American IdolKellie Pickler ("pick Pickler!") belted out Kelly Clarkson

's "Since You've Been Gone" like a champ, but her hard-luck backstory got the lion's share of attention. You've probably noticed that as soon as a contestant has his or her story told, he/she is pretty much guaranteed to move on to Hollywood. And when your father is in prison and your mother abandoned you at age 2, you are definitely making it to the next round. Kendra Winston's tale of growing up in orphanages and becoming a young mother was equally poignant, and call me a sucker, but I hope the woman Simon called a "young Whitney Houston" goes very far in this competition. I would have been annoyed if anyone other than Paris got so dramatic after getting the Idol judge's seal of approval, but she is so adorable and talented (unlike a certain other Paris) that it worked for her. Ryan Seacrest wasn't kidding when he wondered where the good male singers were. Epitomized by the appropriately named Jimmy Crabtree, the guys in North Carolina just couldn't compete with the ladies. But Ryan, please do not use the phrase "in the N.C." ever again. Just say no to inappropriate pilfering from your own network. How funny was Simon's genuine birthday-party glee when oversinging Marcus bombed out after using Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson's Ultimate Voice Coach DVD? Why did they blur out the title? And I wonder how many other copies will be crushed by a hammer before the year is out. I'd be willing to bet Rhonetta will personally bust up a batch, along with some copies of Forever Your Girl. Poor Paula, she thought she was being nice by offering the girl some water but then had to suffer the wrath of that not-so-li'l Kim calling her washed-up, a has-been. As for the other rejected wannabes: Ronda's voice is a dead-ringer for Lisa Simpson's; Seth Strickland wasn't the only one who muttered "oh crap" during his Michael Jackson-inspired mess; 26-year-old Sabrina "the teenage witch" Oakley only got her nickname half right; and if you listen closely, I'm sure Marcus is still holding a note from "She's Out of My Life."  Ken McGilvray

Happy 100th episode, you best darn medical comedy on television, you. Zach Braff directed this loving homage to my favorite movie of all time, The Wizard of Oz, and the shout-outs ranged from a Toto song on J.D.'s iPod to a makeshift yellow brick road through the halls of Sacred Heart. Not to mention ruby-red sneakers; paying no attention to that man behind the curtain; a melting wicked witch; "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" and an "oil can!" for good measure; and a potential heart donor named Ray Bolger. (Although, if I'm gonna let my geek colors really fly, I have to wonder if it'd be more appropriate to call him Jack Haley, since the Tin Man's the one with the heart all along....) And yet with all these theme-y delights going on, I have to say my favorite moments were those not necessarily having anything to do with the metaphorical journey to the Emerald City: for instance, Dr. Kelso's genuine appreciation of his own commemorative bobblehead ("bobbley, bobbley, bobbley...") or Elliott's bordering-on-perfection retort to Dr. Cox, "Oh, really? Because you never went to assface school, but you seem to be an expert at that." Well, maybe that's a big fat lie, because my actual favorite moment has a lot to do with Ted's a cappella band crooning "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and making me cry like a little girl. I never thought they'd be able to top their own version of the Underdog theme song from Season 1, but I stand corrected. Bravo, boys. Now pass me a hanky. As for the second episode of the night, I can only say: Olivia Walton, Jennie Lowell and Michael Bluth all in the same half hour? Add Elliott's Jewish robot groom and an ostrich wearing Turk's red Kangol cap, and I'm officially spent.  Chana Shwadlenak

The Shield
I once wrote (though I'm certain I stole it from someone else) that The Shield is like a tweaked-out cop show that's been awake for four days straight. Tonight I've eaten way too much ultradark, fair-trade chocolate and I'm so sensitive to caffeine that I'm buzzing like a cicada, so this is like watching the cop show on meth... on meth. Or, as my junior-high math teacher might've said, meth squared. (Hey, I spend much of my time watching TV, OK? An overdose on a 71-percent-cocoa bar is about as dangerous as life gets for me.)

Anyway, buzz or no buzz, lots happening once again. Kavanaugh hovers ever closer to Vic and the Strike Team; Lem does his best to pretend to play along while protecting his guys; and Vic and the boys decide to help themselves by helping Lem... for now. In the meantime, we've got a sex-slave ring, tension between Claudette and Dutch, a witness' missing brother and a tough new P.D. named Becca. Oh, and Shane's "chee-chee" joke? I heard it years ago as something called "bunta." Which still can't be as painful as what Tina did to the guy who tried to attack her (not that he didn't deserve it). Things are certainly getting even more interesting now, with Vic meeting Kavanaugh, Corinne figuring out that Kavanaugh's trying to play her (and telling Vic about it) and my now-weekly realization that Forest Whitaker is a killer in this role. Nice scene between him and Michael Chiklis, too. And with Kavanaugh's knowing chuckle after they shake, I'll again end with what's becoming my Shield mantra: Uh-oh. Michael Peck