<i>American Idol</i> American Idol

It had been a pretty even-keel season of the reborn American Idol — perhaps too much so — until the Pia bubble burst Thursday night. Maybe a shocking elimination like Pia Toscano's way-too-early ouster is just the sort of wake-up call Idol needs to shock some showmanship into the part of the show that needs it the most: the judging. I've enjoyed the raucous goofiness of Steven Tyler and the glowy glamorous warmth that is Jennifer Lopez, but cheerleading has its limits, and when the closest thing to actual criticism from the panel is Randy (of all people) damning with faint praise by merely saying "Good job," it's clear the judges aren't doing a good job. Or much of a job at all.

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