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September 02, 2003 - Image 52

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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8D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003


Simonsays you suck!.
By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
FOX's monster reality hit, "American Idol,"
returned for its second season debut in a sur-
prisingly entertaining style. The reality show
wave has run rampant across television air-
waves for the past few years. However, "Ameri-
can Idol" changed the basic formula of the
talent show contest by having the judges tell it
like it is. It took a relatively benign subject
matter and infused it with appealing cruelty
other shows in the genre lacked.
The first few episodes are where "American
Idol" really thrives because of the American pop-
ulace's complete lack of talent. The idiocy found
in these so-called "competitors"' decisions to
embarrass themselves on national television leads
to great television.
Simon Cowell, the nasty British record execu-
tive, has zero tolerance for bad music. He callous-
ly berates a competitor following an awful
rendition of a song, often causing the competitor
to break down in tears. This year, Simon is no
longer alone in not holding back any punches;
Randy Jackson, an American record exec, has+
joined to voice his intolerance. Paula Abdul, a
washed up former Laker girl and pop-idol, still isI
overly sweet and manages toI
American annoy Simon and America
with her comments.
Idol The true highlight of the
FOX premiere was a contestantI
named Edgar, dressed and
attempting to sing like Enrique Iglesias, who,
after destroying the judge's eardrums, keptc
lying to everyone and attempting to fight hisi
way back into the contest.
New this year is the dumping of one of the
two annoying hosts - only Ryan Seacrest
remains. This truly is an example of additionc
by subtraction. In the premiere episodes,c
Seacrest focused on the backgrounds and feel-i
ings of the contestants. Without his former
partner, it comes across as mildly amusing as
opposed to downright dreadful.f
The episodes focusing on the talent search ini

, Alla l'24' makes it's triumphant return on FOX

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of FOX
Untalented man points out lack of talent In others.
different cities showed how popular "American
Idol" has become. It's interesting to see how the
preliminary rounds offer a different look at talent
than what the rest of the show will provide. As
with last season, the talent pool will get better
each week while America votes on who will stay.
However, Simon's insults and the humor
found within the show decreases as the talent
increases. The focal point changes towards the
quality of singing and performance and the
completely inept singers will no longer be there
to be berated by the judges.
While the argument can be made about
Simon's brashness as cruelty, he always speaks
the truth. Without Simon Cowell, all "Ameri-
can Idol" would be is a glossed up karaoke
contest. With him, it becomes something far
more entertaining.
So enjoy the idiocy displayed with people
who for some odd reason believe they are tal-
ented, and Simon's desire to tell them that they
most certainly are not.

In one of television's most surprising and
memorable scenes of last year, federal
agent Jack Bauer cradled his pregnant
wife's lifeless body in his arms, bringing to
an end an intensely eventful day of conspir-
acy, terror and tragedy.
After the artistic and creative success of
the first season, it seemed it would be diffi-
cult to retain the suspense and originality of
the show without retreading some of the
same waters. And because the show's
groundbreaking achievement didn't neces-
sarily translate into commercial success
(the series averaged only 8.6 million weekly
viewers), the producers of
2tthe show had difficulty
convincing the network to
FOX continue with the real-
time concept that made
the show innovative in the first place. The
concern was that the overarching format
(24 hours in one day equals 24 episodes of
one season) is too restrictive to potential
viewers in that self-contained episodes
allow the audience to come and go at their
This was evident in last year's complex,
season-long plotline, in which Bauer, a gov-
ernment agent of the CIA's Counter Terror-
ist Unit, was suddenly assigned the task of
stopping an assassination attempt on lead-
ing Presidential Candidate Senator David
Palmer while simultaneously attempting to
find his kidnapped wife and daughter.
Bauer ultimately derailed the plot and
recovered his family, but not before his wife
was murdered by his ex-girlfriend/agency
turncoat, Nina.
Following such an intricate and demand-
ing story, FOX's hesitation was understand-
able. But somehow, the masterminds behind
"24" have managed to come up with an
idea that is equally as timely, inventive and
exciting as the original.
Tonight's second season premiere picks

up 16 months later. Senator Palmer is now
President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert, "Major
League"), and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Suther-
land) is a grieving and depressed mess,
inactive from CTU and detached from his
daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert). While
Bauer continues to mourn the murder of his
wife, Kim works as a nanny for a swanky
upper-class family, whose paterfamilias
turns out to be a little more authoritative
than she would like.
Meanwhile, at precisely 8 a.m. the Presi-
dent receives word in the middle of a fish-

man with possible terrorist ties. Assuredly,
these will become less vague and more
connected over the course of the season,
culminating in some form of thrillingly
intricate plot revelation.
Other prominent new characters include
a wily new Presidential aide (Timothy
Carhart) and an overeager computer pro-
grammer at CTU (Sarah Gilbert,
"Roseanne"), who will be joining such
CTU regulars as Tony Almeida (Carlos
Bernard) and George Mason (Xander
Berkeley), all of whom will undoubtedly
become drawn into the political intrigue
before long.
Also returning for the second wind,
although not in the premiere, will be the
President's scheming and manipulative
(now ex-) wife, Sherry (Penny Johnson
Gerald), as well as Nina's betraying CTU
mole, played by a passionate Sarah Clarke.
All of the characters are exceptionally
crafted and superbly acted, but as there isn't
much room for character development with-
in the given format, it's Sutherland's tour-
de-force performance as the emotionally
battered and conflicted Bauer that buttress-
es the show's appeal. Along with his wife,
he has lost his limits, and has no problem
demonstrating this in truly shocking fash-
ion in the first hour.
The producers don't shy away from the
uncomfortable subject matter and question-
able motives, exploring the timely topic of
terrorism head-on. Although the ambiguous
"Second Wave" terrorist organization has
ties to an unnamed country, the proposition
of such a dastardly event and its appalling
consequences are revealed in a way that
horrifically parallels our reality, maybe too
much so for some viewers.
Nonetheless, the show's depth and com-
plexity makes it is safe to say that you are
not going to find a better program on net-
work television than "24," and you don't
want to miss a second. Fortunately, FOX'S
sister cable network, FX, will be airing
episodes after they run on Tuesdays, so
there is no excuse not to follow this year.

Time bomb.

ing trip that terrorists have a rogue nuclear
bomb somewhere on U.S. soil, and they are
planning to detonate it within the next 24
hours. Thus enters the real-time format, and
of course, Jack Bauer. Palmer persuades
Bauer, who with his craggy beard and flan-
nel shirt looks more like a weathered lum-
berjack than a government agent, to return
to CTU and head-up the anti-terrorist effort.
A handful of vaguely interconnected
subplots are also introduced, including a
wedding day suspicion coming from a
woman (Sarah Wynter) who believes that
her sister may be marrying a dangerous

Conan O'Brien shines as host of a predictable Emmy Awards

By Ryan Blay
Daily TV/New Media Editor

Last year's Emmy host, Ellen DeGeneres,
deserved the acclaim she received after hosting the
first post-Sept. 11 awards show. But this year,
Conan O'Brien topped her and all previous hosts.
Among the targets of Conan's humor at the 54th
Annual Emmy Awards: Anna Nicole Smith, the
major TV networks, award winners who dedicate
their awards to another nominee and O'Brien's own
ex-colleague, Andy Richter.
Conan's brilliant performance, including a brief
opening sketch with the Osbournes, saved the show
from shooting itself in the foot. The presenters,

including the less than thrilling pairing of "Malcolm
in the Middle's" Frankie Muniz and Robert Wuhl of
"Arli$$," were dull as usual. A tribute to television
inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and a speech by former
New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani also bogged
down what began as an energetic show.
The majority of the awards given were predictable,
including several victories for "Everyone Loves Ray-
mond," HBO's "Band of Brothers" and Albert Finney
for "The Gathering Storm." One of the few surprises
was Michael Chiklis' outstanding lead actor award for
FX's rookie show, "The Shield."
Still, Conan promised changes and he delivered.
Threatening to play Jethro Tull music if the accept-
ance speeches went too long, diagramming the

types of people in the audience (including "Jerry
Orbach's posse" and "parasites and sycophants") or
having fun with the cameraman, Conan's amuse-
ment was infectious. His monologue was as funny
as any he has done on his late-night show.
Between the standard tributes to the lost TV stars
of the past year (including a tribute to Milton
Berle), Oprah Winfrey received the inaugural Bob
Hope Humanitarian Award and Sting became an
Emmy winner.
The biggest overall winner of the evening was
"The West Wing," with victories for John Spencer,
Allison Janney and Stockard Channing, and out-
standing drama. Its fellow NBC show, "Friends,"
took home a pair of awards as well.


O'Brien delivers as Emmy host.


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