Is the two-hour “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox) finale a very big deal, or an instantly forgettable bore? There are arguments for both conclusions.
Any program that ranks as the most watched on American television and attracts more than 90 million participating “voters” who decide the show’s top two finalists has to be seen as a significant force in entertainment. At the same time, “Idol” viewership is down some 25 percent from last season.
We may not yet know the winner’s name, but it is all but certain that Fox’s attempt to duplicate the show’s dominance with “X-Factor” hurt “Idol” and added to an overall sense of talent contest fatigue.
I’ve heard baseball referred to as islands of activity in a sea of statistics. “Idol” finales have fleeting seconds of drama buried beneath a landfill of hoopla that not even a performance by Rihanna can redeem. Perhaps Jennifer Lopez can sing the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” to address concerns about her possible departure.
Following an “Idol” tradition, the all-but anointed Joshua Ledet was voted off last week. In weeks past, Randy Jackson and Lopez had praised him to the skies, comparing him favorably to any “Idol” talent. And right after his departure, “Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe tweeted that his favorite had been eliminated.
Now that Ledet has gone the way of Jennifer Hudson, the talent competition — or popularity contest — comes down to Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips. May the best second-best talent win!
• Also wrapping up its season tonight is “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC). This may not be as dramatic as “Glee,” but we do learn where Haley is headed after high school, and how the un-girly Alex enjoys her first prom experience. Elsewhere on the parenting front, Mitch and Cam’s attempt to adopt a sibling for Lily requires some assistance from Gloria, leaving the hapless Jay and Manny in the baby-sitting lurch.
Tonight’s other finales
• One Heck of a wedding plan on “The Middle” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Feeling accepted, June finds Chloe’s pace exhausting on “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23” (8:30 p.m., ABC). Now that was a short season.
• An underage escort expires at a bachelor party on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC).
• A sudden shock sends several schemes off the rails on “Revenge” (9 p.m., ABC).
Tonight’s other highlights
• It’s not even Memorial Day yet and the Travel Channel has cut ahead in line to show “Top 5: Killer Coasters” (7 p.m.).