Grrrr … the cat’s been let out of the bag

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Spoiler warning: the whinging of an aggrieved television viewer and web surfer follows. If you don’t want to hear me whinge, turn the page and check out the gardening tips now.

A perfectly nice week working in Christchurch last week was ruined when, upon reading the Press newspaper on Friday, I stumbled across a story and photo that proudly announced the winner of the latest season of American Idol, a television programme that has become one of my favourite guilty pleasures — you know, the one that as of last week on New Zealand TV screens still had five contestants battling it out for the top spot.

How mean is that, letting the cat out of the bag in such a casual manner? It will probably come as no great surprise to any of you that I spend a considerable amount of time online.

And yes, I know the wonderful world of the interweb is full of interesting and exciting information just waiting to be discovered by curious surfers, and I’m certainly curious. However, if I had wanted to know the result of Idol five weeks ahead of its scheduled screening on New Zealand TV, I would have looked it up myself.

You see, I like to be surprised by the programmes I watch. I know there are websites out there with all the plot twists for Grey’s Anatomy, weekly accounts of who Simon hated on Idol and all the goss on who’s doing who on Nip/Tuck.

However, I make an effort to avoid those sites because I like to be surprised by the goings-on on the wee screen.

Back in the old days, coal-miners used canaries as something of an early warning system. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and methane in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the humans so they knew if the canaries stopped singing, it was time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Southland Times television reviewer Maree Field acts as my canary in the online mine of information, warning me when to avoid some of my favourite websites — such as Perez Hilton and Go Fug Yourself.

She did her duty in an admirable manner last week, warning me that the lovely ladies of Go Fug Yourself had a photo from the grand final.

Sadly, it was too late, I’d already been ambushed with the result.

I’m happy with the result, just peeved that I know it. Last week’s elimination show lacked the excitement of earlier weeks, when I’d been on tenterhooks wondering if my favourite would survive to sing another day.

I guess I’ll have to satisfy myself with waiting for judge Paula Abdul to perform her weekly act of lunacy.

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