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The Champ Is Beatable
March 25

It's a phrase that you hear at least once a month if you are an avid follower of boxing, MMA, college ball, and any other form of competitive clash not involving Vince McMahon. Four little words that assure the public of the iron-clad resolve of an underdog in for the fight of his life against the reigning king of the ring (or the octagon or the court or the gridiron or whatever)...

"The champ is beatable."

What do those words mean? In a human world, we are all subject to human weakness. It is only a matter of exposing the weakness and, in the words of the warm-up guy at "The Late Late Show" two years ago (I forgot his name... Sorry, Travis S), expanding and enhancing. It's the chink in the armor. If you keep hitting the chink, it'll eventually turn into a furrow... then a crack.... then a break... and then a split. And as soon as your opponent is wearing half a breastplate off his right shoulder, then you can hit'em with everything you've got.

Simply put... even a person at the top of his game can fall from grace. Mike Tyson... the 2005 Duke Blue Devils... Ken Jennings... They all eventually lost. And lost hard.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the stages of "American Idol". As David Archuleta continues to wow the audience to the heavens, there are at least three people ready to drag him back to earth, and here is how they can do just that.

Let's season by season it, shall we, taking favorite vs. eventual winner.

Season 1: Tamyra Gray vs. Kelly Clarkson. This was back when the format (and everything else) mirrored its parent show "Pop Idol". Tamyra actually placed first in her semi-final, whilst Kelly placed second. The only thing was that while Tamyra exhausted her arsenal, Kelly came out guns-a-blazin'. As a result, she moved to the forefront while chaotic circumstances knocked Tamyra to the bottom (and out) for the first time in the round of four.

Season 2: Clay Aiken vs. Ruben Studdard. It was the round mound of sound versus the skinny geeky white boy. Clay turned into a sentimental favorite because of his wild-card placing, and as a result, he never saw the light of the bottom three. THAT is what may have helped Ruben Studdard, who parlayed his one and only stint in the bottom to a renewed resolve that resonated through to the public. That resulted in one of the closest finals in Idol history.

Season 3: Jennifer Hudson vs. Fantasia. Another case of chaos gone awry as these were two of the three favorites who were in the bottom three... together. Fantasia recovered. Jennfer recovered... eventually. An Oscar tends to do that.

Season 4: Mario Vazquez vs. Carrie Underwood. This was just a case of the hero shooting himself in the foot competition-wise.

Season 5: Chris Daughtry vs. Taylor Hicks. Larger and more active fanbase were able to chip away at the champ's ability. But of course, we know how that turned out in the long run. I haven't heard Taylor on the radio recently.

Season 6: Blake Lewis vs. Jordin Sparks. Blake never really broke out of his own mold, while Jordin just kept getting better and better.

So strategy can be summed up (and expanded and enhanced) with these...

1) Whatever you do, don't read anything written about you. If you read it, all of a sudden, you'll start to "believe your own press".

2) Evidenced by the sick pig-f'ers at VFTW, it's okay to be really bad, but it's really bad to be okay. The good get attention from raising their game. The bad get attention from just being pretty darn entertaining. The rest... are in trouble.

3) Remember your audience. If American Idol's audience is one thing, it's a giant focus group. You have to establish yourself before you decide to impose your own style on other people, especially if you're being put through the rigors of the music industry in fast forward.

4) If you go in with everything, make sure you have enough in your reserve to go in with everything plus ten again. At most, you'll have to do this for three months running. You'll either go into a psychotic episode of end up as one of the most legendary pop stars to come out of a game show since a young man named Usher Raymond held a note for some 15 seconds.

What, it's true. Ask Ed McMahon.

Game Show Alphabet Redux...

"Stargate Atlantis" actress Jewel Staite writes on her blog that the "A" entry is "kind of like that bar in your hometown.  You shouldn’t go there, but if no one you know’s around, it’s okay."

She's talking about the revival, but you can't find a child of the 80s (*raises hand*) that hasn't heard of "American Gladiators" and hoped/feared for the revival that NBC gave us this year. At least ESPN Classic is airing the original shows so we can watch and remember how innocent our Saturday mornings were... Smurfs, wrestling, and then AG at 5.

Quality nice.

And if Jewel should happen upon this column... Thank you.

American Gladiators:

25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day 14

This particular day would last half a year, but it would only be the beginning of one of the biggest waves in the genre. You thought 2000 was pretty interesting? Try going back to...

January 2, 1975 - Games, Games, and More Games...

The seeds were sown in 1965 with "The Hollywood Squares" on NBC.

Then came "The Price Is Right", "The Joker's Wild", and "Gambit" on CBS.

And before you know it, by New Year's Day of 1975, we had the biggest sweep of game shows ever. Or at least, during the 1970s. Thanks to Curt Alliaume, we had this list of game shows that aired at least one day during this pivotal year...

- Almost Anything Goes
- The Big Showdown
- Blank Check
- Blankety Blanks
- Celebrity Bowling
- Celebrity Sweepstakes
- Concentration
- The Cross-Wits
- Dealer's Choice
- The Diamond Head Game
- Don Adams' Screen Test
- Gambit
- Give-n-Take
- High Rollers
- The Hollywood Squares
- Jackpot!
- Jeopardy!
- The Joker's Wild
- Let's Make a Deal
- The Magnificent Marble Machine
- Masquerade Party
- Match Game
- The Money Maze
- Musical Chairs
- Name That Tune
- The Neighbors
- The New Treasure Hunt
- Now You See It
- Password All-Stars/Password
- The Price Is Right
- Rhyme and Reason
- Showoffs
- Spin-Off
- Split Second
- Sports Challenge
- Tattletales
- The $10,000/$25,000 Pyramid
- Three for the Money
- To Tell the Truth
- Truth or Consequences
- What’s My Line?
- Wheel of Fortune
- Winning Streak
- You Don’t Say!

Unless my math fails me, that's 24 games... in one year. A record that has yet to be matched... at least to my knowledge.

You can read more about them here:

Chico Alexander was born five years too late. E-mail him at