TV Review'The X Factor' doesn't have the 'it' factor: Authenticity
By Robert Bianco, USA Today
- November 2nd, 2011
We can accept good copies on TV. It's the bad fakes that rankle.
Many factors have turned what had seemed, from a summer distance, to be a sure-fire hit, Fox's The X Factor (Wednesday, 8 ET/PT),
to the biggest disappointment of the fall. There's the almost astounding lack of originality and a shocking level of incompetence that keeps breaking through the high-gloss sheen. Add to that an irritating air of unearned arrogance and a well-dressed host (Steve Jones) who's as charmless as a Ken doll and even less animated.
But if you're looking for one main failing as the competition just started its live-broadcast stretch, settle on the phoniness that permeates every aspect of the show, from its overhyped prize to its overproduced performances. Even in a genre know for the ersatz, X Factor rings false.
Some of this we should have seem coming from The Voice, which used the same judge-as-mentor setup and suffered the same disconnect between what the panel promised and what it delivered. We may not expect much from talent-show judges, but we do expect them to be impartial and to occasionally render critical judgment neither of which is possible when the judge has a built-in rooting interest in some of the contestants. (You'd think shows would have learned that from the various figure-skating scandals.)
Which means what you got from judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid in last week's 2½-hour shambles of a live show was gamesmanship masquerading as criticism. They mostly sniped at one another's song and dance choices (leaving us to wonder whether we're really supposed to believe the mentors single-handedly put together all of those production numbers). The only comments aimed at the contestants were Reid's remark that Simone Battle should not have been one and Abdul's admonition to Tiah Tolliver to work on her pitch both of which were right on the money.
To be fair to the judges, it couldn't have been easy to assess the singers when their voices were buried under a muddy sound system and their bodies were obscured by the dancers and the set. (If the show is going to keep pulling back for long shots, it's going to have to start issuing viewers binoculars.) Still, do you really think Abdul is the only one who noticed a singer was pitchy and more to the point, do you really believe the once famously finicky Cowell, who has gone from judge for hire on American Idol to co-owner on X Factor, has suddenly become so easy to please?
And there's the underlying problem: the defanging of Simon Cowell, compounded by the suspicion that his financial stake in the show's future winner has caused him to pull his punches, as it's no longer in his best interest to run a possible asset down. Cowell made his mark by being a blunt instrument; a Cowell who isn't honest and, yes, nasty, isn't worth watching.
And so far, neither is his show.http://www.usatoday.com/life/televis...how/51033746/1