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Thursday notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 22, 2014

Reality show finales week ...

The "Survivor" finale last night proved more riveting than I expected. I've not been thrilled with this season, mainly because I hated Tony, and his winning could not be considered a surprise. But getting to that win certainly was, as the show more than once invited favorable comparisons to the early, glory days of "Survivor." Trish's tribal council speech to Tony was the most emotional one I can remember since the first season's "snake and the rat" monologue. And Woo's decision to take Tony to the jury was on a par with Colby's second-season taking of Tina, which cost Colby the win just the way Woo's cost him.  Thoroughly exciting, and a strong end to a season that kept me watching closely -- although, again, as much as I admired his gamesmanship, I really hated Tony.

Caleb, meanwhile, won "American Idol." To the degree that I cared about who won, I was more in Jena Irene's camp. But she and Caleb both were part of a group of singers that in many other seasons would not have made it this far. They were good but they weren't Kelly Clarkson good, or Candice Glover good.

This is all the more disappointing because in production terms, "Idol" was much improved over recent years. The Harry/Jennifer/Keith judging trio did a nice job, and kept the drama off themselves. The pacing was better. The songs were far more contemporary. But the ratings were down -- and that comes back to the quality of the singers, who were not compelling enough to make viewers want to hear them; and any drama around who was voted off was diminished because, well, it didn't really matter much.

My thoughts about the "Dancing With the Stars" finale are in the video chat with Lynne Sherwin in a post below.

This week's mailbag is here.

For those of you who remember reading Mad magazine through your youth, Jim Romenesko got a peek at an upcoming parody of the Huffington Post. You can see it here.

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