It's time once again for the TV Gal edition of March Madness.
That's right it's time to pick your Final Four for "American Idol." It's time for bold statements. Crazy theories and bragging rights.
My Final Four: Taylor Hicks, Mandisa, Paris Bennett and Katherine McPhee. My other fearless predictions? Kevin Covais will go farther than you think. He's this year's John Stevens. (I don't think I told you guys that I boldly forecasted he would make it to the Top 12 after his very first audition, but I have friends who can vouch for me).
Lisa Tucker won't go as far as you think. My guess is that Tucker will be the super-talented contestant who gets kicked off too soon. (Unless that happens to Mandisa which will leave me de-va-sta-ted.) We will soon tire of Kellie Pickler or Katherine McPhee, I'm not sure which and I hope, obviously, it's not McPhee. Chris Daughtry will struggle with the variety of songs he'll have to sing as part of the Final 12. Oh, and since I'm on a roll, let me go ahead and predict Bucky Covington as the first singer eliminated.
To put my current feelings about "American Idol" (Tuesday, FOX, 8 p.m.) in the words of Randy Jackson, I have to give the show a standing ovation. Despite being a No. 1 hit, the show continues to perfect its winning formula. This was the best countdown from 24 to the Final 12 the series has ever had. With live music, back up singers and a better stage and seating set up, we got a much better feel for the contestants earlier on. Even Ryan Seacrest has come into his own -- chastising the judges when necessary and comforting contestants with sincerity. He just needs to drop the bizarre homophobic banter with Simon Cowell and we'd be all set.
And let me close with a word about Ayla Brown. I've often wondered why more people don't cry on the show. And how they are even able to sing after being kicked off -- especially the younger contestants. So she has my sympathy.
Who's in your Final Four? What did you think of "American Idol?" Talk about it on the TV Gal message board.
Quotes of the Week
"You couldn't push my buttons if you tried. I have no buttons. Please think of me as a buttonless, all smooth, like G.I. Joe's nether regions." Dr. Cox to the grief counselor on "Scrubs." Thanks to Leah for the quote.
"There are too many forensic shows on TV." Grissom to a reality TV producer on "CSI."
"You married the wrong man." Kavanaugh to Corrine on "The Shield."
"I do my own stunts." Jennifer Garner after almost falling while presenting at the Oscars.
"I'm a mink." Kellie Pickler after Simon called her a "minx" on "American Idol." Thanks to Michelle and Gil for the quote.
"You, you and you panic. Everyone else come with me." Jonas on "The Unit." I may not love this show but it's great to have Dennis Haysbert back in action. Thanks to Joshua for the quote.
"She's my hottie boom body with the knotty pilates." Dave about his girlfriend Lori on "The Amazing Race." Thanks to Jeff for the quote.
"I had a dream about you last night. I had a dream you gave constructive criticism." Ryan Seacrest to Simon Cowell on "American Idol."
"I'm Ryan Seacrest and we're going home." Ryan Seacrest signing off the Wednesday night audition of "American Idol." What is that? You can't just come up with your own catchphrase and then abandon it.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Well, we were all very excited about the plethora of familiar faces on "House." Adam Busch, Warren on "Buffy" and Wes on "Point Pleasant," was the patient who likes cows. Greg Grunberg, Weiss on "Alias," Sean on "Felicity" and the pilot in the pilot of "Lost," was the man who donates his wife's heart. Keri Lynn Pratt was the daughter of man who needed a new heart. She was Missy Belknap on "Jack & Bobby" and Martin's aunt on "7th Heaven." And Howard Hesseman, Johnny on "WKRP in Cincinnati" was the heart patient.
Ray Wise is the Vice President on "24." Mark was the first to remember Wise as Leland Palmer on "Twin Peaks."
Piper recognized Eamonn Walker as the doctor working with Dr. Carter on "ER." Walker was Kareem Said on "Oz."
Michelle recognized Fredric Lehne as the man who killed his brother-in-law on "Medium." He was Marshal Edward Mars (the one bringing Kate back to the United States) on "Lost." Robin recognized Rebecca Gayheart as his wife. Gayheart was Christian's blind girlfriend on "Nip/Tuck," Betty on "Dead Like Me," and once and always Dylan's wife Toni on "90210."
Jacquie recognized Jeffrey Donovan, Jarrod's brother Kyle on "The Pretender" and Creegan on "Touching Evil," was the killer astronaut on "Monk."
Taraji P. Henson was the rape victim on "CSI." Henson was Inspector Raina Washington on "The Division" and Shug in the movie "Hustle & Flow." In fact, we just saw her perform "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" on the Academy Awards. Jack Noseworthy was her ex-boyfriend. I'll always remember Noseworthy as the lead in the MTV series "Dead at 21." He was also Jason on "Judging Amy."
Speaking of the Academy Awards, Kathleen "Bird" York wrote and sang the theme song for "Crash" at the Oscars. York was Toby's ex-wife/mother of his children on "The West Wing" and Renee Wheeler, the mother of Kristen's half-sister, on "The O.C."
Christina Hendricks was the missing advice columnist on "Without a Trace." Hendricks was Saffron on "Firefly" and Nicolette on "Kevin Hill."
And all this week's bonus points go to Diane who recognized David Denman, Pam's fiance Roy on "The Office," was the demon Skip on "Angel."
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for March 13 to 19
So, I've come up with a new exercise plan. Watch "Prison Break" (Monday, FOX, 8 p.m.), "24" (Monday, FOX, 9 p.m.), and "The Shield (Tuesday, FX, 10 p.m.) back-to-back. The stress alone should shed some pounds. "Prison Break" repeats last November's fall finale (FOX makes up a new term and like lemmings we follow) all in preparation for the show's return on March 20.
As we mourn Edgar's passing and the romance that never was, can we reflect on how easy it was for the bad guy to get into CTU. On a day where President Palmer was assassinated, the Russian president was attacked, and nerve gas was leaked in a mall, don't you think CTU would be under, oh I don't know, heightened security? I think I could break in with a fake ID some high school made me. But really I can't quibble because there is no midseason slump this year for "24" (Monday, FOX, 9 p.m.). The show seems well on its way to its best season yet.
Could this be the end of the fabled "Seinfeld" curse? Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" premiering Monday at 9:30 p.m. on CBS. When Christine (Louis-Dreyfus) discovers her husband (Clark Gregg) is dating a much younger, much perkier woman also named Christine (Emily Rutherford), she starts to reevaluate her life. The two episodes I saw weren't perfect, but they had potential. If CBS gives the show a chance, it could thrive. But for now, three stars.
Michael Welch, the actor formerly known as Joan's sweet brother Luke, will play a high school student who takes his classmates hostage on "NCIS" (Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBS). And remember he already played a bully earlier this season on "Without a Trace." This is like the time sweet Chip from "Kate & Allie" started popping up as a murderer on all the "CSIs."
You know the more I get frustrated by the seemingly constant repeats on "Lost" (Wednesday, ABC, 9 p.m.), the more I think every show with an overarching story arc, should adopt a "24" style schedule. Because I'd rather have the show be completely gone for six months than to have an awesome and revealing episode followed by two repeats. It's looking more and more like a government experiment, don't you think? Quite a brilliant twist to have the Fisherman Other (one of the creepiest characters on TV today) be a doctor in disguise. Maybe their not villains but merely wannabe actors who had to create an island to have a career. This week, ABC repeats the episode from last season that placed Jin in handcuffs.
You remember how I predicted NBC would never air "Thick and Thin" because it was so bad? Well so far I'm right. "Modern Men" (premiering Friday at 9:30 on the WB) isn't that bad, but I honestly can't understand why the WB is even bothering to put it on the air. It so clearly won't be a part of the CW line up next season. But if you want, feel free to tune into Jane Seymour star as the life coach to three goofy guys. One and a half stars.
I watched the first two episodes of "The Sopranos" (Sunday, HBO, 9 p.m.) and even though the first episode ended with a bang, the season lacks oomph. Maybe it's because we've been away from the characters too long and we need to acclimate ourselves once again. I'm not sure. After I've watched the next two episodes, I'll check back in on the show.
To the TV Gal Reader Belongs the Spoils
You know the rules. Don't read if you don't want to know.
So, as we gear up for the return on "Prison Break" on March 20, I want to remind you that the April 3 episode will flashback to what everyone was up to three years ago. And I also want to let you know that before the May season finale, more characters will meet their maker, more characters will get in on the breakout action, and there's one other big surprise I'm sworn to secrecy on but you all are smart and I think you can figure it out.
I do believe "Veronica Mars" is trying to incur my wrath -- put my love for the show to the test -- with all of its time off. Coming up though, Veronica visits Hearst College and runs into her ex Troy Vandegraff. This is how I know deep down the show loves me, it really, really loves me. On the same episode Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat (George Michael and Maeby on "Arrested Development") will guest star as students at Hearst College.
"Related" has its season and perhaps series finale on March 20. Dana Delany returns as the sisters' deceased mother and you know what usually happens in finales - love is in the air for everyone. So look for break-ups, make-ups, and hook-ups.
Julie Cooper and Dr. Roberts will get engaged on "The O.C." making Coop and Summer step-sisters. But Marissa has got bigger problems as she once again gets herself into trouble this time with the wrong boy.
"What I Like About You" also has its season (and maybe series finale) on March 24 -- because remember when two networks become one all bets are off. Look for Holly and Vic to get married for real and for love to -- that's right -- be in the air for everyone else.
That's all for today. I'm on vacation next week but will return on March 27 with a look at the return of "Everwood" (can I have a whoo and a hoo?), reviews of the new NBC show "Teachers," and the WB's "Bedford Diaries" (boooooooooo) and much much more. While I'm gone, don't forget to watch the return of "Prison Break" on March 20 and "Out of Practice" on March 22. Have a question, seen a familiar face, have an inside scoop or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at email@example.com by clicking on my byline at the top of my column. Have a great couple of weeks.