How 'American Idol' Screwed the Pooch


Way back in the innocent days of the early Aughts, America turned itself away from Serious News Stories and decided to focus on a little talent show that aired on FOX.  The show featured a dozen of rough talents, some not suited to serenade you at your local dive bar.  The affair was hosted by an LA radio personality and an unknown "comedian," who disappeared unceremoniously after Season 1.  Telling Americans what to think about the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, and some guy named AJ Something were a random cantankerous British record producer, the former bassist for Journey, and a pop star who hadn't been seen since she promised us a new day back in the mid-'90s.  

Over the years, the talent became more polished, the host more prolific, and the judges more famous for their personality quirks than for any insightful criticism they might bestow upon the wannabe stars.  
The Powers That Be started to fiddle with the format a few years ago.  They added a new judge (Kara DioGuardi), whom they dropped from the panel just as she was starting to become an asset to the show.  She was the only judge last year who even tried to dole out actual criticism.  They edged out Paula Abdul, who, for all her wackiness, at least tried to do her job to the best of her ability and did seem to genuinely care about the fates of the contestants.  They brought in Ellen Degeneres, whose only attempt at judging a talent competition prior to Idol was a pathetic turn on So You Think You Can Dance.  
Now, with the departure of Simon Cowell, the PTB are retooling the panel once again.  Ellen's out.  Kara's out.  Randy, who hasn't put together a coherent thought since 2005, is in.  So are Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.  I'm thinking the PTB hired Tyler to fill the loopy Paula role.  Just a hunch.  J-Lo has been a mentor before, and she wasn't awful, but she is known for being a diva.  I predict that she'll find a way to make the show more about her own antics than about the contestants.
And really, the contestants are whom we turn out year after year to see.  Two years ago, we weren't talking about Paula and her outfits.  We were talking about Adam Lambert.  Last year we wanted to see if a paint store worker could best the busker.  
I hope this time the PTB have found a couple of judges more interested in helping bolster the new talent than their own dwindling careers.
But I kind of doubt it.

Filed under: News & Views, TV

Tags: American Idol, FOX, TV

Leave a comment