Amy Brunfield Amy Brunfield

So American Idol is back. Yay.

Maybe it's the lingering X Factor hangover, or the fact that The Voice does the early rounds so much better by limiting the tryouts to worthy talent, but Idol's overwrought and too-long auditions are just played. Seriously, for every wacky wannabe or über-confident ear-screecher during last night's opener, we got barely a passable possibility for the finals and a bunch of reasons to just wait for the performance shows.

Sure, the judges are still fun and there is a certain joy in thinking (hoping) that a rejected contestant will go full-blown freak on Seacrest out in the hall, yet that's still not enough to make up for two-to-four hours a week of clearly staged scenarios like that "joy hopping" 28-year-old sales associate or the 15-year-old who just happened to have a former Major League pitcher for a father. And don't even get us started on the Tennessee "hippsie." Like we didn't know she was going through to Hollywood after being subjected to a fully produced backstory about her tent-dwelling life on what appeared to be the set of Deliverance. Please. Been there, done the whole homeless sob story...and it was called Season 7's Josiah.

Still, the show will do killer ratings and we'll all watch with sick fascination and silent shame as one after another prepackaged cliché parades past the judges table, finally falling into an exhausted heap come Hollywood Week. Idol owns us and we just need to accept it. Now if you'll excuse us, we have to go warm up our texting thumbs, because those elimination episodes will be here faster than Steven Tyler can say something lascivious to an under-aged hopeful.

Did you watch Idol last night, or are you done with this one?

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!