Neil Patrick Harris Shines in Dallas for "Idol"

Best guest judge ever

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Neil Patrick Harris killed as guest judge on "Idol."

    It’s a shame that Neil Patrick Harris has a pretty good day job, what with that “How I Met Your Mother” show and all, because he was the best of the guest judges to grace the “Idol” stage so far this season.

    Harris has already hosted the Tony and Emmy Awards, so it’s not like hanging out in Dallas and judging singers for a day would be a big challenge, but he was both entertaining and helpful as the occasion warranted. Plus, he snapped at head judge Simon Cowell, which is always a big hit with the viewers.

    “My goal today is to shatter the dreams of thousands. If I can make two or three dozen people cry, I’ll have done my job,” Harris said at the beginning. But if he did that, the footage wasn’t shown on Wednesday, as the successful auditioners got way more airtime than the rejects.

    Not much to say
    Harris was only in Dallas for the first day of auditions, with Joe Jonas replacing him on the second. Either Jonas didn’t have much to say or the show’s editors owe him an apology. In contrast to Harris’ verbosity, Jonas’ dialogue was mainly limited to saying “yes,” or occasionally “yeah,” when voting on a contestant’s fate. Maybe he just lets his music do the talking.

    Whip it
    It’s going to be difficult for any auditioner to top the impression made by Erica Rhodes. The former child actress on “Barney and Friends” is a big girl now, which she proved by showing up before the Dallas judges dressed like a dominatrix complete with a whip that she worked into her performance. It was the judges’ dream come true, and the lines came fast and furious.

    “You definitely made an impression here. What’s your big dream here … I know what mine is,” Simon said.

    “I want people to know Barney kids grow up,” Rhodes responded.

    “… to be dirty little girls,” Harris finished.

    Rhodes made it through to Hollywood with four yes votes. She becomes the first former PBS-star-turned-sex-symbol to be so honored, or at least the first to admit it.

    The color gold
    Also scoring high on the Memorable Meter was Todrick Hall, an actor/playwright who’s worked with Fantasia in the past and is hoping to succeed her as an “Idol” champion in the future. He went with an original song with this stanza:

    “And to see Kara decked and dressed,
    Simon’s face looking so unimpressed,
    Sitting there like a bump on a log
    Randy, what I gotta do to be a Dawg?”

    He was a lock to make it to Hollywood.

    Doogie reborn
    Harris’ stint as a child doctor on “Doogie Howser, M.D.” apparently has had lasting effects, as he noticed the facial twitches from Dave Pittman before and after his audition. “Weird elephant in the room … do you have Tourette syndrome?” he asked. The diagnosis was correct, and since it doesn’t affect Pittman when he sings, he made it on to Hollywood. Vinnie Delpino would be so proud!

    Mutiny on the podium
    Simon and Harris disagreed a lot, with Kimberly Carver one of the singers inviting dissent. Carver sang an original song that Harris, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson loved, but Simon was critical and said he didn’t see anything current. When Carver made it through anyway, she knew who to credit.

    “Thank God for Neil Patrick Harris. I’m going to have to go back and watch ‘Doogie Howser’ again,” she said. Uh, if she wants to refute Simon’s criticism, maybe “How I Met Your Mother” is the better choice.

    Straight out of central casting
    If “American Idol’ were a personality competition, Lloyd Thomas would be the one to beat. The dock worker had a quip for every situation — “The worst part of the job that I have is probably the job that I have” was a good one — and between his two cute daughters and his desire to help them avoid the life in the projects that he endured, he could check every box on the on-to-Hollywood list. Oh, yeah, and he sang really well too.

    “I wish you could taste what I taste right now,” Thomas said after getting his golden ticket. “It is the taste of victory. Delicious.”

    Inspiration of the day
    Christian Spear was the night’s medical miracle to close the show. The 16-year-old survived leukemia as a child, and was one of the city’s better auditioners. Also, as a teenage girl, she deserves credit for singing in front of Jonas without swooning or screaming. 

    Dream a little dream
    Even the rejected contestants were polite in Dallas. Vanessa Johnston, a persistently perky substitute teacher with a passion for pink, got the rudest Simon comment of the day. “If anyone ever asks what my nightmares look and sound like, I’m going to refer to that,” Simon said after her performance.

    “At least he’s dreaming about me,” Johnston told the camera afterward.

    Quote of the day
    “Don’t I get to say something. Jeez Louise, you invite a guest judge on and bully him around,” Harris to Simon. Apparently Harris doesn’t watch the show much if he was surprised that occurred.

    Craig Berman is a write in Washington. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/craigberman.