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Tonight's TV Hot List: Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010

American Idol8/7c Fox Simon says — Season 9 of the well-tuned talent contest begins tonight with a two-hour premiere blast. Judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi journey to Boston for the first edition of the preliminary auditions, where starry-eyed hopefuls are rated. (And berated?) In Boston, it's a good bet that some will be wicked good and others will be just plain wicked. Season 9 brings a sweeping change, of course: New judge Ellen DeGeneres replaces the departing Paula Abdul and joins the judges after the audition episodes. The tryouts continue tomorrow night in Atlanta.Read on for previews of NCIS, Southland, Independent Lens and Tabatha's Salon Takeover.

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American Idol
8/7c Fox
Simon says — Season 9 of the well-tuned talent contest begins tonight with a two-hour premiere blast. Judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi journey to Boston for the first edition of the preliminary auditions, where starry-eyed hopefuls are rated. (And berated?) In Boston, it's a good bet that some will be wicked good and others will be just plain wicked. Season 9 brings a sweeping change, of course: New judge Ellen DeGeneres replaces the departing Paula Abdul and joins the judges after the audition episodes. The tryouts continue tomorrow night in Atlanta. — Dean Maurer
NCIS
8/7c CBS
Robert Wagner guest stars as Tony's father, who is connected to a case involving an assassination attempt on a foreign prince. The family link to the investigation has Gibbs more than a little worried that Tony might not be able to do his job effectively and with objectivity. — Bill Ecklund
Southland
10/9c TNT
TNT picks up where NBC left off by adding the once-canceled police drama to its lineup, beginning with the series opener. Benjamin McKenzie stars as Los Angeles rookie cop Ben Sherman, whose future with the force depends on a good evaluation from his partner (Michael Cudlitz), who is, of course, a tough veteran with his own way of bringing down the bad guys. When a bust gets out of control, Sherman has to act on instinct and hopes that his partner won't judge him too harshly. Otherwise, his first day could be his last. — Rhoda Charles
Independent Lens
9/8c PBS
Nothing compares to the Young@Heart Chorus, a New England senior-citizen choir that tackles such unconventional fare as the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia." The doc, which chronicles the group's preparations for a hometown concert in Northampton, Mass., also steps off stage to profile some of the participants, including 92-year-young Eileen Hall, and features a very funny take on the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated." — Jeff Gemmill
Tabatha's Salon Takeover
10/9c Bravo
The salon makeover and takeover series closes shop for the season. There will need to be plenty of style counsel in the Season 2 finale when hair-parlor authority Tabatha Coffey journeys to Illinois to rescue a sinking salon, and she won't let her hair down until she succeeds. Among the establishment's tangled problems: The owner lacks leadership skills, the manager is snippy, and a stylist isn't making the cut. — Dean Maurer