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Highlights, lowlights from ‘Idol’ finale

Thumbs-up to ‘Pickler and Puck,’ thumbs-down to Meat Loaf
/ Source: contributor

As usual, the "American Idol" producers decided to allow two-plus hours for a show in which the sole objective — — took exactly two seconds to complete. That time had to be filled, since despite the show's best efforts, it couldn't all be advertising and product placement sketches.

Some of that airtime was well-spent, including some interesting guest performers, while some of the time would have been better filled by watching the judges snipe at each other for the nine millionth week in a row.

Some of the highlights and lowlights:

Highlight: Carrie Underwood opening the show singing the first few lines of “I Made it Through the Rain,” then being joined by finalists Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee. It illustrated the passing of the torch nicely. Between that and the decision to make the final Hicks-McPhee duet “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” the producers did a decent job of highlighting both the challenges and charms of competing on the show. Lowlight: The montage highlighting the judges. Yeah, we get it: Randy says the same few catchphrases every week, Paula’s either crying or hitting people, and Simon has an ego. Stop the presses. Besides, did anyone really need to see Simon feeling himself up so soon after the dinner hour?

Highlight: Chris Daughtry performing with Live. Of all the “Idol” finalist-musical guest pairings, this is the one that is most likely to be repeated somewhere down the line. The next time they’ll be on the same stage together will probably be at a rock festival somewhere next year. Interestingly. Simon said earlier in the competition that Daughtry needed to make some changes, because a band like Creed would never appear on a show like this. The fact that Live proved that theory wrong demonstrates that groups will do an awful lot to reach an audience, even if it means being in the same room with Paula Abdul. Lowlight: Meat Loaf. He wouldn’t have made it out of “Idol’s” Hollywood round with the performance he gave on Wednesday. Plus, the pairing with Katharine McPhee singing “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” was just plain wrong on every level. He looked and sounded like a dirty old man singing to the pretty young girl with whom he has no shot.

Highlight: The "Pickler and [chef Wolfgang] Puck" featurette was an interesting concept, though it wasn’t worth two segments. Though it went on a little long, it was nice to see Kellie Pickler able to laugh at herself as she attempted to avoid eating exotic food. But if she can’t bring herself to eat a snail or even sit at the same table with a live lobster, “Fear Factor” probably isn’t in her future. Lowlight: Pickler’s hair. Who told her a bob was a good idea?

Lowlight: The “Golden Idols” bits, in which Ryan Seacrest handed out Academy Award-like statuettes, mostly to singers who weren't good enough to make it to Hollywood. Seriously, viewers really needed to see the failed auditioners again? The talent bookers couldn’t have found a few more musical stars to fill that 20 minutes of airtime? Is Nick Lachey that busy?Highlight: Auditioner Crazy Dave Hoover actually got to throw himself around the stage during the finale. Nice to see fame hasn’t calmed him down any. The folks from Jolt Cola will be calling any minute now. But it would probably be better for everyone if the Prozac people got to him first.  

Highlight: The group montage featuring the six male finalists — or really, the five eliminated finalists accompanied by Taylor Hicks on the harmonica. Very entertaining, especially since five of the six looked like naturals together. Lowlight: It’s not his fault, but Kevin Covais seemed very out of place with the rest of the men. Surrounded by contestants a decade older than he was, he looked like somebody’s kid brother who wandered onstage and was given a microphone.

Highlight: Nice job by the booking agents — Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Prince, Live — it’s as if the musical establishment has figured out that “Idol” is sticking around, so it’s better to jump onto the bandwagon with both feet. Lowlight: Uh, Mary J. Blige, the FCC is on the phone. Something about your outfit. And Malibu Barbie wants her sunglasses back.

Highlight: Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken making an appearance. See that, Kelly Clarkson! Some people aren’t afraid to remind people where they came from.Lowlight: Is that how Clay Aiken dresses now that he’s a big star? He resembled a college freshman coming back to impress the high school girls at homecoming. And do they not have hair stylists in North Carolina? He looked like a giant Swiffer.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.