American Idol

Another 2-hour 'American Idol' finale? Thanks, but no thanks

May 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM ET

Chris Pizzello / AP /
"Idol" brought back its finalists for a performance during the season 10 finale, and no doubt it will do the same for Wednesday's two-hour show.

The “American Idol” finale is appointment television for me this year. As in, I will make an appointment to watch anything else on television OTHER than the “Idol” finale.

To be clear, I have not turned my back on the series entirely. I’ve stayed loyal, through the awkward Kara DioGuardi phase, and even the Year of Degeneres, cringing at Ellen’s jokes and wishing it all would end. As for this season, my stance doesn’t even stem from a dislike of the remaining contestants. Actually, I’m quietly pulling for Phil Phillips to win. (For some reason, I find the fact that he can barely sing to be oddly endearing.)

So why am I skipping the finale? Truth is, it leaves me feeling a little cheap and used. Packing 30 seconds of “news” into the last minute of a two-hour broadcast? Please. It is not humanly possible to pull this off in a compelling way, and I feel like an idiot for sitting through guest performances and season highlights to find out who wins when the name of the champ will appear on Twitter within second of the announcement anyway.

It’s no secret that “Idol” has some issues. Most of my TV critic friends have abandoned it entirely, and the network execs aren’t shy about admitting that the show needs some work.

Fox president Kevin Reilly said during a recent conference call that the “Idol” is going to undergo “some creative tweaking,” and that “the challenge for next year is to put some fresh energy in” to the show. Reilly admits “we probably didn’t do enough this year in terms of changes.”

While the show itself needs some work, I think it’s really the finale that needs a considerable amount of change.

First call to action: Cut the show down to one hour. I know, I know, this move would be an advertising/revenue nightmare for the show, and the chances of it happening are about as good as me showing up as a contestant next season. But my goodness, a shorter finale would go a long way toward solving the problem. Newsday "Idol" watcher and pop music writer Glenn Gamboa is among those who can see a happier “Idol” future with a one-hour finale.

“I actually like ‘Idol’ elimination shows during the year. There’s still a lot of bloat there, but it builds up. You kind of get the rhythm, and you have to watch to the end,” he said. But the ultimate elimination show? The finale? “There’s not enough news to merit two hours of your time. I think that maybe an hour is the better way of handling it. We want to re-live the contestants’ journey, see how they’ve grown, but we don’t need to see Hall and Oates and other unrelated acts in the process. We care about the contestants.”

There is an opposing viewpoint to this, one that supports the dusting off of Hall and Oates and other acts that seem to have nothing to do with show.  USA Today’s 'Idol' Chatter blogger Brian Mansfield sums it up pretty succinctly as he suggests that “ 'American Idol' results shows are like award shows — it’s not really about the awards, or, in this case, the results —  it’s about performances. The finale’s a massive variety-show extravaganza masquerading as a coronation.”

If we are saddled with the two-hour long coronation, then I propose this: Have the finale when it’s down to four contestants. It would allow more fans to have a horse in the race, and theoretically, fewer people would stop watching because their favorite was no longer in it. And maybe, as an added bonus, the end result would have an element of surprise.

I expect a lot of changes to the show next year, and I also realistically expect them to have nothing to do with the finale. But a girl can dream, right?

What are your thoughts? Have you kept up with the show this season, and are you a fan of the two-hour finale? Take it on over to Facebook and share your thoughts.


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