It took 4 months, 42 episodes, 24 semifinalists, 3 intermittently infuriating judges, a small army of Swaybots, a handful of botched lyrics, 97.5 million votes, and one particularly soul-crushing bit of promotion on behalf of Mike Myers’ latest (alleged) comedy, but American Idol‘s seventh season has finally come to an end.
Yet as much as I’m filled with relief, as much as my last few weeks have been dominated by dreams of leisurely Tuesday and Wednesday nights spent cooking gourmet meals, reading stacks of new books, maybe even leaving the house and (gasp!) catching a summer blockbuster or two, tonight’s stellar season finale made me a little wistful. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, shortly after dabbing the tears from my eyes over David Cook’s undeniably touching victory — and after fielding a phone call from my happily married sister, who is nonetheless planning her wedding (!) to the season 7 champ — I grabbed the calendar off my wall and did some deeply dorky calculations.
Yes, fellow Idoloonies, only 237 days (by my best calculations) till the start of season 8!
Okay, okay, that was uncalled for and unacceptable. But admit it: You’re kind of excited. And despite all the irritations and indignities of the season — the blatant producer manipulation, the fusty theme nights and mentors, the Paulagate incident (and lack of follow-up apology), Randy’s excruciatingly limited vocabulary, the too often inexplicable order of contestant elimination — you’re probably not going to follow through on your annual resolution to ”never watch another episode of this damn show ever again!”
Because, on nights like tonight, when Idol gets it mostly right, it’s a beautiful distraction from the mundane concerns of our workaday lives, from our laundry lists of tasks not yet finished (or perhaps not even started), from the relentless weight of our current news headlines. (Raise your hand if George Michael’s glorious ”Praying for Time” struck a chord.)
Of course, for the first 20 minutes or so of tonight’s show, I worried that Nigel Lythgoe had learned nothing from season 6’s disastrous season finale. That opening shot of David Cook and David Archuleta, dressed in white and engaged in a tense face-off, was so bogus that the usually shame-retardant Ryan Seacrest even sounded a little embarrassed as he approached the two finalists and declared, ”This…is the American Idol season finale!” (And in the process, deprived us for the second straight night of his trademark straight-up ”This…is American Idol!” Tell me I’m not the only one who wanted to hear it one more time during this calendar year.)
No less excruciating was the opening musical number, a brutal mash-up of this year’s 12 Idol finalists, a pack of So You Think You Can Dance hoofers, and the Temptations’ ”Get Ready.” What with everyone dressed in white and dashing to and fro all over the stage, the rapid-fire (and generally shoddy) camera work, and the presence of those blasted Swaybot hands in the foreground, I couldn’t get my bearings, and was left feeling physically and emotionally woozy.
And while the two Davids’ duet on Chad Kroeger’s ”Hero” served as an inoffensive palette cleanser, nothing could prepare me for the bile and ipecac cocktail that was the extended advertisement for Mike Myers’ movie The Love Guru.
NEXT: The also-rans step forward