'American Idol': A tale of two cities

idol-la-vs-dallas-320.jpgIt's amazing what a difference a change of location can make for "American Idol." As proof, you need look no further than this week's pair of episodes.

Tuesday's Los Angeles auditions episode was, in a word, excruciating. The hour felt like three as the show exhibited all its worst tendencies in focusing on the deluded and the delusional and tedious sniping between the judges at the expense of the actually talented people we'll be seeing in later rounds.

Wednesday in Dallas? Totally different story. Yes, we saw more than one awful audition (looking at you, Dexter Ward). But instead of five-minute segments on people with no shot and no talent, we got to see a decent number of Hollywood-bound contestants actually sing. It didn't hurt that guest judges Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Jonas were more interesting than Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry were on Tuesday, but the focus on the good singers -- the show's reason for existing, after all -- made for a fine hour of TV.

Granted, the focus of any given audition show is going to be determined by the depth of the talent pool -- and the L.A. pool looked a lot shallower than the Dallas pool. Except it wasn't, not really: At the end of Tuesday's show we found out 22 people advanced to Hollywood from the L.A. auditions, while 31 made it through from Dallas. Given that thousands showed up in each city, that's not a huge difference.

But you wouldn't have known that from Tuesday's show, would you? And it's not even like we saw so many more good singers in Dallas than in Los Angeles -- we got good looks at seven people who advanced from Texas to six from L.A. But the tone of the L.A. show was so mocking and cruel that it became an ordeal. Dallas was much more balanced, and the hour breezed by. That's how I like my "Idol."

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Related:

'American Idol' L.A. auditions recap
'American Idol' Dallas auditions recap
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Photo credits: FOX