Over three two-hour episodes, "The Next Great American Band" (7 p.m., Fox) hopes to do for musical ensembles what "Idol" has done for individual talents. It's a tall order, and from the looks of the highlight reel made available for review, the show seems as much about novelty acts as real musicians.
It's interesting to note that the review reel made no efforts to introduce the hosts and judges or explain the strange performance space. The prospective bands are introduced in an open air setting with a Nevada lake and desert in the backdrop. The judges include performer Sheila E. ("The Glamorous Life"), singer John Rzeznik (The Goo Goo Dolls) and Ian "Dicko" Dickson ("Australian Idol"). Dominic Bowden ("New Zealand Idol") hosts.
For those keeping score, this is a search for the "Next Great American Band" starring two mates from down under. Welcome to Rupert Murdoch's universe. Just don't call it a kangaroo court.
Kids who look no older than 12 does a pretty good job of imitating the hair bands of the 1980s. To put it in some perspective, these kids were barely out of pampers when Hanson was in its heyday. The mind reels.
Quite a few bands, good and bad, appear in masks, face paint or costumes. A handful of groups from Nashville appear to be the most talented, if not the biggest judge-pleasers. When "Dicko" seems peeved by one band's penchant for roots music, he demands that they play something more popular and accessible. On the spot, the guys pull off an inspired bluegrass take on Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Now that's something you just don't hear every day.
l "Most Haunted Live" (8 p.m., Travel) host Yvette Fielding and medium David Wells will spend seven hours in the Winchester House, a Victorian-era mansion in San Jose, Calif., that once belonged to an heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune.
Winchester boasts 160 rooms and many staircases that appear to go nowhere. Many believe the mansion's architectural quirks and maze-like structure were specifically designed to baffle evil spirits. Maybe that's why it's called "the house that fear built."
l There's nothing more obnoxious than for a TV critic to call a program "the best show that nobody's watching." But last week's episode of "Friday Night Lights" (8 p.m., NBC) had an audience barely half as large as the episode of "Deal or No Deal" that preceded it. That's alarming.
Maybe viewers don't want to watch a show that portrays its teenage characters as real people and treats its audience with respect. Maybe all we want are more shows about ghosts, morgues and promiscuous doctors. NBC took a real chance renewing "Lights" for a second season, so you really can't complain when it gets canceled.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Scheduled on "20/20" (7 p.m., ABC): an interview with Lance Bass.
¢ The Whiskers pups venture forth on "Meerkat Manor" (7:30 p.m., Animal Planet).
¢ A tough dog has an obsessive fear of a stove on "Dog Whisperer" (7 p.m., National Geographic).
¢ Bible verses inspire clues to a murder on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Danny and Mike end up in the wrong place at the wrong time on "Las Vegas" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ Marin gets lost while hunting down an exotic natural ingredient on "Men in Trees" (9 p.m., ABC).
¢ Sheppard becomes host to an alien infection on "Stargate: Atlantis" (9 p.m., Sci Fi).