The number one show on both Wednesday and Thursday night last fall is back!

What’s that? You think I’m talking about something other than ‘The X Factor’? Well, you would be wrong. Despite all the negative press, the ratings catastrophe talk, and the presence (or utter non-presence) of Steve Jones, this show was the biggest hit of the fall.

So what did they do? They blew it up, of course! Gone is the aforementioned Jones as well as fun vacuum Nicole Scherzinger and pill vacuum Paula Abdul and here comes Britney Spears and Demi Lovato.

I think everyone was ready for the inevitable Britney trainwreck that may or may not include her shaving her hair or getting married in the middle of the episode, but that never came. Instead, everything just kinda worked.

It’s still ‘The X Factor’ and the auditions are still too over-produced and lack the fun and spontaneity of ‘American Idol’ auditions, but this was a much better start than last season.

In fact, this first episode has inspired me to make a quartet of bold predictions for this season:

Simon is Back on Form

Last year, Simon was way too scattershot. Fighting with the other judges, wearing jeans and bare feet, setting the world record for least buttons buttoned on a shirt that’s not all the way open, “changing his mind” about Melanie Amaro, flirting with Paula, and recording fifteen different commercials for Pepsi, Cell Phones and Cell Phones made out of Pepsi.

This year, after a lackluster start to his program in the States and fierce competition from the voice, I expect Simon to go back to that venomous Brit whose promo sound bytes caused us all to tune in at the start of ‘American Idol’.

This was clear tonight, as Simon unleashed some of his best bits of criticism since his hair was not a perfect square. Such as:

“If I were you, I’d go out today and buy yourself a puppy and make this a happy day for yourself because the singing was awful.” – to the young Indian man who was flashed just long enough to justify this verbal beat down to the audience.

“This is going to sound odd, but it sounded like you were dying. I mean if you were dying and suffering and singing, that’s what it would sound like.” To the annoying blonde girl who was not to be confused with Britney.

Then, after she sang again: “Now I feel like dying.”

“You sang like a dog trying to lay an egg.”

“If you imagine Madonna, Bobby Brown and Dracula had a child, it would be you,” was his review of the wedding dress-clad cake decorator named Quatro. He did, however let him through to the next round.

Who knows? Maybe he’s still getting soft.