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''Idol," ''Lost'': Morning After (Updated From Earlier)

By RD Heldenfels Published: May 11, 2006

Well, here's the theme for next week's ''American Idol,'' from Fox: ''Each contestant will sing three songs – one selected by famed producer Clive Davis, one by the IDOL judges and one of his or her own choosing.'' The announcement, by the way, did not include vote totals for this week's show, usually a sign that the vote was lower than anticipated.

Had a lot of conversations at work today about ''Idol'' and, to a lesser degree, ''Lost.'' I still don't have a definite explanation for Chris's abrupt departure, and I'd like one myself. With him gone, I'm looking at the remaining three and thinking, ''OK, someone will win. So be it. I don't have a dog in this fight. Could we cut immediately to the final results?'' Having once entertained the fantasy of a Mandisa-Chris final, I lost some of my excitement about the show when Mandisa was booted, and the rest with Chris's departure. I'll keep watching, of course, but now it will mainly be because this is my job -- and I'll greet any conclusion with a shrug.

Still, why did Chris go? Theories, theories: He wasn't that good Tuesday, at a point where every performance can make a difference. He had alienated his hard-rock constituency when he tried to show his mellow side, and his move back to rock a week ago wasn't continued this week. He was a one-trick pony (a complaint I heard about him from a lot of people as the show went along) and, even if the trick was good, people got tired of it. People figured he was a lock and didn't vote for him. (As I've said, it looks as if the vote totals this week were lower than expected.) He was scary (a point Daniel Fienberg has made often and humorously). He didn't have a strong personality niche when everyone else remaining did. Taylor has settled in as the Golden Oldie (and has in the process grabbed a lot of older viewers, I'd guess), Elliott is the official Lovable Underdog and Katharine is the Hot Chick. Yes, Chris was the Rock Guy, but that's a music niche, and at this point personality rules.

Not sure I buy into all of those, or into the idea that the show wanted him gone because he was too narrow a singer to sell lots of CDs, he was too independent, whatever. I think that as much as ''Idol'' can manipulate aspects of the show, it comes down to voters who make up their own minds. And those minds were not on Chris this week.

As for ''Lost,'' there's a piece worth looking at on where, among other things, the show promises that even though Libby is dead, we haven't seen the last of her. She will appear in flashbacks next season, to explain some of the mysteries involving her place in the ''Lost'' world.

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