww. First of all, boys, the overly emotive crap creeps me out -- it's why I was always proudly anti-Clay. But more than that, it isn't as if Simon and Randy -- who's getting a lot gruffer, thank God -- don't see right through such lame, sycophantic acts.

The girls, bless 'em, provided more color. As a devoted Trenyce fan , I can't wait to see what Bethany, Laquita, and Fantasia have up their sleeves. And I have to give a shoutout to Amy Adams, who not only resembles the love child of first season faves Nikki and Kelly, but also hails from Bakersfield, Calif., just a mere 60-mile drive from my hometown. Central Valley 4-Ever!!

Finally, of course, there's my unequivocal favorite thus far: Scooter Girl. I can't remember her name and the TiVo's at home, so let's just move on to why I think she rocks! Here's somebody who, on first glance, had all the makings of an annoying buffoon. She rode into the auditions on her scooter, struck bizarre poses in the waiting room, breathlessly blabbered on about her vocal chops, and looked too much like Melissa Joan Hart for me to take her seriously.

I expected a quick boot into the hotel hallway, but when she crooned to the judges, there was a glimmer of hope. Simon wisely told her that she has what so many other wannabes don't, and that's a sense of humor. He's absolutely right -- and on more than one count. Because for serious ''Idol'' acolytes like you and me, it's an essential tool that must be used -- quite a hell of a lot -- in order to get through these trying, trite, and, yes, absolutely addictive first-week episodes.

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Originally posted Jan 21, 2004
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