NBC has found huge success with The Voice — in fact, it’s the only bright spot on their 2012-2013 schedule. So when a network has a hit on their hands, what do they do next? A spin-off! That’s right, NBC is planning a kids version of The Voice and pre-production is underway. A source told the New York Post, “We are hoping [to begin production] by the end of the year.”
Casting call notices were sent out last week to take place in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, looking for singers in the 8 to 14-year-old age range. An insider says, “There wasn’t enough time to get it together [before the upcoming fifth cycle].” The most likely option is to air the spin-off in summer 2014, which is when the original version is in the off-season, and on the same stage.
The Voice Kids has aired in many other countries, including Germany, Holland and Finland, with high ratings. But does that mean America should have its own version? I may be proven wrong and maybe it’ll be a big hit, but I don’t think NBC should move forward on production. Why? Read on to find out.
The Voice Recap: Let the Battles
Look no further than American Idol for a hint of things to come. After they burst onto the scene, Simon Fuller, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick launched American Juniors in the summer of 2003, following Idol‘s second season. It seems easy enough to say that with the same people involved, you’d have another hit show. But that wasn’t the case. Ratings started off strong, but eventually dropped 40%, and season 2 never went into production.
The point of American Juniors was to create a five-member kid singing group of the same name. A one-year delay of their debut album, along with not much publicity, resulted in the members going their separate ways in 2005.
I will mention that, even though the show was cancelled, we’ve seen some of the winners since then. Lucy Hale is one of the stars of the ABC Family drama Pretty Little Liars, though I doubt anybody would say it’s because of Juniors that she received the role. And sisters Tori and Taylor Thompson auditioned together for season 1 of The Voice, but were voted off during the quarterfinals.
Can Kids Handle the Pressure?
This is a very legitimate question to ask. Yes, you have positive examples like Carly Rose Sonenclar on The X Factor and Jackie Evancho on America’s Got Talent. Both held up extremely well considering the circumstances. But because they made it to the finals, they didn’t have to face elimination. And we’ve seen on both of these shows — X Factor and AGT — that they don’t always handle it well. Kids have cried after being cut from the competition on AGT. And who could forget Rachel Crow‘s unforgettable post-elimination meltdown in which she fell to the floor sobbing hysterically and telling her mother she promised she would make it.
I’m not saying that kids should be completely banned from participating on these sorts of shows. But both the parents and the producers must be extremely careful and cautious, and notice any signs of stress or anything else that might indicate they can’t handle the situation. That of course hasn’t stopped both parties from milking it for all its worth, for entertainment and ratings purposes (in the eyes of the producers) and to live out childhood dreams through their kids (in the case of parents). The Voice is more about showcasing the positive instead of drumming up negativity like we’ve seen on X Factor and Idol, but that still doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
A Panel Full of Paula Abduls and Mariah Careys
Like I said, The Voice is more about building singers up instead of tearing them apart. And whoever the judges are for the spin-off, I’m sure they will be told they need to stick with encouraging comments. But if that happens, we may just have a judging panel full of Paula Abduls and Mariah Careys. That isn’t good for any of these shows. If a singer is bad, even if they’re kids, they shouldn’t be falsely led into believing they can be the biggest stars in the world.
The Voice: Overkill Edition
Aside from how this spin-off could affect the kids, NBC also must take into account the overkill factor. When a show becomes a hit, networks always want to capitalize and build on that success. American Idol could have easily produced two seasons a year, but they refrained from doing so because they thought viewers would consider it overkill and tune out. We now have three singing competition shows on the air, and The Voice has switched to a twice-a-year format. It’s obvious viewers are burned out. Idol is at record lows in the ratings. The X Factor can’t catch a break. And while a recent episode of The Voice garnered 14.3 million viewers, do you think that number would be even higher if it was the only one on the air? It’s very possible.
Remember the game show resurgence a few years back? Deal or No Deal, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, 1 vs. 100, Don’t Forget the Lyrics, I could go on and on. Let’s take Deal or No Deal as a prime example. After huge weekly numbers, NBC started adding the Howie Mandel-hosted show to pretty much every night of the week. After a while, it became too much and a backlash ensued. How many game shows are on network TV in primetime at the moment? Yeah, my point exactly.
Deal or No Deal aired on NBC, the same network bringing us The Voice. You would think they’d learn from their past mistakes. And as the saying goes, history has a way of repeating itself.
What do you think? Is a kids spin-off a good idea? And if it airs during the summer, is having The Voice on every single month of the year overkill — and will there be a backlash?
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(Image courtesy of NBC)