Featuring: Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, John Legend, Robin Thicke
Network: ABC, Thursday nights
Original Telecast: May 25, 2012

So close on the heels of the AMERICAN IDOL and THE VOICE finales, ABC gets into the musical competition game with DUETS.

At two hours, the series premiere proves to be a bit unwieldy like many competition shows, but the premise is at least somewhat different – four superstars Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, Robin Thicke and John Legend pick two contestants apiece to be their duet partners.

The title allows them to go, “let’s duet” (get the pun) and then they perform before the other judges. The three judges grade them (secretly) on performance and presentation and then there’s a ranking board for all eight performers.

And then – they get to perform again next week.

I’m not sure if there is an elimination component, though that’s likely, this being an eight-week series. The winner does get a Hollywood Records recording contract.

Of the eight selected, the contestants are actually quite good – though the better contestants didn’t place as high as they should have.

The duets were actually quite good, with each celebrity getting to work and groom their partner.

However, the staging of the duets is quite awkward. The stage is too small and it just looks weird with the celebrity and partner facing each other and singing their hearts out. Yes, it makes it more intimate, but it also comes off a bit cheesy too.

The Celebrity Lounge – a circular area for each Judge, is ABC’s obvious attempt at recreating the spinning chairs from THE VOICE.

The host is some guy named Quddus from TOTAL REQUEST LIVE, but I kept thinking he was Quattro from the TOTAL RECALL movie. Where was his little Mini-Me bursting through his chest? That’s the guy I want talking.

Quddus kept the show moving smoothly, but honestly, I wasn’t connected to too many of the contestants. Only a couple stood out with Jason Farol (a Clarkson pick) doing quite well (even though he didn’t place very high on the board).

Time will tell if DUETS can come into its own, Great pains have been made to make it different, but it might have been better if ABC waited a couple of weeks for audience to get over IDOL burn-out. The show has star power and potential, but it comes down to the contestants and if they can’t register with the audience, DUETS may end up another noble musical competition failure.


Related Link: TV Review -DUETS – Season 1 – “Classic Duets”

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TV Review -DUETS – Season 1 – “Superstars Greatest Hits”  – Series Premiere


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