Feb. 8, 2012 at 10:24 PM ET
The first Hollywood night of “American Idol” season 11 ended with a cliffhanger worthy of a soap opera as 16-year-old Symone Black fell off the stage while answering the judges’ post-performance questions. The credits rolled as the medic was called for and the rest of the audience looked appropriately shocked.
It’s probably safe to assume that if she were seriously hurt, "Idol" would have handled it in a more sensitive manner. At least, I hope so. But we’ll find out tomorrow.
Of course, if you DVR’d the show, you missed it, since "Idol" ran a couple of minutes long. But if you’re a longtime fan, you should know by now that the show never ends on time, so you have to either watch it live or program your DVR to record a few extra minutes. (Don’t ask me how to do the latter – I’m a writer, not a tech guy.)
It’s mean to end the show like this, but “Idol” is cruel at this stage of the game. The producers seem to take pleasure at tugging at the heartstrings only to break those hearts with the ending of these puppy-love relationships a preview of the harsher eliminations that will follow.
On Wednesday, Travis Orlando was the victim. He's the guy who was in Hollywood for the second year in a row. His mom left the family for another man, and he's had to live on the street. He seemed confident nevertheless. “Season 11 is my year,” he said.
Nope. He became the first of the high-profile people to go.
“I have to go back to nothing ... to nothing at all,” he said. And then the camera cut off. Once you’re eliminated, “Idol” doesn’t care.
The other big name to exit was Jane Carrey, which was predictable as soon as she said, “My expectations of this week are that I am going to stay here.” Uh, nope. But unlike Travis, it’s not like Jim Carrey’s daughter is in danger of living on the streets anytime soon.
You can also say goodbye to Ramiro Garcia, the inspirational story of the Houston auditions. And to Jason "Wolf" Hamlin, whose distinctive facial hair made him memorable and also frightened small children.
“You either go big or go home. Today, I’m going home,” Hamlin said.
For the most part, however, it was good news for people we’re all rooting for.
I mean, how can anyone cheer against Heejun Han? He’s the least confident singer ever, a guy who said, “I get here and everyone’s so, so pretty. Even the guys. I don’t know what they eat – they’re so good looking.” If Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh” were on “Idol,” he’d act like Heejun. And the judges let him stick around.
Adam Brock was another good story. When he Skyped his wife to tell her he had done well, she held up their infant daughter and had her do a little fist pump. Who’s not cheering for that guy now?
Reed Grimm continued his quest to be this season’s Casey Abrams, singing “I Got a Golden Ticket” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” This is the same guy who sang the theme to “Family Matters” in his original auditions. He’s got a fun personality, but at some point the judges are going to ask him to sing an actual song and not just an extended musical joke.
Favorites such as Johnny Keyser, Phillip Phillips, David Leathers Jr., Shannon Magrane, Baylie Brown and Hallie Day all advanced easily. Jessica Phillips brought her husband, who’s still recovering from a stroke, to watch her continue on. And Creighton Fraker became one of the few contestants ever to take on a Freddie Mercury vocal and live to tell the tale when he nailed “Somebody to Love.”
But the main story was Black’s fall, and her uncertain future in the competition. You’ll have to tune in Thursday for the conclusion to that story. Set those DVRs!
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