Opinion Brief

'American Idol' vs. NBC's upstart show

The Peacock Network is challenging Fox's aging "Idol" with a new show called "The Voice of America." Will audiences embrace NBC's contender?

In one of the "biggest challenges" yet to FOX's ratings juggernaut, "American Idol," NBC has announced plans for a new reality sing-off called "The Voice of America" to air in spring 2011. Based on a top Dutch reality series known as "The Voice of Holland," NBC's effort will feature celebrity coaches who mentor teams of singers and an elimination process that winnows each team down to a single finalist. In what NBC is calling a "unique twist," the audition process will be blind to ensure singers are initially judged solely on vocal talent. Can this formula seduce viewers who've tired of "Idol"? (See more about the new show)

No, it's not a worthy rival: "This isn't going to work," says Charlie Toft at Film.com. The differences between "Idol" and NBC's show are "trivial." I don't think viewers will particularly appreciate the value of a blind audition process. "Good looks have always been part of the pop music formula and always will be."
"NBC launches another 'American Idol' knockoff"

And "Idol" just can't be beat: "'American Idol' is the great white shark of American television — or maybe a better analogy is Pac Man — consuming rival after rival," says Verne Gay in Newsday. Sure, NBC has had a big success with "The Sing-Off" and "Dancing with the Stars" has occasionally overtaken "Idol," but the list of forgettable shows that have tried and failed to unseat "Idol" is long and — as NBC must realize — "sobering."
"Is 'American Idol' vulnerable? Well...?"

But 'Idol' might be vulnerable: "The uncertainties of 'American Idol' have made it appear [as] frail and teetering" as Aerosmith front-man (and new judge) Steven Tyler in concert, says Sean O'Neal in The Onion's A.V. Club, and its format is "staid." "The Voice of America" attempts to give the concept a new spin, and it's from an assemblage of "reality TV super-producers," including Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Apprentice"). These are people "who do not [mess] around when it comes to unscripted television."
"NBC will try to take down 'American Idol' in 2011"

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