Yup, the phenomenon is back -- "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) kicks off a new season with a new judge and new rules as the show tries to re-tool itself so as not to get stale.
Of course, geting stale is a relative term; even though "AI" saw a drop in ratings last year, the numbers were still good enough to make it the envy of pretty much any other show on TV.
But, the producers felt the need to spice things up, so songwriter Kara DioGuardi joins the trio of Simon, Paula and Randy. How will she mesh into such an entrenched arrangement? Well, tune in and find out, I guess. I'm not sure we need a fourth judge, especially in the early rounds. There is speculation that Kara will eventually replace Paula, but most of that has been dismissed. The producers need Paula's loopiness, no matter how crazy she drives them.
Supposedly, there will be less of the silly tryouts -- people getting on camera for their half-minute of fame when they clearly have no ability, all so they can stage their own drama when Simon boots them. Clearly, the producers finally caught on that these people were only seeking attention.
Also, the semifinals will be expanded to 36 singers, and the elimination process will change slightly. Plus, producers are looking to get more contemporary acts into the mentors' role this season.
Will the changes work? Maybe, but as always, it comes down to the group of singers that make the cut. Find another Kelly Clarkson, someone that America embraces, and you are golden. Find some of the acts that have fizzled after their victories (where are Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks these days?) and it won't matter who the judges are.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I love the addition of Courtney Cox to the cast of "Scrubs" (ABC, 9 p.m.), but tonight, Dr. Cox teams with Dr. Kelso to get rid of her as the hospital administrator.
CBS is back with brand new episodes of "NCIS," "The Mentalist" and "Without A Trace," while CW has new episodes of "90210" and "Privileged."
NBC has a new "Law & Order: SVU" at 10 p.m. after "The Biggest Loser."
PBS airs the special "Ascent of Money" at 9 p.m., which tells the viewer the lessons that can be learned from the current financial crisis. Um, perhaps too little, too late guys?
Finally, there's a new episode of "Leverage" (TNT, 10 p.m.).