"This ... is it." Those apocalyptic words are uttered on The X Factor USA (Thursdays and Fridays, 7.30pm, TV3) and, each week, I wait for the stage to open up and swallow Dimples (Mario Lopez) and Pouty (Khloe-Kardashian-Odom.) Sadly, it never happens. Instead, one hopeful singer finds out they've received the least public votes before they're booted off.
Last week, finally, that person was Cece Frey, the platinum-haired, leopard-print-faced postal worker who did Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory (while sitting on the edge of a glorious piano) before regressing to her winky, cocky, tuneless self on Katy Perry's Part of Me.
"I think very few people hold this kind of love and respect and passion for their art the way that I do," she said, and: "I hope I've taught everyone at home to love who you are because the more you love who you are, you less you're going to need anybody else to."
It's disappointing to no longer have someone to despise. Although Kesha did a pretty good job as last week's guest performer, reinforcing her status as the world's most overrated stripper act. Emblem 3 will surely step into the breach, particularly the blond rapper who looks as though he's trying not to pee his pants whenever he's on stage. Or Fifth Harmony, the girl group who deliver reasonable performances and who could be marketable in a Spice Girls sense, but who are also so cloyingly in love with one another I want to strangle them.
But perhaps the Biggest Goober Award should go to judge Demi Lovato, who begins every one of her egocentric diatribes with the words "I feel like", before telling Simon Cowell where to shove it. She has no contestants left in the competition - not that it's stopping her. Although she is right about Emblem 3 devolving into a manufactured, One Directional version of the Sublime-lite they started out as.
This is the problem with The X Factor. The honeymoon period that made us fall in love with these personalities in the first place, to swoon over their talent, has turned us against them, but in a strange way, this makes the show even more entertaining. Britney too, after a cracking start of bitchy comments and crazy faces, can now barely muster anything but the world's most agreeable smile and the words "amazing" and "sweetie".
Still, each week I continue to tune in to see, as Kardashian gravely intones, "who is in ... ? and (wait for it) "who is out".
Well, it's not the country act. I wouldn't be surprised if Tate Stevens got more votes than Obama. Or the deserving winner, Carly Rose Sonenclar, the 13-year-old prodigy who gives fantastic jazz inflection to every song she turns her hand to.
Last week we said goodbye to Diamond White, the phenomenally talented singer lacking only in life experience, after she was forced into a sing-off with Fifth Harmony.
Do we have a Carly Rose in New Zealand? It's a terrifying thought that just a few weeks after New Zealand's Got Talent crowned Clara Van Wel its winner, we'll be sitting through the next round of auditions to find another singing star on our very own version of The X Factor. All we can hope for is a Kiwi version of Cece Frey and a dub reggae week.
And for Dominic Bowden to utter those magic words, "This ... is it."