Three weeks in, I have made my judgement: "American Idol" without Paula Abdul is sadder, dimmer, weaker, less interesting and absolutely positively less fun.

  I miss Paula. I know she's been leaking all this stuff about going to "Dancing with the Stars" and "The X Factor," and I have willingly, happily lapped it all up - simply because her absence on "Idol" has left such a huge void.

  Here are my ten reasons why a Paula-free "American Idol" has dimmed and paled so dramatically this season. Followed by the ten things she brought in abundance to this franchise...

 
1.) Simon seems desperately bored.

2.) Randy looks unhappy (as in: I'm making millions but I'd rather be any place but here.)

advertisement | advertise on newsday

3.) When Kara tries to be nice - "oh honey, come here and lemme give you a hug" - it feels phony. She may be the sweetest person on the planet, but on TV it comes across as phony, and manufactured.

4.) The guest judges are hit and miss and worse, i,r,r,e,l,e,v,a,n,t. Last night: Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry. I know everyone will say "oh Katy wasn't this" or Avril, with her cat ears, wasn't that. There will be turgid - really turgid - on-line debates about this, this morning. Attention turgid debaters! It doesn't matter! Who gives a c who was better or worse or silly or whatever? It's irrelevant because...they won't be here next week. This "guest hosting" all feels like a gimmick because it is a gimmick - to throw a spotlight on a very famous pop singer and get fans to tune in.  So far, they are simply gauging really bad singers (or moderately talented lounge acts, at the end high of the scale.) 

5.) You can tell Simon is just phoning it in - $35 million a season and he can't even pretend to act interested. You can almost hear him thinking..."These bloody Yanks are driving me barmy..."

6.) There is no heart left.

7.) There is no passion - I do mean no passion.

8.) No one knows how to work off of Simon, and get him engaged, or smooth his sharp edges, or give him extra human dimensions. When Kara gives him that double-take and sort of says, "you disagreeing with ME?" it comes off as impotent. As in - who cares whether he agrees with you or not, Kara. He seems to be affecting - and very convincingly I might add - that he doesn't care what you think. It's painfully obvious. Simon is the most important judge by a mile, of course, but as a TV personality, he doesn't work well as a solo act. He needs someone to bring out the best, or worst in him. This makes him a three-dimensional character, as opposed to just another meanie with an opinion and a Brit accent.  Paula managed this odd feat.

9.) Randy looks lonesome, bummed..."
I'm going to be the last one here. No SiCo, no Paula. I'm gonna be the last one here when all the attention is gonna focus on 'The X Factor' next fall."

10.) As you watch all this,
you know that Simon has made up his mind about leaving - made up his mind months, maybe even years earlier. He's enduring this trial - and maybe somewhere in his head is thinking, "why should I be a wage monkey for that -------- Simon Fuller when I'm gonna launch my own show that's gonna smoke this sucker to kingdom come."
 

  Now, here's what Paula gave this show: 

 

 1.) Passion.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

2.) Humanity.

3.) Silliness.

 4.) Fun

5.) Irreverence.

 6.) Whimsy.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

 7.) Joy.

 8. Unpredictability.

 9.) Compassion.

 10.) And genuine emotion.

  ( I miss Paula.)

 Meanwhile...I know this "cat fight" got some attention, but it sure looks manufactured to me...and good natured besides...