Five things I learned from TV this week

by Bob Sassone, posted May 22nd 2008 4:41PM

Archuleta and CookWho says you can't learn anything from television? We talk about a lot of things here on TV Squad each week, and it's amazing what TV Squad and TV in general can teach you about life.

TV ... it's like the Bible!

1. America likes making a point rather than rewarding talent. Let me say upfront that even though I wrote this, I still think that David Cook is a good singer, and it was great that the American Idol final came down to him and David Archuleta. But I'm baffled as to why he won by 12 million votes! It's almost as if viewers were voting for Cook not just because they liked him, but because they didn't want to fulfill the predictions many had weeks and weeks ago that Archuleta would win (as if the kid could control any of that). They didn't want to prove to everyone that American Idol is predictable, or that Simon's comments about Archuleta winning the final night of singing meant anything. And what about that night? Come on, Archuleta clearly won that night, but it's almost as if they don't even have to have that final night of singing, because fans are clearly voting for other reasons. The Archuleta backlash has to be one of the weirder things that has happened this TV season. I have a very good friend who is a Cook fanatic. Nothing could make her say anything bad about him and I think she broke her phone calling in to vote for him, and even she admits that Archuleta did better that last night. I think fans convinced themselves that they had to vote for the "rocker" (cough cough) and not the kid who sings well (and I have to disagree with my cohort Debra - there's nothing "unique" about Cook).

But when all is said and done, Simon is right: they both seem like great guys and it didn't really matter who won. They'll both have careers (let's see what producers they get and what type of song quality). In fact, both Cook and Archuleta seem relieved that they won't be judged each week anymore and can get on with their lives. Good for them.

2. Moonlight fans are, um, "passionate." I do a weekly web show where we talk about television, and we got lots of calls from Moonlight fans that were quite upset that CBS canceled the show. I don't know how far they'll go to convince CBS (or another network) to give the show another season, but if I was a network executive I'd lock my doors at night. Moonlight 4EVA!

3. Everybody loves to swear. I mentioned this in my Hell's Kitchen review the other night. I can understand the contestants swearing during challenges and during service, because you forget the cameras are there and you're caught up in the moment. But when you're sitting down in front of the camera and speaking calmly, probably with a nice cold beverage at your side just out of camera view, then why swear at all? It's going to get bleeped. Does it make them seem "edgier?" Gah.

4. Wishes do come true. I have the old DVD set for Sports Night, but I've always wished for one that had extras. And now we're getting one! The 10th Anniversary set will include new interviews with the cast, episodes commentaries, bloopers, and even a booklet about the show. Well done, Shout Factory.

5. Anyone can be a killer on a TV show, even the good guy. I haven't watched Bones regularly in a while, but even I was shocked that they made (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) Zach the apprentice to a serial killer and a killer himself. I think this proves that anyone can be a killer on a TV show. So don't be surprised if they do another Brady Bunch reunion movie and we find out that Peter has been killing hookers since the early 80s.

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Seriously? I'll grant that there is a degree of David Archeletta backlash, but a lot of that is not because people are upset that other people like him, but that they don't get the degree of their adoration for him. I don't think he's a bad singer, but I genuinely don't see the magic some seem to see in him. What we saw is that more people who watch Idol than not agreed with my point of view. He has talent, sure, but I don't get who is going to be buying his music. I wouldn't by David Cook, either, but there is clearly an established market for it. He's not "unique" in the marketplace, but that's an asset. What he does sells a lot of records. What Archeletta does... well, it just doesn't. If he one, it'd have solidified the notion that Idol is out of touch. While Cook isn't cutting edge by any stretch, he has a fully realized and marketable style. He wasn't just a pretty singer. You saw that in a few contestants this year, like Jason Castro, Brooke White, and even the oft-maligned Amanda Overmayer. These are performers who all sit in a well-defined style of rock/pop performance and do it well. They aren't just an unending stream of bland vocalists. Frankly, David A. just wasn't a special enough performer to escape the blandness of his performing style. I think he can make a profession of this, and if he can evolve as a performer, he's got the talent to be a major star, but he's just not there yet. We were sold by the judges that he's there now, but he's not. He's a long way to go. David Cook is someone who can sell records and tickets from Day 1. I guess we learned America wants that.

May 23 2008 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bob - I usually enjoy your articles but I think you're way over the line on this one. In order for "America to make a point" we would all have to get together and discuss what we're going to do. I don't recall any mass email going out instructing all AI fans to congregate in some message board or Webinar so we could discuss how we would vote. Did I get left out again? I hate it when that happens!

And I personally voted for Cook BECAUSE I wanted to reward talent. By saying we want to make a point rather than reward talent, you're insinuating that David Cook has no talent. If that's what you think then we were obviously watching different shows.

Someone else said it sounds like you lost a bet and I have to agree 100%. Can we say "sore loser"?

May 23 2008 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

American Idol winner never has anything to do with who sang better in the finale, its about number of fans, and that fans are made in all the season, or at the first show or even at the first auditions, then the fans of eliminated contestants looks for a new one.

So maybe Archuleta won the final round, but Cook won American Idol.

May 23 2008 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Thom's comments:
"Archuleta won the night.
Cook won the season.
Simple as that."

Last weekend, I was on the American Idol website and I watched the past performances by both Davids for the entire season. Week after week, David A. delivered the same performance- a ballad, sung with eyes closed. It became so obvious watching back to back from week to week.

When David Cook performed, it was a new performance every week. Yes he put a rock twist to it, but he sang ballads, uptempo, even straight opera. His performance range was so varied and his voice control got better and better. It was obviously a progression for him this season while David A just did the same thing every week.

I think America got the vote right this time. David C is the more interesting performer overall. According to iTunes, he has the top 4 selling singles already- enough said.

May 23 2008 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just to throw in a non-AI comment - I don't understand all the swearing either. Although my hubby who worked in many a-restaurant says that people in the kitchen are highly stressed and/or usually coked up and do curse that much. Maybe it is the pressure of it all. Although in the deleted scenes of The Office, there are a few beeps from Phyllis and Meredith among others.
Yeah for Sports Night finally getting the DVD treatment it deserves!
BTW, I love that out of all the Brady kids, of course it is Peter that is the serial killer!

May 23 2008 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Archuleta's breathy voice, uncomfortable laughter and dopey smile...nuf said.

May 23 2008 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

America got it exactly right - 12 million times over.

I think Archuleta has a great voice - but he can only really sing one type of song. Everything from "Imagine" to "Think of Me" came out sounding the same. He also blew his lyrics TWICE during the season, extrememly unprofessional - if he had been anyone else the judges would have skinned him alive...

He's young enough to continue to develop and have a fantastic career, but he's nowhere near as ready as Jordin Sparks was last year.

Besides that, when he talks Archuleta sounds like Sponge Bob's buddy Patrick...

May 23 2008 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

David A could have walked away with the title if he had only taken Randawg Jackson's perpetual advice. He should have sung the phone book.

May 23 2008 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Archuleta won the night.

Cook won the season.

Simple as that.

May 23 2008 at 7:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

lol, you sound like you lost money betting on Archuleta. In reality, Archuleta will have a career more akin to Blake Lewis (have we forgotten him yet? soon....), whereas Cook fits into the Nickelback/Daughtry mold. Nickelback is one of the biggest selling acts of the decade, Daughtry would have been the highest selling artist last year if it wasn't for the Groban christmas album. The masses like that.

Plus you have to consider that with the ratings drop debacle, the thing that made that important was that the ratings for the kids were dropping, skewing the average age of the viewer up much higher than the average age of an Archuleta fan.

May 23 2008 at 3:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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