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End of Season Letdown
May 26

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start by recapping the major finales that happened over the last week. Survivor: Tocantins ended its run by crowning the latest champion. James "JT" Thomas Jr. won one million dollars Sunday winning the crown by a unanimous 7-0 vote. This was only the 2nd time in the history of Survivor that a winner was crowned via unanimous vote. JT won both immunity challenges, never had his name written down for an elimination vote, and also won the fan favorite vote which gave him an extra one hundred thousand dollars. He went home with $1,100,000.

He beat Stephen Fishbach, who really did himself no favors in the jury deliberation. JT did what he had to do to win the game, and like Bob Crowley last season, flew under the radar enough to make himself useful but not insanely hated. He had the balance of physical strength and mental toughness like all winners do.

Next season will take place in Samoa. And I can’t wait. This season was another good one as the casting was excellent, the challenges were brilliant, and Jeff was great as host. Will we see another Coach in the future? I know I will be watching.

We get to the biggest "upset" of the season on the American Idol 8 Season Finale. Kris Allen from Conway, Arkansas claimed the title from Adam Lambert of San Diego, CA. We are hearing the usual cries of rigging, fixing, and the new twist of homophobia from the Lambert crowd. But here is the real deal. Adam DID NOT do enough to win the title from Kris.

Let's go back to the final three and Danny losing. Danny's votes went directly to Kris. Adam had to do something where he would expand his voting base. He didn't do it. In the finale, Adam and Kris had to sing the coronation single "No Boundaries". Both of them turned in a brutal performance of that song.

Adam was ROCK. He sang Mad World, and Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. That Cooke song was a brilliant performance but it wasn't his choice. It was Simon Fuller's. Adam never really wanted to stray from his rock roots and his best performances were in genres he was forced to do. Although I do not think Kris was a deserving champion, he did enough to win it. He expanded his song choices to get into genres that were not in his comfort zone.

The results show had some flashes of brilliance as Adam killed it with KISS on Beth, Rock and Roll All Nite and Detroit Rock City. Alison Iraheta dueted with Cyndi Lauper on a very competent version of "Time After Time", and Adam/Kris did "We Are The Champions" with Queen. And the duet with Bikini Girl/Kara was priceless as Kara got to show off her banging bikini body. Unfortunately we got to see Norman Gentle one more time.

When the smoke clears, all the Adam Lambert/Kris Allen fans need not worry about either of them. This is the best possible career situation for both of them. If Adam won, he would be stuck in an album he didn't want to make. Kris NEEDS this exposure. Adam now gets to make the glam rock album he wants to, and will probably outsell Kris 2 to 1.

Personally, I think America made the wrong choice. They went to the safe choice rather than the one that was more talented, the better performer and the all around package. Kris Allen is the least deserving champion of American Idol since Taylor Hicks in Season 5. And I believe that there will be a time where an American Idol won't have to diversify. Carrie Underwood didn't have to become anything different. She is country and did well for herself. Adam Lambert blew the door wide open for the potential for a rock Idoler. Watch for it to happen.

As for the show itself, Season 8 was a major letdown from Season 7. The judges save was used incorrectly, and I am not sure if Kara will be back for Season 9. I didn't like how they made the top 12 into the top 13 this year, and with no female finalists for the past 2 seasons, the women need to step up their game. I hope they go back to the 6 and 6 format and tone down the top 36 to the top 24. There was a lot of tinkering that didn't work. If they go back to the basics of the show, maybe it will improve. But overall, the show felt just good to me. There was no Idol moment for me this year.

Now that most of the fall/spring shows are out of the's time for the summer schedule to head to the airwaves. So now it's time for the 2nd Annual Block Party Summer Preview Spectacular. Here we go(dates and times subject to change):

• THE BACHELORETTE (ABC) - Debuted May 18. Jillian Harris, the 3rd place contestant of last season's controversial Bachelor, gets her shot at love with 30 male himbos going after her affection. With the Jason Mesnick decision still fresh in the viewer's head, this will be another monster hit from the Mike Fleiss camp.

• 4TH AND LONG (SPIKE) - Debuted May 18. Former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin hosts this show where 11 contestants get a shot to participate in Dallas Cowboys Training Camp for the 2009 Season. This is right up Spike's Alley with shows like the Ultimate Fighter and Pros Vs. Joes in their camp. This is very good counterprogramming and could be a sleeper of the early summer, with the Dallas Cowboy name brand in the spotlight.

• SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (FOX) - Debuted May 21. The monster summer hit is back for Season 5. Debuting right after American Idol, I expect this to continue the huge ratings it has been garnering. Cat Deeley doesn't hurt either.

• HERE COME THE NEWLYWEDS (ABC) - Debuted May 25th. This reality show shouldn’t have had a season 2, but does any way. This is The Newlywed Game on steroids, but this show isn't what ABC is banking on ratings and publicity wise to keep them afloat during the summer.

• WIPEOUT (ABC) - May 27. However, this is one of the shows that ABC is banking on. The surprise obstacle course hit of last summer comes back bigger, badder and ballsier. Look for it to be even better this time around.

• I'M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE (NBC) - June 1. This is going to be one of two things: either totally craptacular or so bad it's good. My guess: craptacular. Take 10 celebrities like Sanjaya Malakar and Heidi and Spencer from the Hills, put them in the Costa Rican jungle to compete for charity and hope people watch. I think more people want to keep them there.

• THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR (FOOD) - June 7. The best food competition show on TV returns for Season 5 with Bobby Flay as host. Contestants compete to be a Food Network host and have their own show. The quality on this show is high, but they have had a few missteps. Let's hope they get better in their background checking so we don't have another repeat of Joshua Adam Garcia from Season 3.

• TOP CHEF MASTERS (BRAVO) - June 10. Take a killer top rated Bravo show, and add 24 of the world's best chefs and you basically have the World Series of Cooking. I am not usually a fan of the show, but this one will have a lot of people watching. They have kicked this show up a few notches (sorry, Emeril).

• SHE'S GOT THE LOOK (TV LAND) - June 10 - This show, where models over 35 get a shot at a modeling contract, returns for Season 2.

• THE MONEY LIST AND 20Q (GSN) - June 13. Two new shows debut on GSN and the reports on both are not good. The Money List is the retooled version of the one episode Fox bomb The Rich List with Fred Roggin as host. 20Q has Cat Deeley hosting the show based on the Mattel toy, produced by Endemol. I really don’t have high hopes for either show.

• THE SINGING BEE (CMT) - June 16. This is one of the most intriguing show movements. The Singing Bee moves from NBC to Viacom network CMT (Country Music Television). I really think this will be a good move, because country music is a huge format and I believe this show could work here. Watch this show succeed in it's new home.

• CAN YOU DUET (CMT) June 20. Season 2 of this show comes back as the producers of American Idol look to find the next Country Duo. With Nashville Star gone, this and the Singing Bee will have people flock to CMT this summer.

• AMERICA'S GOT TALENT (NBC) June 23. The mega hit of summer for NBC comes back for Season 4 with a new host in Nick Cannon. With Susan Boyle fresh on the minds of America, this show is going to be HUGE. And after seeing what I saw in auditions in March, this is going to be fun.

• THE SUPERSTARS (ABC) - June 23. The 1970's athletic competition show gets a 21st Century makeover with 8 celeb/athlete teams competing. The nostalgia factor will get some tune in factor...but I am not sure this will translate in 2009.

• DANCE YOUR ASS OFF (OXYGEN) - June 29. Marissa Janet Winokur hosts this weight loss show where overweight people compete to lose weight by dancing. The ads for this show are very unappealing...and I don’t know if the hybrid of Biggest Loser/Dancing With the Stars will work. But I will admit that the female demographic might watch this.

• THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP (NBC) - July 7. NBC tries to make another summer hit dealing with travel. It failed with Lost and Treasure Hunters, and it looks like its going to go 0 for 3. Take families in an RV going across America competing in challenges for a huge cash prize. It didn't work as Amazing Race: Family Edition and it won't work here.

• I SURVIVED A JAPANESE GAME SHOW (ABC) - July 8 The recent Rose D'Or winner for Best Show returns to ABC for Season 2. This is going to make the ratings for the show even bigger and we now have two summer staples for ABC. I cannot wait for this one.

• HGTV DESIGN STAR (HGTV) - July 19. Season 4 of HGTV's Design Show Host Competition comes back. Not my thing...but this is one of the biggest shows on HGTV's line up and I don’t see ratings going down for this one.

• DATING IN THE DARK (ABC) - July 20. The dumbest concept of the summer. Take people who woo each other in the dark and decide if they want each other after they see each other in the light. Endemol is responsible for this bomb.

• HELL'S KITCHEN (FOX) - July 21. After just declaring Danny Veltri the winner of Season 5• along with a job at the Borgata in Atlantic City and $250,000• Season 6 of this hot Fox show debuts in July. I see high ratings, and a lot of cursing. Also look for Little Gordon to make an appearance.

• MORE TO LOVE (FOX) - July 28. Fox tries its hand at dating shows with a show where 'normal' (read overweight) people get a shot at love. There will be a trainwreck factor to watch the first episode, but I don't think people will stay.

• FACE THE ACE (NBC) - August 1 The producers of Poker After Dark spin their show off with people playing heads up poker against Full Tilt Poker Aces for a shot at $1M dollars. This is great counterprogramming, and I think will be a hit.

• WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE: 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (ABC) - August 9 - The biggest open secret finally comes to light as Regis comes back home for 11 episodes. The show will try, and mostly succeed, to capture lightning in a bottle. But the fact that people have to audition for the show instead of competing in the original phone game may be a ratings killer. We shall see.

• PROJECT RUNWAY (LIFETIME) - August 20th - After a long delay in court, the granddaddy of fashion design shows comes back for Season 6. People are waiting to see Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, and the gang come back. The ratings for Fashion House are not that good. I expect this season to be the biggest yet for the Runway crew.

• BIG BROTHER 11 (CBS) - July - Finally, Julie Chen and the CBS crew are back for another summer of pretty people doing pretty stupid things. With Big Brother UK on the verge of cancellation, will this version be far behind?

After all these summer shows, we have the new fall season to look forward to. Let's see what game show fans have to look forward to:

CBS - Survivor and Amazing Race will return in their normal time slots. "Game Show In My Head" and "Million Dollar Password" say goodbye.

NBC - They had the worst bloodletting this year letting go of 16 series. "Momma's Boys" "Superstars of Dance" and "The Chopping Block" go bye bye . But the biggest game show to go was "Deal or No Deal". With the syndicated version doing well this was not an unexpected move. The ratings for the most recent primetime return of Deal were brutally bad.

The cancellation of Deal is a case of history repeating itself. You had gimmicky gameplay, overexposure, spoilage, and no one ever winning the game in the way it was supposed to be played. Sound familiar? This was the case(in most parts) like the way Millionaire flamed out a few years back. This is sad for game show fans as Deal could have been on primetime for years.

Coming back - Celebrity Apprentice 3 and a new season of "The Biggest Loser.

ABC - The only reality show cancellation is "Opportunity Knocks". We will have a 2nd Season of True Beauty, new seasons of "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Bachelor". The biggest news from ABC, an early preview of Shark Tank. Shark Tank is the US version of the UK show "Dragon's Den" produced by Mark Burnett. The premise: Business proposals are proposed by entrepreneurs and the "sharks/Dragons" will say yes or no to them.

FOX - Another sad set of game show casualties as "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" and "Don't Forget The Lyrics!" are cancelled. This was another mistake as they were both hits in the 8-10PM Thursday block. They were moved to Friday and lost a ton of viewers. Both shows could have been prime time hits for years. "Hole In The Wall" was another casualty.

The biggest news/gamble for Fox is that they are going to try another season of "So You Think You Can Dance" right after the summer ends.
CW - America's Next Top Model without Paulina Porizkova stays at Wednesdays at 9PM. 13: Fear is Real is gone.

Block Party Quick Hits:

• Casting Notices have appeared on Craigslist for a New York Based Pilot for a "revival of a classic game show produced by Embassy Row". After the reports from CBS over the last few weeks...this COULD be the Pyramid Revival.

• Dance Your Ass Off: The Weight Is Over debuts June 16. This is the casting special for the series debuting on Oxygen.

• Cash Cab is coming to your mobile phone.

• Patty Blagojevich is planning to take her husband's place on "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here". Her hubby is Rod, the disgraced former Illinois Governor.

• Melissa Peterman of "Reba" hosts the Singing Bee on CMT.

• Drew Carey signs a two year first look production deal with CBS. And Indy Car Driver Sarah Fisher makes an appearance on Price for an Indy 500 Showcase.

• Legendary Announcer Don Pardo steps down from Saturday Night Live at the age of 91.

• Get Well wishes go out to Survivor Winner Ethan Zohn who has Stage 2 Hodgkins' Lymphoma.

• Jen Schefft from the Bachelor/Bachelorette gets married.

• The Daytime Emmy Nominations are out. "Cash Cab" "Jeopardy!" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" are the game show nominees. Ben Bailey, Howie Mandel, Alex Trebek and Meredith Vieira are the host nominees. While Price is Right was not a shock by being left out, where is Wheel of Fortune and Pat Sajak?

Jason Block promises not to let you down this summer, especially if you e-mail him to