America's Most Talented Seniors - Welcome to American ger"Idol"
NBC aired a one time (thankfully) special Sunday night. Second Chance - America's Most Talented Seniors, a competition in the vein of America's Most Talented Kid, give or take 80 years. The show is hosted by Screech, I mean Mario Lopez, the former Saved By The Bell star, who now mires away spending his days with Danny Bonaduce on the daytime television talk show "The Other Half."
The show starts and it appears they have borrowed Dramatic Voiceover Man (DVM) from Fox's American Idol. We are treated to a number of barbershop quartets, Willie Nelson and Ethel Mermen lookalikes, and according to DVM "thousands auditioned for the show." My guess is casting calls were done at local hospitals to save the producers the expense of the many lawsuits which would have occurred if 80 year old grandparents with walkers had to wait too long in line.
Four women, age appropriate for the show, come out looking like mutated red peacocks and start doing a Rockette's like dance number. To add to the misery, Mario swoops out onto the stage to join them and proves to the world not all Latin men have moves like Rickey Martin. Oh no, he didn't. Yes, I'm afraid he did. He joined them in the good ol' leg kick. What a way to start the show.
We see a shot of the studio audience, taking a paid break from their jobs as nursing home aide's and find out the winner tonight will win a whopping $25,000. No wonder they were breaking down the doors to sign up for the show. Next, we are introduced to the judges, who obviously have seen better days in their careers. Estelle Harris, who played a small role for a number of years on Seinfeld is our first judge. Following her we have Barry Williams, who is best known for his days on The Brady Bunch. And last, but certainly least, I mean not least, is Shirley Jones from The Partridge Family. These are our industry experts folks. Before we get started, Mario explains the scoring system. Like America's Most Talented Kid, each performer is rated on a 10 point scale for both talent and showmanship.
First up is Silva Dolla, who in her everyday life goes by the name of Vivian Smallwood. Vivian is 69 years old and resides in Mission Hills, California and will be performing her own modified version of 50 Cent's "In Da Club." I'm expecting disaster and broken hips, but am pleasantly surprised when Granny Hammer comes out rhyming like there ain't no tomorrow. "Ooooo Granny, it's your birthday" she starts and then breaks into her modified rap. The light blue outfit isn't exactly hip hop, and with her gray hair and glasses she reminds me a little of Whoopi Goldberg's portrayal of the elder Celie in "The Color Purple." Granny Dre is shakin' her thang and workin' the crowd and I find myself actually enjoying it. She finishes up to rousing applause and tells Mario that she used to hate rap, but decided to have some fun, had her son "drop a funky beat on her," and hasn't shut up since. What were the judges scores?
Talent - Shirley 9.5, Barry 9.1, Estelle 8.1 (I guess Estelle doesn't like rap too much)
Showmanship - Shirley 9.9 Barry 9.3 Estelle 9.2
Overall score of 9.2
Cordell Jackson is next to perform. Cordell, who resides in Memphis, is 80 years old. She comes out looking very much like Minnie Pearl and has a huge red electric guitar attached to her. She sits down center stage and starts strumming out a Johnny Cash song whose name I don't particularly remember (nor do I care to). The crowd is clapping, supposedly in rhythm to the music, but I'm not getting it. It's good, but I'd have more fun watching my cats fight. She finishes and Mario starts talking to her as if she is a puppy, coddling her, and patting her on the shoulder while he says "very, very, very nice Cordell." Yea, good doggie. Good doggie. What did the judges think? Oh, what's this? We'll find out after the break? Now where have I seen that before? Before the commercials are delivered to us, we are treated to a clip of a guy playing his nose as if it were a kazoo. This guy shoulda made it through. He's good. And definitely talented. After the break we find out what the judges thought.
Talent - Shirley 8.2 Barry 8.8 Estelle 8.7
Showmanship - Shirley 8.6 Barry 8.2 Estelle 8.9
Overall score of 8.6 (Go Granny Slim Shady!)
Lambus Dean, 54 and from Las Vegas, follows Cordell. He is going to be performing "Oh What a Night" in a song choice that is certainly not reflective of my current state of emotions. He comes out looking like an older version of Don Cheadle's stereo selling cowboy character from "Boogie Nights." His singing isn't bad, but he's not Granny Tupac. He does his best Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air impression, wiggling his hips back and forth and playing with his hands as if ants are biting them. And in a moment I surely never thought I'd see, he implores the crowd to "let's get jiggy ya'll." Yee Haw! Mario seems impressed though, and asks Lambus how he learned to sing like that. Lambus, who is obviously a humble man, tells Mario "I was very gifted." The judges like Lambus almost as much as he likes himself.
Talent - Shirley 9.8 Barry 8.6 Estelle 9.4
Showmanship - Shirley 10.0 Barry 9.1 Estelle 9.3
Overall score of 9.4 (What? Better than Granny Puffy? Are you out of your freakin' mind? I want to turn the show off right now, but I persevere.)
We are treated to a little filler as Mario interacts with the judges. Shirley finds it "unbelievable." You aren't the only one Shirley. Mario is "amazed by the energy." I'll give them that much, I know 14 year olds who don't try busting moves like Lambus just did. Barry says "they know what they're doing." Wow, I'm impressed at your vast knowledge Barry. Estelle says that while she doesn't like rock and roll (ummm, huh, Oh What a Night is rock?) that "Lambus made me move." Thank goodness for stationary cameras. Before cutting to commercials, we see some outrageous audition clips of old people making complete fools out of themselves, and wearing clothing not seen since the Ed Sullivan Show was in it's heyday. The worst part has to be the open shirted, chest hair revealing, Ricky Martin wannabe singing "La Vida Loca." I like commercials. I really, really do.
58 year old Jelsa Palao from California is first up after the reprieve. She's going to be singing "Georgia On My Mind." She starts singing, and it's not terrible, but I'm not going to be lining up to buy her album anytime soon. She leans forward in between bars as if she has cramps, and then completely makes me wish for Corey Clark to be on this show when she attempts a high note at the end of song. We are treated to a sweet moment, however, when she tears up while telling us that her Dad recently lost his eyesight but "at least he can hear me sing." I'd be crude and say he's probably rooting for his ears to go next, but I won't. The judges apparently like her a lot more than I do (no surprise there) as we are given her scores.
Talent - Shirley 9.9 Barry 8.9 Estelle 9.4
Showmanship - Shirley 9.9 (Shirley must be Jelsa's long lost cousin or something) Barry 8.7 Estelle 8.9
Overall score of 9.3 (not only does Granny Biggie not get to win, but now she's not even second best? I give up.)
More clips before the next commercial. We are tormented, I mean treated, to an Elvis lookalike, a Liz Taylor wannabe rapping, Marilyn Monroe cooing, and George Burns getting the hell out of Dodge. I should follow his cue, but I don't. Thankfully, there are some Miss Universe commercials airing to get me over some of my misery.
60 year old Larry Scott is first up when we get back. The Monkton, Maryland resident is going to be performing "America" the classic Neil Diamond song. My head is down, jotting notes, as he starts singing, and I'm convinced it's actually Neil singing before I look up and see it isn't. Nope, it's my Dad. Looks just like him too. Didn't know you had chops Pops. Nice. Dad is showing how cool he really is, a diamond stud earring adorning his left ear, light brown overcoat gracefully covering a black silk shirt. Larry does a nice job with the song, certainly better than the two wannabe's who ousted Granny Jay Z. After the song, we learn he was actually found by two of the show's producers at an open mic night. If the producers like him, the judges will too, right? Wrong.
Talent - Shirley 8.5 Barry 8.7 Estelle 9.1
Showmanship - Shirley 8.2 Barry 8.5 Estelle 8.7
Overall score of 8.6 (I've come to the conclusion that I have no clue when it comes to judging talent. I succumb to the higher powers of Shirley, Barry and Estelle)
Just when I couldn't imagine things getting more boring, they do. Nian Cadman, a 60 year old dancer from Arizona, is going to be dancing to The Baja Men's "I Can Move It." And Nian can move it. Unfortunately, tap dancing to The Baja Men doesn't really work, but give the woman some credit, she has great energy and taps better than most. Making things a little worse is the fact that she stole one of the sparkly red outfit's from the Senior Rockettes backstage. Nian's looking good at 60, but your wardrobe man needs to be replaced. Mario, obviously struggling to find a good date lately, tells Nian that she'll have to "show me those moves later." Quick, quick, the judges scores before Nian decides to take Mario up on that and we are forced to watch. Oh, whew, a commercial. But first we get to watch Weeble Wobbles whistling. Oh joy. The commercials end much too quickly and we are finally given Nian's scores.
We get a cutaway to Lambus, our leader, looking very much like an African American Clay Aiken, as we await the results.
Talent - Shirley 8.8 Barry 9.1 Estelle 9.3
Showmanship - Shirley 8.9 Barry 9.0 Estelle 9.2
Overall Score of 9.1 (Hey, Granny Nelly finally beat someone else! There is hope!)
Since we obviously must think the judges have no life in order to be doing this show, Mario decides to set the record straight and prove to us that they really don't have lives. Estelle is providing voices for characters in over 5 animated movies. Barry is working in a film with David Spade (I did say they had no lives right?) as get this - a former child star. Shirley, like Barry, is also working on a film. Anyway, enough of the judges, back to the excitement!
Christine Gentry is 82 and from Florence, Alabama. She's going to be playing a song on the piano. Her pale green outfit reminds me of the crappy wallpaper my grandpa used to have in his bathroom. To be honest, I have no idea what she's playing, nor do I particularly care at this point. It sounds like something you'd hear in an old West saloon. *yawn* I want Granny Easy E back. After finishing she tells us this is "the most exciting time of my life". Must not be much to do in Florence, Alabama, Christine. This is easily the low point of the hour thus far. I'm sure the judges will reward her with a perfect score. We see Lambus backstage mock praying. Perhaps I should join him.
Talent - Shirley 9.6 Barry 8.9 Estelle 9.3
Showmanship - Shirley 9.8 Barry 8.9 Estelle 8.9
Overall score of 9.2 (tied with Granny Beastie. *sigh*)
Cave Creek, Arizona native Al Raitano is up next. Al is 60 and will be singing the Joe Cocker tune "You can leave your hat on." Al comes out looking like a cross between Elliot Gould and Tony Bennett. The dude can sing though and if Granny Staggah Lee can't win it, then this is the man. Only problem is he's doing this white boy leg kick and I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself. We get a camera shot of Estelle watching, and I'm afraid to say what I think she's dreaming of at this moment. We find out Al has been singing most of his life, even professionally at a local resort. I'm almost on the edge of my seat as I await the scores.
Talent - Shirley 9.9 Barry 9.5 Estelle 9.9
Showmanship - Shirley 10.0 Barry 9.6 Estelle 9.8
Overall score of 9.8 (and finally, they do something right)
We get another backstage shot of Lambus, who is no longer our leader, and with that massive fortune out of his grasp, appears ready to shoot himself.
"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gainor is 77 year old Carrollton, Texas resident Mary Allen's song of choice for the evening. If I make it through this show, I'll start singing this song as well. They lied to us, it's not Mary Allen, it's Ginger from Gilligan's Island. I always wondered how she'd turned out. Bright red hair, a glittery gold dress, Mary looks nothing even close to 77. Her youthful appearance is the only thing she has going for her, however, as she absolutely destroys the song like no other person ever has. She attempts a high note at the end and I'm begging through my television for her to stop already. She tells Mario after the song "that this is my second chance." And your last, Mary. And your last. Of course, I could be wrong, the judges could have been dazzled by her dress and award her the high score. Fortunately, for... well for no one really, but I suppose it's fortunate, the judges don't do this. Al gives us a big thumbs up from backstage as we get the scores.
Talent - Shirley 8.1 Barry 8.7 Estelle 8.6
Showmanship - Shirley 8.6 Barry 8.9 Estelle 9.1
Overall score of 8.7
Last tonight is 53 year old Jerome Robinson from Las Vegas. Jerome is going to sing the Lou Rawls classic "You'll Never Find A Love Like Mine." Jerome steps onto the stage, fresh from his 4 am appearance at Caesars Palace, wearing a shiny silver vest underneath his jacket. He sounds a little like Barry White, and starts spinning and showing off his moves. He's a good dancer, but not that good of a vocalist. Perhaps he should have tried out for FAME, he would have fit right in there. Mario decides to keep us waiting eagerly by sending us to a commercial break. Before we do though we are shown a clip of a 105 year old auditioner who tells us that "you have to like to play to play." All kidding about the show aside, it's wonderful to see so many people in the later stages of their lives having fun, singing, laughing and dancing and "liking to play to play."
Soon we'll know who America's Most Talented Senior is. I am so excited in anticipation right now I can hardly contain myself. It's almost over!
We come back and find out whether Jerome was able to derail Al.
Talent - Shirley 9.1 Barry 9.8 Estelle 9.5
Showmanship - Shirley 9.5 Barry 9.9 (Barry mentioned he was doing a show in Vegas - him and Jerome must be tight) Estelle 9.8
Overall score of 9.6
And by a whisker, Al Raitano has defeated Jerome Robinson. The crowd goes wild. The girls oohhhh and aaahhhh (well not really, but it sounds better). Confetti showers the stage camouflaging us from having to look at Mario any more.
And that folks, is the show. Myself, and the other 3 people in America who sat through this will be contacting our lawyers tomorrow to file a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injury and suffering we obtained as a result of our viewing said television show.
I still say Granny Ludacris was robbed.