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Idol Exclusive: Season 12 Judges' Save Expired; 'Contingency' Plan Will Prevent Premature End

There are four weeks and four contestants left on Season 12 of American Idol — but it won’t be the Judges’ Save that prevents the competiton from ending before the scheduled May 16 finale.

“Officially, the [Season 12] Judges’ Save is no longer,” a source close to the show tells TVLine. “But there’s always been a contingency plan if the Save was not used.”

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For those of you whose math skills max out making change at the grocery store (fret not, I stand with you), Idol‘s numbers problem is as follows: If one of the Top 4 contestants (Kree Harrison, Candice Glover, Angie Miller or Amber Holcomb) is booted on this Thursday’s results show (April 25, 8/7 c on Fox) and a second singer bites the dust next week (May 2), that would place the Top 2 results show on May 9, a full week before the finale.

Adding to the confusion was that in prior seasons, the “Save” (introduced in Season 8, and since used to overrule voters’ ousters of Matt Giraud, Michael Lynche, Casey Abrams and Jessica Sanchez) expired prior to Top 5 week. Last week, however, subsequent fifth-place finisher Janelle Arthur was allowed to sing for her life — before the judges told Ryan Seacrest they could not come to a unanimous decision about using their sole Save of the season.

Taking the Save off the table now, however, seems like the only fair option: In prior years, the Save has proven to be a major momentum booster, and with only four singers left in Season 12, such a late-in-the-game boost would almost guarantee its recipient a spot in the finale.

With the “Save” on ice, it most likely means that Fox is planning a non-elimination week for one of the following three Thursdays — with votes for the preceding Wednesday carrying over into the following week’s tallies.

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There’s been some scuttlebutt in the blogosphere that Idol producers will make the finale a two-week affair, but to my Idoloonie brain, it would make more sense to give viewers an extended amount of time with the entire Top 4. On a purely practical level, wouldn’t it be easier (and more fun) to fill the next couple of two-hour performance shows with four vocalists instead of only three or two? Plus, Amber, Angie, Kree and Candice are performing at such high levels right now that a bonus week of performances would certainly qualify as good TV.

TVLine’s Idol source didn’t have a strong sense of producers’ exact plan to extend the season, but in true show-business fashion noted that, ”A little unpredictability can be a good thing.”

How do you think Nigel Lythgoe & Co. will extend the season? Are you glad the Save is kaput for Season 12? Sound off in the comments!

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