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Paula Abdul's back: Good, bad, indifferent?

 

 Paula Abdul, as the western world now knows, will be reunited with Simon Cowell on "The X Factor.'

  If you're counting, that's four judges now - L.A. Reid, Simon, Cheryl Cole and Pabdul.

  The show continues in auditions in Dallas later this month, and Paula will be there. 

  Good, bad, indifferent? To the list! 

  - Clearly, very good because she and Simon had that old je-ne-sais-quoi, which was hardly sexual tension, as "Idol" sadly and badly tried to manufacture with he and Kara DioGuardi, but brotherly-sisterly tension. It was often annoying, but at least not creepy, and they balanced out each other's worse impulses - namely, his hyperbolic tendency to smash the heck out of some soul who we know we'd never hear from again, matched with Paula's hyperbolic tendency to lavish praise on some soul we know we'd never hear from again. In a sense that was the magic - wrong word but it'll do for now - of "Idol" in the earlier seasons.

 - Indifferent: There could be an argument for this. Paula, after all, held up Fox for millions because her ego was so badly bruised by the fact that she wasn't making however-many-millions-a-year that was rightfully her due.  Fox resisted, let her sail, and its relunctance seemed to be justified after she starred in "Live to Dance."  Less said about that, the better. The "indifferent" argument doesn't take into account the relationship she had with Simon, however.

 - Bad: What could be bad here? Simply that viewers arrive to see something that once was, but which will be never again. Can "Factor" take a pair of personalities that were starting to wear thin on "Idol" by the 8th - arguably 7th - season - and make them fresh, fun and watchable for a new show that is conspicuously very much like "Idol" anyway? Moreover, there are other human factors on "X Factor." Cheryl Cole? How will she get along with Pabdul? She has her own, umm, illustrious past, and even Simon describes her as a "brat." L.A. Reid? He's another X-factor. Will he suffer Paula's foolishness gladly? "Bad" is probably the lesser of the arguments, but it's still worth considering. 

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