As we hit the Christmas special tonight of the Sing-Off and look back on it once more, I'd have to say that the season for me with its 16-group format didn't work as well as I might have expected.
I obviously love watching the show and I can't conclusively say that more of a good thing is bad, but there were drastically diminished returns in the last three or four weeks.
For one, we basically knew what the groups could do after a certain point so there was little element of surprise in the last few episodes. Most of the breakthroughs and surprises (the big dramatic moments which non-scripted and scripted shows alike rely on) came in the first few weeks. It seemed to me like most of the groups came together and had their best performances at the guilty pleasure show. The judges tried to frame Urban Method, Delilah, and Afro-Blue as having narrative arcs of falling and coming back, but I felt like those were exxagerated. I thought Katey Turley of Urban Method sounded just fine in Love the Way You Lie and the Rhianna medley. Was it that humongous of a difference?
To me, it wasn't so much groups were having big comebacks and finally figuring it out. It was more of a matter of the groups being out of their element in certain genres or just rubbing the judges the wrong way.
With the more articulate Sara Bareilles filling in for Nicole Scherzinger, the judges had more credibility on the whole and when they're saying all those intelligent-sounding words, you are really sold on that. Ironically, this is all flying in the face of what look like baffling decisions.
I think the general consensus on the blogosphere is that Afro-Blue's dismissal was a big goof on the part of the judges. I'd even go so far as to say it hurt the credibility of the show. Those conspiracy theories I've heard that the judges being influenced by the producers seem possible with Afro-Blue.
More than that, I think it's more of a matter of the fact that if you have 5 or 6 groups who all have what it takes and it's apples and oranges and the judges are trying to make convincing cases for Afro-Blue or BYU or Delilah being sent home when they all sound great, the judges are not gonna look good no matter what.
My suggestion: Expand the final round to five groups. Keep it as one episode with viewers voting. The dangers of America getting it wrong might be a problem if there were more than one week of audience voting because they might believe they're favorite group is safe. In this case, they're still voting for a winner.
This will cut the season by a couple weeks and eliminate viewer fatigue. It will also allow groups that are capable of delivering by the judges' standards to have an equal chance to compete for America's vote. Most importantly, it will give those poor performers a break. They looked thoroughly exhausted.