09/22/2011 AT 3:10 AM ET
The X Factor arrived on Fox Wednesday night like a bumblebee alighting on a pussy willow.
The bumblebee was the size of a food truck.
The much-hyped, heavily anticipated singing competition, which first began in England, was exactly what the previews indicated it would be and what Simon Cowell intended it to be: a show to out-idol American Idol, out-voice The Voice and outdo any other conceivable reality show. Cowell doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel here: Just ramp things up.
The two-hour premiere, a night of auditions, looked expensive – you could have fit the home tree from Avatar on the blue-lighted Los Angeles stage – with the ultimate prize of a $5 million contract for the winner, either solo singer or group, age 12 and up.
It was fun, with a few genuinely inspiring moments – a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom named Stacy Francis sang a very fine “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” It was also predictable. The only surprise to me was that host Steve Jones suggested a very happy Rupert Everett.