The main reason I was skeptical was because this year's top 24 seemed to have so much talent - particularly compared to previous years. There were a few who perhaps picked the wrong song, in the sense that the song they picked didn't make them shine like they would have needed to pass other competitors, but we didn't have a single contestant buckle under the pressure of the big stage - and let's face it, in previous years, there were some awful weeks where someone who was never going to make it into the top ten had to keep showing up week after week, because while they were low in the voting, they weren't low enough to go home right away.
So this format did work for me in the end, because last night they created something that had been missing in elimination episodes prior to this point, in recent memory: they created compelling television. Usually, for Kristi and me, the elimination episodes are an Olympic level demonstration of the nuances of the DVR fast-forward levels: how close can you get to the edge of the moment without knowing who went home, hit play, and then only watch in "real-time" the bare-minimum. Don't need to watch the replays from yesterday, or the filler, or the guest performer - just give us the goods. But that all changed when we found out who was going home, and who would be singing again, for a chance to stay in the competition.
AI did another very shrewd thing here - they used the "judges save" in a much smarter way than years' past. The last couple of years, when a judge saved someone, you already knew that they got the least number of votes. So even if a judge was saving someone for the next week, you knew that in a way, it was just a matter of time. But in this scenario, all we knew was that there were 14 people who didn't make it. We didn't know their order - now, maybe the judges did, and if they did, I hope that knowledge didn't influence their choices.
We also didn't know how many if any they would bring back for a "wildcard" save. It could be one, could be two - Kristi guessed four - but it was three. And we guessed wrong in terms of who we thought they would keep. So even that forty-five minutes of the program was interesting.
Nicely done, Nigel - you have saved and revived a franchise that wasn't really dead per se, but one that needed a major makeover. Can't wait for the botox to wear off.