BY TOM GLIATTO
Sitting there, judging singers, Simon Cowell
generally affects a look of displeased boredom. But occasionally there'll be a faint satisfied grin, the sort you might see on an ancient Roman bust of some power player. So far his statue isn't crumbling. Idol
has done better than ever in the opening weeks of season 6: It vacuums up so many viewers that NBC Universal head Jeff Tucker called it "the most impactful show in the history of television." The show (which settles down to a Tuesday-Wednesday schedule March 13) has gotten so big, in fact, it sometimes feels discomfitingly swollen. The audition rounds bothered some viewers by highlighting an Addams Family procession of no-talents. Other fans complain that not enough attention was paid to sketching out the histories of singers now in the final competition. But the show is still a colossal entertainment with good performers: Lakisha Jones, who has walloping power; Melinda Doolittle, a backup singer who digs into a song with jackhammer energy; and Blake Lewis, who has an ear-catching pop voice with a little alt-rock thrown in. Smile, Simon.
The CW (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)
To all those who have ever dreamed that they could someday wear very revealing costumes in front of a crowd of paying strangers and sing, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me," here is that fantasy realized. The Search for the Next Doll
will pick a new girl to perform as part of the Pussycat Dolls pop-dance group, which originally began as a burlesque lounge act in L.A.'s Viper Room and now has its own space at Caesars Palace in Vegas. In the first few episodes, we meet the candidates and hear snippets of lingering biographical heartache (weight issues, impoverished upbringings) as well as testimony to the Pussycat Dolls' questionable philosophy of empowerment through prancing about voluptuously and singing hit songs like the aforementioned "Don't Cha." Many of the girls also come down with a stomach virus. (That makes for fun viewing.) Whenever Dolls founder Robin Antin appears with a new task, everyone squeals like kittens.
It's all strange and ridiculous enough to come close to entertaining—and good luck to the winner! But I can't help imagining the losers winding up like those Playboy bunnies gyrating in the desperate jungles of Vietnam in Apocalypse
FOX (March 4, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Rob Corddry, who first developed a following as a correspondent on Jon Stewart's Daily Show
, has the tonsure and pale round face of a monk. Combine those with the fierce, undisciplined insecurity of a dog disturbed by alpha issues with its master, and you have an interesting performer. To say the least. But his new sitcom (served with a second episode at 9:30 p.m. ET) is poor. Corddry plays Glen Abbott, a 32-year-old man-child who lives with his parents and hangs around with the 13-year-old son of a woman he's loved since his own boyhood. For some reason, everyone is charmed and even seduced by his perverse innocence. It's like watching a marionette with one set of strings operated by John Lithgow and the other by Pee-wee Herman.
>Deal or No Deal (NBC, March 4, 9 p.m. ET) Howie Mandel, the girls and all that money move to Sunday nights.
The Class (CBS, March 5, 8:30 p.m. ET) Season finale. A heart attack forces the friends to gather at the hospital once again.
Lost (ABC, March 7, 10 p.m. ET) Sawyer plays Ping-Pong; Locke, Sayid and Kate find a new mystery structure; and normalcy remains an invisible speck of cork floating on the ocean horizon.
Life Support (HBO, March 10, 8 p.m. ET) Queen Latifah
as an HIV-positive woman campaigning endlessly to stop the disease's spread in the black community. Jamie Foxx executive-produced.
The Wedding Bells (FOX, March 7, 9 p.m. ET) New comedy-drama from executive producer David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal). Three sisters, including Teri Polo of The West Wing
, run a wedding-planning service.
The 24-year-old Atlantan earned the $100,000 prize as the winner of ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show.
ON HIS RHYMES I graduated from the University of Georgia as a journalism major with an English minor [as Timothy Rasmussen], so I know how to get an idea across in fewer words than most.
ON HIS CLEFT LIP People have said, "He should use the $100,000 to fix his busted face." But my personality definitely makes you overlook it. Girls say I have an ugly-hot thing going on. Plus, they think scars are mysterious.
ON WHITE RAPPER SKILLS That's a horrible question. I don't use stereotypes or like rappers just 'cause they're white. I don't own an Eminem CD.
- ANNE MARIE CRUZ.
FOX (8 p.m. ET, March 6, 7 and 8)