"American Idol": Group therapy, but no singing

AMERICAN IDOL: Hollywood: Over 300 conetstants made it to Hollywood and only 70 will survive. The Hollywood round begins Wednesday, Feb, 8 (8:00-9:00 PM ET PT ) and Thursday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured: Contestants waiting for the judges decision during the Hollywood round on AMERICAN IDOL. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.
Contestants waiting for the judges decision during the Hollywood round on "American Idol," Feb. 9, 2012.

(CBS) "The night is only going to get worse."

With these words the saintly Ryan Seacrest began to build the excitement for last night's callous, cruel episode of "American Idol" - the show that needs episodes in order to make more episodes.

So Seacrest's preamble suggested we would see tears, paramedics, more tears and, well, how was Symone Zaire Black?

Special section: "American Idol"

At the end of the previous night's amusement, Black had been left prostrate, having seemed to faint and fall off the stage.

Did "Idol" care? But of course. Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe tweeted after the show: "I know you're all going crazy. You'll have to wait until [Thursday]. That's why I'm a mean producer."

To this he added another caring tweet: "It's not a 'cliffhanger.' She didn't hang, she fell."

It's good to know that his stiff-upper-lip BBC training always gives him something to fall back upon.

At least last night's show moved swiftly into part two of the cliffhanger-non-cliffhanger. Black got medical attention. The other contestants prayed.

Meanwhile, back on the floor, Black admitted to the medical staff that she hadn't eaten since lunch. A Coke is what she needed, the ladies declared. What she got was a green can - a Sprite, one assumed. It can't have been Mountain Dew, can it?

Black rose up. She held her forehead. A lady opined that it was probably her blood sugar.

"That's probably what it is," mused Dr. Randy Jackson.

The producers intercut Black's hospital visit with the incisions being made back at the theater. No, not the operating theater. The Steven Tyler theater. 

Another few hopefuls were dismissed with the flick of a scalpel and a twitch of Tyler's thick lips. Yet there were still 185 contestants left. Another half would, of course, be cast off very soon.

Now, you see, the contestants would have to sing in groups. Is this irrelevant? Yes. It does, though, make for fine soap opera. Contestants needed to form groups with people they didn't know.

Amy Brumfield, the girl who lives in a tent, was sick with the flu. She also has something of a checkered past, so how romantic that she paired up with Alicia Bernhart, who happens to be a cop.

But not for long. After more maneuvering and politicking, the cop was unwanted. She seemed obsessed about singing "Joy the World" - the Three Dog Night version. Some might have marveled about a cop wanting to express joy to the world.

Some, though, might have wondered what on earth this had to do with a singing competition. Or, indeed, stardom. Bernhart wasn't exactly Martha Reeves looking for a few Vandellas. This was sadly reminiscent of Simon Cowell putting rejected blonde girls together so that they could form a rejected girl group in "The X Factor."

But wait, Symone Zaire Black was merely dehydrated. We were back to Black. She needed to find a group.

And then Gabrielle threw up into a large plastic bag. The implication was that Brumfield had infected her. Surely there would be an investigation. Surely the FBI would be called in. Gabrielle sat on the floor with her group - and her plastic bag - rehearsing and regurgitating. That's show business.

Hee Jun Huan, who two nights ago had struggled with the idea that everyone in Hollywood was beautiful, now struggled with being taught retrograde dance moves by a cowboy.

Then Christian (who's Christian?) felt sick. He felt dizzy. Then he felt well. Then he felt sick again. Would we see him vomit on camera? This was more than 40 minutes of show and hardly a second of singing. Then Christian was seen bent over a trashcan.

In another group, dubbed MIT, Hee Jun Huan explained that fellow group member Philip had endured a kidney stone and that the cowboy had endured "a brain stone."

The cowboy's name was Ritchie. Of course it was. Huan didn't know that, though. He didn't know his name at all.

It was then that one realized: there would be no performances at all in this episode. None. This was merely a set-up show for next week. Yes, it was an episode full of episodes, but no sung odes.

We ended by considering a group called the Beatles. Their personalities were tearing them apart. John wouldn't talk to Paul. And, as for Ringo - no, wait, the group was actually called the Betties and they were girls whose tiredness was making them very, very annoyed. Four of them went to bed.

The remaining one, Jennifer, was wailing into a phone, fearful that she might be sent home, while some other Betty would stay. How could she live with such injustice?

But then fellow Betty Briana Bell, dressed in a very bright pink sweatshirt, came back to bring a little rosy-colored hope into Jennifer's pale cheeks. They worked together some more.

Suddenly, it was the next morning. The judges arrived. Tyler sang the praises of sleep deprivation.

First up were the Betties. Jennifer took a deep breath. And the show ended. They call this Hell Week in the "Idol" world. Indeed.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.