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Test Pattern: Never a doubt on ‘Idol’

Hicks may not be stereotypical Idol, but he sure is American

Never a doubt on ‘American Idol’

Here’s a list of “nevers” about Taylor Hicks. He was never in the “Idol” bottom two. Never in danger of leaving the show. Never stopped smiling, never seemed to have a bad day, never took criticism personally. Never expected to be the “American Idol,” yet in recent weeks, never was seriously challenged for the title.

The gray hair helped, sure. It set him apart, made him recognizable, whether you liked it or not. Sure, Katharine McPhee has a marquee-idol beauty that many women would kill for. But ask a non-Idol watcher if they know any of this year’s contestants and they’re almost sure to say “that gray-haired guy.” Still, hair color has helped “Idols” stand out before – remember redheaded finalist John Stevens? Hicks needed more than a to win it all.

Hicks was never expected to make it precisely because he didn’t fit the mold of what a presumed “Idol” looks like. Caustic judge Simon Cowell passed over him in the audition phase. It was obvious what Cowell was thinking: Did the very young pop-music-buying American generation really want to idolize a gray-haired Michael McDonald-esque singer who danced as if he was hopping through a hot beach parking lot? Had it been solely up to Cowell, McPhee might have been the Idol — after all, she was young, traditionally beautiful, polite and softspoken, with a voice that soared.

But for all the criticism that can be thrown at “American Idol,” there’s one charming saving grace: Cowell doesn’t get to pick the winner. He doesn’t get to shepherd a predictable robot through all the performance rounds, ending up with another bland boy-bander or Britney wannabe. The voters get to decide. And although the “Idol” voters are stereotyped as teeny-boppers raised on bubblegum pop, they’re still American teenyboppers, and there is nothing more American than marching to the beat of one’s own drummer.

Hicks did that, every day, from the morning he woke up to find his hair going gray early and refused the Grecian Formula, to the day someone surely criticized his dance style and he laughed it off and kept on kicking. Say what you want about him, when obstacles were put in his way, he nimbly jumped off the predictable path and made his own way. He may not be the stereotypical Idol, but there’s nothing more American.

Scene and be seen

Your comments on are so interesting that I'm turning the column over to them today. We've got a new name suggestion for the "deja rerun" effect, ideas for other TV concepts, episodes and scenes we either swear we saw or completely missed, and your thoughts on "The Simpsons" and Kentucky.

Note: The "Simpsons and Kentucky" issue is dealt with in numerous places on the Web. The SNPP points out that nothing in the "Behind the Laughter" episode of "The Simpsons," which is where the "favorite northern Kentucky family" reference came from, is meant to be taken seriously. Some point out that other episodes contradict this (doesn't Springfield have an ocean, for one thing?) and others really delve deeply into semantics. If you want to dive into the humorous debate, find the "Where is Springfield?" heading and read on.

As one fan points out on the site: "There is no state that fits all of the various characteristics which have been exhibited over the years.  The Simpsons live in Springfield, U.S.A., an amalgam of our entire nation. Like many of the recent jokes (including several in this episode alone) one of the main purposes was to rile up the show's rabid fans.  Guess what?  It worked."

Says another: "Saying they live in Kentucky is like saying that the entire family is inside out because of a Halloween episode."

Yet another points out that for a rerun, "northern Kentucky" was changed to "southern Missouri," all the better to keep the viewers buzzing.

NEW NAME“Deja rerun? C'mon, how 'bout "deja tube"?”    --S

INVENTING EVENTS“Many of the things mentioned on here are easily explained away as "edited for TV" or "Extended Versions" such as Superman 2 (which actually had a couple of new scenes added when put on TV). Others are usually people "introducing" elements into the movie created by their own mind. Many of us swore there was a specific scene in the beginning of ‘Star Wars,’ but turns out it was in a picture book about the movie released around the same time. Our brains combined the two and created a "missing scene" that never (even in the newly edited versions) exists.”    --Sean[Gael says: And with TV, often a pilot is shot with a different cast or a different plan for the show, and so that episode will never quite fit with the rest of the episodes.]

MOVIE BLANK-OUTS“I don't have a name for this but I have seen the movie ‘Animal House’ several times and yet the only thing I can remember about that movie in any detail is the parade at the end. Even though I know it’s a very funny movie it just refuses to stay in my head. Caddyshack in another one. I can barely remember a thing about it yet some people can tell in great detail what the gags are.”    --Chip

MOVIES THAT DON’T FIT“Since we are having so much fun talking about "one of these things is not like the others"..... What about this: Why is it that there is usually one "red-headed stepchild" in the major horror movie franchises? Examples: 1) Friday the 13th: Part V - Kept true to the lore of "Jason Vorhees," but the killer was in fact an ambulance driver. 2) Halloween III: Season of the Witch - Had absolutely NOTHING to do with "Michael Myers." The killer was a corporation who sold costume masks that liquefied childrens' heads when worn while watching a commercial (infused with subliminal messages) for that company, "Silver Shamrock." 3) A Nightmare On Elm Street Part II: Freddy's Revenge - Other than the characters finding Nancy's diary and that "Freddy" was in it, there was little else linking this sequel to the rest of the franchise. I know there must be more of these anomalies; perhaps others readers have noticed?”    --Jenny

M*A*S*H“Ok, Did anyone see the M*A*S*H episode in which Col. Blake divorces his first wife and remarries? :-) Seriously, the first few times that Henry mentions his wife, he calls her Mildred. It isn't until later episodes that her name is changed to Lorraine which is what it is in his final episode. Just a coincidence, I'm sure, that Col. Potter's wife's name is Mildred. This past year was the first time I noticed those few early episodes that had Henry's wife's name as Mildred. I can't remember which ones they were either...sorry. But, M*A*S*H fans, watch for them. They are there.”    --Lorina

WHEN IT’S TIME TO CHANGE“I've seen the Brady Bunch Kaplutis episode a couple of times on reruns. The one I've NEVER seen, but everyone seems to talk about, is the one where Peter's voice changes and they record the song for it.”    --Anonymous

SIXTEEN CANDLES: SAME SCENE, TWO VIEWS“I have seen the movie Sixteen Candles a million times, and regularly qoute it as do all my friends. I have the movie on DVD. About 2 years ago, I happened to catch it on cable television, and was floored to find a whole scene I have never seen before! Molly Ringwald and her friend are in the lunch room, moving down the chow line talking, when they get to the end of the line with loaded food trays, looking for a place to sit down, Molly Ringwald flips out and says 'Jake Ryan can't know that I eat' and she throws her tray of food into a garbage can. I told all my friends about this, but nobody believes that this scene exists!”    --Sara

“I had a reverse-Kaplutis experience with Sixteen Candles. I swore that the cafeteria scene shown on television was not part of the original film, but no one believed me. I had to dust off my VCR and bring out my Sixteen Candles tape to prove that the cafeteria scene was not there.”    --Amy

WEST WING“I am positive there was one episode of West Wing where John Amos was killed off. Next season [I guess] he is back - alive and kicking. Have not seen a rerun of that first episode but I know he was a goner.”    --Fern

DIRTY DANCING
“I remember when 'Dirty Dancing' first came out at the theatre that Dr. Houseman realizes that Patrick Swayze's character didn't get Penny pregnant and is generally a good guy and when he stops him and Baby as they are leaving the final show, he gives him the check that he was originally going to give Robbie (before he found out Robbie got Penny pregnant) so that he wouldn't have to join the Plumbers' and Pipefitters' Union. I've never seen it since even on Deleted Scenes or Extended Versions.”    --Christina

BOB NEWHART“I could swear that in the very first episode of the BOB NEWHART show, Dr and Mrs Hartley had a young daughter. True or am I hallucinating?”    --Mike

SIMPSONS AND KENTUCKY“Just wanted to comment on 'The Simpsons' remark by "Autumn." I too have seen the episode where Lisa reveals her home state, and I have never seen the episode since. People regarded me as a semi-avid fan of Simpsons only because I made the remark that it was revealed in one episode and no one else believed me.”    --Steven

“Regarding Autumn's comment on the Simpsons: I saw it too! I was watching with 3 other people, and I remember us all looking at each other and saying, "Kentucky?" I haven't seen that episode since.”    --Kelly

“To Autumn: "The Simpsons" did in fact reveal they live in Northern Kentucky. I was shocked and excited to hear this, being from Northern Kentucky. At first my friends and I were in total disbelief. We assumed they added various state's names in different parts of the country. But, I soon learned after reading one of the many Simpson's episode guides, it clearly states that the Simpsons are, in fact, from Northern Kentucky. Amazing. Now I have something to brag about!”    --Amanda

Déjà rerun, the episode you can't escape

We've been discussing the concept of , my name for the episode of a classic show that you somehow always missed seeing. Readers have been quick to point out that there are a number of variations on this theme. One of my favorites: Say you hardly ever watch a certain show, but the few times that it does flicker across your screen — yep, you got it, it's always, always showing the same episode.

I'm not a giant "Gilligan's Island" fan, but I feel like I've seen the one where they sing Shakespeare (to the tune of "The Toreador Song" -- "neither a borrower nor a lender be") about eight million times. Ditto the "Family Ties" episode where Elyse goes into labor during a telethon. And the "Cosby Show" where Danny Kaye is a dentist (he was for that episode, apparently). And the "Because it's Hillman" "Cosby" episode. And the "Beverly Hills, 90210" episode where Brenda and Donna go to France and eat brains. And the episode of "CHiPs" where the surfers and the Valley kids wage war. And the "Scooby-Doo" episode where they take off the monster's mask and it turns out to be some random guy they met briefly at the beginning of the show. Oh, wait. That's every single episode, isn't it?

This concept now has a name, courtesy of reader Michelle, just one of many who wrote in about the idea. She says "My sister and I invented a term called the “déjà rerun.” This is the incredible TV phenomenon which has happened to all of us. You have a show, one you really like, but can only tune into now and then. ... But every time you turn it on, you always get the same episode, a re-run (the name is also a private homage to our favorite character from “What’s Happening”). Come on, it’s happened to all of us!"

Here are some of your other thoughts, on déjà reruns and other Kaplutis-related topics:

ANOTHER NAME FOR DEJA RERUN“I would also mention something we call “Bartlow’s Corollary.” (Named after an old friend who discovered this primary law of the television universe.) There are times when you do not regularly watch a television show, but every time you do happen to see it, it is always the same episode... time after time.”    --Jim

AND TWO DEJA RERUN EXAMPLES“On “Mad About You” I’ve only seen the episode where they do the virtual reality; or “Everybody Loves Raymond” where Ray goes to his son’s basketball game.”    --Rachel

BOOKS“What about when you read a book? I tend to read books over and over and I have found parts that I don’t remember reading.”    --Stephanie

REVERSE KAPLUTIS: TALKING SHOES EFFECT“In regards to Sean’s “Reverse Kaplutis: The Talking Shoes Effect”, I remember watching Superman 2 a long time ago on TV and saw this scene at the end where the bad guys were rounded up by these North Pole police or something. Am I remembering that right?”    --Walter

“At the end of the movie, “The Red Violin,” Samuel L. Jackson comes home and sits on his daughter’s bed, violin in hand. This was in the movie as shown in theaters. That final scene has been excised from both the DVD and VHS versions of the movie, and I don’t believe you see his daughter (or wife?) at all in the available versions of the film. Also, I believe that in “Dick Tracy” as shown in theaters, there is a brief scene in which Madonna is wearing a black see-through blouse, breasts clearly visible. This is not in the DVD version, did she get shy?”    --Frank

“Has anyone seen the scene in "Robocop" where our hero driving a police car in an industrial waste-land hits a villain that explodes all over the windshield of the car in brown ooze? I saw this the week the movie came out but did not see it in the video release.”    --Allen

“I have a reverse Kaplutis for you. I am an avid fan of the Aliens movies (well at the least the first 2!). I remember when I was younger, my dad and I watched "Aliens" on TV some random Saturday afternoon and I remember this scene where once they are trapped inside the control room, they set-up motion detector machine guns outside the doors to fire at the Aliens automatically as they were closing in. Ever since then I had told people about it, but nobody ever recalled that scene. Come to find out, it was the Director’s Cut (this was before DVDs and extra scenes). It should have been left in, in my opinion, as it adds to the suspense of the whole scene!”    --Kelly

MORE KAPLUTII“Another ‘Friends’ Kapluti—the one where they all discuss Chandler’s oddly gay quality after a co-worker tried to set him up with another guy! And he thinks the guys is way below him and that he would go for a more handsome co-worker (who walks in and hears Chandler talking to himself about this!). That episode hardly ever airs.”    --Stephanie

‘Friends’ lesbian wedding. I swore up and down that episode was not in existence until I saw it about a month ago. It is one strange episode too.”    --MK

“A “Seinfeld” Kapluti—an episode that I swear I never saw before was on syndication where George is trying to get an apartment and the association decides to give it to this old man because he was a survivor of the Andrea Doria shipwreck. Hysterical episode and it was like finding $20 in your pocket to see it for the first time.”    --Karen

“On one of the ‘CSI’ episodes, a man contracts AIDS from blood spatters after killing a prostitute. On the reruns the fact that he contracted AIDS was omitted. It probably proved to be inaccurate.”    --SHK

“For me it was a show in ‘93 called ‘The Outsider.’ A spy was framed by someone in his agency, so they faked his death. He hid out in France, helping people when he could. The last episode was only shown once, where he vindicated himself and was able to finally go home. I am the only person I know who has seen the episode. Everyone else I meet who watched the show missed it.”    --Lowell

“In an episode of ‘The Simpsons,’ I think it was the ‘Behind the Laughter’ episode, I vividly remember Lisa revealing that the Simpsons lived in Kentucky. I called one of my friends as soon as it aired and he said I was crazy. I’ve been looking for that episode to rerun, but haven’t seen it since. Has anyone else seen this episode? Or have they reran it numerous times with different state names or something? I know I saw it and no one believes me!”    --Autumn

‘WKRP’ has had a few great episodes, but for my money, nothing can beat the episode where Venus is asked to provide some guidance to a son of one of the building’s cleaning ladies. The son is a gangbanger, and Venus is a former school teacher (which we didn’t find out until this episode). The entire second half of the episode revolves around Venus trying to persuade the kind to go back to high school. He then uses a gang parallel to teach him the atom. Simply amazing.”    --Michael

“I never understood the episode of ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ where Brandon interviews an rich, overachieving, perfectionist student (played by Matthew Perry) who has written a screenplay about a young man who tries to kill his father. Brandon, ace reporter, suspects that they young man does in fact want to kill his own father and intervenes. A weird murder mystery, Law & Order-esque storyline that does not fit in with the show!”    --Jenn

A YOUNG KURT RUSSELL“For Debbie... The episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ you refer to is called “Gilligan Meets the Jungle Boy. It originally aired on Feb 6, 1965. This episode is part of the current syndication package. I’m not in the TV business, but rarely are episodes of older series not included in the syndication package. If they are missing is usually has to do with music rights of some kind, which why its taken so long to get Moonlighting out on DVD. Another young Kurt Russell appearence to look for is an appearence in the 1st season of Lost in Space. The episode is called The Challenge.”    --Dave

Multi-link Monday

Time for another Multi-link Monday, but we're not leaving the topic of Kaplutii just yet — we'll return to it tomorrow.

• "The Da Vinci Code" is dominating movie news these days, and there are endless online resources about the book and film. I liked this: the "Code's" goofs and gaffes in science, art and technology.

• I know I'm not the only Webcam fan out there. This site, , rounds up a number of cams and only presents the ones that are currently featuring a sunset. Cool idea, and some breathtaking images. (Found via .)

• Where should Alex Doonesbury go to college? Comic-strip fans and others who want to have a say . Your choices are MIT, Cornell and Rensselaer. Best of all: You don't have to pay her tuition.

• I know a lot of "Star Wars" fans who will get a kick out of this: An , "heroic companion of Luke Frywalker." (Via

• Reader-submitted link: Oh, I wish I'd known about this before Mother's Day. My mom would have fainted if she ever received one of the syrupy songs I was able to craft on this site. Says reader Kari: "You can make to buy — but they let you preview them for free. They can be super cheesy or just really funny.