Season 3: Something to Talk About

Lights, camera, Brylcreem, Botox, silicon - action! Ryan "Baby, The Things I Do!" Sleazebag, resplendant in a dark brownish shirt worn untucked over a pair of tight dark coal-colored pants, introduces the first eight contestants taking part today, in case for some reason I have forgotten despite being bombarded by six zillion ads and promos for this episode during the entire last week. Then, credits.

Back in a newly renovated studio that looks only less aluminium-foilish than its previous incarnations, Sleazebag walks in to cheers and applause of the audience. This time, he says, the audience are in the driver's seat in this train wreck - shall I tighten my safety belt or jump off now? - as we are the ones whose votes will determine the best two of today's eight to advance to the finals. He reminds people however that wild cards can selected from any stage of the show. Maybe even William Hung, Sleazebag says, and promptly breaks into a cheesy dance routine in a sorry imitation of Will Hung's She Bangs. Will Hung makes his dork act look like a class comedy act. Sleazebag's version makes him come off as if someone has forgotten to switch off the vibrator stuck up a sensitive part of his body. White man can't dance, they say, but Sleazebag can't even pretend to dance badly, which is worse. Sleazebag concludes the horrific dance by saying that he has no "professional training" either. No, hon, just lots of professional cosmetic enhancements.

He goes on to admire the newly renovated studio. This time the performer will be on a circular stage. The audience will be seated around this circular stage, while the judges' table at the back of the stage, where they can also see the audience reaction as well as the performers. This way, King Tut can see everything clearly, so Ryan Sleazebag can't put his hand into hot boys' back pockets anymore while telling King Tut that he's just checking the label on those hot boys' underwear. Sleazebag introduces the judges. Seated at the far right facing the audience is of course King Tut. Randy Randy, described as a "lean, mean, judging machine" is seated at the far left. Miss Paula is seated between those two.

Because Coke invented the color red and paid a lot of money for product placement, the all-important Room of All Purposes is still called the Red Room. Sleazebag walks into the Red Room where the eight contestants are seated. After some inane chit-chat, he announces that Diana "Di Guano" Degarmo is the first to perform.

In her introductory video clip, Di Guano talks about being from Snailville, which Sleazebag agrees with her that "everybody is somebody". That's like saying that the janitor is "somebody" just as the millionaire is another "somebody", I guess, only there's so many shades of differences between one "somebody" and another "somebody". She talks about how the judges told her during her initial audition to lose the cutesy image. She apologizes for wearing black and pink today though because this color scheme is her "thing". Why is she apologizing for something she says that is totally her? She doesn't like herself that much, does she? And since when is being sixteen means that it's okay to dress like the Carebear that has gone Strawberry Shortcake on everyone after a fit of dementia?

Singing I Got The Music In Me as an opening song is a very good choice as it is a lively number that will make people wake up and pay attention. The message in the song is also very appropriate for someone that wants to make an impression on people. Unfortunately, I really wince at the very noticeable pitch problems especially towards the end. Di Guano starts out strong, but her voice seems to lack the strength or range for the upper ranges of the song. But it's still good enough for me. I certainly am in the mood to party after listening to Di Guano. She could be much, much worse - she could be like so many other contestants that follow her.

Randy Randy loves her. "William Hung is right - she bangs!" he says. Um, careful with those bangs, Randy, she's only sixteen. Miss Paula says that Di Guano is excellent to work the crowd. King Tut shows his unhealthy Lolita fetish by saying that Di Guano looks like Christina Aguilera when Christina is "nice" (and still under the control of her handlers, not like the "not nice" Christina now that is fully in control of her musical direction, if I may say so). Back in the Red Room, Sleazebag remarks that Di Guano is all smiles but he isn't above pointing out that she has sweaty hands. The show cuts to a commercial break as Sleazebag introduces Di Guano to Sleazebag's new exfoliating deodorant Sleazoo. Unlike Coke, Sleazebag doesn't have the dough to cough up for product placement, although he hopes that his lumiscence and beautiful self will be advertisement enough for his new brand of toiletry and cosmetics. Someone has to step in and fill Elizabeth Taylor's entrepreneur shoes after all, and Sleazebag thinks that his foot fits that glass slipper perfectly.

Back from the commercial break, Sleazebag, still in the Red Room, apologizes for the show still having the same host. Since he's looking so pretty today, his apology is accepted. Sleazebag introduces the next contestant, Marque Lynch.

Marque's introductory clip highlights what nice biceps and thighs he has as he pose and stretch artfully in his studio as he talks about how he is a dancer who wants to enter this contest to change his artistic direction. Debra Byrd, the resident vocal coach, is shown telling him that she wants to "un-Broadway" him. The judges, including King Tut, love his voice, and Marque says that he's here to win the contest.

He will have to think again as his artistic direction seems to lead back to the dance studio. His Wind Beneath My Wings starts out sounding like a Boyz II Men B-side and by the end of the song, I am close to falling asleep. Marque chooses a predictable ballad, performs a very safe and unimaginative version of the song, and his very nice smile aside, nothing about his performance is even close to memorable. The vocal acrobatics towards the end of the song only accentuate his limited vocal range when he tries hitting high notes awkwardly.

Still, Randy Randy and Miss Paula are all about the love thing today. King Tut however says that while he finds Marque's performance good, he feels that Marque has "sold out" a little by coming on today and choosing to tone down his colorful image into a more somber and boring and "Broadway" alternative. Funny, only earlier he said that he liked Christina Aguilera when she was nice (and boring). King Tut is a very confused man. Marque responds by saying that he wants to sing what he wants to sing and this song is what he wants to sing.

In the Red Room, Sleazebag tells Marque that King Tut gave Marque a "hard time" earlier on about his song choice. Marque says that he has no regrets as the song was dedicated to his mother and he won't change his song choice if he has a second chance. Yes, Marque, your mother will give you a recording contract. It's more likely that his mother will be hitting him in the head with an umbrella while scolding him, "You fool, you can always sing to me on the Mother's Day Karoake Festival - you fool!" the moment he steps into the house.

Next up is Ashley Thomas. She looks like a quissential pleasantly pretty but very nondescript boring lady one can find in any toothpaste commercial. Her introductory clip reveals that she's a mortgage broker and she acts giddy when she stands on the stage of this studio for the first time. King Tut told her in her initial audition that she lacked sparks which led to her announcing in Pasadena that she would set TV screens on fire. She hopes to bring the sparks on today's performance.

She decides to sing Crazy. Listening to her, I wonder why so many of these contestants believe that "old" means "good". This song is wrong for her - it accentuates all the weaknesses in her voice: her wobbly and shaky notes, her inability to hold steady to a single note, the second leading to some painful melodramatic vocal acrobatics towards the end of the song. My husband comments that she sounds like a typical lounge singer.

Randy Randy thinks that Ashley's performance is "just alright". Miss Paula thinks that Ashley has a beautiful voice but "the competition has started". I guess this means that Miss Paula doesn't think that Ashley is good enough tonight. King Tut says that thirty-two million people are watching this show right now - how he knows of this, I have no idea, although I suspect that his tendency to pull things out of his posterior may have something to do with it - and incongruously continues by saying that he feels like he's at a rodeo where Ashley has been crowned the prom queen right before she starts lassoing the bull. They have prom queens on rodeo tourneys now? What the heck is King Tut talking about? He is getting his similes and metaphors all mixed up with his own bull. Anyway, King Tut says that he finds Ashley "just sweet, like Paula used to be". Miss Paula gives a fake gasp and smacks King Tut's arm just the way it was written on the script. Ashley says that she will take "just sweet" as a compliment. Miss Paula nods at her vigorously under the mistaken belief that her opinion matters to Ashley.

In the Red Room, Sleazebag asks Ashley to comment on King Tut's butchered rodeo analogy. Ashley says that the judges may give her harsh critiques - and if she thinks that the critiques are harsh, wait until she actually puts out a CD and the critics rip her apart - but she doesn't have to agree with them. Still, she has just very nicely tell the judges to go hang themselves without offending the King Tut syncophant voters that are too young or stupid to understand her properly. Sleazebag wonders whether King Tut has been hanging out with rodeos. No, Sleazebag, but I could have told you that the prom dress during that lasso giddyap session in that honky-tonky motel is a big mistake. Now King Tut will forever belief that prom queens are a part of the rodeo tradition.

Commercial break. When that's over, Sleazebag asks people to visit the official website, where you can read about how Sleazebag is named by E! Online as one of the twenty "Young Guns Under 30 Who Hold Hollywood's Future In Their Hands" in some wonderfully perverted-sounding frivolous list thingies. Holding Hollywood in his hands, huh? Snicker, snicker. Under 30? Sorry, I nearly died laughing there.

Back to the show, Katie Webber is next. She's the cheerleader, which is the only thing to me that differentiates her from that other Boring And Bland White Young Pretty Lady, Ashley. She majors in dance in some university - unlike boring courses like medicine and engineering - and hopes that her choosing some jazzy tune today will prove her "versatility" to the judges and to America. They show King Tut's telling her that she is a person that is good at everything she tries to do, but leave out the part where he says that she probably isn't excellent at those things she do, those sneaky editors. If by "versatility" she means "singing another one of those songs they always play on beauty pageants hosted by has-been celebrities with too much plastic surgery", then yes, her Orange Colored Sky is indeed "versatile". So "versatile" is her forced strapless "Celine on a drunken binge" performance that I feel sixty different contortions of boredom working on my facial muscles. You can't get more versatile than that, I'm sure.

Randy Randy feels that the performance does nothing for him and points out how Katie went out of tune towards the end of the song. Miss Paula loves her but wishes that she has chosen to sing something "younger". King Tut is reminded of some hotel singer girl in the movie Lost In Translation. Katie and the other two judges aren't sure whether that is a compliment or not, if "hotel singer" can be in any way construed as complimentary, and King Tut confuses them more by telling them not to knock the hotel girl as she "got to be on a movie". Maybe he's asking Katie to star in a movie involving a middle-aged Hollywood loser and a too-young girl... hey!

In the Red Room, Sleazebag asks Katie whether she is "relieved". She says that she is, now that she's "finished". I need help. I'm seeing sexual innuendos everywhere on this show. Sleazebag, it's all your fault. I absolutely blame you, you hussy. Before another commercial break comes on, Sleazebag announces a special halftime show starring King Tut and Miss Paula. Oops, time for me to go scrub the toilet bowl.

Erskine Walcott is next. He tells Sleazebag that he is "excited" to be here instead of nervous like Sleazebag assumed. Hmm, I bet that is what Sleazebag told King Tut too the first time they met. Um, never mind. Erskine talks about his dance career in his introductory clip. Talking about his colorful pimp image in the Pasadena audition, he says that he has toned down his sense of style today because he's a family man. He must be a Madonna fan, that Erskine. They also show him weeping like a waterspout to his own performance when he was training with Debra Byrd. I get the crucifix ready as he threatens to be just as passionate on today's performance.

He sings Open Arms just like countless lounge warblers and someone called Kewpie have done in the past. His enunciation isn't as bad as Kewpie's on this song, but his version still feels rather odd to me. He also seems to have problems reaching the high notes as I can practically hear the tear of his throat as he forces the notes out of him. Randy Randy feels that Erskine is "still representing", style-wise, but he feels that there are early pitch problems. He commends Erskine for soldiering on nonetheless and reminds people that Randy was once in Journey. Wow, Journey. Now that's a cultural icon, I say. King Tut asks Randy Randy to "speak English" and Randy Randy snaps back at him - hey, isn't this supposed to be King Tut and Miss Paula's scene? Miss Paula calls Erskine "real" because Erskine manages to "infuse" the song with his "personality". She really likes those young men with personalities, I tell you. King Tut talks about the contestants tonight choosing songs that are too safe, resulting in performances that are samey and bland. It's like Chinese food, he says, quickly adding that he loves Chinese food, but he always feels hungry afterwards. I guess that's why Bao - who's not Chinese but close enough - got cut. King Tut is still hungry afterwards. Erskine says that he chooses to sing what he feels about to convey his passion. Because the world needs to see more of his passion, I guess. King Tut says that Erskine's performance is like sweet and sour chicken when he wants spaghetti bolognese. If that's the case, shouldn't he go to an Italian restaurant instead of a Chinese diner? Sheesh, my analogies are getting as garbled as King Tut's. Stop it at once, King Tut. Stick to "absolutely ghastly" if anything more taxes your brain too much.

In the Red Room, Sleazebag wonders what Erskine is trying to serve. Erskine says that he will serve anything to anyone who is hungry. King Tut, hearing this, explodes into jealous fury and charges into the room to break some bones. Speaking of bones, Erskine is sitting with his legs spread wide and there's a rather intriguing bulge snaking along the inside of his left thigh. Must be a crease of his tight pants. This is a wholesome family show after all.

It's Jennifer Hudson's turn to perform. Sleazebag says that she was crying during Marque's performance, which may be a hint to some romance blossoming between the two of them, I guess, because I can't imagine anyone crying to Marque's performance unless it's in pain. In her introductory clip, J Hu talks about working in a cruise ship - Randy Randy, did you hear that? - and how happy she was when she was praised in her Atlanta audition. Things got rocky in Pasadena when she was criticized by King Tut for her turkey wrap outfit. Now, she's here to sing Imagine. While I applaud her for daring to sing a song many people consider a song that can never be sung by anyone but John Lennon, her delivery is unfortunately very breathy. She becomes noticeably better as the song progresses. At the very least, J Hu at least tries to do something different, and I commend her for that.

Randy Randy likes the song as it is spirited, whatever that means, but he feels that today's performance is not J Hu's best. It's good, but it doesn't blow her away. At this, J Hu starts tearing up and looking as if she's going to collapse like a dainty tumbleweed in a thunderstorm. Miss Paula reassures J Hu that they are happy to have J Hu here. J Hu bursts into tears. Miss Paula says in uncharacteristic wryness, "It's because Simon's next, I know." King Tut, contrary to J Hu's expectations, says that J Hu is "great tonight" as J Hu is the only one so far that works and excites the audience. How about Di Guano, King Tut? She got the crowd quite excited earlier, if the crowd's reaction is anything to by. J Hu straightens and sniffs before asking King Tut whether he likes her outfit. The crowd cheer and hoot as she mischievously does a turn to show off her outfit to King Tut. King Tut says that one of his favorite hot fantasy thingies in his list is a "leather nurse" outfit. Oh, my eyes! I can't get the image of King Tut in a nurse uniform dancing to Britney's Toxic out of my head.

In the Red Room, Sleazebag asks J Hu why she wept even before King Tut said anything. She explains that she was feeling too happy and blessed and... man, she's weird. I hear that some people love to play Imagine in the background as they get high and dream about a beautiful world where everyone is naked, in love, and sharing marijuana. Maybe J Hu know these people.

Hmm, Matthew Metzger is next. He is very pretty with golden curls and a face that looks like that of one of those pretty and sexually non-threatening boys that grace The OC, One Tree Hill, Everwood, and other teen shows that make teenaged girls dream of love affairs and shipper fanfictions. I am so ready to dismiss him, especially with his stereotypical black shirt and jeans ensemble and a rather long introductory clip that makes him look more and more like Scott Speedman's slightly less adorable younger brother. Then he sings. Then he smiles. Then he looks at the camera, right at me, it seems, right into the dormant teenybopper soul in me that I try so hard to keep suppressed. He can't dance but he can sure wave that hand of his like it's the sexiest PG-rated teen drama version of foreplay ever. His Walking In Memphis is bland and unimpressive like a mid-tier boyband performance, but when I am watching his lips move, the last thing that I am paying attention to is the sound coming from his mouth. By the end of the short performance, I have my hands pressed over my mouth like some besotted thirteen-year old girl experiencing her first blush of infatuation at a boyband concert. Mind you, even as a teen, pretty boys aren't exactly my thing unless they come with really dark hair and broody melancholic moods, but here comes Matt and... oh, swoon. How embarrassing! Do it again, pretty boy!

Randy Randy thinks that Matt has a nice style but the vocals aren't strong enough to impress him. Miss Paula - ahem, do I even have to describe her predictable reaction to a hot pretty boy on the show? King Tut says that Matt has presence, looks good on camera, and he reminds King Tut of Kewpie. Kewpie? Excuse me? Comparing that melted-wax faced androgynous vocal drama queen Kewpie to the Glory Ye Be A WB Leading Pretty Boy that is Matt Metzger is sacrilege of the apocalyptic kind. Kewpie makes me want to burn my panties while Matt makes me want to throw panties on the stage. There is no comparison between those two whatsoever. Well, maybe except that Matt can't sing that well but Kewpie can. But who cares about singing? Let me ask you: do you want Matt to sing to you or to perform at next year's MTV show for Superbowl with you? I already have the address of a well-known talented nipple clamp maker ready.

In the Red Room, Sleazebag drools as he commends Matt on his "nice style". Sleazebag then turns to the other contestants and invite them to put their foot in their mouth by asking them to comment on the judges. Katie says that the judges will always find something they want to criticize. Ashley respects the judges blah blah canned response. Erskine thinks that the judges impart useful advices. Everyone sounds like beauty contest pageants today, oh my.

Fantasia has yet to perform and now it's her turn. She tells Sleazebag that she is nervous because she hasn't won yet. She says that King Tut said something mean to her so that guy has better watch out today. She knows she is compared to Macy Gray thanks to her voice, but she doesn't see the similarity. Personally I think she sounds like a mix of Macy Gray and Erykah Badu. Fantasia announces that she likes attention so she is ready for this if the audience is ready for her. "So vote for me, America!" she concludes in her introductory clip.

She then launches into the perfect conclusion to the performances with her enjoyable take of Something To Talk About. It's not that her singing is perfect, it's because she sounds so good and she has that stage presence that many others here don't have. I am not fond at all of her "bobo" dance though, where she just stands on one spot and bobs her shoulders up and down, one shoulder higher than the other, until I feel as if I'm watching a mechanical toy malfunction. She is good, better than the rest here.

Randy Randy says that she is what this competition is all about. She looks like an old pro, he adds. Miss Paula says that the season must have Fantasia as there is a light around Fantasia and it's definitely time for someone to take her meds. Fantasia gives an exaggerated scowl at King Tut as King Tut readies to speak. I like her style but I think she ought to dial down that overexcited drama queen routine a little. King Tut says that every other person that came on before her needs this competition to get a recording contract, but she doesn't. He feels that Fantasia is already a star as she is talented, quirky, and has stage presence.

Fantasia waves at the crowd as she walks back to the Red Room. She and Sleazebag talk about her bobo dance which isn't too interesting. Then the show has come to an end. Sleazebag reminds people on how to vote by text messaging using some cheap brand of cellphone before apologizing for talking down to people. Judging from the overall literacy level of the official site forum posters, I don't think he should have bothered.

The results show. As the eight contestants stand in a line in the darkened studio and lights shine haphazardly over them, the Serious Manly Voiceover Guy talks about how these contestants have given the "performance of their lives to stay in the competition". If that is their performance of their lives, I really have nothing to say for many of the contestants except, dude, Six Flags are hiring - pack up and go home.

Credits. Ryan "Black On Black" Sleazebag has a dark jacket over what seems like the same shirt and pants that he wore yesterday. He refers to the "dancing man" in the credits as his cue to tell the audience that he holds in his "expensively manicured hands" the results of yesterday's round of frenzied voting. Six people today will be sent back to obscurity, he adds. He then announces the judges: King Tut - "Winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for Wearing The Same Shirt the Longest", Miss Paula - Sleazebag wants to know why she is rubbing King Tut's chest and asks whether she is trying to bring up some whatever rumor Sleazebag doesn't elaborate, Randy Randy "the incredible shrinking man". It is nice that this show is keeping to its rigid No Fatties policy by celebrating Randy Randy's weight loss to the point of overkill. Not that I am objecting to Randy Randy's slimming down especially for health reasons, but King Tut is always very hypocritical in condemning normal-sized women as being too big, so the rah-rah, no matter how sarcastic it's meant to be, on Randy Randy's slimming down doesn't feel right in the context of this show. Sleazebag wonders why as Randy Randy slims down, King Tut seems to be "expanding". King Tut snorts, saying that "it's rather like your head". Sleazebag quickly says that they have no time for this on the show and shuts down the conversation before the FCC starts getting the wrong idea about this show. Besides, I don't think those two guys Sleazie and Tutty have much objections about each other's head expanding in any direction. Throughout the whole "banter", Randy Randy keeps saying that he's keeping it real. And stapled, although he doesn't say that, naturally.

Sleazebag introduces the eight contestants and points out that these contestants' friends and family members are closeted away in the Red Room, presumably for the safety of the judges. Eleven and a half million people voted last night, which isn't the best number in the history of the show. Maybe people stopped watching after the zillionth bad audition moment - serve this show right for being too greedy and milking the franchise to the point that the milk turns into cheese. And then Sleazebag recaps yesterday's performances before chatting with the contestants. Marque's mom cried after watching his performance, the guy says while milking that crying mommy angle mercilessly, so he won't change his song if given a chance. Dude, who says she's crying in joy? And stop repeating yourself, it's tiresome. Katie stands by her song choice too as she wants to sing what makes her happy, although she values the judges' opinions. Hmm, can you value an opinion that you don't even want to consider in the first place? Fantasia wants to marry King Tut, which solidifies my belief that she really needs to dial down that funky diva schtick as she's becoming too obvious and even insincere. Sleazebag wants to check her vision by lifting two fingers and asking her how many fingers he is holding up. She's lucky that he's not showing one particular finger. Doesn't she know that King Tut belongs to Sleazebag come what may and besides, she's not King Tut's type even when cows fly?

The judges now weigh their opinion on who they believe America will pick from the eight. All three are unanimous in their selection of Fantasia and Di Guano. Before a commercial break, Sleazebag says that the contestants' fate lies in the audience's hand. Please don't say that, Sleazie - "Matt Metzger" and "in your hands" in the same context is not good for my poor little heart. After the break, he proceeds to pull out the Top Three for today: Marque - look, your mom is crying; Ashley - break this, mortgage lady; Fantasia - well, duh; Erskine - look, it's the open door, honey; Di Guano - yes, she's in; Katie - nope; Matt - oops. Matt makes a face when Sleazebag calls out J Hu's name next in an attempt to stir some suspense. He puts his hand around J Hu, looking rather confident that he'll be called out. Indeed, J Hu's face is a mask of bitter thwarted dreams as Matt turns out to be the third person to make up the Top Three today. Never underestimate the power of a pretty boy over legions of silly women and some men watching this show.

Sleazebag invites the judges to comment as to why they didn't pick Matt to be their Top Two. King Tut says that Matt has presence so he's not surprised. No one points out that he hasn't answered Sleazebag's question. Miss Paula says that Matt has the support of girls charmed by his looks. Again, that doesn't answer Sleazebag's question. Randy Randy says that he still thinks that Matt's voice isn't good enough. Thank you, Randy, for actually answering Sleazebag's question.

Sleazebag announces that the first person through, commanding 23% of last night's votes, is - Fantasia! She performs one more time Something To Talk About, although this time she is really off-pitch at places. Then again, she can afford to let herself go during this performance. And that bobo has to stop. Make it stop, arrrgh! After she's done singing, Fantasia thanks God and says that she is so happy and before she stops, she thanks everyone here and everyone watching the show, saying that she will do the bobo for everybody. The bobo is evil and must be stopped.

Matt and Di Guano step down before Sleazebag. Sleazebag then announces yet another commercial break. The crowd booes and Sleazebag protests that everyone watching this show needs a "teasing". If I need teasing, then they should just show me more Matt instead of pushing toothpaste and tampon commercials at my face, those bastards! And then it's back to the show, where Sleazebag promises that he will announce the second person to make the Top Two... after he has introduced next week's eight contestants, that is. Finally, just before people start lynching him for being an annoying gnat, Sleazebag announces that Di Guano has triumphed over Matt. Hmmph, I knew they should not have shown Matt's "brother and fiancée" yesterday. Silly teenyboppers crushed to learn that they will never marry Matt must have changed their minds soon after while more grammatically lucid people must have paused to wonder whether Matt is marrying his brother soon, Matt is marrying that lady soon, or Matt's brother is marrying that lady soon before deciding to just call it a day and wait for Matt's shirtless debut on The OC: The Next Generation instead.

As Di Guano babbles about being at loss for words and her adrenaline is pumping and her confidence is rolling, Sleazebag calls her the youngest contestant in the Finals and invites her to "take it away" . Di Guano's I Got The Music In Me this time is really out of tune and filled with discordant pitch problems. I pause to sigh in disappointment that pretty boy Matt won't be around to provide some eye candy in the Finals. There's still a chance of him getting the Wild Card slot, I guess. The other contestants come to stand behind Di Guano as she sings. Sleazebag tries to learn the bobo from Fantasia and he's actually funny now. Erskine and Matt seem to be negotiating something as they do their awkward Straight Men Can't Dance routine (maybe pitching a TV show where they play shirtless teens running around moping about love, parents that don't understand, and awful high school kids to some studio executives?). Then everything fades to black and the end credits begin.

On the whole, it's a pretty good episode to kickstart the road to the finals.