Harry Connick Jr. gives a golden ticket winner an extra lift. (photo: AmericanIdol.com)

Here is what Harry Connick, Jr. said about Season XIII of American Idol in TV Guide:

“This show is like a house that was built to start a neighborhood, but it needed to be remodeled,” Connick said. “They needed to redo the wiring, repaint it, put a new roof on, and while other houses are sprouting up, this is the best house on the block again. Everything needs renovation, but it feels fresh and new. From what we’ve seen, it will be the best year the show’s ever had.”

Well, at least Wednesday’s fresh coat of paint proved to be a start. Whether it’s gonna be the best this house on the block has ever been remains to be seen. Some of the other XII were damn good. The really different part of the show was the elimination – not entirely, but close – of the absurd contestants. There wasn’t a need in the first place and there certainly isn’t now for goofiness. After all, this isn’t called “Young Musicians Gone Wild.” Maybe just a passing camera shot of those crazies in the crowd, but in front of the judges? Nope, it never did work and this new breed of show execs obviously realized that – on opening night, on this show at least – it never will.

The talent in Boston and Austin, Texas? Marginal. Doubtful the winner is going to emerge out of this show although 25 Golden Tickets went to Boston entries, another 21 from Austin.

The judges were infinitely better than a year ago although Harry Connick Jr.’s incessant talk of his age did get, no pun intended, old. No, most of the kids didn’t really know him or his body of work. They were as young as 15 and could have been close to being Harry’s grandkids.

JLo and Keith Urban were rather predictable, and if there was one giant flaw it was that they rewarded far too many who didn’t deserve a plane ticket headed west.

Flaw I: A two-hour show is just too long. An hour is good enough, but I know, you gotta make a buck and the only way to do that is via commercials and this way we see more of them. BTW, kudos to Coke for a couple of well-done spots.

Flaw II: Not really enough back-stories. Don’t need to have the tear-jerker types, but people-stories are just more interesting than, say, watching Ryan fall over a chair pretending to play football.

Flaw III: Too much flaunting the fame of the judges. Once from a contestant is enough. We could gush over JLo all day, but… Of course, most contestants are going to be star-struck. Ya think!?

But for openers, give it an 80, it had a good beat and you could dance to it. Oops, that was American Bandstand. And only Harry would know all about that.

OK, Harry, grab a hammer, we still have some remodeling to do here.