Simon Cowell judges for the final time on Idol tonight as a shadow of his former self

Tonight’s final episode of American Idol 9 isn’t really a big deal, but it will represent Simon Cowell’s final opportunity to judge contestants’ performances before he leaves the show for good after tomorrow night. Of course, he’ll be back on Fox next year doing basically the same thing on X Factor, so it’s not like, say, losing Lost or Jack Bauer. It’s the end of an era, but really, we’re just getting a break.

Simon got bored in recent seasons and played with Paula’s genitalia instead of paying attention, at least when he wasn’t flirting with Ryan Seacrest. That’s turned him into a shadow of who he once was: the feared, brutally honest judge. Now the stupid nitwits in the studio audience boo him out of habit rather than based on what he says.

Because of this, it’s easy to forget that Simon is not only the person who co-created the show that quickly became the most-popular TV show in the country, never mind the way he caused people to tune in. Remember back to 2002 when those previews showed Simon slamming bad singers, and how completely shocking that was? And remember how many desperate producers and networks have tried and continue to try to duplicate him with pretty much no success at all? It’s been a long eight years, but he was largely responsible for making American Idol what it once was.

Here’s the first part of the very first, pre-HD episode, in which Simon Cowell previews the “brutality of auditions” which will be “a shock to the American public,” although what’s most shocking now is how young everyone looks and how big their hair is:

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.