‘American Idol’ overruns have become unprofessional

Bowersox It’s not like Ryan Seacrest didn’t warn people Tuesday: Wednesday’s two-hour “American Idol: Idol Gives Back” was going to be jam-packed, so set your DVRs to run long.

Of course, that warning came after the show’s scheduled finish Tuesday, so a lot of folks probably didn’t see it. Nor did many see Wednesday’s announcement of which of the contenders (like Crystal Bowersox, left) would make it into the next round.

“American Idol” overruns have become so common that they’re harder and harder to forgive. The first time a kid wets his pants might be amusing; the 100th time, not so much. “Idol” has had this problem for years and seemingly has done nothing to solve it.

The show’s insistence that viewers bear the burden of adjusting their recording devices has become more than a bit annoying and now feels like a form of contempt for the audience, which “Idol” assumes has nothing better to do. (Even if people do schedule extra minutes for “Idol,” it could affect their ability to record other shows in the next timeslot.) It’s inexplicable in a sense that Fox, as much as it values “Idol,” would tolerate this, considering such examples like how Tuesday’s overrun marred that night’s heavily promoted “Glee.”

It’s not like “Idol” is a hockey game, which could end whenever. “Idol” didn’t invent live television. For more than half a century, live shows have been on TV, and it’s possible that none has been worse than “Idol” at hitting its deadline. “Saturday Night Live” is in its 35th season of live broadcasting, inserting and pulling sketches at the last minute, yet is virtually perfect at shutting down on time.

I’m not that invested in “Idol” anymore, but there are, oh, 20 million or so folks who are. The “Idol” producers should be able to actually be able to end the show when it’s supposed to. Or, if it looks like a challenge, then just schedule a longer show. They need to do something, because the tardiness stopped being cute a long time ago.

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