A kinder, gentler ‘Idol’

There were some seasons when I used to watch “American Idol” once it got to the competition stages, but I rarely watched the audition episodes. The original version of the show had a cruel streak, and would show terrible auditions in a way that exploited and mocked the people making them. Some of the auditioners seemed almost mentally ill — so deluded that, even after screechy, tone-deaf performances, they would launch a barrage of profanity at the judges for not having recognized their greatness. It was just cruel and cringeworthy.

So far, the new, relaunched “American Idol” seems to have rejected that approach. Certainly, there’s no dramatic tension if you only show the golden-ticket contestants, so they’re always going to have to show some of the unsuccessful contestants. But (based on tonight’s episode, and some of what I’ve read about last night’s episode) the show seems to be keeping the mockery to a minimum and hasn’t been exploiting the William Hungs of the world this time around. I’m sure the auditions attracted many such entrants, but they’re not being edited into the show. They aren’t necessary; “The Voice” has managed to be pretty successful without them.

I really like the chemistry among the three new judges — Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

One thing I’ve noticed — the show still has its traditional logo, but so far I haven’t heard a single note of the old theme music. Is it gone for good, or are they saving it for Hollywood?

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