01/16/2014 01:22 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

'American Idol' Premiere: Harry Connick, Jr. Cradles A Contestant Like A Baby

If first impressions are any indication, "American Idol" may have gotten itself back on track. After last season's ill-conceived diva battle overshadowed the competition, "Idol" brought back the much happier Jennifer Lopez to join Keith Urban on the judging panel. But it was the new face that proved the most refreshing. Harry Connick, Jr. may have been unknown to most of the contestants, but he was easily the most enjoyable to watch.

Not only did he give pointed and constructive criticism, he proved he had a quick wit, charm and was up for virtually anything. When 19-year-old Munfarid Zaidi actually indicated he was a huge fan of Connick, Jr., the newest judge declared that if he killed his audition, Connick, Jr. would come cradle him like a baby. Sure it was wacky. But then Munfarid killed his audition, and Connick, Jr. proved himself a man of his word.

"Let’s offer a warm Season 13 welcome to all the future Daughtrys and Fantasias, as well as debuting panelist Harry Connick, Jr., a man so sublime he’s almost managed to dislodge memories of human barnacle Randy Jackson from my brain," wrote TVLine's Michael Slezak of the debut. Buddy TV's John Kubicek was impressed, too, predicting that the newest judge will be the fan favorite by season's end.

"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.



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