I’m on vacation but I wanted to give the regular followers of “Idol” to kvetch (or even praise) “X Factor” during its second week on the air.
Ratings last week both nights were 12.5 million viewers. That was clearly a disappointing figure for Fox officials and creator Simon Cowell after all the publicity and build up over the months. “Criminal Minds,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Person of Interest” and “Modern Family” drew more viewers. Both comedies drew more 18 to 49 year olds.
The only clear upgrade from “Idol” so far that I can ascertain is record executive L.A. Reid. He has gravitas and a track record that outweighs Randy Jackson. Otherwise, we have two personality black holes in Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones, neither of whom have distinguished themselves yet. And even Simon himself seems oddly diminished. So far, what used to be his classic wordplay has been rather tepid. And the show itself focused absurd amounts of time on bad and mediocre singers, giving them even more time on stage to sing than “Idol” would.
Plus, the “naked” guy last Wednesday was a complete fake out. TMZ reports the guy wasn’t even naked! He was wearing a leopard print thong! It seems Simon courted the controversy by letting the guy stay on the stage a ridiculously long time and then airing the entire sequence. Simon wanted people to be outraged and talk about it. The Parents Television Council fell for it, saying it was an abomination and plans to file copious complaints to the Federal Communications Commission. Sure, there is a school of thought that controversy like this might fuel viewership but I thought it was a complete and utter turnoff. I’m 100% sure Nigel Lythgoe and Co. at “Idol” would never have allowed the guy to have done that for more than three seconds before security folks hauled him off. Even Piers Morgan would have buzzed him on “America’s Got Talent” before he had even gotten his pants off.
Maybe week two will be better. Maybe. At least the audition episodes only last two weeks, as opposed to four for “Idol.”