The Voice Season 3: Are the Twists Working?

Going into the live playoffs (as it is apparently called now), I’ve been left to wonder how the different changes made to this season has impacted the show. Don’t get me wrong, change is good, keeps things interesting. Whether or not these changes work or well executed, that’s another story. All this pretty much stems from seeing who actually made the live rounds and who didn’t.

One of the first twists to this season was the inclusion of the “STEAL” in the battle rounds. After a winner has been declared by the coach, the 3 other coaches have the opportunity to steal the losing contestant for their own team, giving that singer a second chance to continue on in the competition. Each coach was allowed 2 steals. The “Steal” offered up an added excitement to the battle round proceedings: Is the losing singer worthy of continuing on? Are the other coaches going to save them? Are they seriously not going to save them? Did they really save that singer?! It’s those last 2 questions that kept bothering me as the battle rounds went on. As exciting as it was to see Adam steal Amanda Brown, when Cee-Lo foolishly put up Amanda with Trevin Hunte, it also became increasingly clear that the use of the steals was going to be a frustrating affair. With only 2 spots for steals, the coaches had to choose wisely who they wanted to save, risking the possibility that after those 2 steals got used, another (probably more deserving) singer would still get cut. The whole purpose of the inclusion of the “steal” was to give those singers who deserved to stay longer that opportunity (think what would’ve happened if the likes of Niki Dawson and Chris Cauley hadn’t been paired up with Vicci Martinez and Tony Lucca, respectively, and got to continue on in the competition). But if a handful of great singers STILL got cut (which obviously happened), then it kind of becomes a little pointless. Michael Slezak, who does the recaps over at TVLine, suggested that the coaches should somehow decide who they want to steal from the losing contestants, after all the battles are done. Great idea, but keyword is ‘somehow’ – that’s clearly something for the show’s producers to think about/come up with.

After the battle rounds, each coach has a team consisting of 10 members, so in order to cut the teams in half, the show introduced the “KNOCKOUT ROUND.” The ‘Knockouts’ are essentially the battle rounds, except that the contestants each get to pick their own songs to sing, and they don’t know who they are paired up against until moments before they perform. It’s another way to weed out the weaker singers, but at the same time, it’s very much dependent on who the coaches pair up and what the coaches decide. Because as we viewers saw, in another example of making the “Steal” twist look rather pointless after the fact, all the coaches except Adam ended up cutting the singers they stole. The most frustrating result was Blake pairing up Julio and Marissa Ann (whom he stole from Christina’s team) for the knockout round, and ending up choosing Julio simply because he had invested more time coaching him, despite the fact that Marissa Ann sang infinitely better than Julio did. I love the coaches, but they have made some VERY questionable choices this season.

This leads to the twists that we’ll see implemented for the live rounds, leading to the finale. Whereas the past two seasons, each coach was guaranteed a spot in the finals, that has gone out the window for this season. For this first week of the live rounds, the top 2 vote-getters from each team will automatically make it to the Top 12, and then each coach gets to save 1 additional singer from their team. Thereafter, adopting the typical reality competition voting standards, all bets are off and whoever gets the lowest number of votes, regardless of team, will get the boot. The good thing about this is that the coaches now don’t have much sway as to who stays and goes, something that as the live rounds progressed last season, got quite irritating to some viewers. Plus, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished that it was a Team Cee-Lo/Team Adam final, so the possibilities are endless as to what will come of the finals. That being said, the worst thing is that America can often get things wrong and there is a possibility that some of the best singers might not make it very far (I’d like to think higher of The Voice audience, but years of Idol/DWTS/SYTYCD has made me somewhat of a reality TV cynic).

Overall, I must say that at least The Voice is willing to make these constant changes/twists to keep things fresh on the show. I really wouldn’t expect anything less with Mark Burnett being the executive producer. So Voice fans, thoughts on this season’s twists? Anything they could improve on? And more importantly, who are your favourites on the show?

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Results Show Cancelled? Why?!

2012 started out not so well for dance fans, when news hit that FOX had cancelled the results show for the upcoming 9th season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘. Executive producer and resident judge, Nigel Lythgoe tweeted the news on Sunday, which came as a shock to fans. FOX has yet to release an official statement on the news.

For many, the news of SYTYCD’s results show being cut is seen as being a step in the right direction for reality competition TV. We’ve all complained at one point or another how other reality shows like ‘American Idol’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ have unnecessarily long and drawn-out results shows. ‘American Idol‘ especially, is the biggest culprit of tediously long results shows, when the results of who gets sent home can/is announced in the last 5 minutes of the show. The rest of the hour is all filler with a painful group performance by the contestants, shameless promotion of a Ford vehicle, a guest performance, and the aforementioned drawn out results with countless repeatings of “Dim the lights!” and “We’ll find out…after the break!” This is not to say that ‘Dancing With the Stars‘ is any better, as instead of shameless promotion, they feature increasingly lame “comedic” filler segments, along with the usual guest performances. Both shows could use, at the very least, a cut in the results show length from one hour to a half-hour. Actually, I remember when Idol used to have half-hour results shows and at some point, they decided to increase it to one hour.

Personally, I never had a problem with SYTYCD results shows. They had a formula that worked and it didn’t feel like the results were being dragged on. Show starts with a group performance, cue opening title sequence, we find out the bottom 3 couples, special performance from the dance world, contestants dance for their lives, judges deliberate while musical guest performance takes place, find out who gets sent home – all that in one hour, doesn’t seem so bad. Now with the news that the results show is cancelled, there’s going to be some big changes to accommodate the situation. Sure, results shows aren’t particularly necessary seeing as how shows like ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’, ‘The Sing-Off’ and ‘The Voice’ have all made due with being on once a week. Let’s also not forget that SYTYCD in its first season didn’t have a results show, and because season 6 aired during the fall, the first 3 weeks of competition also didn’t feature a results show, with the judges determining the bottom 3 and who got sent home in the same episode. If SYTYCD adopts a similar format to ABDC, which is sort of what they did for the first few weeks of season 6, then it’s not so bad.

Like I said, I never really had a problem with the SYTYCD results shows. The thing I probably hate most about no results show for SYTYCD is that we probably won’t get the group routine. The group routine was my favourite part of the results shows, and a lot of them have become so memorable. Can you imagine if they never started doing results shows in season 2? We might not have gotten “Ramalama” or “Calle Ocho” in season 5 or “El Fuego” in season 8 – those were damn good group routines. Granted, season 8 started incorporating some more group routines during the performance shows, in lieu of another couple routine, but it’s just not the same. The results show group performance was sort of free of a dance style restriction. Sure, sometimes they did fall under certain styles, but you look at “Calle Ocho” which was a hip-hop/ballroom fusion and “Ramalama” was certainly like nothing else we’d seen on the show and to this day, is arguably the best group routine the show’s ever done.

Yes, the news that the results show is being cancelled comes with lots of pros and cons. My biggest gripe with this news, which not a lot of people are really considering, is that SYTYCD is a SUMMER show. As it is, there aren’t a lot of options as to what to watch during the summer. I don’t see why FOX feels the need to cancel an hour of programming in the form of the SYTYCD results show, when they probably don’t have anything else to air. If they do have something else, it’s probably another reality show of some form. So why cut SYTYCD to one night? If this was the regular TV season, it make sense to cut an hour or a half-hour of a results show, so they have room for other shows, that way long hiatuses aren’t necessary. Yes, I get that Idol has the highest number of viewers of any show. But how fair is it to, say fans of ‘Fringe’ which in its first season was put on hiatus for 2 months because of Idol? No freshman series should ever have that long of a hiatus, seeing as how many are still trying to get viewers (or in the case of Fringe, 4 seasons later, still looking for viewers in order to stay on the air). And yet, ‘Glee’ had to endure a 4-month hiatus in its first season as well, even though it was a hit and already had viewers.

At the end of the day, none of this really makes sense to me. Results shows may not be completely necessary, but we’re talking the summer TV season, in which case, I will gladly take an extra hour of SYTYCD over a re-run or some other stupid reality show the network tries to get me to watch.