Saturday night I was at a fun house party when my phone rang. The lovely voice on the other end was imploring me to find a television immediately. Apparently, there was some Kansas City version of American Idol on and it was must-see television. How could I decline?
So, I went to the living room and gave a brief explanation of why I was about to turn on the television. The description I gave elicited a mixture of knowing smirks, wide-eyed anticipation and boisterous guffaws. We turned the TV on, found Channel 9 and sat transfixed by what unfolded before our eyes.
It turns out we were watching a show called Harrah's Lucky Break. It really is just an American Idol knockoff filmed at Harrah's featuring local contestants. If you Google it, you will find that you and I may be the only people who didn't know it existed.
Anyway, we turned it on in time to see a single performance and the final announcement. It was only 10 minutes or so, but those 10 minutes contained hours worth of entertainment. The single performance was actually not bad, so it is hard for me to comment generally on the quality of the talent (though it sounds from other reviews that what we saw was an exception). What I can comment on is everything else.
As the oddly decent performance rambled through, the producers felt it important to make sure we got a look at the crowd. Awesome. The crowd seemed to be the result of a casting call for Midwestern casino regulars. The old lady who plays penny slots, the drunk college sports fan who lost his black jack money hours ago, the kids whose parents have reclaimed them after abandoning them to the arcade for several hours and (of course) the all-you-can eat couple. If I get the opportunity, I will watch every episode of Lucky Break just to take stock of the crowd.
There are also the judges, which I gather are different each week, and who are supposedly local celebrities. I recognized no one judging on Saturday night. They were, however, and interesting mix of people who have no business on television. Ditto the host, who perhaps was a local radio host.
At the end, they brought who appeared to be all the finalists to the stage. What I saw there made me sick with remorse that I had not seen the rest of the show. A lady in what may or may not have been a purple velvet dress and a guy in a turquoise suit are quite simply people that I should see perform. Some guy won and made a little speech. Everyone clapped and then it sort of just stopped without a real finish. That is probably the way it should be.
As for Channel 9, they followed this quality programming with a movie that I must believe was designed to enhance the perceived quality of the show that preceded it. The movie was called Theodore Rex. It was about Whoopi Goldberg and a dinosaur that wore tennis shoes who team up to solve mysteries. I am not kidding. Here is the proof:
We watched about 30 minutes of this movie before the curiosity of it could no longer compete with our desire not to see it. The party then resumed normal party activities. I like to think, however, that we all are a little different today because of what we saw. Maybe not better. Maybe not worse. But definitely different.