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'The Masked Singer' looks like it will be a hit

"Unicorn" performs on the premiere of "The Masked

"Unicorn" performs on the premiere of "The Masked Singer" Wednesday. Credit: Fox / Michael Becker

Neither dead nor buried, nor overlooked or forgotten — not yet, anyway — Fox and network TV roared back to life Wednesday, with a hippo-sized rating for new reality competition show "The Masked Singer."

Literally hippo-sized, or in the peerless phrasing of the report, "Fox breezed through to a Wednesday ratings win unveiling a celebrity singing hippo."

Yes, a celebrity singing hippo and 9.4 million viewers, which makes this newcomer, per Fox, the highest-rated unscripted series launch on any network since the 2011 debut of NBC's "The Voice." In addition, the demographic rating — you know, the thing advertisers care most about — was a 3.0, which was the highest launch figure for any new series this season.

Based on a South Korean TV series format, "Masked" is another one of any number of recent gimmicky TV singing competitions ("Rock Star," "Rising Star," Starmaker," "The Four," "Sing Your Face Off") that have come and gone, yet is blessed with that unique, or ridiculous, selling proposition — those masks. Camp smothered in Velveeta, "Masked" features five celebrity singers attired in costumes — identified as Peacock, Deer, Monster, Unicorn and Lion — while a celebrity panel composed of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger tries to find out their real-life identities. Both the judges and audience vote on who will move forward in the competition. The lowest-rated singer gets de-masked by the episode's end.

(And spoiler alert: Wednesday's Hippo, the first to go, was football player Antonio Brown.)

It's all good-natured, harmless and — bet on this — here to stay, or at least through May.

Along with those ratings, the series was a top-trender on social media Wednesday night, and for good reason — it's engineered for audience participation much as "Sharknado" once was.

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