Ellen DeGeneres made an earnest debut as a judge on American Idol Tuesday night. The light-footed day-time talk show host won over some critics for her humor and passion. Could she carry the show after Simon Cowell leaves? Here's how critics weighed her debut:

  • Bravo! writes Jim Cantiello at MTV: "I can now say that Ellen DeGeneres is exactly what's been missing from the judge's table since the fourth season: Passion. Unlike Randy (who doesn't bother to stretch his vocabulary beyond the word "interesting"), Kara (who doesn't even have the brain power to recall Kris Allen's name when appropriate) or Simon (who checked out right around the time Ace Young showed his scar), Ellen treated her new gig as a job worth taking seriously."
  • So-So writes Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman at Fox News: "The comedienne did make us laugh a couple of times, like when she teased the nervous contestants by asking them to step forward, then step back, then step to the side, then finally told them they'd all made it through. She also gave a great sound bite when she told a barefoot contestant to 'put some shoes on ... it's filthy here. Hollywood is a disgusting town.'"
  • A Yawn Fest, writes Jim Farber at The New York Daily News: "While Ellen's quips last night could hardly be considered laugh-out-loud funny - at times she was downright bland."
  • An Earnest Effort, writes Michael Slezak at Entertainment Weekly: "The comedian/talk-show host seemed to take a deliberate back seat to the contestants. Eyes forward, focusing on the performances. Expression serious, reviewing her notes. Demeanor firm, sending contestants home with constructive advice that could serve them well if they return for season 10. And never once stirring up contrived drama/chumminess/ hijinks with Simon, Kara, and Randy in an effort to make sure all cameras were on her."