THE COUCH POTATO: Padded out X Factor is Strictly second rate
10:02am Friday 18th October 2013 in News
What’s the one thing The X Factor was lacking?
Talent? Wit? Honesty? Selflessness? A shred of humility?
All valid answers.
The one the producers went for, however, was: “More padding.”
Yes, that crucial missing ingredient in ITV’s Saturday night entertainment exclusion zone.
After the double auditions, Bootcamp’s Argos waiting room and the compulsory sobbing at Judges’ Houses, they’ve really gone to town with the twists in the live shows.
Five I’ve counted so far, including the already-tired “Dermot has genitals” hilarity.
As for the others, only one actually contributes something, and that’s by accident – Caroline Flack’s seat-of-her-pants backstage interviews, from the C-Deck of a container ship.
They’re both a terrible idea and a stroke of inadvertent genius, the only place, in the absence of anybody vaguely amusing, where something unexpected and glorious could occur, like Sam “Screwbo” Bailey airing her fears that “the Mitchell brothers” might make an appearance.
If they’d truly intended to add a real element of danger to proceedings, they’d have kept that yodelling buffoon in the competition.
Instead, while the consistently brilliant Strictly is winning the ratings war at a canter on the only night that matters, Saturday, X Factor is tying itself in new knots, like the moronic “Tweet Wheel” and the commercial breaks before the judges’ comments (yeah, that’ll bring back the millions of lost viewers).
Its gravest error, though, is also the biggest tweak of all.
The Flash Vote, a gimmick that’s destroyed the only thing keeping the results show worth watching – Deadlock.
Without which, it’s a dead loss.
There’s only one good singer (Screwbo), one potential pop star (Tamera) and, aside from those four minutes a week, the talent pool is dry.
Shouting has replaced singing, and the judges aren’t helping matters.
Sharon Osbourne, billed as the show’s great saviour, can’t remember her acts’ names, even with a crib sheet, and has started talking and acting like Ann Widdecombe auditioning for the part of Alexis Colby.
Nicole Scherzinger seems to be mentally wondering whether she’s left the gas on and is spouting gibberish like: “I’m going to call you Hairland, not Kingsland, because you are the land of great hair right now.”
Misery guts Gary Barlow’s forced enthusiasm is fooling no one, especially as his groups comprise five Andrew Ridgeleys, a pauper’s Little Mix and three blokes who’ve “shown courage” by singing a Phil Collins song off key.
And human answerphone Louis Walsh is leading them in a chorus of clichés: “You owned it.” “You nailed it.” “You’re what this show is all about.” “You’ve got great energy.” (Translation: “You can’t sing.”)
We’ve already had a hurty throat and a doctor’s orders to rest a voice, which would be great if they could just extend that to everybody.
Strip everything away, however, and the real killer blow is the Flash Vote, which prompted this rallying cry from Barlow: “I usually hate Sunday nights but now I can hate Saturday and Sunday nights.”
Welcome to my world, Gary.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
ITV4’s Night of the Fight: Hatton’s Last Stand.
Roy and Hayley’s Blackpool trip, on Corrie.
Dave Gorman’s magnificent “Found Poems”, with the Billroth String Quartet, on Dave channel’s Modern Life Is Goodish.
Saturday night TV hero Richard Osman on Pointless Celebrities: “Benny Hill’s Ernie: The Fastest Milkman in the West was pointless.”
BBC2’s The Wrong Mans, with the dialogue: “Get me that music box or I’ll go to the police and tell them to look for a scrawny hobbit and a male Clare Balding.” James Corden to Mathew Baynton: “You don’t look anything like Clare Balding.”
The subject of ITV’s The One and Only Cilla Black revealing: “I hate surprises.”
Phoney-opinion peddler Katie Hopkins’ latest This Morning adversary Sonia Poulton brilliantly calling her out: “I don’t sit on here in order for a newspaper to pick up sound bites from me.”
BBC1’s intelligent, eye-opening The Prison Restaurant, in other words everything Gordon (Ramsay) Behind Bars wasn’t.
And TLC’s Superstars and Superfans’ Love Gods special, with Jonathan Agnew’s commentary: “Alex Reid is in his limo, considering his place in the pantheon of the world’s greatest minds.”
Take your time, Alex.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
Homeland going down 24’s route of distracting itself with the hero’s boring daughter.
EastEnder Jack Branning forgetting he runs a car lot before leaving Walford for good.
Adrian Chiles being forced to apologise for a rare moment of being funny.
TLC’s Bizarre ER narrator completely misjudging the tone, telling the story of a man who lost a hand in a freak circular-saw accident: “Damian was left left-handed. But he wasn’t all right about it.”
Kelly Hoppen, Lisa Snowdon and Flavia Cacace & Vincent Simone competing to be the week’s most desperate QVC product flogger.
Everyone from Loose Women to Dermot O’Leary using the Jeremy Kyle Show phrase: “National television,” as if we can’t distinguish big programmes from Wales flamin’ Tonight.
C4’s Up All Night documentary, featuring dramas in a nightclub toilet, failing to include Cheryl Cole in an altercation.
And the channel’s Dogs: Their Secret Lives (because you can’t have too many programmes about them, apparently) revealing what they get up to left home alone.
They howl. Who knew?
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