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By Melissa Hunter

Ellen DeGeneres finally debuted as a judge on "American Idol" this week and with her new role comes the requisite onslaught of preemptive praise and critiques. We're pretty big fans of Ellen over here, but we can't help but wonder if she really can fill Paula Abdul's wobbly shoes.

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Paula's off-the-wall, nonsensical feedback and goofy gaffes resulted in pure primetime television gold. Ellen might be just a little too stable to lend herself to that level of zany reality entertainment, but then again, 90% of the time Paula's commentary was incoherent. So, Ellen should win points for clarity, at least.

But, is Ellen a little too nice for all of the judgment required to be, you know, a judge? And will she be able to stand up to Simon the way Paula did? Ellen quips, "I had one idea of Simon when I came in, and it's changed. He's actually meaner."

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Some critics complain that she has no music experience whatsoever, thus making her feedback ungrounded. But not everyone can be an ex-'80s star pre-"Idol". Ellen might be exactly the right choice for the show; she could serve as the average "Idol" audience member's voice at the judge's table. Except, you know, the average "Idol" audience member's super funny, quick-witted long-lost cousin.

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So, let's put the preconceived notions aside. Tune in to watch "American Idol" on Wednesday at 7/8C on Fox, and judge everyone together like one big, happy, judgy family.