I didn’t catch every minute of the season debut of “American Idol” on Tuesday night, but here are a qouple thoughts on what I saw:
• New judge Kara DioGuardi is nice enough, but she doesn’t add much to the show. Her catty moment with “Bikini Girl” provided a few manufactured tense moments, but otherwise she’s little more than a saner version of Paula Abdul. Not that she’s bad, as she has a decent eye for talent, but she doesn’t add anything to warrant her inclusion as judge No. 4 this year.
• As for bikini girl, Katrina Darrell got through on a 2-2 vote to Hollywood (the guys voted for her of course). I’m sorry, but she stands no chance of going anywhere once her clothes are back on. Her kiss with Ryan Seacrest did, however, create the awkward moment of the year (yes, I am confident enough to make that declaration on Jan. 14).
• As for the staged moments, enough. Let the singers’ talent or lack thereof carry the show – which it can. We don’t need vignettes, labels on the auditioners or any other fake drama. Simple stories like the guy who works on the oil rig (Michael Sarver) tell themselves, so that should be as much as we hear from people who aren’t judges or singers.
• Does having a new graphic and a fourth judge really merit calling this the “New” version of “American Idol?”
• Tuesday’s telecast drew 30.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the top-rated show of the 2008-09 TV season (the Jan. 3 Indianapolis-San Diego NFL playoff game was the No. 1 program previous to Tuesday). Those 30.1 million viewers are down 10 percent from last year’s “Idol” season debut (33.4 million) and way below the 37.4 million who watched the first “Idol” episode of 2007, which ranks as the series’ highest viewership to date. Those numbers are down – it will be interesting to see whether people continue to tune out this season – but any other show on television would love to hit a “down note” like that.
• Please, please do without the montages at the end where all the bad contestants sing the same song, then they splice together five-second snippets (Tuesday’s massacre came at the expense of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”). Seriously, wouldn’t the airtime be better devoted to another auditioner or two, or at least another mini-profile on a contestant? Useless tripe such as this gives the average “Idol” telecast more fat arond the edges than, well, me.