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''Idol'' Finale (With Winner, Podcast)

By RD Heldenfels Published: May 24, 2006

Here's the link to tonight's podcast, an especially giddy one, perhaps because we knew that ''Idol'' was done:

And here are my notes from watching the finale:

No Buster Douglas moment for Katharine McPhee tonight. Taylor Hicks wins, apparently in a runaway, since they haven't mentioned the voting percentages.

As expected. And since we pretty well knew that was coming, we had to sit through two hours of filler -- but sometimes pretty good filler.

Also some awful things. Lame Kellie Pickler skits with Wolfgang Puck, where she encountered escargot and live lobster. Medleys that reminded you why, say, Melissa was eliminated early -- and while Kellie should have gone home a lot sooner than she did. Could have gone a long time without seeing Kevin Covais, again, too, but he and Melissa got their last big moments on the show, since they're not going to be on the tour. And, by the end of the show, both Taylor's and Katharine's voices sounded pretty shot on ''I've Had the Time of My Life.''

Dionne Warwick, for that matter, was struggling by the end of her performance; those Bacharach-David songs are tough even for great singers, and she's not as great as she used to be. Singing with Katharine, Meat Loaf was closer to caricature than he should have been. And didn't I hear ''I Made It Through the Rain'' sung twice? Are they still paying off Barry Manilow? [Update: I did hear it twice but I shouldn't have. My HD feed of the show went out for a couple of minutes at the beginning of the first hour. When it came back, it was showing the ''I Made It Through the Rain'' opening again before cutting back to the live show. I don't know if this was unique to HD viewers in NE Ohio or not. Thanks to Alan Sepinwall for noting the error.]

Amazing, though, how eagerly people will show up on TV even if the reason is mockery. Crazy Dave Hoover's being there I can understand since he's, well, crazy. But Clay Aiken wannabe Michael Sandecki obviously didn't get the joke; then again, he got to meet Clay in the second-best moment of the evening.

Sandecki, a terrible auditioner who tried to exploit a deliberate resemblance to old Clay, was invited to sing -- then was interrupted by Aiken's arrival. Sandecki didn't seem to mind at all. He labored to duet with Aiken, and then, when he was offered a seat, continued to have a look of sheer joy. Aiken, meanwhile, has moved way past his ''Idol'' look -- long hair, nice suit. Still has that big voice.

Best moment, though: Prince. And I especially liked the way he used the show as promotional tool and got out, not even pausing to acknowledge Ryan as he departed before the applause could fade. (Reminded me in a way of Jim Carrey's appearance on the ''Larry Sanders Show'' finale.)

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