First of all, I am not a television critic. I am a critic of the television industry – but not really on the content itself.
That said, last week, while at a Manka Bros. corporate retreat, I actually sat and watched a full episode of “The X Factor” – and it was terrible.
Seriously, this is a really bad, over-produced mess.
A massive train wreck.
I can see now why the ratings have been just “okay” (considering the enormous pre-season expectations).
I thought this was going to be a huge show and even killed “American Idol” last year after it was announced that Simon Cowell was leaving (to ultimately start “The X Factor”).
I will admit now, my killing of “American Idol” was wrong. That show is alive and surprisingly well after more than a decade.
That’s more than I can say for “The X Factor”.
From what I saw (to be fair – on my one viewing), this show is complete disaster and won’t be alive two years from now (much less a decade). I know it was renewed for next year but I have a feeling that was part of the original deal (though they made a press announcement like it was a big surprise). Maybe there’s a chance this show could improve and grow into something – but I doubt it. There are too many problems.
The main advice I have for this show: Calm the fuck down.
Here are the key problems as I see it:
1) SIMON COWELL. The man who single-handedly turned “American Idol” into a must see phenomenon, is the biggest hindrance of his own show.
Because he has to DO stuff on this one. Not just sit in the chair, look disinterested, and throw out barbs that make America scream at the television. That was the biggest strength of “American Idol” – his laziness.
Now, he’s pitching products, reading off cue cards – it’s a disaster. He is so far out of his comfort zone that he has destroyed the one thing “The X Factor” has going for it – himself.
He needs to fire himself – simple as that.
2) THE OTHER JUDGES. No chemistry and embarrassing to watch – especially when they try to stir up some sort of controversy or generate angry banter.
The carefully choreographed verbal jabs between the judges is as convincing as a 6th Grade production of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?”.
Why is that?
Because we all know Simon hired all the judges (in almost a reality show of its own) and we know that Paula was sort desperate for this gig – so any little “fights” she has with Simon ring false.
On “American Idol” it worked a little better because they were all hired guns that negotiated separate deals. Simon negotiated all of “The X Factor” judges deals. He owns them which is why it doesn’t work.
3) THE TALENT. Is it just me, or does nearly every act in the Final 12 suck?
As I was watching them all perform, there were so many moments that took me out of the music – bad notes, awkward stage presence – so many moments that I yelled at the television: “These people are singing for $5 million bucks?!”
Maybe because there are so many singing competitions on TV these days the talent pool is getting shallow – but, to me, this is a pretty pathetic crop of finalists. Especially the children!
4) THE PRODUCT PLACEMENT. Good God, the product placement is completely out of control. Seriously. The Verizon X Factor App (or whatever)? And Simon introduces the Verizon App while drinking a Pepsi. It’s comical.
They are probably looking for ways to sponsor the sponsorships: “The Verizon App brought to you by Pepsi and Depends disposable adult diapers (so you don’t have to miss one second of “The X Factor” – just go in your pants!).”
5) THE PRODUCTION VALUES. What in the Hell is up with that set design? These crappy singers are singing in a pinball machine from 1986. The lights and the moving panels and the smoke and mirrors and lasers.
What the fuck?
We all know whoever wins is going to be singing at County Fairs with Kellie Pickler this summer. The sets there will be bales of hay and deep-fried bacon machines. Just calm the fuck down.
Plus, there are those power “X Factor” dancers that gyrate around these poor contestants as they try to make it through “Moon River” without their voice cracking.
On “American Idol”, Simon always used to emphasize that it was a “singing competition”.
He could obviously care less about that now.
Other than that, it’s a pretty awesome show. Fox has done it again!
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea