“American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe was all a-twitter on Thursday (March 24) morning teasing that tonight’s telecast would feature something shocking (SHOCKING!!!!).
Fortunately, even Thursday’s “Idol” results aren’t even the least bit shocking, I’ve still got a pair of Sweet 16 NCAA hoops games to watch if things get boring.
Click through for a full summary of all of the shocking (and possibly less-than-shocking) “American Idol” and Sweet 16 happenings…
7:59 p.m. ET. If you’re curious, I’m beginning my basketball viewing with UConn-San Diego State. Due to poor timing, though, both games are likely to be at halftime for much of the “Idol” broadcast. Boo.
8:00 p.m. Have you forgotten what Motown was since “American Idol” dedicated a full five minutes to last night’s explanatory clip package? Apparently “Idol” captivated a nation last night… But nobody is safe… And one dream ends tonight… “Expect the unexpected…” That’s just what Nigel said!
8:02 p.m. Steven Tyler doesn’t appear to be wearing a cape tonight. I’m vaguely disappointed. Is that what Nigel meant when he said that tonight’s show would be shocking?
8:03 p.m. Over 30 million votes were cast… “But the outcome of that result may shock you,” Seacrest warns up. We’ve got Sugarland coming tonight, plus a performance by Jennifer Hudson, who will remind us once again that early “American Idol” dismissal is a sure path to Oscar glory, unless you happen to be Kevin Covais.
8:03 p.m. Last week, Jennifer Lopez’s husband came in to give a lecture on the intricacies of performing live and using in-ears and avoiding the dreaded “pitchy” critique. Apparently this is why we had that weird moment last night where Ryan Seacrest praised Randy for not using the word “pitchy.” Mr. Jennifer Lopez also got to sit backstage watching the judges.
8:07 p.m. Does anybody else figure Lopez thought her husband was getting lonely sitting in the crowd and asked the producers to give him a little on-air exposure?
8:07 p.m. Group-Sing time! Jacob Lusk begins the group lip-synch to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” For the second straight week, the Finalists sound bad enough that I’m suspecting they may be singing live.
8:09 p.m. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Stevie Wonder…” Nice! The look of genuine happiness on Steven Tyler’s face is worth the price of admission. The Top 11 stand next to Stevie’s piano and occasionally lend a pointless background vocal. This has to be recorded, the background vocals, at least. There’s no way they’d risk letting the “Idol” singers ruin Stevie’s appearance.
8:12 p.m. Awwww. Stevie sings “Happy Birthday” to Steven Tyler, exactly the way he sang “Happy Birthday” to Charles Barkley on NBA All-Star Weekend. “I’m speechless,” Steven Tyler says.
8:17 p.m. Seacrest keeps teasing those “surprising results.”
8:17 p.m. “All this Beauty” is the song behind this week’s Green-themed Ford commercial. They may need to keep Thia Megia around just because she’s a Ford commercial star.
8:18 p.m. Bottom Three time! Lauren Alaina, Pia Toscano and Scotty McCreery are called to the center of the stage first. Smart money says this ought to be a “You’re all safe” group, but maybe this is the start of our shocker? It’s not. They’re all safe and *somebody* says a bad word that has to be bleeped. It seemed to be Lauren Alaina.
8:20 p.m. Three empty stools? Try fiber, Seacrest.
8:23 p.m. Basketball is back, but if San Diego State doesn’t step it up, I might have no choice but to concentrate on “Idol.” Ugh. Bad timing. It’s Sugarland and “Stuck Like Glue.”
8:26 p.m. Green leggings have no place on “American Idol.” [This song is not *un*catchy.]
8:28 p.m. Oh gracious. James Durbin loves pro wrestling. He doesn’t believe it’s fake. I don’t know why we need a whole featurette on this. Apparently James and Paul McDonald have bonded over wrestling. OK. They like to beat each other up in the “Idol” mansion. That means lots of hitting each other with cookie sheets.
8:30 p.m. James and Paul are now called to the center of the stage. Are they going to be evaluated, or are they going to wrestle? Darn. They’re going to be evaluated. “Tonight is unbelievable. The national has spoken and both of you guys are not safe tonight. I mean, you’re really not safe tonight…” Enter Hulk Hogan. WOW. James falls to his knees and genuflects. The Hulkster isn’t just there to be worshipped. No, he’s got a script! “I’ve got some really really good news and some really really bad news. The good news is both of you guys are safe. And both of these guys are going on tour. The bad news is… You, Mr. Ryan Seacrest, you’re not safe!” And The Hulkster sends Seacrest flying into the audience. I wish this were like the scene in “Rocky III” where Rocky thinks The Hulkster is messing around, but he totally isn’t.
8:32 p.m. How do you top that? That was just fantastically bizarre. It was so awe-inspiring that I paid no attention at all to the equally fun SDSU comeback.
8:34 p.m. I think every episode should have a celebrity elimination component from now on. Because if they don’t, I’m gonna be one disappointed recapper.
8:35 p.m. Meanwhile, we don’t have anybody sitting on the Stools of Shame.
8:37 p.m. Seacrest tosses James Durbin Hulk Hogan’s rended garment.
8:37 p.m. Back to business. Jacob Lusk, Thia and Stefano Langone . Jacob is, naturally, safe. Thia is in the Bottom Three. But does that mean Stefano’s safe? Nope. He’s also in the Bottom Three. That’s pretty unsurprising.
8:39 p.m. Down come Naima Adedapo, Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart. I predicted Haley to go home this week, as did most of the other pundits I follow. If she’s in the Bottom Three it is, in fact, exactly the Bottom Three I predicted. That would be the opposite of “shocking.” In any case, Naima is safe and going on tour.
8:41 p.m. The final member of the Bottom Three is… CASEY. And, indeed, we’re shocked. Haley “Scarnato” Reinhart lives to flash her legs another week.
8:43 p.m. So that’s Casey, Thia and Stefano in your Bottom Three. Obviously the judges wouldn’t hesitate to use the Save on Casey. I doubt they’d use it on either of the others. And by “doubt,” I mean “they’d be nuts to use it.”
8:46 p.m. Two NASCAR people are in the house.
8:47 p.m. “She’s our only ‘Idol’ winner with an Oscar,” Ryan confusingly and incorrectly says of Jennifer Hudson. He just got mixed up in his syntax, but it was still awkward.
8:48 p.m. Really Kemba Walker? Are you an embarrassing lightweight or are you gunning for an Oscar yourself?
8:50 p.m. Jennifer Hudson is really talented, but why is this song so high and yelp-y? Jacob Lusk is mighty impressed.
8:51 p.m. Oh. George Huff is backing Jennifer Hudson up. This is both very nice of her and very sad for him. Well, I guess it’s not sad. He’s working.
8:51 p.m. Seacrest has to send somebody back to safety and it… Thia! It’s down to Casey and Stefano. Like I’ve already said, Saving Casey is a no-brainer. But assuming it’s Stefano voted out, this would be the second straight week that I’m betting J-Lo will lobby for the Save and she’ll get voted down.
8:55 p.m. The person with the lowest number of votes is… CASEY. I can’t hear what’s being whispered now by Stefano, but everybody is pretty clearly stunned.
8:56 p.m. Casey goes with “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” He starts well, but he’s barely sung for 20 seconds when the judges interrupt him. He’s confused. “We know who you are,” Randy says. Steven Tyler gets to deliver the good news. Casey is saved.
8:57 p.m. “Oh my f***ing God,” Casey says. Given his health problems, his reaction is genuinely scary touching and marvelously profane. The crowd is chanting for him. His fellow singers are all bawling.
8:59 p.m. “There’s 11 people, so the fact that they… It’s unreal. I started singing and the fact that you cut it, scared the stuff out of me,” Casey says, still obviously weak and unsteady on his feet. On one hand, we’re all, “Yay, Casey!” On two other hands, we’re all “Don’t die, Casey!!!”
8:59 p.m. “There’s a nice big wave of hard-earned good fortune for you,” Steven tells Casey. J-Lo tells him to drop the antics and just let people feel his soul. “You don’t need to growl anymore,” Randy tells him.
9:00 p.m. Ryan has bad news and good news: The bad news: Two people go home next week [Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Thia and Haley.]. The good news? All 11 of them get to go on tour.
9:02 p.m. Hulk Hogan! Green Stretch Pants! Casey getting the Save? That, kids, is how you put together an hour of good TV. I mock the heck out of “American Idol.” It’s my job. But that was an absurd amount of fun.
Great show, right? And why does America hate Casey? Will this turn the Nation around?