The first episode of “Australian Idol” was on TV tonight. In some ways it’s going to be like all the other Idols around the world, and didn’t let me down by having plenty of hopefuls doing the “woo-oooh” emotional warble. But on the other hand, it did have a unique Australian flavour. At one point the two hosts were singing an altered version of “Asshole” with some of the unsuccessful auditionees.

As usual there were the really good singers and the really awful singers. At one point a chubby, pierced neo-punk chick auditioned. She sang horribly, and I assumed she was just having a bit of a laugh, sticking it to corporate exploitation television. But then the mean judge told her she was terrible and she got all teary-eyed. Oops.

I’m impressed by the judges, particularly Marcia Hines. She doesn’t suffer from the terminal niceness that Paula Abdul is plagued with. One auditionee was singing so badly (and so earnestly) that Dicko the evil judge burst out laughing, and Marcia soon followed. But not only is she not afraid to tell it like it is, she can also sing. At the end a losing group of hopefuls asked her to sing and she sounded so amazing that she made people cry.

This is good reality TV. It’s fun to watch and it gets really exciting when it gets down to the final ten. The very first Popstars show, from which the Idol shows evolved from, came from New Zealand (yes, we all remember TrueBliss). So why can’t something cool like this happen in New Zealand?

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