American Idol
Do the '90s really count as a theme? I mean, it's not like any one genre stands out, save for grunge and really, the Screaming Trees deserve better than to be mentioned in the same breath as Ryan Seacrest — who, by the way, has no idea that parachute pants were so 1986. Or maybe he was wearing Chess King couture way past the hour and a half it was ever considered cool. Anyway, the overall 'tude tonight was more phone-in than fab, save for (thank god) some of last week's weaker women. In fact, I'm feelin' that we may have our first all-male bottom three.

Bo Bice: Another Black Crowes song? Even if he did pull "Remedy" into the backseat and get all up on it, I'd like to see if Bo knows how to work a pop tune. Maybe a little Marc Cohn? But if this is what Simon is seeing at weddings these days, I'm gonna have to start RSVPing to them more often.

Jessica Sierra: Siding with Si here. Whatever LeAnn Rimes song that was, there were better ones for Jess to take on. As for his comment about her MIA "likability factor," however? Put down the glass pipe, dude. She's adorable.

Anwar Robinson: That sound you heard was my heart breaking. What is with the habitual disappointments? Dude's got monster pipes and the best smile this side of Pepito the Wonder Chihuahua. Is it too much to ask for a version of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" that makes me actually believe it from Note 1? These big endings do not an Idol make, ya hear?

Nadia Turner: As Cowell put it, Melissa Etheridge's "The Only One" was "a 1000-percent improvement on last week's horror" of "Time After Time." Welcome back, toots.

Constantine Maroulis: I'm so excited! Not only did his "I Can't Make Me Love You" make me love what he did to Bonnie Raitt's original, but now that my roomie doesn't want to have sex with him anymore, we can just invite him out to play Quizzo without the weirdness. Call us!

Nikko Smith: Again, so impressed. And don't worry, kid. Keep turning it out like this, a lot of folks are gonna want to know your name, too.

Anthony Fedorov: There's something about how Tony looks tonight, too. Unfortunately, this blah pick may have him packing that killer lime shirt sooner than he'd like.

Carrie Underwood: Sorry, but girlfriend's "Independence Day" has me thinking "Martina McWho?" Another week, another knockout. Makes me as happy as the glassy-eyed Paula. Without the nasty aftertaste of whatever she's got goin' on in that Coca Cola tallboy.

Scott Savol: Either '90s love songs all sucked, or this dude has the worst taste in ballads. Last week, Phil Collins; this week Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry"? Dang, that may be his last chance.

Vonzell Solomon: Oh yeah, that's the hotness. Even with the rough start, Miss V. nailed Whitney's "I Have Nothing" and gave us something to vote for. Which makes me think Paula wasn't lying: America, at least the part that sits on my couch, is falling in love with this one. Huh. I guess you really do tell the truth when you're loaded. — Damian J. Holbrook

Gilmore Girls
How adorably romantic is Luke? The man who's nothing but annoyed by winter actually created a real ice-skating rink in Lorelai's front yard Why? Her love affair with snow had gone horribly wrong (the Dragonfly got plowed in, visitors were canceling reservations, her jeep got buried, her roof was leaking and she stepped in a giant ice puddle), so he wanted to "get them back together." (What's that sound? Women all over the country sighing?) So what on earth would possess Lorelai to lie to Luke twice about the evening she spent with a grief-stricken Christopher? So they stayed up till daylight, drinking tequila and telling I-hate-my-family stories. Big deal. The guy just lost his father and he needed a friend. Luke's a big boy. He could've handled it, he would've understood. (After all, he didn't freak when he found out that Chris had lunch with Lor at the inn.) And why did Rory, a huge Luke fan, jump in so fast to provide the girls'-night alibi? (Lorelai and Rory's relationship got a little sketchy for me here — it isn't cool or hip for a teenager to cover for her hungover mother.) Last week the breakup signs were out there. This week, they're giant billboards. — Robin Honig

Veronica Mars
Gimme a V! Gimme an E! Gimme an R! ... OK, well, you get the point. If the Neptune High ballers get their own pom-pom girls aplenty, then why shouldn't the girl who rescues the school mascot and ensures the team a big advantage get her own cheer? No matter, I think I'm going to start my own little pep rally for the only TV teen cool enough to be both Betty and Veronica. Who wants to bake the snickerdoodles?

At least this new episode — finally — brought us closer to the culprit behind the Lilly Kane murder. But does it seem too obvious that it is Celeste? Or are they all covering up for her maybe-brother Duncan? I have a feeling that there's going to be another twist before the finale. And I just hope that Veronica's mom stays in rehab for the whole stint, otherwise the teen's selfless act will be for naught, along with the letter of recommendation that she bribed out of the school principal. — Angel Cohn

The Office
OK, just a few minutes in and I'm already forced to admit that, while Pam plays Freecell, I'm stuck playing plain old Solitaire because I've never taken the time to learn any variations. There, it's out, all right? I don't play that version 'cause I don't get it, OK? (I'm morbidly underqualified for this gig.)

"This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell out of here," says Michael. And no, he doesn't get the irony there. Not for a second. Nor, obviously, does he get how to motivate people, get along with them or get the job done.

Anyway, Diversity Day. I'll now say this version of the BBC classic's halfway there. It's not making me laugh yet, but it's making me damned uncomfortable, just as its forebear did. Hey, that's something, right? And judging by the feedback mail I got about last week's column, the dynamic seems to be that those of you who saw the original agreed with me and weren't all that crazy about this version, while those of you who didn't consider me to be an elitist snob who's picky and spoiled because he gets lots of cable channels and isn't relegated to watching free, network TV. Which isn't fair. I didn't watch the original on cable; I received free screeners sent only to the press. — Michael Peck

The Amazing Race
Wow, I could barely catch my breath after that two-hour episode, and the only thing I did was watch it from my recliner. If there has been a more compelling, emotional, inspiring, suspenseful installment of reality television, I haven't seen it. Gretchen, please forgive me for calling you pessimistic last week. The way you handled yourself when you were injured was... well, amazing. I mean, encouraging your worried husband, Meredith, to "Find the clue!" as you were being bandaged was the ultimate example of grace under pressure. And let me just say, I had a feeling that this was a nonelimination round in the making. But taking their money and backpacks was brutal. I'm sure that penalty had been planned out beforehand, but no doubt Phil must've felt like garbage having to implement it. (Speaking of backpacks, I just wanted to yell at the airline-counter woman who told Uchenna, Joyce, Ron and Kelly that they had to check their bags.)

How cool was that when we heard that Uchenna and Joyce had presented Meredith and Gretchen with some spare clothes? And it was just as nice to see everyone else assisting them financially — well, that is except Rob and Amber and the soon-to-be bit in their karmic ass, Ray and Deana. Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any more medically jarring, Brian and Greg had that horrible car accident. That poor camera guy. Thank goodness we found out at the end of the leg that he was OK. Of course, Rob and Amber didn't know that back when they passed the downed vehicle and kept right on going.

Much like last week, I truly — truly — was hoping that those two wouldn't do or say anything particularly appalling, just so I wouldn't have to write about it. Well, that was foolish thinking, because between that bit of inaction and Rob's joking comment about Meredith and Gretchen ("I'm not sure she fell down. He mighta pushed her just for effect, so people would feel bad for her"), they officially drive me crazy. Look, just because something is labeled a "game" and you "make good TV," doesn't mean you get to act unethically and be profoundly inconsiderate. (Amber, please, at least now, stop wondering why no one likes you two, and don't giggle when Rob makes a comment like the one he did about M and G.) There's a million bucks on the line, that's "business." (And remember, even Phil was looking at them quizzically for passing Brian and Greg's accident.)

Back to the competition, which turned into an edge-of-your-recliner foot race between Brian and Greg and Ray and Deana (who were getting increasingly annoyed with each other). What a finish! I literally yelled "Yeah!!" when the brothers poured it on at the end and left that dysfunctional duo in the considerable dust. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Fast Forward were done with the race and maybe even each other. Whatever happens to them relationshipwise, let's hope it's for the best. — Danny Spiegel

The Shield Was that a rousing speech by Rawling to rally the troops in the Barn, or what? Working toilets — hell, that's just the beginning! She's talking about money for paid informants, overtime for cops and new equipment all around. I agree with Vic — I give Rawling's speech four flushes. I'll even throw in a couple of plungers if she can get Claudette and Dutch out of the doghouse with the D.A., because it hurts me, it truly does, to see the dynamic duo relegated to chasing down a serial convenience-store coffee thrower. She should be locking horns with Rawling and he should be trying to climb into the mind of a serial rapist or choking stray cats... or something.

Rawling sure proved that she was more than talk by taking that gangsta-turned-porn-star's house away from his mother and her children. Too bad they didn't feel like talking, even after Vic took away his gold teeth. The mother, however, said plenty, "You don't have kids of your own, so you're throwing mine out!" Maybe Rawling should have given her a tour of the new restroom or a shiny new Polaroid camera to ease her pain.

At least the strike team is coming back together, if they can rein in Shane, that is. Wait! That could be a song lyric, no? Repeat after me, Eliza: "If they can rein in Shane, they can once again bring the pain." By George, I think she's got it! Hmmm, mixing My Fair Lady parodies with The Shield again. I hate when that happens. — Dan Roberts

Oooooh, that Vogler is a bad, bad man! Determined to make House jump when he says to, and pitting his staff against each other like the final three Survivors at the final tribal council. I'm no doctor but allow me to offer my unqualified diagnosis: Vogler, it would seem has a terminal case of "Chronic Jerkitis." The only remedy is a liberal dose of polished cowhide administered to his backside via a nice swift kick.

So how long before House and Allison get it on? You know they want each other, and can you believe she had the guts to call him out? "You're doing this because you can't deal with your feelings for me." Nice!

Not so nice, was little Jessica's case of Warfarin-induced necrosis. Well, actually it was Cushing's syndrome, caused by a pituitary tumor that gave her those nifty open, bleeding ulcers that will undoubtedly be haunting my nightmares, thank you very much. Good thing for Jessica that they ran an MRI and found that tumor, because the last thing an obese 10-year-old girl with a heart condition needs is an unnecessary double mastectomy.

So am I the only one who's concerned that these highly trained medical experts never nail the correct diagnosis on the first try, or even the second? With House and his team, I'd say the average is two well-intentioned but ultimately misguided guesses before they stumble upon the answer. So the next time you find yourself hospitalized with a mysterious medical condition and a staff of doctors is standing around scratching their heads like they're on the final round of Jeopardy!, give them three guesses and tell them that the first two don't count. Might just save you a pair of perfectly good breasts! — Dan Roberts

Channel Surfing
When did inflatable jumping tents become all the rage? First it was the showcase of Lynette's lice fight on Desperate Housewives, and then on Scrubs, J.D. and Turk bounced around until the pale-faced doc turned green. And sad as it may be that Elliot was forgotten in an open burial plot, there hasn't been such a pretty blonde stuck in a graveyard since Buffy went off the air.... Practical jokes can be fun when you are playing a friend, but Punking a whole town of kind citizens whose only real fault is that they love Star Trek so much they deemed themselves Captain Kirk's birthplace? OK, maybe the folks on Invasion Iowa deserve it a little, but those poor people baking apple pies for William Shatner are going to be heartbroken, not heartily laughing when the truth comes out. Stoplight-colored mood "Shats" are a pretty hilarious concept, though.

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