TV Review: NBC Premiere Can’t Find Its ‘Voice’

The new management team at NBC is clearly hoping to catch a much-needed break with the music competition “The Voice,” which premiered (review copies weren’t available on advance) on Tuesday.

The opening, however, was a creatively muted, off-key affair — a program that seemed to borrow its set from “The Weakest Link,” and had no shortage of weak links in its conception.

The two-hour launch (which Fox countered with a 90-minute “Glee,” in its bitchy way) featured four established judges — Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine — vying to see who would work with the contestants, each assembling their own team.

Yet while the judges dutifully acted like who paired up with whom was important, it’s hard to figure out why viewers should give a damn. Should I really care which artist winds up working with Frenchie Davis — a sort-of ringer, inasmuch as she was booted off “American Idol” early in its run for posing for an Internet porn site? (Hey, who in the Fox unscripted universe hasn’t?)

The “why” of all this has to be taken on faith, and only the frighteningly gullible will believe the stars are crestfallen when they lose out on a piece of talent.

Similarly, the show’s big gimmick — that the judges don’t see the artists during their audition, sitting with their backs to them — turned out to be completely ho-hum. At the end of the number they all turn around and get a good long look, and nobody gasps when a sweet voice belongs to a chubby kid.

Then everyone gushes about how amazing everyone is. Where the hell is Simon Cowell when you really need him? Hell, Paula Abdul would look relatively tough and discriminating next to this bunch, while Carson Daly essentially does a Ryan Seacrest impersonation, bucking up the singers and exulting with their families.

“The Voice” might find its stride in subsequent episodes, but for all the high-powered pop wattage on display, it’s a concept with surprisingly little juice. And after the premiere, I’m still unsure how the whole “Finding the next Susan Boyle” part of it — or neutralizing the advantage that good-looking people hold — even figures into the equation.

NBC has done all it can to make noise with “The Voice,” but the bottom line is this represents more me-too TV, on a network that’s going to need to take some chances.

By the time it was over, all I could think was: See no more of “The Voice.” Hear no more of “The Voice.” And after Tuesday, no reason to speak any longer about “The Voice.”

Or to paraphrase a certain Cee Lo ditty, forgot you.

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