Idol's Ellen DeGeneres decision sounds eerily similar to MNF's Dennis Miller manuever

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 10th 2009 2:07PM
Ellen DegeneresNow regular Squad hoppers know I'm no drooling American Idol watcher, so maybe you think my opinions on this show are worth less than the U.S. dollar injected with swine flu.

But this move to bring in Ellen DeGeneres, a talk show host, actress and comedian, screams of another move in the world of TV commentating. A move that seemed well reasoned enough but went down in a glorious ball of blue and orange flames on live television.

Comedian and long time TV fixture Dennis Miller's very short stint as the color commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football screams of similarities louder than that guy in the Edvard Munch painting watching the Orson Welles sex tape. Great, Miller's voice is back in my head again. Thanks cha cha, I mean, Ellen.

No self respecting football fan will forget the loud thud Miller's presence left on the viewing public. Every joke he tried to make, whether it was funny or not, fell on deaf ears because it just didn't meld with what the show originally hoped to accomplish. You're there to watch football and that's what you expect to hear. Anything else mixed with that just feels like mechanically injected filler or some MST3K wannabe throwing jokes at the screen while you're trying to watch the game.

I vividly remember that fateful season. My beloved New Orleans Saints were headed to another playoff game and therefore almost certain defeat for what seemed like the 500th time in their history. This time, however, the boys in black and gold pushed the St. Louis Rams' stellar defense back and picked up a fumble in the final minutes of the game to run out the clock and score their first playoff victory in history. It launched a euphoria of victory and accomplishment in the city streets that night. But for those of us watching at home, all I could hear was Miller's pseudo-psycho babble in the background as he chimed in between every other call referencing everything from Ivan Pavlov to Cannonball Run 2.

Granted, football fans are notoriously picky when it comes to the presentation of their sport and any attempts to radically alter a system that has been in place for more than 50 years could lead to looting, rioting and possibly some kind of massive widespread outbreak that requires tear gas and some kind of tetanus shot. Plus, the two shows are almost mirror opposites of each other since primetime football attempts to celebrate the glory and majesty of victory and American Idol revels in the new national pastime of crushing losers' dreams on national television. So in that sense, American Idol is more of The Jim Rome Show of reality television.

But if history has taught us anything, it's that comedy and commentary haven't mixed well on television or at least in the ways it has been attempted. This isn't some great tragedy. Ellen won't bring the show down into a crumbling heap of twisted metal, but if MNF is any indication, it won't be the same. And that's the way it is.

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It's tempting to make the comparison, but there is a significant difference between Monday Night Football and American Idol: You can watch football with the sound off.

I happen to like Dennis Miller; it's Al Michaels I can't stand.

And for the record, I think American Idol will be just fine with Ellen.

September 10 2009 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if this was a talent show i'd say ok,but this is a singing competition.Ellen for what I've heard isn't a singer/songwriter/producer this show doesn't need comic relief!

September 10 2009 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zkbzjm's comment
BC McKinney

So, then, why allow the public at large to vote on who should stay or go? She's been a stage performer who presumably has some knowledge and opinions on how to stage an act.

September 10 2009 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If she is sincere I think she will be a good addition. If she's there to make jokes then I can see this getting very old very fast.

September 10 2009 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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