Iíve seen three American Idols series, two Canadian, two Australian, two UK Pop Idols, one X Factor, and one Norwegian Idol series. Iím still looking for an Idol. There are a few contestants that I can still remember their names, but none I would call an Idol. In the USA we got a couple of good singers and some great potential performers, but even second place can outsell first these days and thereís not an Idol in sight. Call it Pop Singer that might or might not sell, but itís a long way from Idol.

This yearís series is re-tooling somewhat in hopes of upping our interest level. It is mostly a ruse to try to convince us that we should like the boys and girls equally. Donít blame us for your slack early round judging. Give us someone that can sing on key and shake their boomboom to the beat and weíll be happy. We donít care if itís a boy or a girl.

First theyíve upped the age limit to 28, so there is a larger field of talent available to choose from. In addition, there is a larger field of whacks that have been brewing bad juju for years including multiple personalities, channelers, and other delusional people looking for stardom. God evidently is watching Idol these days and is sending several representatives this year. Or so they say.

The opening episodes are the grade school of the talent show. Youíll hardly remember them toward the end, but recognize that they were necessary steps to get to there. These first rounds offer a glimpse of talent, but mostly seem to focus on the worst of the lot. Watch them out of the corner of your eye. Donít focus on the tears and heartbreaks. Thereíre a million of them out there. Sad stories and bad talent go hand in hand. Be tough like Simon. Itís what you do to keep from crying.

Donít focus on the judges. Too often, they become the show. I have my favorite judges from all the Idols. The pairing of Simon Cowell opposite Sharon Osborne on X Factor was pure genius. It was Fire and Ice and vice versa. The American trio is not my favorite group. They just fall flat sometimes on honest, constructive criticism. Paulaís arguments with Simon irritate and are overplayed. Spare us in this fourth round, please.

Tonightís opener stories of heartbreak include breakups that lead to tryouts and one pawning of wedding rings to get to the auditions. We get single mothers and last chancers and kids putting all their eggs into the Idol basket. Thereís the usual mix of people that canít sing a note on key and have no clue. Theyíve never bothered with a mirror or a recording device, just blind ambition. Kids that have been told they can be anything they want to be if they just try. Another of those myths from childhood in the same category as the tooth fairy and Santa. If you have no talent for singing, you canít be a singer, and your mama is not your best critic. Itís a cruel world out there.

Anyhow, these first rounds will pass as quickly and painfully as an exam by a doctor with cold hands. Donít pay them too much attention. They're just gassing up the tank for the later real rounds. Ryan Seacrest seems to have toned it down a notch. Losing a show will do it for you. Maybe itís for the better.

Theyíre using the guest judges for the early rounds. Tonight itís the guy from Sugar Ray or itís Sugar Ray himself, Iím not sure. They never formally introduce him. Finally a contestant says, "Mark McGrath, you're hot!", so I guess he is Mark McGrath. He seems fairly sensible and it keeps the other three from dying of boredom with each other and the whole shebang. Speaking of which, I hope we have no shebanging this year. The untalented should remain unnoticed.

Has the enterprise of Idol peaked? Have we seen enough bad singers? Have you seen anyone you would call an Idol? Like Paula said to one of the strangest auditioners, ďHang in there, honey. Itís just one show.Ē