Yes, ITV’s The X Factor is back in full swing now that we’ve got to the live shows, and I’m watching it in spite of myself. I accept that shows like this need to do what they can to capture the lion’s share of the primetime Saturday night TV audience, but X Factor (and, by the way, its U.S. cousin American Idol) have gone way too far in bigging the show up. What is in essence a talent show is bulked up, fluffed up, and gift-wrapped for the viewer with bucketloads of glossy, shallow, over-the-top glitz and superstar lifestyle imagery.
The celebrity judges (including Simon Cowell) jet in in their individual helicopters to personally mentor their charges in their multi-million pound holiday homes on the Riviera, the show’s title sequence has more bangs and flashes than a Star Wars dogfight, and all the while we hear the same predictable simpering drivel from the mouths of the contestants:
“Yes Dermot, singing means absolutely everything to me it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do I’ve been singing since I was five if I don’t get through this stage my life will be over….”
Irritatingly the show is quite good once you cut through all the shiny wrapping and get to the meat of it. I love to watch the audition stages and also enjoy seeing the finalists blossom from talented unknowns into real star material, but I hate, HATE everything that goes before, after, and in between. It’s all I can do to restrain myself from throwing my laptop at the TV screen.
What to do? Well, as usual technology saves the day. Just use your DVR (Digital Video Recorder: in my case V+ from Virgin Media) to record the show. Then you can watch it at your leisure and just fast-forward through all the guff (and the commercial breaks). Once you do that you’ll find you can get all the “real” content from the two-hour show in about 40 minutes.
Gotta love gadgets.