PopWatch called it “the most important seven minutes in history,” somewhat tongue-in-cheek, at the end of last week. FOX announced that it would be airing American Idol for an extra seven minutes, from 8:00pm to 9:07pm, in order to find time for all ten performers. Of course, in this age of accountable media, they were all too quick to point out its real purpose: putting a dent into the first results show of Dancing with the Stars. FOX is promising that House will air in its entirety (With very few commercial breaks, clearly) in the following 53 minutes, and things have been abuzz since that point.
UPDATE: Well, the end of Idol was uneventful, and the beginning of Dancing with the Stars was even more boring than you could imagine. Still, in the end, who got eliminated from Dancing with the stars? Why, it was Paulina and Max who were sent home on Dancing with the Stars, but only after an hour of sheer boredom.
To be honest with you, I think we need to step back and look past the symbolic ramifications of this scheduling. Because, really, that’s all there is. While FOX is clearly posturing for media attention, let’s remember that, uh, nothing happens in the first seven minutes of a results show. For people interested in tuning in to see who gets eliminated on Dancing with the Stars, that first seven minutes will likely contain little but a recap, maybe an opening group number, perhaps some bad jokes from Tom Bergeron…nothing to really be too worried about. The conflict between these two shows will have little impact on viewing habits. I would wager that anyone who would have changed the channel at 9pm will likely do the same at 9:07 after watching Idol.
And yet, it is quite the gesture; while ABC has long frustrated TiVo users with its wonky :01 scheduling in an attempt to keep people around, nobody has gone so far as to play with a figure as large as 7 minutes while remaining below thirty outside of the wonky scheduling of Supersized comedies over at NBC. If they had really wanted to stretch out the episode, they could have pushed it to 90 minutes and bumped House back a week; this move was clearly calculated purely to get in the way of ABC’s reality success. While networks are always at odds with scheduling, and are always looking for a way to undercut the competition, this kind of takes things to a new level.
While NBC’s Supersized comedy tradition never turned into a trend for other networks, I think that this is certainly a precedent-setting move. Other networks, especially those with reality shows, will be quite interested to see the results on Wednesday morning when the ratings come in. This experiment could give further prudence to the laziness of TV viewers, unwilling to change the channel after the start of an hour, or perhaps prove further the level of apathy towards the drawn out nature of results shows. Whatever the result, one can only hope that the earth does not explode during this seven minutes; while it may not be the most important such minutes in history, it’s certainly making a usually slow March period quite interesting in the world of television.
After the jump, for those interested, is the rumoured songlist for tonight’s episode of American Idol. Want to know who’s performing what songs on ‘Songs that Inspired Gwen Stefani’ Night?
Blake Lewis – “Love Song” by the Cure
Chris Richardson – “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
Chris Sligh – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police
Gina Glocksen – A Ballad by The Pretenders
Haley Scarnato – “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper
Jordin Sparks – “Hey Baby” by No Doubt
Lakisha Jones – Donna Summer song
Melinda Doolittle – Donna Summer song
Phil Stacey – “Every Breath You Take” by the Police
Sanjaya Malakar – “Bathwater” by No Doubt
Blake gets The Cure, which is a very solid choice, but there’s way too much Police and No Doubt on this list. I like to see Bathwater and Don’t Speak on there, but the people performing them are totally unsuited to them (Or, in Sanjaya’s case, to everything). Similarly, I don’t feel that Sligh or Stacey can do anything with Police songs. Lakisha and Melinda continue to fail to diversify in theme weeks, sticking to power belters, while Haley can’t possibly hope to do True Colours justice. Gina and the Pretenders is a good fit, but without knowing which song I make no promises.