With each episode, the American Idol seems to be more about making the show rather than the people auditioning – at least during these early auditions. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing since there are only so many horrible auditions one can stomach and too many golden tickets to remember which life story goes with which singer. Tonight the show spent poring over the best Galveston, TX could muster.

After a brief intro in zero gravity and seeing Randy Jackson wearing his favorite style of frames, most of the show before the first commercial break was given to Phong Vu who had all the makings of a train wreck. Odd looking. Foreign accent. Poor voice. Wanting it too badly. It was refreshing to see the show build him up so much with visual and sound effects to make his inevitable fall that much more delicious. But when it started to get genuine and emotional I was disappointed. But then he auditioned! And the show smartly let his performance be the punch line. The best part, however, was Randy looking over to the producers off-screen for help.

Afterward, it was a series of bad auditions, including a crazy Mohawk person and a couple of very, very stiff cowboys drawling away at the carcass of a song. It makes one wonder if they even watch the show. Thankfully, the first golden ticket was presented right after to Skylar Laine who is a proud deer hunter and whose mother looks kinda sorta like Helen Mirren.

Baylie Brown made a triumphant return to the audition room after her elimination on Idol five years ago during Hollywood week when she was 16. Her poor performance during group singing where she forgot the words to the song ended her journey in tears. Now older – and shapelier – the judges gave her a second chance. Let’s hope she can keep it together this time.

Kristine Osorio was another featured golden ticket winner whose segment goes to show that children steal your dreams. Previously a singer, she had to put that life on hold when she got pregnant. Now going through a divorce and having a hard time paying the bills – and the lawyer – she dumped what little money she had on a ticket to the audition. As the Latina Pink, she definitely has the pipes and style – and very, very white teeth – to be a star. She’s one to keep an eye out for.

Going back to the idea that these early episodes highlight the making of the show, a sizeable portion was devoted to showcasing the disagreements that the judges have. Contestant after contestant was passed over by Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler with Jennifer Lopez looking on in disbelief. Frankly, I have to agree with Jennifer. Those that were booted were at least as good as some that were given golden tickets. At one point, Jennifer asked loudly, “Anybody else in here think they’re (Randy and Steven) frickin’ crazy right now?!” She looked pointedly at the producers off-screen.

Highlighting Jennifer’s frustration was golden ticket recipient Linda Williams who screeched her way past Jennifer’s “no”. Linda vowed to prove Jennifer wrong, but we’ll see.

Getting back to the fun, the show focused on Alejandro Cazares who wanted desperately to be Che Guevara. He called for a worldwide revolution where Lady GaGa could be a platinum seller and where Barack Obama could be President. The best goals are ones you can achieve, but this is ridiculous. Also, what was that stuff on his tongue? It looked like Scope blue foam. Alejandro’s segment ran a little long, but thankfully his audition was horribly comedic, prompting awesome responses from the judges. When asked for votes, Steven said, “Not yet.” Randy said, “Never.” When asked what he could do to change their minds, Jennifer replied, “Nothing!”

Speaking of Jennifer, her styling on the second day, showing off her flat tummy, definitely restores her hotness bona fides in the minds of doubters – myself included – who may have been stuck viewing her as just a judge with a cushy gig that didn’t require looking phenomenal.

Rounding out the last day were Cortez Shaw and Ramiro Garcia. Cortez has an all-American look with a great attitude and a strong voice. He also has a great life story full of hard knocks and a strong single mother. I wouldn’t mind having him stick around. Ramiro also has a wonderful story that will warm the coldest of hearts. Ramiro was born with no ears and doctors thought he wouldn’t speak, let alone sing. Yet, there he was, belting out Amazing Grace and earning a ticket to Hollywood.

It’s stories like these that make this show great. Well played Idol.