David Cook by Frank Micelotta/Fox
Midway through George Takei's cheerful yet depressing mauling of a country-music classic last night, I wondered if this is what it would be like to drop acid in Branson, while I was also wondering what a world would be like if so-called stars would be so kind as to keep their hidden talents hidden.

No such luck. Look what Dancing With the Stars hath wrought: CBS's cheesy circus of marginal celeb-reality: Secret Talents of the Stars, which premiered Tuesday night as a flat nightcap to a long night of unimpressive reality-show competition. (For Cheers & Jeers' take on this debacle, go here.) Is it wrong of me to think the only truly genuine performance I saw Tuesday night was that adorable 8-year-old couple doing the paso doble as part of the Dancing results-show filler?

I'm with Clint Black, who in his affable but instantly forgettable Secret Talents stand-up routine, quipped: "You what I can't stand? These TV shows where people compete and America votes. You know what I'm talkin' about. And that's irony." Well, loosely defined, I suppose, but in the context of this show, it was almost genius.

Secret Talents, hosted buffoonishly by Dancing alum John O'Hurley (whose recharged celebrity battery has clearly wound down), features a judging panel so warped it would be redundant to try to spoof it on Saturday Night Live. There's Debbie Reynolds doing her daffy horny-granny shtick, loving everything. Brian McKnight the resident dawg, but too good-natured even to deliver the bad news to Takei, the night's worst performer. And then in the Simon Cowell/Piers Morgan/you name it curmudgeon role, though lacking the usually requisite British accent, was producer Gavin Polone, looking suitably peevish and bored, and choosing to diss poor Mr. Sulu not for stumbling over the words and losing his timing, but for doing what he snottily called a Brokeback Mountain version of On the Road Again. What a creep. At that moment, the openly gay Takei momentarily rose above the tacky occasion, noting this was his "public coming out of my shower stall (in which we'd earlier seen him joke about singing)." Whatever. (For another take on Secret Talents of the Stars, read Cheers & Jeers.)

I wish I could say this was the only wasted time I spent in front of the tube Tuesday. But I was less than inspired by most of the supposedly "inspirational" performances on American Idol this week. Brooke, her confidence clearly shaken by being in the bottom last week, should have nailed her Carole King song. She blandly didn't. David Archuleta looked like he was on some weird tranquilizer, though his singing was OK. Michael and Carly overreached again. Syesha continued to prove it's hard to channel a diva when you lack a discernible personality. Jason and (surprisingly) Kristy Lee played to their modest strengths and probably fared best. And hitting the most unexpected speed bump was David Cook, taking an unfamiliar song (to many of us) and doing very little with it, except for annoying and disappointing Simon, who rightly called him out for being "pompous." There was something very smug and self-satisfied in Cook's delivery, wardrobe and demeanor, as if he's beginning to believe his come-from-behind front-runner publicity. A little humbling is in order, or we can shuddler in advance at how he'll attack the repertoire from Jesus Christ Superstar on Andrew Lloyd Webber week.

My prediction for this week's Bottom Three: Any of them, except maybe Jason and the Davids (Cook likely to coast through on his recent breakthroughs).

As for Adam Carolla finally taking his unicycle and fake moustache and leaving Dancing With the Stars to the actual dancers: It's about time, although I enjoyed his exit challenge to the lumps out there watching the show to go out and face their own personal Dancing demons. And I cracked up in the earlier interview clip when his adorable partner Julianne Hough muttered, "Screw the judges," to which Adam quickly snarked, "If you want to get us some higher scores that's an idea." Maybe they can bring him back as a commentator for the final rounds? Anything to make these elimination nights feel less like torture.