Picks and Pans Review: American Idol

updated 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

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THE NEW JUDGE!

REALITY
Now that the transition from Bush to Obama has been accomplished, we can focus on a more serious topic: the reconfiguration of the nation's top show from a three- to four-judge panel. In the biggest change in Idol's eight seasons, songwriter Kara DioGuardi has taken a seat next to Paula Abdul. The women have a similar look, but completely different temperaments. They could be an Invasion of the Body Snatchers before-and-after. Paula is notoriously, sputteringly high-strung. Kara (pronounced care-ah) is Paula drained of excess emotion: cool, coherent and often flatly opposed to Simon Cowell. She's a pro, only so far not much fun. Then again, at least she's not Sharon Osbourne. And the show's basic formula still entertains.

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