The first ever “Hollywood” Week was held in Pasadena, which is at least somewhat closer to being Hollywood than Anaheim is to being Los Angeles, so they’re already one up on a certain major league baseball team.
Personally, I never cared much for Hollywood week, wherever it was located. There were rarely any memorable performances, and the way the challenges are set up, if you tried to do them for a sociology experiment, someone from your institution’s Human Subjects committee would come and have a very stern talk with you. But at least in the first season it all took place over one episode, rather than the bloated, ratings-chasing deathmarch it would become in later years.
(I’m pretty sure I really liked this show, but reading that last paragraph over again I’m not so sure. Perhaps this is just an elaborate trick I’m playing on myself.)
Anyway, on with the show.
0:12 We open with a recap of the bad singers from last week, just in case you haven’t gotten enough of the idea that there are people who have no talent for singing, but try anyway.
03:24 First performer sings Aretha, first criticism from Simon is that she’s too fat to be a star. We’re off to a great start.
03:46 “I don’t believe that if Aretha entered this competition, she would win it.” I’m not sure if I should be sorry or relieved that Twitter didn’t exist for this episode. (Bear in mind, folks: This is the first singer we see. This is what they wanted to lead with.)
05:47 A stab at justifying making the contestants work overnight is made, as being something they might have to do in the music business. Personally, I think they only rented the building for three days.
08:54 Who doesn’t love a good forgotten-lyrics montage?
09:27 Paula’s dad! I had no recollection of this at all. He seems nice.
09:48 Less than ten minutes in, and we have already heard about Jim Verraros’s deaf parents twice.
13:44 Time for some random contestant googling! Khaleef Chiles appears to have stuck with the showbiz thing, in the sense that he has made a page for himself on IMDB and appears to have written a song for Christina Milian. All in all, not too bad for someone with only a one-star rating in the American Idol Internet Database.
18:23 This episode’s first (only?) glimpses of Kelly and Justin, in a round-up of advancing contestants. Neither of them appear to have made good decisions about their clothing.
20:22 They’ve stopped doing this thing where they let the losers get up on stage and grasp at another fifteen seconds of fame by serially insulting the judges? Because it’s painful all over. Especially the part where Randy tells the guy that he lost because he’s fat and unstylish.
23:56 Almost as uncomfortable: The staged banter in whatever Ford convertible they’re flogging at this point in the past.
25:31 Tamyra Gray makes her first impression, singing “Get Here.” I think I liked her? I know I never liked her mattress-striped pants.
27:49 In a rare genuine moment, a singer forgets the words to her song, and the other contestants, watching from the audience, sing along in a soft chorus until she picks it back up.
28:31 in unrelated news, the policy of picking “singers” based on the quality of their abs is starting to show its weakness here.
30:50 First singing appearance by Justin Guarini. Still no sign of Kelly, possibly due to an insufficiency of midriff on her part.
32:31 Ah yes, the “hilarious” sketch sequence of the hosts trying to break in to spy on the judges’ deliberations. Honestly, guys, 3-2-1 Contact had better writing than this. At least teach us some multiplication tables or something.
37:03 There was an interesting cruelty to the way they chose the finalists in the first few seasons by splitting them up into groups that went through or were eliminated en masse. It meant that, instead of just doubting their judgement of their own talent, for what must have seemed like an interminable wait, the contestants got to spend that time judging, and re-judging, and questioning their conclusions about everyone else in the room with them. Fun! But they couldn’t drag the process out for an entire episode, so obviously it had to go.
39:45 Probably the best make-it-sound-like-this-group-is-out-when-they’re-safe the show ever managed. Peripheral glimpses of Kelly. Clearly, at this point, the show considered her canon fodder.