Did ‘Idol’ Producers Screw Up By Saving Casey James First?

by | May 13, 2010 at 4:51 PM | American Idol, Eye on Idol, RealityTV, TV News

Casey James on American Idol (FOX)

Casey James on American Idol (FOX)

One thing that surprised some viewers about Casey James’ ascent to the ‘American Idol‘ Top Three last night: He was the first person to be pronounced safe by ‘Idol’ host Ryan Seacrest. Some observers saw this as a colossal screw-up by the producers, since in their mind it took a lot of suspense out of the hourlong, filler-stuffed episode. But what if it was actually a canny move?

eonline‘s Natalie Finn writes:

Um, ‘American Idol,’ what were you thinking, ushering Casey James to safety right away?

What was the audience supposed to think after that? That, somehow, season-long favorites Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze weren’t going to make the top three along with Casey?

Because if they thought that, they would have been dead wrong!

Well, yes. But what if this was actually a move by the producers to lull fans of Casey — which number among them women besotted with his Keith Carradine in Nashville looks and denizens of the weakest-link supporters Vote For The Worst — into a false sense of security?

‘American Idol’ Brings Its Roster Down To Three

Casey’s “first chosen” status last night might have led some people to believe that he had actually received the highest number of votes after Tuesday’s night at the movies — and that, in turn, might cause voters to vote maybe, say, only five times instead of 10. Every vote counts, especially this year!

You could argue that audience manipulation is also why Crystal was the final person to be saved from elimination before Michael Lynche’s exit last night; note that last night, unlike other elimination episodes, Ryan didn’t use the phrase “bottom two” to refer to the last contestants standing. But the perception that she might be in danger could galvanize her fanbase next week — as could the waterworks that she’s switched on on during many an elimination episode. (If there’s one thing this relatively lackluster ‘Idol’ season needs, it’s drama!)

And the Crystal/Lee finale is clearly the one the producers want — the hyperactive camerawork during their performance of “Falling Slowly” on Tuesday seemed to signify the producers’ excitement at the possibility of having them face off in two weeks.

Will the producers’ slightly ham-handed tactics work? We won’t find out until next Wednesday night, when the two Season Nine finalists are set in stone. But it sure is fun to speculate over the real meaning behind their curious decisions!