Masterchef Semifinal Pressure Test Comes Off As Half Baked, Leslie Was Robbed

It’s been ages since I wrote anything for this blog. I kind of got too busy to care about it anymore but last night’s finale of Masterchef forced me out of retirement to cry foul.

In the hour before the finale, high-heel loving former pole dancer, Courtney Lapresi went up against Malibu dad, Leslie Gilliams. The pressure test for them was to make three desserts in two hours, a cheesecake, a key lime pie and a Boston cream pie.

Making a cheesecake in just two hours is hard enough because the cool down period is usually at least two hours by itself if not more. But this is TV and they were covering the cheesecake with a cherry topping that would hide any of the crevices usually accompanying cheesecakes that cooled too quickly. Somehow they both got decent looking cheesecakes and Courney’s was declared the better of the two. Her key lime pie didn’t fare as well so Leslie won that round. Her Boston Cream pie looked pretty bad especially since she considers herself a dessert expert. Leslie’s pie looked great but he lost that round because, according to what we saw, Leslie accidentally substituted sugar with salt.

Leslie Gilliams

Leslie GIlliams was robbed of his place in the finals of Masterchef on Fox. The producers seemed to have it in for him in the end.

This is where I call foul or more accurately bullshit. Joe Bastianich, one of the two judges who isn’t Gordon Ramsey. consoled Leslie by saying anybody who has made more than 2 cakes has made that mistatke. Here I call double bullshit. I’ve made lots of cakes. My mom has made plenty more. My grandmother made cakes for every grandchild every year. My friends all cook and have made cakes. None of us have made that mistake.

Sugar comes in paper sacks. Salt comes in round boxes with metal spouts. Confusing the two is practically impossible. And for Leslie, who had cooking chops most home cooks could only dream of, to make that mistake at the most crucial point in the competition seems fake and contrived. He’s too fucking good of a cook to make that blunder.

For whatever reason, I think the producers wanted a battle of the babes in the finale. Or at the very least, they wanted Courtney in the finale. Had she won the semi-final round, perhaps the pressure test between Leslie and Elizabeth might have been more honest.

Courtney was a lightning rod for this show. She was the most competitive and showed the most personality. She was spotlighted often throughout the season. She was set up to be the one you loved to hate, a staple in any reality competition. I could see why they wanted her to be on the show for as long as possible. I just wish it had been fair. Leslie didn’t deserve to have to take an obvious dive like he did.

Masterchef winner Courtney Lapresi's shoes got more screen time than some of the contestants on Masterchef.

Isn’t it a shame that we can’t trust reality TV to be real? I would like to believe everything is on the up and up but I don’t believe Leslie could screw up the way he did knowing his skills. The results of the pressure test seemed too scripted and none of the judges or cooks had the acting chops to pull off the charade convincingly which made the fix all the more apparent. Leslie Gilliams was robbed because he didn’t have big enough breasts.

In the end, Courtney went against Elizabeth in the finale. Since we can’t taste what the judges taste, we can only go by looks. And from the looks of it, Elizabeth’s lamb chops were raw. Other than that, I can’t say who had the best food. Based on the judges’ comments, Courtney did at least two of the dishes better so she won. But Elizabeth’s husband fainting at a crucial moment added to the scripted feel of this night on Fox.

Rocker and Pop Princess Take It Down To The Wire On American Idol

The finals of American Idol have concluded and I’m glad the Idol days are over. I still enjoy the show but the thrill is gone. I’m feeling Idoled out. Twelve seasons of never missing a show (OK, I missed one or two over the years but less than four) have just fatigued me. The parade of wannabe stars whose names I will forget within a few months, if that long, the emotional manipulation by the judges and producers, the

The three rounds were Idol producer, Simon Fuller’s choice, the singers’ choice of a song they sang before and the single they will release should they win. Does the loser not get to release their song? What a waste.

Simon Fuller’s choice for Jena who stupidly chose to go first was Dog Days Are Over. It was a great way to start the show. I thought I heard a few wonky notes but they didn’t distract from her performance. The judges loved her but at this stage at the competition, they’d have to be real dicks to criticize her too much.

Caleb got Dream On because we all know what a natural he is with slow songs. NOT. And then the rocker gets a string section, are they trying to kill him. He rose to the challenge of an overblown arrangement by amping up the histrionics. And the audience ate it up. Harry had some constructive criticism but nobody was listening. It bothers me that the judges are so easily wowed and so easily moved to effusive praise by volume and sheer power.

Jena chose Can’t Help Falling In Love With You which probably was her best song of the season. And it was still beautiful. And the judges still raved about it.

Caleb went with Maybe I’m Amazed which overpowered Jena’s performance but lacked her subtlety and her finesse. And I think Caleb was still grappling with his vocal cord issues. Keith, Jennifer and Harry felt his performance lacked heart.

Harry polled the judges and they sort of agreed that Caleb won the first round and Jena won the second round. But Keith thought round two was a tie.

Jena’s last song, her winner’s single, We Are One wasn’t the worst Idol winner song. It had a good beat. It was easy to dance to.

As Long As You Love Me, Caleb’s winner’s single, was sort of AC/DC lite. The song was made for his high intensity, rock vocal style. This was definitely a more radio friendly song. The judges didn’t say much about his song preferring to say what a tough decision America has now.

Unfortunately they fucked up the whole thing by having them duet on Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway and they both sucked at it. And they were joined by all the others in the top 12 so it was hard to tell who was really the offkey ones. But it was easy to see how lucky we all were that they didn’t do very many group performances this season.

I have no idea who will win. If the winner of Idol were chosen based on power, Caleb would win. If art and creativity mean anything, Jena would win.

Probably An Exercise In Futility For Talented Alex Preston on American Idol

This week, on American Idol’s 500th episode, we got a glimpse of Alex, Caleb and Jena’s hometown visits but won’t see much until tomorrow. We also got greetings from past Idol winners but not Kelly or Taylor Hicks. Kelly I can understand but Taylor? C’mon, man. Maybe they just didn’t have time. There’s only so many commercial breaks.

We got three rounds of singing. And we got to see if Caleb could pull off singing with bronchitis and vocal cord woes. Caleb’s vocal cord malady was the possible break Alex needed to get through this week. Unfortunately for Alex, Caleb effectively worked around his limitations.

After saying he wanted to find something current for Caleb, Randy’s choice was Never Tear Us Apart by INXS, a 27 year old song. It was a good way to kick off the show and his voice seemed to hold together. At least it didn’t crack.

It is totally a bummer that Alex Preston will probably not make it to the finals but he's still one of the most inventive, unique and talented musicians American Idol has ever seen.

Randy’s pick for Alex was a song even I have heard a ton on the radio, Pompeii by Bastille. It was a pretty mediocre performance since he stuck so closely to the original but he did a bit of drumming and then shook some hands with the girls in the front rows. JLo said it was the elevated Alex the judges have been looking for. Harry liked that it was a younger, hipper and more uptempo song. Those stagy bits seemed a bit too choreographed and calculated but he knows he has to do something to break the Caleb/Jena hold on the finals.

Jena was happily saddled with Titanium, a popular song sung on almost every talent competition. Nevertheless it showed she has the most powerful and interesting voice. She won round one for sure. Harry and Keith liked it but JLo wasn’t so impressed. JLo felt she was stiff and got booed for it. For once the audience was right to boo the judge. It’s been a recurring theme on Idol and in life, pretty judges feel threatened by pretty contestants and get finicky and a bit bitchy.

Round two was judges’ choice.

For rocker Caleb, the judges chose Demons by Imagine Dragons. The strain in his voice was more evident in this tune and he avoided ending the song on a big note to save his voice. Jlo liked that he at least hit the emotion of the song even if he couldn’t hit the notes he wanted to reach. He’s hurting and it shows. And he’s frustrated as hell. Knowing that he had to conserve his voice didn’t stop them from getting soundbites after each performance.

Alex’s judges’ song was Rihanna’s Stay, a slow, solemn number chosen by three people who have been encouraging him to be more uptempo. He did really nicely with it. His voice was incredible. The judges loved it. Keith said he owned it. I don’t know if it was the kind of song that’s going to wow the voters enough to get Caleb out of the picture but it was a much better performance than I would have expected. One thing Alex has going for him is he’s the one remaining WGWG but even he hinted that he knows this might be his last time in the competition.

The judges love Jena so I expect them to choose a perfect song for her. Their idea of perfection is Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack. The judges loved just about everything about it. The song isn’t so great but Jena’s handling of it was enough for her to be the winner of round 2.

The final round was songs chosen by residents of the singers’ hometowns.

Caleb townsfolk gave him Dazed and Confused, an obvious but still perfect song for him. Knowing the song and knowing what I know about Caleb, I know he was avoiding the high notes and the Plant-esque rocking screams. I felt cheated and he felt frustrated. You know he must have sung this song hundreds of times and sang it better when he wasn’t plagued by vocal cord damage. The lack of his upper register forced him to sing in a more bluesy way so he was still good. Even the teeny boppers loved it assuming they weren’t coached to cheer like maniacs. Too bad he couldn’t sing it with full power. He made the most of his opportunity and got himself into the finals as we’ve been expecting for weeks.

The citizens of New Hampshire chose Story of My Life by One Direction. It was a fine song for Alex but it came after a Led Zeppelin song. The judges liked it. Keith thought it was a come down from his previous song but still liked it. No matter how well he sang, he’ll be gone, gone tonight.

Let's hear it for Jena Irene Ascuitto, our next American Idol.

Jena’s schoolmates chose Radiohead’s Creep. With seconds to go, the judges quickly lavished their praises on her. She definitely nailed it.

Next week we’ll see Jena and Caleb slug it out for the winner of season 13 and Jena wins. Alex may not be the next American Idol or even a finalist but to me, he’s the most likely to get my money for an album or concert appearance. I’m guessing he’ll record an album and I’ll see him at the Beachland or Kent Stage. I think Jena is amazing but I doubt I’d go see her in concert.