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''Idol'' Report Card, Late-Night Viewing

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2006

The chat with folks at the Beacon Journal on Wednesday was great fun. Let's do it again. But it was close to 10 p.m. before I got home, and viewing was backed up. The bride and I watched ''Lost,'' and I expect to have more to say about it later today. Then I dipped into ''The Sopranos.'' For now, let's just say that there are big things coming, so big that after watching the season opener, I was fast-forwarding through the next three episodes to be clear about what was happening.

Since I usually put some sleep on my agenda, I saved ''Idol'' for this morning -- performances watched, personality stories skipped, judges mostly skipped. And this is all I can say:

Aren't the guys collectively remarkable?

Nine out of 10 performances were at least competent, with the horrible David Radford the exception. Eight of 10 were good to great. When I saw the show lined up Taylor Hicks, Elliott Yamin and Ace Young early in the telecast, I had to wonder if ''Idol'' wanted to get the good stuff out of the way before it competed with ''Lost.'' Instead, the show was deep enough that it still had plenty for the rest. Well, except Radford. Since I keep a running report card during the show, in short order I felt like a figure-skating judge who has planned to save the big scores for the stars later in the competition, only to be forced to raise the scores early. And then where do you go?

Well, with Chris Daughtry, who closed the show, I threw up my hands and gave him an A. Is this guy tearing it up or what? And he did so at the end of a program where some people I expected to be really good (Hicks, Ace Young) proved just OK by comparison, while people like Gedeon McKenney and Will Makar stepped up big time.

Anyway, here's the card: Daughtry gets that A. McKenney, B plus. Yamin, B. Makar, B minus. C pluses for Hicks, Young, Kevin Covais and Bucky Covington. C for Jose ''Sway'' Penala. Radford gets a D, and considering what the other guys were doing, I should probably curve him down to an F. I have no idea what the voters will do, especially since Radford was lousy a week ago and still survived the vote. But the mid-level women have to be very worried about what will happen if they make it to final 12 and have to compete with six of the guys; if they were all in a combined vote this week instead of the gender split, I wouldn't have been surprised to see three or four women gone.

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