'High School Musical: Get In The Picture' recap: All Paulas, no Simons

Hsmnicklachey_lI’ll say this about ABC’s High School Musical: Get In The Picture:it’s certainly no American Idol, and intentionally so. The tone wasset immediately with the very first contestant hopeful, beauty pageantwinner Amy Hooker, a “please” and “thank you” gal who at leastearned this praise from judge Tiana Brown: “Your manners areadorable!” Hooker, who warbled through her rendition of “Part Of YourWorld” from The Little Mermaid (Had to look that up. Honest!),didn’t make it to the next round, but she did get a critique thataspired to be genuinely constructive. “Let in come organically,”beseeched Brown, as if determined to change some lives here. “Believe…”With that parting gift of wisdom, Hooker was released into the warmOrlando sunshine, still not famous but made slightly better by theexperience. And she smiled.

Welcome to the Disneyfication of the prime-time talent show, aworld where niceness reigns and mean people aren’t allowed. The judges(“faculty members” in the HSM:GITP parlance) are uniformlyupbeat—all Paulas, not a Simon in the bunch—who attentively assess eachcontestant and dutifully take notes in their leather journals. Theyseem to think they’re on a hanky-lite, talent-show version of Extreme Makeover or even Three Wishes(“We’re going to make somebody’s life!” gushed judge Jen Malenke),though the reward is surprisingly meager: the winner gets…a part in amusic video promoting the forthcoming High School Musical 3,the next installment in a billion dollar franchise with 400 million fansaround the world. (I know these facts because the show told me.)

Thenagain, maybe winning a role in a commercial would sound a lot sexier ifhost Nick Lachey tried a little harder to sell it. Jessica Simpson’sex-husband emcees with such fake-smile heartlessness, it’s as if the wholething is painfully reminding him that before he became an infotainer,he , too, aspired to be something like a pop star. If you’re trying toinspire kids to fame, it’s probably not a good idea to cast acautionary tale as host.

Unless that’s the point. Is Disney trying to redeem the reality showas we know it? This thing is so humble, so “values”-oriented, that eventhe Amish might watch, if they allowed themselves TV, and darn it ifthe first episode gave them reason to do so by recruiting one of theirown to participate: James Wolpert, a youngAmish-but-doesn’t-dress-Amish lad who “writes in his journal every day”(or so we were told in an on-screen graphic) and who plays in a coverband with a set list that includes naughty rock like “My Sharona.” Wolpertwas one of several contestants who were secretly nominated for the showby a teacher or parent and who received “surprise” visits from thejudges for a final vetting before being brought aboard. But my hunch isthat Wolpert’s candidacy was actually backed by some Amish chamber ofcommerce trying to promote a new image. “I am not the most well trainedsinger in the country,” reported Wolpert, “but I will definitely rockyou so hard.” We have so been put on notice.

Still, as a sucker for all things High School Musical and a card-carrying member of the 400 million, I’m in. And I live in hope thatmy pop culture crush Vanessa Hudgens will stop by for a “mentor visit.”So come back here every Monday for your mini-recap. I’ll be here. I might be diabetic from all the sweetness by the end, but I’ll be here.

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Holly

    Wait, is this Doc Jensen???? You’re a HSM fan? Classic! I love Zac Efron but not a fan of all the real life shenanigans of the rest of the cast. “Deviated septum” Ashley Tisdale? You’re not fooling anyone! And Vanessa and the nudie pics and her fake romance with Zac? Whatever!

  • Holly

    Wait, is this Doc Jensen???? You’re a HSM fan? Classic! I love Zac Efron but not a fan of all the real life shenanigans of the rest of the cast. “Deviated septum” Ashley Tisdale? You’re not fooling anyone! And Vanessa and the nudie pics and her fake romance with Zac? Whatever!

  • Lauren

    Will definitely be tuning in for recaps, Jensen! Question–do you know if you can watch this on abc.com? I unfortunately missed last night’s ep (because I was at Mamma Mia! Yeah, I’m owning my nerdiness).

  • Anonymous

    Wow–so this is what you do when Lost is on hiatus.

  • StaleCake

    If this show is so “nice” that Nick Lachey’s shirt remains on, I’m outta here.

  • Angie

    I missed the 1st 1/2 because cable was out of service. The part might seem like nothing, but it’s a break and/or the chance to meet the HSM stars. There are plenty of fans who’d like to meet any of the 6 stars. I can’t wait for HSM3 – got a movie date with my 6 yr old niece. She doesn’t know that I’d go without her.

  • Anonymous

    it looks good

  • Elizabeth

    Its summer filler – take it for what its worth. Trying to do a popwatch on this is an exercise in futility. I can’t wait till the movie comes out in October and the ‘winner’ has much screen time as Miley Cyrus had in HSM2 (yep – in the final number – dancin by the pool – all 1.5 seconds of her).
    And why bag on Lachey? His career is way more than anything that his ex-wife will ever piece together as she tries out different venues to use her “talents”. He was the nice guy who let his girlfriend open for his band while she did glorified karoke.

  • Sandy

    It wasn’t so bad. I’ll tune in again before I make a final decision. Sunshine and lollipops to everyone!

  • Sunny

    Embarrassingly I like Nick Lachey. But the overall prize seems a little lame. I don’t know why he gets bagged on-he seems very nice.

  • stacey

    i like zac efron he is well fit and cute

  • okiegirl

    Okay, so I was bored last night & watched both BB10 & HSM. Thanks for the witty, self-deprecating recap, Jensen! And now I’m glad I watched! Both shows were similar: a bitchy blonde to hate, the removal of contestant(s), bad clothes, and mothers off somewhere wringing their hands. :) God, I love summer.

  • Movie_Dearest
  • Jimmy

    It would be most cool if Vanessa Hudgens showed up on this show. She is a cutie-pie. As for the “Beauty Pageant Winner,” perhaps she can get cast on “One Tree Hill.” At least one beauty pageant winner (Sophia Bush) is on that show (LOL).

  • jo

    There is far more to Lancaster than the Amish, though I dodge the buggies everyday on my way to work.! I’ve known James for a long time and he is an incredibly talented writer and artist. I think his duet proved that he can rock as well.

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