It all comes down to this. We've reached the final week of "American Idol" and FOX is sending the groundbreaking series out in style with a three-night finale. Tuesday (April 5) began the big goodbye as the network aired a new retrospective special, "American Idol: American Dream."

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So much ground is covered in the two hour special, including the British origins of the series, the casting of the original judges and the bare-bones budget the competition series started with. What began as a summer series in 2002, turned into FOX's biggest series of the past decade.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves as in those early days, everyone had doubts the series would succeed, including Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. As you can see from the above video, Jackson had huge reservations regarding the project while Abdul admits to quitting eight times. That all changed when a young Texas woman named Kelly Clarkson entered the room.

It was with Clarkson that FOX, the judges -- and America, really -- perked up and took notice of the show and soon, the series graduated to bigger venues to hold auditions.

Throughout the special, notable personalities from seasons' past -- including Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert -- all chimed in to not only discuss how the show changed their lives but explore the ways it changed the TV landscape and the country as a whole.

It may be funny to imagine a world pre-Twitter and pre-iTunes, but watching Ryan Seacrest reminisce about the network meeting where he first learned how to text message is priceless. It turns out, "American Idol" was the first competition series to utilize text message voting. Who'd have thought that'd catch on!?

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Showcasing the many ways the series has impacted the music industry, "American Idol: American Dream" ended on the same person it opened with: Kelly Clarkson. Who better than her Season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini, to sum up the series by saying, "Her story is the story of 'American Idol' -- the girl next door becoming one of the most successful people in our industry today."

"American Idol" continues it's finale week on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.


Posted by:Aaron Pruner

When he was a child, Aaron memorized the entire television lineup, just for fun. He once played Charlize Theron’s boyfriend in a Japanese car commercial. Aaron’s a lover of burritos and a hater of clowns. TV words to live by: "Strippers do nothing for me, but I will take a free breakfast buffet any time, any place."