Fox Wednesday Fall TV Schedule: The X Factor
Aug 28 2013 07:54 am CET

Fox Week continues with a look at the third season of singing competition The X Factor. The show has gone through another overhaul with new judges and a revamped format. Has the program found the right combination?

The X Factor (Season Three)

The X Factor returns after its second summer of re-tooling. Here are all the fixes that have happened so far:

Judging: The panel has been reshuffled again. Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato are back, which is good—they have chemistry. LA Reid and Britney Spears have been replaced by Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland and Latina artist Paulina Rubio. Rowland did a pretty good job on the UK version two years ago. I am not familiar with Rubio, but perhaps having a panel of lower-profile celebrities (*cough*Britney Spears*cough*) may finally shift the focus to the contestants and not the judges.

Hosting: Khloe Kardashian is out, which absolutely needed to happen. Mario Lopez will still be hosting, which I'm not enthusiastic about. I thought he was as robotic as season one host Steve Jones, but perhaps with the dead weight of a co-host removed Lopez will be able to act like a human.

Format: This is the area I'm most concerned with. Last year, the auditions were filmed documentary style since they didn't have a replacement host lined up. I thought this was a fantastic departure from how every other talent show does auditions and they even had the guts to craft villains who made it all the way to the live shows (is CeCe Frey selling stamps again?). With Lopez still on-board, I'm worried the show will go back to the Seacrest format.

The major change that has been confirmed is the elimination of Judges' Houses. This was the step after boot camp where the judges would take their newly assigned categories to a swanky pad and do one final set of cuts before the live shows. This section has the potential to separate the wheat from the chaff and give some much-needed screen time to contestants who were otherwise not featured in earlier phases. However, I can understand why the show would want to cut it. First, the budget seems to have been cut considerably—no $5 million contract, less expensive judges—eliminating travel is another obvious budget line for slashing. Also, last year's Judges' Houses were an absolute mess due to rain delays during the World Series.

The categories have reverted back to what they used for season one: Boys under 25, Girls under 25, the Over 25s, and Groups. I don't think there was a problem with the categories used last year, but this breakdown feels more…organized?

Nothing has been confirmed for the live shows as of yet. The show mentioned at press tour that the stage productions will not be so elaborate early on. The show (and the gorgeous stage) do need some spectacle, but they need to balance the smoldering plane wrecks and the standing center stage under a spotlight. I would like to see more weeks where the acts sing full versions of the songs, but I won't hold my breath. Also, I'm worried the show will stick with its mostly double elimination format. If the show is squeamish about the Rachel Crows and the Beatrice Millers of the world getting eliminated, up the age limit. Otherwise, stick with an elimination format that demonstrates you have one iota of trust in your audience.

Truthfully, I'm dreading the upcoming season of The X Factor. I was one of the biggest cheerleaders for its importation, but so many of these changes have made the show practically unrecognizable. The even earlier launch time coupled with the elimination of Judges' Houses also has me nervous that we will be seeing an expansion of the auditions rather than the live shows. I hope I'm wrong on that last point, but we'll find out beginning Wednesday, September 11.

Mike McComb –

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