Kokoro, you asked for it - you got it!
The 15 finalists are in LA for stage 2 of the competition and elimination. Now that the coaches have their hand-picked teams of 5 each, the really intensive training/coaching begins. The coaches don’t do much actual training; instead, specialists are brought in for fitness, makeup, singing and dance. This round had less emphasis on the intelligence/knowledge aspect. I’m hoping that is addressed next round.
We’re introduced to the members of each team, along with a tidbit of information about each girl. In my hurry to get switched from one reality show to the next, and in the process of inserting a new tape, I missed some of these introductions for sports guy John Salley’s team.
Some of John’s team are Ashley, who is a great athlete but a terrible dancer, Andrea who was a last-minute pick, and Shannon who looks the part but looks aren’t everything. I missed intros for Kelly and Shawna.
Spice Girl Geri’s team has Kira who doesn’t shower (every day), Kristi who hopes her faith will get her thru, Jessica who can sing, gigantic Melanie (6ft is tall, and okay maybe it’s an exaggeration to say she’s gigantic, except that she towers over most of the other girls) and Monica, who was named Queen of North Carolina. While previous accolades count for little or nothing in this all-around competition, I’m sure her experience will help her to deal with the nerves and jitters of being judged.
Ex-Motown Prez Suzanne de Passe’s team boasts the high-voiced dancing Tarah who might be a bit immature, class-clown Evelyn who is a wild card, Carrie who has an amazing voice, but may lack confidence, Natalie the girl whom all three coaches wanted but her dancing needs work, and Blair-Witch Ali who is multi-talented, and working at being sexier because she hears that sex sells in Hollywood.
We’re told for the first, but most assuredly not the last time, that each coach has to cut one girl. I venture to say we are beaten about the head and neck with this information.
Everyone is in Hollywood and a montage of girls getting woken up, being nervous, and motivating themselves gets us in the spirit. This show moves at quite a crackling pace. Not a lot of guff or chaff here. Except for the bit about three girls being devastated at getting cut, tossed, eliminated, booted, evicted, with egos shattering like so much porcelain china. LOL
Mitch Mullany is our host. Three cheers for AMAI - it only took two episodes for me to learn his name. He does a lot more voicing-over than appearing on camera, but we get to see him once in a while just so we remember what he looks like. He tells us the girls are in good shape, but how good will be revealed after they are put through the paces by a trainer with routines inspired by martial arts.
Daniel is Trainer Dude’s name, but I don’t like him much, so I’m going to keep calling him Trainer Dude. He’s gonna be tough on all the girls. I think he likes being tough and mean just a little too much.
Trainer Dude tells us that Pretty Girls like to stay pretty and don’t like to spend a couple of hours doing stuff that will make them not pretty. I’m just wondering if Pretty Girls are similar to Cute Girls. Sorry, distracted there thinking about contestants on Survivor. Trainer Dude wants to see sweat and possibly tears, dammit! Maybe he has a point. In order to get fit, a person has to be willing to look stupid and get smelly and do dumb things. That explains why I’m here typing and smelling good with my well exercised carpal tunnels, and not there, getting fit abs and looking like an idiot.
Coach John reiterates the point that the concept in this “pageant” is that the winning girl has to be able to do all things great or almost great. Since most of these 15 finalists already have a few holes in their greatnesses, I can see it should be quite easy to eliminate a few of them without breaking a sweat. Haha.
Let’s get back to Trainer Dude’s martial arts & fitness class. Here’s Geri’s team with Kristi getting told off. Then Coach Geri has a word with Kristi, that she is giving only 80% and telling her that she has probably never had to try. Kristi naturally takes issue with this criticism but she only b!tches about it to the other girls. She’s not completely stupid to talk back to the coach.
Tall Melanie’s fitness level isn’t up to standard. Geri tells us that it’s a conundrum because Melanie is so good at singing but then in the other fields, well ... Geri doesn’t mind leaving a thought dangling. She says nature has a way of balancing it out and nobody gets everything. If nobody gets everything, then what is the point of this competition?
Trainer Dude is an a$$hole in my semi-professional opinion. With Suzanne’s team he finds that Kari is lacking in energy. Her response is to tell us that Evelyn is her roomie and wakes her up early in the morning. Right. It’s all Evelyn’s fault. :rolleyes
Poor Evelyn is next to get on Dude’s nerves. Dude thinks Evelyn’s attitude needs adjustment and he tells Suzanne that Evelyn is hiding behind her vocalness and her humour. I’d like to see more evidence of this humour. We sure are having a lot of chat and not much evidence. Evelyn says her way of releasing tension is by making people laugh. I’m sure I could use a laugh - let’s see Evelyn cracking jokes. They must be saving it for the Lighter Side of the Competition Look Back Show. What reality show would be complete without a look back at life & times together? Can't show the stuff now if you wanna have something Never Before Seen later.
Trainer Dude is most impressed with John’s team and the two of them cozy up to natter about how great John’s 5 are.
Back to the hotel for a beauty makeover. It’s not going to be fun. Veronica the Makeover Trainer pulls no punches. She’s got all kinds of advice and suggestions, most of which involve expensive plastic surgery or painful self-improvement. Examples: “The hair is very boring.” “You look 12 - it’s All American Girl, not All American Child.” “Your eyebrows are like two caterpillars on your face.” “Your bob (hairstyle) says I’m going to be a soccer mom.” “Your nose is too pronounced.” “Your eyebrows are Burt & Ernie.” “You have a big forehead.” “Your look says I fetch coffee for my boss.” “You look like Dracula.”
Yes, some of the comments are mean, but it’s still funny. Veronica is not exactly the height of gorgeousness herself.
Girls are shown making comments about Veronica. Ashley can’t take beauty advice from someone who looks terrible. Natalie wants a hairbrush to use as a weapon. Kelly says she likes her nails and doesn’t care if they don’t look the way the French do them.
But then we look at some before and after pictures and most of the girls do look much better. One or two I thought didn’t look improved, but the girls are smiling happily, very pleased with the end results.
Mitch our Host says the judges all have different ideas about the importance of beauty. Suzanne is looking for someone who is well rounded and not just two legs and a pair of basketballs. Hee. Geri believes beauty comes from within. John says it’s usually ugly people who say beauty comes from within. :lol They were interviewed separately, so hat’s off to the editors for making the effort to tee up the comments.
Next is singing with vocal trainer Michelle Owens. Michelle tells Suzanne that Natalie is good, but then Suzanne’s whole group is good at singing. We see them performing “Let’s Hear it For the Boy.” They can all sing. What I wouldn’t give to hear these gals on American Idol!?! My fave Evelyn has a really lovely voice, with depth and interesting tones. Sigh.
Geri’s group is doing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.” And it’s definitely the Aerosmith version, not the Mark Chesnutt version, for all you A.I. viewers. Jessica gets a cameo to perform the song. Geri comments on her emotionality. Truthfully, while it’s pretty good, I don’t think she is top 10 material. A few too many extra syllables and just a bit of over-singing. I don’t know what “pitchiness” is, but she was probably pitchy too.
John says if he had to cut someone right this second just for singing, it would be Kelly and Andrea. “Someone” = 2 people? Maybe John isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. (haha - get it? “cut someone” “sharpest knife” - oh never mind.) John says Andrea sang monotone. Kelly did well in fitness, but her voice is horrible. Like I said earlier, most of the girls have holes in their greatnesses. Hardly anyone is really looking like the All American Girl at the moment, especially with all those hairy eyebrows and prominent noses.
The singing instructor tells John that Andrea has the voice but is holding back. We get to see John & Kelly have a confab to discuss Kelly’s horrible singing. Then Kelly tries singing “I’m Every woman.” Being charitable, it sucked. But she is such a pretty girl, that I don’t want to see her get cut for the singing. But you know the drill - someone has to go, one from each team and this competition is about finding an all-rounder. John gives Kelly a smile, in spite of her really bad singing.
At the end of the first day’s training, Mitch in his Voice-Over Guy role tells us that there is one more event, then it will be time to make the cuts. This future cutting is the cue for inquiring of the coaches whom they would cut if they had to cut Right Now. Geri would send Christine home, while Suzanne says Evelyn is the one she’s considering letting go. John already told us either Andrea or Kelly.
But before we get into the last event of this round of competition, some of the judges have little chats with certain “borderline” girls. Kristi is first for one of these chats. You’ll recall that Geri already told her about only putting in 80%. Kristi is relying on her faith and I guess she expects her god to cough up the other 20%. Geri’s agenda is to convince Kristi to forget she’s so pretty and get the job done with the event. Geri doesn’t make any faith-related comments.
John says he’s ready to lay it on the line to Kelly. He tells her she has to blow everybody off when it comes to dance. I think he means blow them out, as in out of the water, but maybe blow them off is a subliminal desire peeping through. I think John REALLY likes Kelly, but he recognises that now isn't the time or place.
Evelyn is called in to meet with Suzanne, who instructs her to tone down the humor. Suzanne goes on and on about how Evelyn is using her humour to hide something else. “Give it a rest so we can get someplace.” Evelyn says she relieves stress with the humorous remarks, but Suzanne feels it is distracting. I feel cheated - why haven’t we seen more of Evelyn’s lively antics? Why, dammit, why?
Geri has a few words with Melanie. “I’l’ be watching you on the dancing.”
Mitch wants to get to know the girls, so he takes them out for a meal. They clink water glasses. For after-dinner party games, he wants to find out what they think about each other. He produces a bowl with questions on bits of paper for a game of Truth. Each girl is to pick a question and then select a girl to answer it.
We only see a few of these. Evelyn is selected to state one thing she really likes about someone and one thing she doesn’t like about the same person. Her response is that she likes that Kira is really talented and doesn’t like that Kira hasn’t been friendly with her.
A girl answers that she is most intimidated by Natalie. Other questions were who here do you think has the worst style and pick one girl you think has had plastic surgery. Obviously the point of the Get-Together was to allow Mitch and the girls to get to know each other better and to have a good laugh. Without name tags onscreen it was impossible to be sure who was talking. Also, finger-pointing doesn’t help if all that’s shown is the girl doing the pointing. One of those You Had to Be There moments, for sure.
Evelyn says she will be unhappy to be cut this week. Trying and failing isn’t acceptable to her. I hope she gets past that attitude. Having made it to the final 15 is an accomplishment, and she hasn’t failed, even if she does get cut tonight. But I like Evelyn and I’m not pleased to hear the comments going in this direction.
So far, the girls have been tested in singing, fitness and beauty. Now for the dancing.
Carrie the Dancing Instructor has come up with a more stylized routine. Each group has a slightly different combination. It looks like the kind of dance we’ve all done in our own living rooms to rock out to a favourite song. They have to learn the steps and perform as a group.
Suzanne will be looking to see if Evelyn can tone down the comedy. And Evelyn finds it hard knowing that she mustn’t talk or make jokes to alleviate her stress. I’m bemoaning the fact that we are seeing way too much of Evelyn. I know how reality tv show editing works. Whoever is leaving gets just that bit more face time, since there won’t be another chance.
Another who is finding it hard to keep up is Ali. She knows her dancing is bad. She cries at the camera that she doesn’t want to leave. Ali says if she goes home she’ll go back to the grind of working, auditioning and real life. Suzanne says it’s an agonizing process, cuz she’s gonna have to break someone’s heart tonight. Looking at Suzanne, I think it might be her husband’s, when she shows up at home. Man that woman is scary looking.
On John’s team, Andrea has to make up serious ground with her dancing. Kelly must also dance up a storm to avoid elimination. Since they are both on John’s team, the chances are that one of them will be cut.
Kelly tries too hard to win John over. She’s doing sexy dancing and touching him on the shoulder. Not your garden variety sexy touching, but given that they are really not close friends and that there should be no touching at all, Johnn feels uncomfortable. He says her dancing turned him on but turned him off at the same time. Kelly tells us that being flirty is in her nature and that she “really wanted it this morning.” :eek Wanted what???
Geri is watching for Kristi who has been giving 80%. and Melanie says that she hopes her effort is good enough. Geri says after their dancing that Kristi shows she’s not just another pretty face. Kristi says she’s shown she’s not afraid to get down and dirty.
It’s almost time for the cutting. “All 3 coaches are still undecided as to who they will be letting go,” says Mitch. Suzanne says she’s in despair. Geri says that the reality is setting in that she has to cut one. John wants one of the girls to get flu so he doesn’t have to make the decision. Suzanne says she will go to a quiet place. Geri moans about the pressure. John is concerned that he might be getting rid of the star.
Girls says it will feel good to find out what’s happening. Right now they feel sick. One girl has been thinking about this moment since she got picked. Time has run out for the coaches.
Suzanne goes first. Ali is in tears because she gets to move forward to the next round. She’s too emotional and I don’t think she’ll last too long. Natalie is next and there’s no question but that she is moving onto the next round. Suzanne tells her to try every day because she has so many gifts. More tears and hugs. Tarah is also staying on, she has done “a great job.” Tarah asks if she can give Suzanne a hug and is given permission to do so. Waiting with Carrie for their turns, Evelyn is thirsty and has to pee. Suzanne tells Evelyn she has a wonderful voice and that she is very special and has tried really hard. The agony is that she’s not what the competition is about and Suzanne is going to have to excuse her. Then Carrie is shown learning she is still in it and she tells us she’s in shock. Flip back to Evelyn saying her main thing is her voice so to get the validation on that point is great. She’s over this competition and looking forward to workshops for her music.
Geri’s Team. Geri begins with Monica, who is told “You’re through.” Monica thinks that means it’s over for her, and Geri has to explain she means she’s through into the next round. Monica is shocked! Congratulations to Jessica and more hugs and Kira is moving on. Kira hugs the walls and then runs out to hug the other girls. Finally Kristi and Melanie are the last two. We’re shown bits of each interview, and it’s hard to tell who is staying and who is going. Geri will say something a bit negative, and we’ll see first one girl, then the other. It’s a bit of a weird way to create suspense, but it gets the job done, especially with these two. In the end, it is Tall Melanie who goes, because she’s so strong in one area, and Geri wants to stay true to the theme of the show. Geri says it’s sad to let her go.
Melanie has a little bawl afterwards. It’s kind of sad, especially when she says it’s happened to her a lot already. Kristi is barely hanging on for one more round. Shocked doesn’t begin to describe it.
A commercial break and then John’s team, where emotions are running high. John tells Ashley she’s going on as is Shannon. Shawna learns that John felt the dance kicked in. She tells us she heard the opposite of what she expected.
“You’re my favourite,” he says to one of them. Of course, my taping leaves something to be desired. In an effort to cut out ads, I forgot to turn the machine back on and so missed some of John’s team learning their fates. I don’t have this over-hyped moment to review. I just have the notes I made while watching.
Kelly was told “I know you can dance, your personality is wonderful, but for the All American Girl, you don’t have the ability and I can’t take you over.” Andrea the last-minute pick gets to go on and she does a weird happy hands dance to celebrate.
The teams are now: Coach Geri with Kristi, Jessica, Monica and Kira. Coach John has Shawna, Shannon, Andrea and Ashley. Finally, with Coach Suzanne are Carrie, Natalie, Ali and Tarah. We know a little bit more about the girls, but essentially a good deal of time was spent on girls who were cut.
Voice-Over Guy says next week one more girl will be sent home. I’m wondering how that one girl will be chosen. And I thought two more would be cut, to get it down to 10. :shrug I think they might give the girls another knowledge test and whoever scores lowest will be eliminated. At least that will take the decision out of the judges’ hands. That’s my prediction; we weren’t told how the next elimination(s) will be made. Once there are only 10 girls, it will be up to the overworked American public to get on those phones and vote.