The Show returns

The Show’s back and it again threatens to suck up hours of time that I could use for constructive purposes. I didn’t know how I’d feel about the departure of The Only Judge Worth Watching. The answer so far as that I’m feeling pretty good about it.

For starters, the two new judges are surprisingly — even shockingly — good. I’m particularly amused by the entertainment value of, um, Cool Grandpa, who I thought would be an absolute train wreck. I mean, I purchased one of his band’s albums when I was 15, and you can reverse those numbers to get my age now. But he’s been funny and comfortable on the air.

The other new judge has spent a whole lot of time in front of the camera, so it’s no surprise she’s worked out fine. She’s a sentimentalist, which might not be the best thing for The Show, but so be it.

We’re in the early Show stages here, so everything is pre-taped and months old. But there have been some serious changes in these episodes over past years. The whole Freak Show aspect of these tryouts has been seriously toned down, and it’s particularly nice to see the producers quit making so much fun of people who seem seriously disturbed.

I do wish the group was tougher. They seem to be sending a lot of people on to the next round, including folks who really have no chance — or at least could use a few more years of seasoning. But that’s easy to forgive because everyone seems to be having so much fun.

As far as the contestants go, I’ve seen a chunk of ‘decent’ but very little ‘wow.’ That did change tonight, when the closing contestant took a Ray Charles tune and absolutely set it on fire (in the best way). Now, the guy had a sort of redheaded Pillsbury Doughboy thing going on, and I suspect something will be done about that, but he’s a threat.

We’re almost done with the goofy phase of The Show now and soon the Darwinism Segments will kick in. This is when The Only Judge Who Mattered really shined — he macheted his way right through these young hopefuls, crushing their hopes and dreams but also helping them to get on with their lives by doing so. Somebody’s got to take on that role here and I’m not sure this crew is up to that.

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Speaking of The Show, I found a copy of the debut album for last year’s No. 2 finisher in a giveaway bin at work. I was a big fan of hers, even when it seemed like she did a little self-sabotage at the end of last season. This CD, in which most of her fantastic rough edges are sanded off, threatens to end my fandom. It’s a major disappointment, and I might even put it back in the giveaway bin.

Randy

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