As the world watched Cheryl Cole sign up, get booted off, possibly sign up again and then definitely get booted off (for now) The X Factor USA, the whole franchise felt like it had been wrung of every last possible drop of headline-grabbing controversy.
And maybe we weren't the only ones who felt like that. ITV1's new-look X Factor tonight was an utterly different beast from recent years gone by. Of course, some things remained the same.
Peter Dickson's 'it's time to face the music' boom is in. Louis Walsh returns, bopping and flapping around at the end of the judges' desk ("You've not got the likeability factor!"). There was inevitably dollops of 'I want this so bad' contestant sobbing (cue Snow Patrol montage!). And maybe most importantly, we have a well-oiled final edit that makes you feel like you're watching the longest and best movie trailer ever.
But what about the major changes? Is The X Factor still Must-See TV without Simon Cowell's Widow Twankey act and Cheryl Cole's blubbering tears?
When they were announced, the additions of Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz (It's easier to write that every time rather than Contostavlos) didn't sound like blockbuster stuff. But after only one episode, Cheryl Cole's coy smile and Dannii Minogue's you-sound-a-bit-pitchy critique feel very old-hat. There's a new gang in town and it's incredible... they have personalities.
Barlow plays the Northern curmudgeon ("You've matured like a bad curry, mate"), Kelly Rowland is the saucy Southern Belle ("I like the bad boys"), while Tulisa is the teen version of Cheryl, bolshier, brattier and with much more swagger. Importantly, Louis is still very much Louis, handing out automatic passes to Boot Camp for anyone Irish and boasting about his boyband prowess ("I discovered JLS!").
After two years of the Cheryl and Simon show, the most refreshing element of the episode was the fact that the focus was on the contestants again. And what a truly mixed bag of contestants.
First up was shaggy-haired Brighton indie kid Frankie Cocozza. Think Peter Brame from Fame Academy (Google him) or a lost member of The Kooks. "I want to try and sleep with as many women as possible," he boasts without a whiff of irony, before exposing his buttocks to the judges to reveal the names of seven conquests from a holiday season in Malia. Oh to be the proud parents backstage.
Gary Barlow suggested that Frankie had a voice like Rod Stewart after a strained croaky rendition of 'Valerie', while Louis Walsh compared him to a "young Robbie Williams". Both are wildly outrageous claims, but he was definitely a refreshing change from the usual factory line pop.
Janet Devlin, a diminutive Diana Vickers-alike who looks like she has been living under a bush in a desolate part of Northern Ireland for the past 16 years, was the most promising act of the episode. She's got the Vickers vocal quirks, minus the claws and knowing kookiness. She should go far.
If you locked away an attention-seeking, jazz hands-shaking, stage school luvvie for 30 years without any West End show tunes to listen to or people to gush praise on her, you'd end up with Kitty Brucknell. Come back Katie Waissel, all is forgiven.
With a serial killer glint in her eye and the sort of false modesty that makes Simon Cowell look like a potential Oscar winner, Kitty cuts quite a menacing figure. Inevitably, she will be mentored by Louis and eliminate a weeping 16-year-old school boy during the live shows.
Wacky projectile-vomiter Goldie looks set to provide Wagner-esque delights for the series. Gary Barlow pulled out his best Mancunian grump face, but the rest of the judges decided that a 50-year-old prancing about in her pants screeching the words "ding-dah-ding-dong" was worthy of a spot in Boot Camp. The next worldwide superstar she is not, but a seat on Celebrity Coach Trip probably beckons.
Of course, it wouldn't be an X Factor season launch without a bit of slapstick panto at the end. Delightfully charming yobbo George yelped his way through a Pitbull number and was given his marching orders by the panel. Deciding to make the most of his five minutes' of fame, George proceeded to hurl insults at Tulisa ("you scumbag!") and spat his dummy out backstage.
Dermot O'Leary provided some comic relief to proceedings as he urged the bawling hooligan not to say things like that to women, while dressed in his favourite Milk Tray man turtleneck sweater. A truly surreal moment, which closed a refreshed, re-energised and more entertaining X Factor than we've seen for a number of years.
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