On Air with Ryan Seacrest (syndicated)

American Idol has created a nearly believable alternate universe wherein Ryan Seacrest is a major celebrity, the AI judges are industry legends, and AI contestants are the hottest stars of today. It's complete baloney, but the smoke and mirrors are so thorough that if you're someone who only pays passing attention to pop culture, you may well buy it.

The latest layer of deception is On Air with Ryan Seacreast, which imagines the smug AI host as a David to Carson Daly's Goliath, offering a "hip alternative" to TRL. It smacks of Stalinization, frankly. TRL was already amazingly fake, and On Air's attempt to pull the wool over anyone's eyes is out-and-out propaganda. In terms of product-pumping, it's no different than if there had been a Saturday morning network cartoon show produced by Taco Bell involving the Taco Bell Chihuahua constantly trying to go to Taco Bell.

As with the patent falsities of American Idol, On Air does not hold up to close scrutiny. The few times I've watched, Seacrest has had at least one American Idol-related guest, in addition to the many AI clips he uses and references to it he makes throughout the show. If the intent is to get me interested in Idol, mission accomplished. But if it's to get me to believe that Ryan Seacrest is an objectively hot property, I'm having none of it.

Seacrest is similar to Carson Daly as a ringleader for the teenage circus over which he presides. He's sharply dressed and immaculately styled, confident and personable, self-deprecating and witty, and always flashing his attractive Whitestripped smile. There's a darker tone to his approach that's a bit harder to pinpoint … something like the leering smarm of Roger Lodge from Blind Date with a pinch of Rob Lowe videotaping himself having sex with high schoolers.

The typical show offers monologues from Seacrest, "news correspondence" from teen "reporters," and guests ranging from buzz-bin no-names to American Idol alumni to bubblegum popstars making the PR rounds. It's effective enough, fast moving and reasonably charismatic, in spite of its absolute and utter bogusness.

It's a recent phenomenon that fake fame can actually be parlayed into real fame. My vote is still for Roger Lodge to morph into our generation's Casey Kasem, but Seacrest seems to want it more, and will probably get it. Good for him … you don't get what you don't ask for. And you always get what you deserve.

Review by L'il Big Boi © 2004