You know, we've watched Ruben and Clay sing and play dress up and drive Fords and drink Cokes and talk on Nokias for a few months now, but do we really know them? Philosophers in the audience might ask, "Can you ever really know a person?" which could be debated endlessly. But what I'm asking, do we know Clay or Ruben well enough to confidently name one an "American Idol"? Obviously not, because tonight we need a whole episode devoted to Ruben and Clay minutiae.
In the beginning, we see that the shenanigans tonight will be plenty, as Ryan is sleeping in his dressing room with that little blinder thing rich old women wear to bed in bad sitcoms. Then he wakes up, ready to host the extra show, as indicated by his perfect makeup and hair and the working microphone that he takes to bed with him.
I'm trying Southern colloquialisms as my new hook. I'm sneakier than a fox dressed up like a chicken. We see some of the judges' better and lesser moments from the past two seasons, including a look back at Randy's "dawgs." Fortunately they didn't include them all, or the entire hour may have been used up. After some more lighthearted banter, Seacrest descends into the audience.
And who's waiting there for him? Why it's the fetching Hayley Arp sitting next to Greenhead and Silverhead from the show with the masks! What an unbelievable coincidence! Ryan asks Ms. Arp who it's going to be, and she waffles between green and not green. Then Ryan says, "No, I mean Clay or Ruben." Ho ho! What a twist! The FOX TV synergy department grins at another job well done.
Back from a break and Ryan intros a group performance! It's the finalists singing "What The World Needs Now!" Why am I yelling?! I've seen this all before! Time to lay off the coffee! Whaaaaaaaaaaa! Ladies and gentlemen, how about a hand for the curly locks of Michael Orland on piano?
After the song, Ryan gives us the chance to catch up with some of the finalists. Well, Kim Caldwell is doing something or other on 54321 - the extreme show! - and everybody is just kinda hanging out, waiting for the tour to start. Trenyce says she's been promoting it back home, which is good because American Idol doesn't get much press these days.
Later, Ryan sits by himself and talks a little bit about Ruben. A video montage backs up most of what Ryan had to say. Then the actual Ruben comes out and joins the blond wonder. Ruben talks a little bit about his hometown and how he played football. Then Ryan has a little quiz with Ruben's brother Kevin. It's like The Newlywed Game, only different! We find out that Ruben will eat just about anything, Kevin used to beat up his brother and they once fought over a turkey sandwich. Which is completely understandable. Especially if it had mayo on it. After Team Studdard collects 30 points for two correct answers, Ruben breaks into song. Which is also completely understandable. After the song, somebody in the crowd holds up a sign that nearly blocks out our man, causing a partial Ruben eclipse. Now that is one big sign!
In the interest of fairness, much like television air time during presidential campaign season, Ryan then brings up Clay. We see his first audition, which reminds us that his hair used to be really, really red. We also see that Clay said in his audition he "could've been number one or number two at least" last season. So maybe we should all tremble before his obvious psychic ability. During the course of chitchat, Ryan goes into the audience to find Clay's biggest fan. Her shirt says "Claymate" and has a silhouette of a monkey on it. Then it's time for another little quiz. It's like The New Newlywed Game, only different! We find out that Clay's red Michael Jackson jacket cost $1200, Clay's YMCA nickname was Gonzo and he was five years old when he was the high school mascot. After Team Aiken collects 45 points for three successful answers and wins the first round, Clay breaks into song.
We come back from another break and Seacrest is in the crowd once more. Behind him, some kid's shirt is on fire. Oh wait, his shirt is just super cool. It's now time for more Q&A, but no points will be awarded in this round. Somebody asks Ruben who he wants to record a duet with, and he says Tamyra Gray. I guess he loves the classics. Then somebody else has a question. "Yo! Dude! Here! My hand is up! Yo!" Judges, how would you fix each other? They all have different suggestions, but I can't imagine any of them will be heeded.
Then it's time for a coin flip. Ruben calls heads, it comes up tails and Clay elects to go second. Ruben chooses to go with the wind and defend the south end zone. Coming up next, the opening kickoff!