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Monday November 5, 2007 12:09 pm

The Next Great American Band: The Great Show You’re Not Watching

The Next Great American BandDesperate to fill the musical void that occurs every May when American Idol goes off the air, FOX has tried nearly everything to make the formula work a second time. So You Think You Can Dance became a summer hit, prompting the network to try new mixes and methods to boost those all-important ratings. Even hard promotion didn’t save On The Lot, which was built around the same format as Idol. I actually thought the show – if not the host – was pretty good, but it’s doubtful On The Lot will appear on the FOX schedule again. The documentary-style Nashville was a quick musical casualty of the fall season, but FOX still held out high hopes for the much-touted, highly hyped reality series The Next Great American Band. Someone asked me, yesterday, if FOX execs think they can re-create American Idol. Yes, that is exactly what they think.

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TV Squad

And why shouldn’t they? Idol became a huge, surprise success. Even the similar So You Think You Can Dance performs well in the summer season. So why not a band competition? The Next Great American Band is set up to be exactly like Idol, only without the personality of Idol’s famous hosts. The formula works. The music is good. The entertainment is true. So…why isn’t anyone watching The Next Great American Band compete for the title and our hearts? The premiere drew a disappointing 3.57 million viewers, ratings that have steadily decreased over the following two weeks. The second episode, which for the first time featured the bands performing on stage, drew only 2.8 million viewers despite the marked talent showcased in the premiere. And just Friday, the third episode (which was the first to start trimming final bands) hit the air waves with a dismal 1.4 million viewers. What gives?

The first problem with FOX’s band series is obvious. It comes on at 8pm Friday nights, a hard time slot for competition and a difficult night for ratings-grabbing. The judges are another huge problem, and the host Dominic Bowden sure doesn’t help. John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls is awful, and critical Ian “Dicko” Dickson doesn’t have enough redeeming qualities to make him tolerable to audiences. The bands, now they’re great. From the young but intrepid young men in Light of Doom to the bold females in Rocket, it’s obvious that FOX knows how to find talent. They just can’t seem to find the right personalities to create a hit show.

Despite the problems, The Next Great American Band is a really great reality show you’re just not watching. Tune in on Friday, and give music another chance.

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