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January 15

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Keeping It Simple
January 22

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

Welcome to the Block Party Podcast for the week of January 22, 2008Ė"Keeping It Simple." Just a reminder. If you are hearing this in the audio version, thank you for the download. If you are reading can download it directly from the link to the upper left or the webpage at

And when it comes to keeping it simple, the comeback of "The Amazing Race" is nothing short of simply spectacular. And who do we have to thank for that...none other than Hugh Jackman himself. Yes, Wolverine saved Phil Keoghanís bacon.

When Hugh Jackmanís "Viva Laughlin" (a bad attempt by CBS to make an Americanized version of the British show "Viva Blackpool") tanked after two episodes, CBS rushed "The Amazing Race" onto the schedule. And after the very unsuccessful All-Star Edition, the hopes were really not that good. I even said that the show was past its prime.

Boy was I wrong. This season has been great, and the ratings have shown it. So, why has the show been so good?

ĖThe time slot is right on. This is a Sunday night at 8PM show. Families love to watch the show together.

ĖThe casting has been great. Every team has/had a story to tell.

ĖThe challenges were fantastic. I loved how this show has been a race from leg to leg. Although, I will nitpick and say the new "Speed Bump" feature needs a bit of improvement. Both "Speed Bumps" were mostly part nuisances (a yoga class, and a dash through fireworks). The speed bumps didnít hinder either team, and albeit for a bad decision, Kynt & Vyxsin might still be in the race.

ĖThe reason why the show has won every reality show Emmy up to this point is evident. From Phil as the host, and the great editing, the production has kept itís top notch status.

And with the elimination (finally!) Of Jen and Nathan, we have three teams you can root for. You have Ronald and Christina, the father daughter team in 1st place that are peaking at the right time, TK & Rachel, the newly dating couple whoís laid back style hasnít hurt them, and Nicholas and Donald...the sentimental favorites that are grandfather and grandson.

So, who do I think is going to win? Looking at it objectively, I think Nicholas and Donaldís age gap will finally wear out, and TK and Rachelís luck will run out. Look for Ronald and Christina to take the million. And it will be simply...the best season finale in a long time.

Another show that has gone back to the concept of "Keeping It Simple" has been, believe it or not, "Celebrity Apprentice". This show has surprised the heck out of me for doing what the show hasnít done in a while...gone back to its roots.

Which is a business competition...not a showcase for products. Yes, Pedigree dog food was on last week, but the week before it was a hot dog selling contest. Simple as that...and we have people who are playing to win...except Omarosa...who, in my opinion, is trying to make it the Omarosa show.

Mark my words, that will bite her in the butt soon enough. She will be in the boardroom enough times, if team Empresario keeps losing.

This is going to be fun to watch...and I really was glad that Iíve been proven wrong.

In life, sometimes my crystal ball can be very fuzzy. Sometimes my crystal ball comes in full 1080p HD. This time was one of the times where I was right on the money. The day NBC announced it was remaking "American Gladiators", I said that NBC should test the Gladiators for anabolic steroids. Well, according to Broadcasting and Cable, they are doing just that.

The New York Post picked up the story on Monday saying that the Gladiators were tested when they had their early physicals and are subject to random tests at any time. Broadcasting and Cable insiders state NBC is doing it for health concerns of the gladiators...the Post theorizes that they donít want a bad public relations steroid scandal, especially in the wake of the Mitchell report in baseball.

Whatever, the reason, you got to give kudos for NBC to at least making an attempt to protect the health of the athletes. I think the fact that a quick renewal of a second season, an announced live tour and a cartoon series (yes, you heard me right!) might have something to do with it as well.

Finally, this week, American Idol came back in a big way this week, and we saw a few potential top 24 candidates in the auditions in Philadelphia and Dallas. I am partial to Kristi Lee Cook from Selma, Oregon myself. But, as predicted, we saw a bunch of incredibly bad auditions...and a man in a Princess Leia Bikini. A heavy set man in a Princess Leia bikini. My eyes need some permanent washing from that one.

But what really disturbed me this week was the audition of a man from New Hope, Pennsylvania...Now, I will not give the manís name on here because I donít want to encourage him, but basically, his audition was a crazy manís song about stalking Paula Abdul.

Now I am not blaming the man who sang it, or wrote it. I am blaming Fox and the producers for showing it. You have a lot of celebrities being stalked, especially on shows such as TMZ. Look at the Britney Spearsís fiasco. And then you have the nerve to show went on way too long and basically exploited Paula Abdulís well being for the sake of entertainment...not good, guys...not good at all.

Another thing that wasnít good was the fact that the producers were using valuable broadcast time to showcase two attention seekers who were a) older than the age requirements of the show (By the way the age requirements are 16-29 years of old for those who donít know) and b) had no shot to win the competition.

Last year, Fox did this in the right way. A man whoís wife died of a terminal illness wanted him to audition and the producers let him. Yeah, he was old. It was a sweet, tender moment which was nice to watch. With the "auditions" of "No Sex Allowed" Guy and "We Are All Brothers" aluminum foil cape man (again, Iím not giving these guysí names out) the producers are doing the viewers a disservice. I know the oddballs make the show work, but donít you think the reason why viewership is down (even at 33 million people) is because WE WANT TO SEE THE TALENT! We want to see who the top is going to be. I really hope this is not going to be the start of a trend.

That will do it for this week, until next time...remember...donít just play to win!

Jason Block still won't cop to his cop outfit for the next Idol audition. E-mail him at