January 20th, 2011
11:55 AM ET
“American Idol” returned on Wednesday night to mixed reviews.
New judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez settled into their seats nicely – perhaps a bit too nicely. Gone were the often harsh but always honest comments of the curmudgeonly judge Simon Cowell, and neither Lopez nor Tyler seemed to have it in them to be so tough.
Sean Highkin from Paste Magazine worried that the lack of Cowell might lessen the quality of contestants.
“Unfortunately, while it’s admirable that the show’s producers opted not to bring in a Simon clone, the formula simply does not work without someone willing to be an ass to kids with big dreams but no chops,” Highkin wrote. “Granted, the audition rounds are always rough at first, and Jackson, Tyler, and Lopez are still getting used to working together, but I couldn’t help but to notice how much the show’s standards are lowered with Simon out of the picture.”
Entertainment Weekly asked in a poll whether fans enjoyed the first episode, inquiring: “Will the inclusion of 15-year-olds turn 'Idol' into glorified tryouts for 'Glee'? So much to take in, but let’s bottom-line it: Did it work?”
“I liked it,” wrote a commenter named Tierra Berry. “I kinda became smitten with Steven Tyler...his accompaniment to contestants’ song[s] must make them feel better more [often] than not.”
When CNN.com asked “Can a reboot save ‘American Idol’” quite a few commenters remarked that they were reserving judgment. After the show, viewer RoscoeC gave it thumbs up.
“After last season's disastrous show, I'd given up on Idol,” he wrote. “I watched it [Wednesday night] and was knocked out. Steven Tyler is like having Adam Lambert as a host. You don't know what to expect, you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what may come out of his mouth."
But not everyone dug Tyler’s schtick. According to The Hollywood Reporter, blogs were ablaze with complaints that Tyler was hitting on underaged contestants.
The story quoted the New York Times, which wrote: "The show overplayed the aging rock star’s bad boy reputation with a montage of Mr. Tyler leering and flirting with some very young and sexy female contestants — he looked too much like a long-haired version of Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi."
Alas, for those who long for the former days of the show, there is always the website BringBackSimon.com.
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