We Watch ... So You Don't Have To

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Absolutely everyone had forecast a big win for silver-haired goofball Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee before their final "American Idol" performances last night.

Even judges Mopsy, Flopsy and Tipsy.

Still, the show must go on, as they say.

"It's now or never, baby -- you've got to lay it all on the line tonight!" Mopsy says, pulling out the very best from his bag of five gag-inducing cliches.

Tipsy hopes Taylor and Katharine are "in good voice." Flopsy says he "would suggest the contestants pray the other one forgets the words."

This week, the two finalists are forced to revisit two songs they've already sung during the competition, after which they'd be subjected to traditional made-for-"Idol" treacle tunes created just for them.

Katharine chooses the two songs she'd sung while sitting on the floor of the stage, which were also her best performances.

After "Black Horse and Cherry Tree," Mopsy whines that it was not "super-exciting" because he'd heard it before. Yes, Mopsy, that was the point.

Tipsy urges her to celebrate; Flopsy says the occasion is bigger than the song.

Host Ryan Seacrest reminds viewers they will have "at least four hours to vote."

How long exactly is "at least four hours?" If someone votes 12 hours later, will his vote still be counted? Something smells fishy here.

Taylor sings "Living for the City" and it once again sounds like a weak imitation of Stevie Wonder, only Taylor's wearing a puce velvet jacket, and any guy who has the nerve to wear a puce velvet jacket on national TV deserves our votes.

Mopsy says he made the song his own, which sounds as lame now as the first time he said it, oh so many "Idol" editions ago. Tipsy says she and Taylor match tonight, only she's wearing a skimpy little red, white and blue dress, so we have no idea what she's talking about, as usual.

Flopsy, who like everyone else has seen the numbers from past voting and knows Taylor is going to win, nonetheless begins to lay the groundwork for him to be called the man who picked the next American Idol, saying Taylor won the first round.

Katharine comes back to sing Dorothy's song from "The Wizard of Oz."

Mopsy, who also knows Taylor is going to win, can't think of anything negative to say about Katharine's performance except that she's once again singing a song she's already sung before:

"For me, when I saw you doing the same song again, it was a little anticlimactic," he says. He really is an idiot.

Tipsy says Katharine is possessed of a God-given talent and every father has tears coming down his face as her father does, and every little girl is proud who wants to aspire to be her. Flopsy calls it Katharine's best performance ever and says she's back in the game. Such a liar.

Taylor comes back with "Levon." Mopsy, who, keep in mind, knows Taylor's going to win, does not nick him for singing a song he's already sung before. He does, however, say it's a little "pitchy." Actually, it was off-pitchy.

Tipsy says it may be pitchy but maybe that's who Taylor is. Flopsy says that makes no sense. Tipsy says Flopsy doesn't make sense. Flopsy says Katharine has taken the second round. You see where he's going with this, right? Next round he'll give to Taylor and then forecast a Taylor win because he won two out of three and then, tonight, when Taylor wins, Flopsy will look like a genius.

Taylor appears to be wearing eye shadow that matches his gray suit.

Now the bad part: Taylor and Katharine have to sing songs created for them, which they also will be forced to record and which you are going to buy whether you hate them or not.

Katharine sings "My Destiny." It's possibly the worst made-for-"Idol" treacle tune ever, and that's saying a mouthful. Here comes the Made for Idol Treacle Tune Gospel Choir to bring it home.

Mopsy says she kept it real but he did not love the song. Again, is that her fault?

Tipsy, in a rare moment of clarity, says to Katharine, "That is not your fault."

Flopsy says she's a great potential artist but anyone who wants to vote for her should remember her second song of the night -- which was one he picked for her to sing last week, BTW.

Taylor is then forced to sing his made-for-"Idol" treacle tune, "Do I Make You Proud." It's bad, but not as bad as "My Destiny" by a mile. Here comes the Made for Idol Treacle Tune Gospel Choir to bring it home.

Mopsy says he likes Taylor's song better than Katharine's.

Tipsy says Taylor is better than the song and something about nuances. Maybe it was seances.

Flopsy tells Taylor, "You have just won 'American Idol.' "

Flopsy is evil.

* * *

Charlie Gibson is packing up his incredible beigeness and his hoity-toity attitude and moving from ABC's "Good Morning America" to replace pregnant Elizabeth Vargas and injured Bob Woodruff as solo anchor of "World News Tonight."

Here's a look at this development's victors and vanquished:

WINNERS

Charlie Gibson . Though 47-year-old Brian Williams does his best to look and sound like an old white guy on NBC's evening newscast, 63-year-old Gibson will be the senior statesman among permanent news anchors when he takes over the ABC evening news next week. This is great for ABC because, as Bob Schieffer has shown so clearly since taking over the CBS newscast in March '05, Americans really do like to have their daily dose of bad news meted out by an older white man. So long as it's the right old white man -- one who's all normal and modest, and pleasant; not one who's pretentious and angry. Hmmm . . .

Bob Schieffer . CBS News's trailblazing old white man gets to hand off the Gibson headache to Katie Couric and goes out looking like a hero, having catapulted "CBS Evening News" to second place in the weekly ratings for the first time in five years and made it the only evening newscast that's up this year compared with last.

Meredith Vieira . Taking over for Katie Couric on "Today" just got a whole lot less daunting, what with half of the NBC show's stiffest competition being phased out on June 30 -- at least two months before Vieira joins the morning infotainment-cast.

LOSERS

Pregnant newswomen . Being pregnant and in third place is a losing combination in the news business. Before you know it, your boss is issuing news releases saying you have asked to be relieved of your anchor gig, and your responsibilities have been limited to anchoring a Friday newsmag and prime-time specials, and you'll be quoted as saying your doctor asked that you cut back your schedule considerably.

Diane Sawyer . With Couric leaving "Today" at the end of this month, "Good Morning America" was likely to finally unclench the NBC show's stranglehold on the morning infotainment genre. But Gibson did a lot of the heavy lifting on "GMA." With Charlie gone, can Di catch a Couric-less "Today" in the ratings? And with Couric's and Gibson's exit strategies from morning infotainment laid out, what's left for Di?

David Westin . The ABC News president seemed to paddle in place for months after Woodruff was injured in Iraq less than a month into his new gig as evening news co-anchor. Yesterday, Westin told the Associated Press he timed the Gibson announcement to keep him on "GMA" through this television season but, of course, he's now going to do double duty on the evening news and "GMA" through June. And Westin's delay means Gibson's appointment is unveiled the week after "CBS Evening News" overtook ABC's news program in the weekly ratings race for the first time in five years -- which leaves Gibson's appointment looking like a reax.

* * *

CBS, which will finish first this TV season among viewers of all ages, marched victorious through the final full week of that season, claiming its 10th consecutive weekly prime-time win.

Here's a look at the week's holders and folders:

WINNERS

"Will & Grace." More than 18 million viewers said see-ya to the long-running NBC comedy -- its most watched episode since spring '04 -- catapulting it from its season-average 59th-place ranking to the top 10.

"Grey's Anatomy." Last spring the ABC doc drama's first season finale snagged 22.2 million viewers with a boffo "Desperate Housewives" lead-in. This year, against all odds -- "all odds" being a Monday time slot on ABC and a buzz-kill President Bush warm-up act -- "Grey" nonetheless managed to wrap its second season with 22.5 million viewers. That's ABC's best performance in the Monday 9-11 p.m. slot in 11 years, excluding sports and the Academy Awards, which used to air on the night.

LOSERS

"CSI." "It was last week's most watched scripted show, logging more than 25 million viewers!," CBS's Vice President in Charge of Yelling at The TV Column will argue. "But last year's season finale averaged nearly 31 million viewers and that's a downward trend no network wants to see, now isn't it?" we will cleverly respond.

"Desperate Housewives." "It was last week's second most watched scripted show, snagging more than 24 million viewers!" ABC's Vice President in Charge of Dressing Down The TV Column will say in the strongest of terms, after TV Column gets off the phone with CBS's VPCYTVC at CBS. "Ah, but last season's finale had averaged nearly 31 million viewers. That's a downward trend no network wants to see, am I right or am I right?" we will coolly reply.

"10.5: Apocalypse." America totally bought into "10.5" two years ago -- nearly 21 million people watched Part 1. Naturally, NBC took another trip to that well, but Part 1 of "10.5: A" took in only about 8 million.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: Fox's Tuesday and Wednesday "American Idol"; CBS's "CSI"; ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy"; Fox's "House"; CBS's "Without a Trace"; NBC's "Will & Grace"; CBS's "CSI: Miami"; and NBC's "ER."

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company