'Duets' First Impressions: The Good, the Bad and the Confusing
'Duets' First Impressions: The Good, the Bad and the Confusing
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
Now that the Duets premiere has come and gone, it's time to reflect on some first impressions. With big competitors like American Idol and The Voice, ABC's new reality singing show needs to distinguish itself by bringing something fresh and exciting to the overcrowded genre. Did the show's series premiere deliver? Let's take a look at some of the premiere's highs and lows.

The Good: The Performances
After watching endless solo performances this past TV season, it's refreshing to watch people perform in duos. Two people singing together (especially when one of those people is a highly talented celebrity) adds more dynamics and interaction to a performance.

The Pretty Good: The Amateur Talent
Given that this was their first time on the flashy, circle-themed Duets stage, the eight singing hopefuls performed well. It's not easy to sing in front of a national audience and not only did the new talent do so with overall confidence and skill, they did it alongside some of the biggest names in the music industry. In this regard, these amateurs had a bigger challenge than other contestants from similar singing shows.

The Not So Good: The Judges
As mentors and performers, the four Superstars were impressive, as was expected. But when it came to judging their peers' duets partners from their circular pods, they could use some work. Granted, Kelly Clarkson has said their show is not about tearing people down, but about providing honest, positive feedback. Nevertheless, their remarks felt a little too positive across the board. If everyone gets a "Fantastic job! I loved your voice!" then what's the point? I'm not saying the Superstars need to get overly negative, but being more specific as to how the partners might improve would be more interesting (for the audience) and helpful (for the partners).

The Bad: Who Are These Contestants?
Duets made me actually appreciate the long, drawn-out audition processes Idol and The Voice employ. Yes, it can get tedious, but it helps you gradually build an affinity for the contestants so that when they make it to the big studio stage, you're actually rooting for people you know and care about (as much as one can from behind a TV screen). By virtually cutting that portion out, it felt abrupt and relatively less interesting to watch these eight unknowns sing with four Highly Known singers. Hopefully this will improve quickly, perhaps if more air time is given to the amateurs' back stories.

The Utterly Confusing: The Scoring
I think we can all agree the Duets secret tablet scoring system was a complete bomb. First, by making it secret, it removes us, the audience, from the process; we can't even participate vicariously through the judges' individual scores. Second, and more importantly, the Superstars are judging their competitors' partners - creating a serious conflict of interest. If they are as competitive as they say they are (hi, Kelly), then why on earth would they give their competition high marks? Also, when (if at all) will the audience get to be involved? Even if Duets is trying to be different from other singing competitions, it shouldn't throw out the system altogether - there's a reason Idol is so popular and it's called America's vote.

Of course, there's only been one episode and the show still has time to improve upon some of its weaker aspects. Going off my first impression, I'd say the show has some real potential, but I'm not sure it can reach it within nine weeks. What did you all think? Did you find the scoring process as mind-boggling as I did?

(Image courtesy of ABC)

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