Notes after the jump ...
Coming off Tuesday's heart-tugging in Philadelphia, Dallas was a letdown. It sure opened with a big story, recovering meth user Jessica Brown; she started Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" very well, then hit some rough patches that might have eliminated her some days. But with the meth story, and considering the ho-hum quality of a lot of Dallas, she would have had to be really bad not to go to Hollywood.
I was surprised the show didn't do more with Antoria Gillon, who had a baby right after her audition, but they may not have had a lot of footage. According to the Fox press site, she went into labor before her first, Texas Stadium audition and had contractions during the audition itself, but the show doesn't record much during those performances -- since there are thousands and thousands of them. ("Idol" continues to present stadium footage and narration as if everyone gets a shot in front of Simon/Paula/Randy, when the there are a couple of rounds of auditions before the judges weigh in.)
So we get to the end, and the way-overage (44) Renaldo Lapuz. The outfit was bizarre, of course, and gave "Idol" something to promote relentlessly. But the song wasn't as nutso as the outfit; I could see "We're Brothers Forever" getting recorded in some sappy, adult-contemporary way and, as Simon said, becoming a hit. So the whole business was less about the contestant than Randy and Paula going giddy about it. This year, the judges aren't just being nicer to the contestants, they're apparently having more fun with each other.
Besides the opening and ending segments, though, the show was kind of a snore. Lots of middle ground, and someone like car-crash survivor Kayla Hatfield had an OK story but wasn't that good a singer; her Hollywood card was obviously based on personality. "I just like you," Randy said, while Paula -- who has been pretty lucid in the two shows so far -- was more the voice of musical reason. And the sweaty guy was disturbing, but not as much as the stalker-song fella from Philadelphia.