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"Idol," Welcome Back, "Veronica Mars"

By admin Published: January 24, 2007

Last night a little after 9, I turned on "American Idol" and it wasn't very good. There was this guy from Texas, and he didn't really sing. He talked instead. His audition went on forever, it seemed, even though the judges weren't all that excited by what he did.

All right, I'm kidding. In fact, we should probably give some thanks to the president for having the State of the Union address last night, since it made "Idol" just one hour instead of two.

An odd hour at that. Fewer really bad singers, and some decent ones who did not get through, starting with Frank Byers Jr. of Arkansas. He got bashed for being over the top, but I don't entirely see the distinction between his performance ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine") and that by Sundance Head, 27, of Porter, Texas, whose rendition of "Stormy Monday" was good but also flamboyant, and got him sent to Hollywood. A lot depends, as we've seen before, on the story you bring with the voice.

I should digress here to say that the news that Sundance's father was Roy Head had me half-singing "Treat Her Right" this morning, when I watched my recording of "Idol." Biiiiiig radio song in my youth.

Anyway, even there were only four Hollywood-worthy singers showcased during the hour -- out of 23 or more chosen -- I had the feeling that either the overall quality of singers in Memphis was pretty good (certainly better than the two previous cities), or that the hour was edited to make it seem less excruciating than Seattle and Minneapolis. When the judges start shrugging off people as "nothing special," then there's enough good stuff that they can be picky; I think some of those "nothing special" singers would have gotten through in the Seattle/Twin Cities auditions.

And who has already gotten TV time and a ticket to Hollywood? Besides Sundance, Danielle McCulloch, 18, of Collierville, Tenn., whose torchy ways seemed to affect Simon on a non-singing level; Sean "Castro" Michel, 27, of Bryant, Ark., who already has me curious about what sort of makeover "Idol" will inflict on him; charmingly low-key Melinda Doolittle, 28, of (Some Place I Scribbled And Can't Read), Tenn., and new dad Phil Stacy, 28, of Jacksonville, Fla.

I watched "Veronica Mars" late last night and was not knocked out. Some good stuff, although I have gotten really tired of Logan's moping.

The ongoing attempts to push a self-contained story to the forefront didn't work for me last night. The resolution of the animal-lab tale felt rushed, especially in the context of a show that used to take its time establishing characters and mysteries. I understand the reason for it -- to give the occasional viewer something to be satisfied with, instead of demanding loyalty for week after week -- but it just doesn't feel like "Veronica Mars."

In an earlier post, I mentioned that "Studio 60" annoyed me with a two-parter because I didn't think it had enough to sustain a two-part tale. With "Veronica," I'm always ready for two and three and four and 18 parts, so one isn't enough. Yes, I know there's the ongoing murder mystery as well. I still feel as if "Veronica" is out of sync.

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