One of the questions surrounding America's Got Talent has always been how to differentiate the series from American Idol. If a talent show permits singers to compete, it stands to reason than an awful lot of them are going to audition -- after all, singing isn't like juggling or sword-swallowing or crushing items with your large breasts, skills it takes years to master (or in the case of me and the breasts, years of bad diet and exercise habits). The first two seasons of AGT nicely separated the singing and non-singing contenders, but the show has not been as fortunate in 2008. All of the ten finalists are musical in nature, and nine of the ten are primarily singing acts. America's Got Talent has turned into American Idol for people who aren't cut out for Idol, because of genre or age.
Tonight's two-hour performance show (NBC, 8 PM) should give everyone in the top ten a nice showcase before the cut down to five. Who are the favorites? Given the demographics of the show's audience, you have to think Sinatra impersonator Paul Salos has a great shot to advance. Opera-man Neal Boyd seems to be the favorite of the producers. Nuttin' But Strings, the violin-playing brothers from Queens, carry the banner for those who just want to vote for an act that doesn't sing. And then there's four year-old Kaitlyn Maher. My rule of thumb is that if you're younger than most of what's in my refrigerator, you're too young for big-time showbiz.
America's Next Top Model (CW, 8 PM): Ah, the makeover episode: the hour that takes perfectly attractive young women and turns them into zombies. Afterwards, it's a Malibu swimsuit shoot. How does the transgendered Isis get into a woman's swimsuit? Carefully, we can assume.
Bones (Fox, 8 PM): Booth's son Parker gets a head start on entering the family business when he finds a severed finger in a bird's nest. Also, Sweets offers up his two cents on the subject of Parker and also regarding Hodgins, whose lab work has been spotty.
Ghost Hunters (SciFi, 9 PM): A Rhode Island banquet hall that served as an inn during the Colonial period is probed for paranormal activity; a Connecticut home is thought to house a child ghost.
Project Runway (Bravo, 9 PM): The final six are given the task of creating outfits appropriate for college women who will be entering the workforce. It's getting far enough into the season now, and enough early contenders have disappeared, to where I can start guessing who might win. Sorry, Leanne: you're getting Charlie's kiss of death.
'Til Death (Fox, 9 PM): Eddie finds the most clichéd outlet for a midlife crisis imaginable: he buys a red convertible and sells his old beater to Kenny. Meanwhile, Joy tries to get her husband's attention by flirting with another guy. Sweetheart, he has a red convertible now: you'll have to have someone else's baby to get him to lift an eyebrow.
Do Not Disturb (Fox, 9:30 PM): I don't want to prejudge this show's chances of survival, but stunt casting during your second week on the air seems like a vote of low confidence. And when your special guest star is noted non-actress Audrina Patridge, that's even more ominous. The plot tonight involves a giant birdcage placed in the hotel bar for the purpose of showing off hot female staffers. Is Howard Stern one of the producers?
Destination Truth (SciFi, 10 PM): Josh and the gang enter a cave in Indonesia in search of the proverbial evil spirits, and take a trip to Australia in an attempt to locate the Burrunjor, which is said to resemble a dinosaur.
Man vs. Wild (Discovery, 10 PM): Bear Grylls covers the strategies he regards as essential to being able to survive any sort of hardship. I haven't had any electricity at home for three days. That's not Bear's level of hardship, although this morning's cold shower was one to tell the kids about, assuming I can still have them.
Real World/Road Rules Challenge (MTV, 10 PM): Looks like it's back to doing soft-core porn for Tonya after her elimination last week. Seeing these folks abandoned on the island makes me regret for the first time that Jurassic Park is fiction.
Sons of Anarchy (FX, 10 PM): Samcro races the police to catch the dirtbag who assaulted the daughter of a local celebrity; Tara's ex-boyfriend shows up; a new shipment of guns arrives.
Lewis Black's Root of All Evil (Comedy Central, 10:30 PM): Andrew Daly and Paul Tompkins debate the relative evil of the baby boomers and Generation X. As a chronological boomer who identifies more with the X'ers, I have a foot in both camps, so I propose that both groups put aside their old differences and team up to fight the real enemy: Generation Miley.