Ellen Lands With 'Idol'

Most media outlets are reporting that comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has signed a deal to replace Paula Abdul as the fourth judge on "American Idol" this winter.

Though I generally find DeGeneres to be a funny comic who has done well when she serves as host for awards shows, I'm thinking this is a huge mistake.

Many fans and critics complained last season that "Idol" got bogged down because they had to go through four commentaries of the performances instead of three once Kara DiaGuardio was added as the fourth judge. When Abdul left, it was a chance to get back to the three-judge format.

At first, "AI" announced a series of guest judges -- all musicians -- to fill the fourth slot. There might have been an appeal in rotating it around.

But frankly, I don't know what DeGeneres adds to the mix. To my knowledge, she has no musical background, so to vote yea or nay on a singer doesn't seem especially fair, especially in the early going. Since I'm guessing they want Ellen to add humor, she's going to have to come up with a whole lot of funny quips to be relevent, and even then, she's going to have a tough time filling the void brought about by Simon's criticism or Paula's general goofiness.

Frankly, Ellen might have been a better replacement for Ryan Seacrest, but with his new contract, he isn't going anywhere.

In all likelihood, "AI" won't suffer too much in the ratings given the nature of its fandom, but it doesn't help to keep tinkering with what has been a winning formula.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: FINALLY! "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) is back with its season premiere. One of my Top 10 shows on TV last year, few programs match the pure fun it is to watch this series every week. And with rumors that this might be the show's last season (creator Eric Kripke wants to end it after this year), I'm going to enjoy the next 22 episodes as much as I can.

When we last left the Winchesters, Sam (Jared Padelecki) had just accidentally released Lucifer from Hell while angels (definitely not the Roma Downey kind of angels, either) prevented Dean (Jensen Ackles) from stopping him. Quite literally, all Hell has broken loose. I'm anxious to see where the show goes from here.

It's preceded by the new teen-oriented drama, "The Vampire Diaries" at 8 p.m. I gave my thoughts about this show last week, but feel free to watch it and judge for yourself.

Other than that, not much else on except for a new "Skins" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) and "Project Runway" (Lifetime, 10 p.m.)

Enjoy a relatively quiet Thursday, because once all the shows debut, it will be the most competitive night among the networks by far.