How Does The New ‘American Idol’ Measure Up?
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While I was watching ABC’s reboot of American Idol last night, one thing became abundantly clear: this is not like the original. Sure, the general format and rules appear to be the same and Ryan Seacrest is back…for now…but tonally it was completely different. It’s not an accident that Disney owns this version of the show.
For all of Katy Perry’s talk that she was going to be a tough judge…she wasn’t. They absolutely said no to a lot of people, but it was all super nice and encouraging. Gone are the days of Simon Cowell annihilating untalented people while Randy Jackson giggled. This is a kinder, gentler American Idol. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I for one always thought Simon was too harsh back in the day. Also the show emphasizes the people who did get through and not the disastrous auditions, something they vowed to do from the start.
There is definitely some promising talent on the show. I was thoroughly entertained by the singing, but I felt that something was missing from the rest of the show. It lacked cohesion and the interplay between the judges is a little too friendly. The secret to drama is conflict and I saw no conflict between them. It sure isn’t Simon vs. Paula.
Then there are the sob stories which were being laid on super thick. Idol has always done this, especially in its last seasons. Everyone has a story that tugs at the heartstrings. Even if the story isn’t particularly compelling, they put some sad music underneath and make it into the most tragic tale since Les Miserables. I found myself tuning out a bit when this happened. It’s not that I don’t care about these people’s plight, it’s just that I care more about the singing and it felt like I was being emotionally manipulated.
Then there is the Ryan Seacrest issue. He wasn’t in the show all that much. I imagine that with the brewing sexual harassment scandal causing controversy that they cut his part down. Ryan’s job really picks up during the live shows and I wonder if it will become too much of a distraction and take away from the show. One wonders if he’ll quit before the lives start.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the reboot in general. These are not dealbreakers for me, just a couple of notes. It takes a show a while to find its feet and I’m sure Idol will find its new voice. For as much as I miss some elements of the original Idol, I can’t help but think that the original show wouldn’t fly today. Maybe what we as a nation need right now is a nice singing show with Katy Perry.