To use an awkward sports metaphor, the “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox) finale is the Super Bowl, but without the game. It’s all halftime, all the time.
And, as such, you can’t really blame viewers for spending most of the two hours spinning around the dial or refreshing their dip. “Idol” will no doubt attract a lot of viewers, but will it be watched?
The instant-retrospective nature of “Idol” is also a lot like the conclusion of a football season. By January’s end, the early-September gridiron action that put a team on the road to Super Bowl competition seems far away indeed, filed away somewhere in the mind’s filing cabinet between the forgettable and the already forgotten. And so, too, do the “Idol” castoffs. Was it only weeks ago that Jorge got the boot? Jorge? Jorge who?
On a purely procedural level, the addition of judge Kara DioGuardi did the contest no harm. She always seemed to know what she was talking about and rarely engaged in the fake fighting that characterizes the Paula-Simon charade. Let’s hope she returns.
“Idol” has been around long enough for viewers to know that winners don’t always triumph in the end. Have the careers of Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks or Jordin Sparks been bigger than those of Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry or Jennifer Hudson?
With that in mind, I’m half hoping that Adam Lambert, the superior artist who is more interesting and entertaining in every way, does not win. I’m not sure he needs the “Idol” laurel to launch a career. And I’m not sure he would be well served by having to represent “Idol” for the rest of his days. Kris Allen, on the other hand, is nice, engaging, safe and nonthreatening, and would be a natural successor to such talents as Kelly Clarkson.
Perhaps, while wasting vast stretches of time tonight, Ryan Seacrest should poll the home audience and ask which of Season 8’s non-winners will have the most enduring career. If pressed, I’d vote for the effervescent and soulful 17-year-old Allison Iraheta. It would have been a whole lot more fun if the contest had come down to Allison and Adam.
l The documentary “Loot” (7 p.m., HBO2) follows two World War II veterans as they try to rediscover the art and artifacts they had plundered and hidden during their combat days.
Not even the passage of six decades can separate these men from the legal and moral entanglements of their youthful deeds. And while searching to recover their buried treasure, both men, living in very different parts of the country and who served in opposite theaters of war, discover that they have a lot more in common than they could have ever suspected.
Tonight’s season finales
• Buried feelings and shocking news on “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (7 p.m., CBS).
• Unfinished business for Gary and Allison on “Gary Unmarried” (7:30 p.m., CBS).
• A killer leads the team north of the border on a two-hour “Criminal Minds” (8 p.m., CBS).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Johnny Depp stars in the 2006 adventure “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (7 p.m., ABC).
• A dance instructor (Antonio Banderas) puts his students through the paces in the 2006 performance drama “Take the Lead” (7 p.m., CW).