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With 'The Voice,' NBC Profits by Going Dutch
May 10, 2011  | By David Bianculli
The only real hit of the 2010-11 TV season has arrived at the 11th hour, as NBC's The Voicemoves to a new time slot tonight (10 p.m. ET Tuesday) already acknowledged as a ratings, demographic and even critical success. And its success proves, once again, that when it comes to adaptable TV formats, it's a small world after all...

The Voice, which has been received warmly by TV WORTH WATCHING contributor Ronnie Gill (read her Altered Reality review HERE), has been a fun show to watch in its two episodes to date. It's positive, it's loaded with impressive singing talent, the interplay with the judges is a key and playful ingredient, and the blind-audition gimmick -- all we've seen so far -- is a strong one.

Beginning tonight, action on The Voice moves to the "Battle Round," when two singers climb into a pimped-out boxing ring to sing for survival -- singing the same song at the same time, trading verses and then driving it home simultaneously. The singer judged to be superior moves on to the next round. The other doesn't. And one of the singers fighting to survive tonight is Frenchie Davis, a former American Idol contestant ousted for her alleged porn-film past.

On The Voice, resumes are less of a factor, because they're not necessarily looking for amateurs. Most of the performers on The Voice have released CDs, have recording contracts, or have otherwise been in and around the music business for a long time. But we don't know them yet, and that's what The Voice aims to correct. It's a feel-good show, and, because of the high level of talent, a sound-good show as well.


Judges Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine are doing as much for their own reputations and profiles as they are for the contestants. Since its April premiere, The Voice drew 11.8 million viewers for its first installment, and 12.6 million for its second. And that second episode ranked third for the week among young viewers -- a huge boon for NBC.

That makes the decision to push the show to a 10 p.m. slot a rather questionable one -- but you can forgive NBC for forgetting how to handle a hit show. It's been a while.

And you can't even give NBC credit for creating The Voice -- just for adapting it, and for perfectly promoting it.

The origin for The Voice is a Dutch TV series called The Voice of Holland, which premiered last year and currently is the top-rated program in the Netherlands. Here's a picture of The Voice of Holland, so you can compare and contrast:


The Voice of Holland was created by John de Mol, whose ability to create reality/competition TV shows that can be adapted worldwide is quite impressive, even if the shows themselves are not. He and his cohorts are responsible for the original incarnation of Big Brother. And Deal or No Deal. And Fear Factor, Wipeout, and others too depressing to mention.

But the other reason for the show's success, in addition to its format, is its dominant color, taken straight from the original Dutch treat: red.

After a decade of dark-blue-tinged competition shows -- think Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Deal or No Deal, and almost every show of its ilk during what might be called TV's game-show "Blue Period" -- NBC has used every opportunity to push red when pushing The Voice.

red-voice-lips.jpg red-voice-shoes.jpg red-voice-chair.jpg

The soles of Christina Aguilera's shoes. Check.

Christina Aguilera's lips. Check.

Those cool, high-backed swivel chairs in which Christina Aguilera and the other judges sit, and swirl around to confront the singers they've elected to support or reject. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Ironically, it's The Voice, with all this red, that may help NBC find its way back into the black.

Meanwhile, we've got other reasons to thank The Netherlands for exporting some entertaining TV ideas. The Danish TV series Forbrydelsen, which translates to "The Crime," has been remade into an excellent American series now showing on AMC: The Killing.

And on that show, other than the occasionally bloody handprint, there's almost no red in sight...

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