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It's been a number of years before we had anything remotely kind to say about American Idol, and when we got a full screener of this season's premiere, we definitely rolled our eyes. It seemed like a sign of desperation because the show usually just sends critics teasers for each season, not full episodes. So out of sheer curiosity (and boredom during that off week during the holidays), we decided to check it out. And, well, it was surprisingly decent. We'd go so far as to even say watchable, almost to the point of enjoyable. And if the premiere is any indication of the direction the show is taking this year, maybe we'll grouch less about having to sit through yet another competitive reality singing show. This is not to say that it's blow-your-mind DVR-worthy but it is definitely leaps and bounds above the last few Simon-less seasons. So why the dramatic improvement? Here's our take on the big changes:
The standout musical performance of the past week wasn't on Nashville or Glee or even American Idol, instead it was when a dad band got formed on the "Chinese Chicken" episode of Suburgatory.The garage group, occasionally known as Sheila's Pets, was just three dads until Sheila came along and busted out some Heart. We know Ana Gasteyer can sing (we've seen her on Broadway), but it was nice to see this show take advantage of those pipes. Watch the clip below to see her rockin' out.
We've only had one outing with the new judging panel on American Idol, but we can already see just how this season is going to pan out with the likes of Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj joining Randy Jackson. And frankly, we're not all that impressed, though we never imagined a big fight could erupt over who knows more about Mean Girls. Here are our initial thoughts:
Clearly, hiring music industry professionals was of no help to The X Factor, as demonstrated by the recent axing of judge/mentors Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger (as well as host Steve Jones). Who should replace them? We suggest that Simon Cowell look to already successful reality TV judges -- regardless of whether or not they have experience critiquing singers. While some of these personalities might seem like an odd fit, each one of them would be more fun to watch than the former Laker Girl and Pussycat Doll:
Over the course of a few seasons, Glee has gone from a fun teen show with music to a jukebox show with plots and characters that make little to no sense. And while the long-running Degrassi franchise has hit some tough patches of its own over the years, they've managed to stick through it all (even adding occasional music), successfully entertaining and educating several generations teens since the mid-'80s. If Glee wants to last anywhere near that long (and God help us if it does), there's plenty that it could learn from our favorite neighbors to the north:
We understand that New Girl is not going to be everyone's cup of twee. There are legions of people out there who hate Zooey Deschanel's quirky style and personality. Those people should not watch this show -- there's absolutely no way that they will ever be able to look beyond Zooey's dorky-girl-next-door character to see that this sitcom is actually fast-paced, clever and entertaining. Since we weren't predisposed to despise her, we found ourselves utterly drawn under her spell. That said, this show isn't all about her -- there are plenty of other oddball elements that make this series our favorite comedy of the fall (we'd say the season, but ABC's upcoming Apartment 23 might win that battle). Here's what we adored about the pilot:
This singing competition has been quietly airing during December for the last two years, spotlighting a capella groups and airing only a handful of episodes. But while The Sing-Off doesn't get as much attention as American Idol or America's Got Talent or the forthcoming X Factor, it really is one of the best vocal-adrenaline-filled shows on television. If you haven't been watching, this season is already off to a great start -- and here's why it's worth checking out:
Some of us may still be recovering from the cultural moment that was American Idol, but it looks like there's no rest for the weary reality fan ahead. A plethora of talent competition shows, including The Voice, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance and last night's Platinum Hit, all take center stage this summer. But no matter how fantastic, absurd, or otherwise unpredictable their respective contestants are, it's the judges that give them their -- pardon the pun -- voice, not to mention their mood, sense of humor and overall vibe. And yes, they also give the shows their legitimacy (or lack thereof). Here's how each judge rates:
Last week saw the elimination of quirky, bearded, occasionally hospitalized favorite Casey Abrams, and we were interested to hear what he would have to say in his exit interview. Unfortunately, he was pretty sedate the whole time (unlike the rarin'-to-go Stefano), but his closing statement stuck with us: "Don't take yourself too seriously. Take music seriously, but not yourself." While the interview was far from a laugh-fest, we couldn't help but chuckle at some of his laid-back, world-weary responses. Here are the funniest.
In the weekly Idol conference call, it's common for the discussion to focus on how disappointing it is to the contestant to have been voted off. But last week's eliminee, Stefano Langone, seems to be thrilled to be out. Every answer he gave eventually came back around to how he left exactly when he wanted, he sang what he wanted and he was saving all of his best stuff for after the show. He took a break from networking to straighten us out about he's about to blow up in a big way. Boom goes the dynamite!
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