Cast: Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, John Legend, Robin Thicke
Network: ABC, Thursday nights
Original Telecast: June 1, 2012

In week two of ABC’s singing reality show DUETS, which pits four pros with eight amateurs for weekly duets and the chance to win a recording contract, we’re treated to more of the same which marred last week’s uneven debut.

With Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles (of Sugarland), John Legend and Robin Thicke – there are some great pros that are nurturing the talent.

The problem still remains is the voting system. The judges give points for performance and presentation which places people on a leaderboard sometimes not based on talent, but making sure the competition doesn’t get too far ahead.

Someone clearly as good as Jason Farol should not be seven out of eight, and below a singer like Alexis Foster who struggled through her song with Thicke, but that’s what happened during this “Classic Duets” episode.

It’s very lopsided. That said, the song choices are also quite annoying (as with AMERICAN IDOL and THE VOICE) and often too safe. The stage is too small and the choreography not very ambitious.

However, the show really came to life during one song – when contestant J Rome and Nettles performed the GREASE hit “You’re the One That I Want.” With additional dancers, some great moves and a fun song, it was the highlight of the night and put J Rome in a tie for first. The kid’s got talent.

As for the judges, it’s fun to see Nettles in a different light – she’s full of energy and quite good on stage (she tore it up on “You’re The One That I Want”). Clarkson is a ball of energy too and also incredible, and you can see her frustration when her partners are not given the credit they deserve.

Legend is okay – a great singer, but his partners place high, but they’re really not that strong or charismatic. Meanwhile Thicke is proving to be the annoying one. He’s so in love with his hair and looks that it’s distracting. His comments bizarre at times and his song choices feel like Las Vegas lounge singer chic.

Thankfully, the rules for the show have also been clearly defined. No one is eliminated this week, next week, the bottom two sing for their life and face elimination and the week after that, the show goes live and the audience gets to vote (finally!).

The big question is, will those live rounds be too late?

I have to admit, I am exhausted from all these singing competition shows, but I really want to like DUETS. I like the judges and the format, but it still feels rough around the edges and low-rent, when it should feel bigger and more ambitious.

Maybe in a couple of weeks, but for now, the show hasn’t found its voice yet and the ratings are clearly showing that. And frankly if Farol gets voted out next week before the live shows, it will be absolutely criminal (and could ensure more ratings erosion).


RelatedTV Review -DUETS – Season 1 – “Songs That Inspire”
Related Link: 
TV Review -DUETS – Season 1 – “Superstars Greatest Hits”  – Series Premiere

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TV Review -DUETS – Season 1 – “Classic Duets”


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