May 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM ET
Opinion: Anyone hoping for an extended “American Idol” tribute to Randy Jackson on Thursday’s finale had to wait an awfully long time for a minimal payoff.
The man’s been a judge on the show for 12 years. He’s brought catchphrases such as “In it to win it!” into our national database of clichés. He’s dealt with cranky personalities and divas, and sat through every single terrible group performance during Hollywood weeks. Plus he wears loud clothing for every episode without complaints. Surely the least he deserved was a show-stopping send-off!
And he gave "Idol" every chance to make that happen. Like a man hinting that he wants his own surprise party, Randy announced his retirement from the show last week, giving producers ample time to throw something together.
“Idol” could have sent off their lone remaining original judge in style, much like the Simon Cowell appreciation tour that occurred when the acerbic judge departed after season nine. Plus, Mariah Carey was right there already. How hard would it have been to get a giant cake for her to burst out of?
Instead, it wasn’t until almost 90 minutes into a two-hour show that Ryan Seacrest walked behind the judges’ podium to say, “Tonight is the end of an era. This evening we say thank you very much and goodbye to Randy Jackson.”
“The new age begins,” Mariah said helpfully.
The lights dropped. The tape rolled. And what did viewers get?
First, a brief bit involving dogs discussing the news in a board room. Get it? Because Randy calls everyone “dawg”! Hilarious! But it's great to see that dogs can gather indoors for something other than a poker game.
Then a taped interview saw Randy note, “If ‘Idol’ were around and was an opportunity for me growing up, I would have auditioned and won it five times.” It illustrated that after a dozen years, he still doesn’t have a firm grasp on the rules of the competition, or his own singing voice. (Randy, buddy, you’re a bass guitarist, not a front man.)
The wayback machine took the audience to Kelly Clarkson’s audition, and to footage of Randy, Simon and Paula Abdul when they were all much more natural looking and didn’t seem to be a creation of wardrobe and makeup. Long-term viewers sighed and remembered the good old days when the concept was fresh.
“Not in a trillion, billion years would this man ever make it to Hollywood,” Simon said.
(How great would it have been had that been followed by Randy saying, "Not in a trillion billion years can you make a different reality singing competition successful without me being a party of it as well?")
Also, did the show really have to use Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” as the musical accompaniment? For years, that was the song that “Idol” losers heard upon their departure each week. If nothing else, didn’t Randy at least rate someone performing it live?
All too soon -- less than three minutes after it began -- the clip show ended, and the pink-jacketed Randy was taking his final bows.
“By the way, Randy, I think I speak on behalf on a lot of people in America and our producers when I say the door is always open, my brother,” Ryan said. And the show moved on.
That’s it? That’s all the man gets after a dozen years?
Hope Ryan is taking notice. He’ll clearly have to plan his own wrap party when the time comes.
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