Poor Symone Black continued to be exploited featured Thursday night on "American Idol," after Wednesday's episode cliffhangingly ended with the hapless 16-year-old suddenly blacking out, then toppling off the stage and practically into the shocked judges' laps during Hollywood Week's first round. Unfortunately, Symone landed smack on the cold, hard auditorium floor instead, and the judges just sat there, making no effort to help her for about 10 minutes. (Come on, even meanie Simon Cowell would have gotten up sooner than that!) Thankfully, Symone survived, and no insult was added to her near-injury, as she was advanced to the next Hollywood Week round.
But Symone's face-plant and subsequent ER visit wasn't "Idol's" only health scare this week. Amy Brumfield, who used to be known as "Tent Girl" but apparently now goes by the even worse nickname "Patient Zero," showed up in Hollywood with some sort of stomach bug. Unsurprisingly, considering the fact that she lives in a tent in the woods, she repeatedly and desperately insisted that she "needed some fresh air," as she sat in the presumably unventilated "Idol" auditorium, feverishly sweating and breathing in the set's poorly recirculated air.
Also unsurprisingly, when it came time for Hollywood's 185 remaining contestants to form teams for what Ryan Seacrest always likes to call "the dreaded Group Rounds," no one really wanted to get within coughing distance of the germy Amy. "Just don't get me sick," warned one contestant.
This was a warning that Amy Zero sadly could not heed. After hours of grueling group rehearsals, her Idol Flu started to pass from contestant to contestant, and pretty soon it looked like Amy and her castmates would be living in first aid tents. It was like the "Idol" version of Contagion up in there. One poor sick girl was even seen hurling into a barf bag outside the theater, and soon every contestant was walking around toting his or her own plastic bag, in case they too succumbed to the Idol Flu. I am sure they'd all been hoping that their "American Idol" appearances would go viral, but this was probably not what they had in mind.
"I think a little sleep deprivation brings out the best in everyone," Steven Tyler declared, obviously incorrectly, as he showed up to watch the dreaded Group Rounds. (I hope he took some Airborne before he arrived.) But sleep deprivation clearly did not bring out the best in this show's editors, unless they really had this little to work with. Hollywood Week "Idol" episodes, especially the Group Rounds episodes, are usually great television (the wee-hour rehearsals! the bitter infighting! the stage moms! the showmances!), but strangely, this Thursday's show was light on real drama, aside from the aforementioned fall and flu.
The episode was also really light on actual SINGING, unfortunately, since most of the draggggggging hour consisted of just B-roll footage of the contestants trying to form teams. (Sometimes watching them sitting sadly on the sidelines, hoping to get picked, was enough to give me flashbacks to softball-game team selection in elementary-school P.E. class. Un-entertaining flashbacks.) Only one group, the Bettys, even made it onstage, but then viewers were hit with another cliffhanger as the show abruptly ended, just as the Bettys lifted their hopefully-Purell-swabbed microphones to their mouths.
Oh well. Next Wednesday, hopefully both the music AND the drama will be amplified, as the Group Rounds really get underway. Judging from next week's preview, which was a blur of spinning red ambulance lights, hospital stretchers, and passed-out contestants, it looks like the Idol Flu epidemic will continue to rage on, but hopefully there will be some really siiiiiick performances as well.