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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PILOT REVIEW: The Voice

THE VOICE










Hosted by Carson Daly
Judges: Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton
Created by John De Mol, Directed by Alan Carter

The Voice is the heavily hyped new NBC reality competition that is American Idol with a few twists. Four very successful current artists serve as judges and they have to pick singers for their "team" unseen. They simply listen to the voice of the singer and if they like them enough, they turn their chair around to campaign for them. It doesn't matter if they're young or old, beautiful or ugly. The pilot dealt with this first round - once the judges have their team of 8, they winnow it down to 4 and then American votes.

This is a really fun show and probably worth the hype so far. It's hard to tell if it will morph into an American Idol clone but the first round is far more interesting than Idol's audition rounds. At first the show seemed a bit overproduced, but once it got into the actual competition, it was highly campaigning. The contestant stories were short and sweet and Carson Daly was likable enough as the backstage cheerleader during the initial round. But the real strength of this show was the actual performances. What may have seemed like a gimmick during promotion with the judges and their chairs actually made for suspenseful and interesting performances. It also doesn't hurt that all the voices are talented - there were no joke or bad contestants.

The judges at this point seem to be a strength. They are comfortable in this setting and, for those who weren't already aware, they proved that they have the credibility with a strong performance to open the show. Adam Levine was funny in his campaigning for contestants, Cee Lo Green had his funny moments, Christina Aguilera was not nearly as obnoxious as she seemed in the promos, and Blake Shelton was earnest and interesting. All the judges seemed to know what they were talking about and have some interesting critique and ideas. Another nice feature in this show is the contestants having the say in deciding who they want to work with. This gives the judges some vulnerability and allows for some good competition.

It's hard to tell what this show will look like in later rounds. In some ways, it seems like it will lose its uniqueness when this first round ends. On the other hand, maybe the gimmick and twist will last just long enough to be interesting and not be overdone. It's different enough from American Idol to be a success. And the talent is better vocally. I'll be back for more.

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