Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Ba-ack!

Tonight marks the return of the phenomenon that keeps the good folks at A.C. Nielsen busy as "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns for its seventh season.

Have the show lost any appeal, or in this strike-filled TV season, will it be more popular than ever? I'm betting on the latter. "AI" draws huge ratings anyway, and with the lack of competition among other networks, it could draw new viewers.

Of course, this comes on the heels of the announcement last week that three former "AI" stars - Katharine McPhee, Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks - lost their record deals, not a good way to kick off the new season of trying to create the next pop sensation.

Tonight begins with the auditions process in San Diego. Depending on your point of view, this is either the best or the worst part of "AI," since most of the hopefuls are appallingly bad. But I and others took "AI" to task last season when the judges seemed particularly cruel in their remarks. The one that stands out was Randy Jackson's belittling of a singing coach who wasn't terrible, but no doubt lost a lot of business due to Jackson's remarks. It was unnecessary; the guy wasn't a joke like William Hung was.

That being said, I do wonder why friends and family members let some of these people humiliate themselves in front of millions of people on national TV. I'd think it'd be better to do the quick hurt of letting someone know they're bad rather than having Randy or Simon rip into them.

And, of course, "AI" hasn't worked out its voting problems. Despite having more voters than those who will pull levers for Super Tuesday (a sobering thought), all it takes is one Web guy to rig a site where someone like Sanjaya gets a ton of votes and a more-deserving contestant is sent packing. Not too mention the poor taste of the viewing public, when they vote for the likes of Hicks or Fantasia Barrino as the winners. (I've listened to more renditions of the national anthem during my days as a sports writer, and Fantasia's performance was the worst by far by anyone claiming to be a professional singer).

Last year, our former music writer, Maggie Large, tracked the progress of "AI" after each installment. But since Maggie moved on to bigger and better things, The Telegraph is without a full-time music writer (and no more Amped blog) and I'm not really inclined to follow the weekly travails of "AI," so expect the occasional update rather than regular ones.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: "NCIS" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is supposedly new this week, but I'll believe it when I see it. It's followed by Part 2 of the miniseries "Comanche Moon."

NBC is counterprogramming "AI" with its exploitive reality show, "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 8 p.m.) It's followed by a new "Law & Order: SVU" at 10 p.m.

"Boston Legal" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is supposedly new, but it was supposed to be new last week and got yanked for a repeat of "Cashmere Mafia," so who knows?

If you missed the pilot of "Reaper" (CW, 8 p.m.) the first time, now is your chance to catch up. It's followed by a new "One Tree Hill" at 9 p.m.

On cable, A&E is airing its own new reality series called "Parking Wars" at 9 p.m. You guessed it, it's about meter maids vs. illegal parkers. Man, I swear I remember a time when A&E stood for quality TV, but I'm fairly certain it was in the previous century.

Also on cable, "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 10 p.m.) is new, as is the penultimate episode of the wicked cool series "Life On Mars" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)


Boogie said...

Part one of Comanche Moon was ok but sure not great. I have one question about the indian who flung himself off the Mexican guys cliff. Why had "Three Feathers" fallen out of favor. A couple of minutes earlier he was a confidant.
The cast is fine except for Woodrow who just looks bored.

Phillip Ramati said...

Sorry, can't help, didn't see Part 1. Anyone else out there who can answer Boogie's question?

zodin2008 said...

How is this alreasdy the next to last "Life on Mars"? Crap. I feel like they have only aired about 5 episodes. Are you sure?

I have no interest in AI. I wish it would just go away and stop ruining Television.

Phillip Ramati said...

Pretty positive, Zod, since the preview for next week called it the series finale. I know, I'm pretty bummed as well, but you have to remember that a full season for a BBC series is usually 13 episodes, not the 22 we enjoy here across the pond.