Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Take: The X Factor and Law & Order: SVU

The X Factor
It’s here. Billed as the most highly anticipated show of the season, The X-Factor premiered last night. The show, another brainchild of Simon Cowell, as been wildly successful in England and he left the wildly successful American Idol to bring it here.

Of course, it promises to be different from Idol: auditions in front of a live audience, no age limits and groups are encouraged to perform alongside solo artist. As the show progresses, the judges will be responsible for grooming the next ‘star,’ so while singing talent is a factor, it isn’t the only one: charmisma, stage presence, personality, all come into play with deciding who has The X-Factor.

As the show goes on it will differentiate itself from Idol but from what I saw of the first round of auditions, it was Idol in front of a live audience. There were the contestants with a tear-jerking backstory – like the 42-year old single mom. There were precocious child stars – including Rachel Crow, the first contestant, who could have walked off the stage and into her own Disney sitcom. There were awful auditions, including Geo Godly, who exposed himself and, in my opinion should have been cut off (no pun intended) a lot earlier than he was. Of course there were the angry, deluded non-singers who was incensed at the suggestion that they couldn’t sing (“Whaddaya mean I can’t sing???").

Although much has been made of the Paula/Simon chemistry, the most intriguing dynamic to me was the one between Simon and successful music producer L.A Reid. Unlike the laid back Randy Jackson, here is a guy who is just as egotistical and confident as Simon. Both men have strong opinions and don’t always agree. Watching this play out over the season should be interesting.

There are more auditions tonight but I will reserve final judgment until later when I see what really makes The X-Factor stand out.

Law & Order: SVU
And so we start Season 13, without Chirstopher Meloni’s Detective Elliot Stabler. While the case, in this case a ripped from the headlines version of Dominique Strauss Kahn and the hotel maid, is always the main case. A secondary plot line involved Elliot being investigated for the shooting of a teenage girl. Apparently, Internal Affairs went beyond that case and began investigating all of Elliot’s shootings. At the end of the show, we learned that he decided to turn in his badge.

However, executive producer and creator Dick Wolf knows better than anyone that the show must go on and so it did. Kellie Giddish, formerly of NBC’s The Chase made her debut as Detective Amanda Rollins, a transplant from down South (I can’t remember if it was Texas or Georgia) who is a fan of Olivia’s (she’s been following her work, we were told).

Also moving over from the original Law & Order is Linus Roache as Michael Cutter, who has been promoted to bureau chief, a position where he oversees the Special Victims Unit. For years, I thought he was the best thing about the original L&O, so I’m excited to see his character back in a slightly different role. I was sad to learn that he’s only doing four episodes. Stephanie March as ADA Alexandra Cabot is slated to appear in five episodes this season.

Christopher Meloni left some pretty big shoes to fill. This week we were introduced to Giddish’s Det. Rollins, with the next episode we’ll meet the second new detective, Nick Amaro, played by Danny Pino of Cold Case fame.

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