A Closer Look At Music & Television This Week (Jan. 17-23, 2005)

Fine Tuning - A weekly column highlighting music-related television programming (Jan. 17-23, 2005)

THE RETURN OF 'IDOL': Your post-holiday blues are about to be lifted by the return of "American Idol" Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox. For the fourth time, the beginning of the season promises to be the most funny, or at least the funniest, as we get to see weeks of auditions from around the country.

Tuesday night's two-hour premiere episode begins with tryouts in our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., and if the promos that Fox has been airing for the past two weeks are any indication, the erstwhile success of onetime "Idol" reject William Hung has attracted quite a few awful singers to the stage in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Johnson. In all, more than 100,000 hopefuls tried to sing their way to Hollywood and into the competition, and Fox will air three weeks of high- and lowlights from their attempts.

Among the revisions for the fourth season of the wildly popular talent show is a pledge from producers that half of the 24 semi-finalists will be male and half female. The age ceiling for participants was also raised by four years to 28.

Performance/elimination episodes begin Feb. 21 with the "Idol" crowning finale set for May 25. Along with the returning judges, Brandy, LL Cool J, Kiss' Gene Simmons and Kenny Loggins will pop up during the season to offer their critiques, and Ryan Seacrest will be on hand as host.

OH, THOSE WACKY '90S: If you came of age during the 1990s, then you probably have an affinity for some wacky stuff, from music to television to toys and games and everything that makes up pop culture. VH1 will revisit the decade, again with "I Love the '90s Part Deux." A whole new crop of commentators will offer their pithy recollections on the decade and you'll be reminded of a host of music from the era, both good and bad.

AND THE REST... Did you feel as bad for the Professor and Maryann when you heard the first season "Gilligan's Island" theme refer to them as "and the rest" as I did? Well, you should have. So there. Now, watch the following shows if you want to catch something interesting this week...

Monday: "Dreaming Big" on the Travel Channel will put you high in the air with Velvet Revolver on a custom rock-n-roll tour plane.

Tuesday: Interpol performs on CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman," which will also feature Ice Cube chatting with Dave about his latest flick.

Wednesday: New Jersey's own My Chemical Romance stars in its own MTV2 special, taped Dec. 30 in its home state club Starland Ballroom.

Thursday: Snoop Dogg and Pharrell will define "hot" when they visit NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Friday: Trick Daddy closes out the week on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmell" live as Friday night's musical guest.

Saturday: Two of the most beloved indie rock acts of the last 10 years -- Modest Mouse and Guided By Voices -- will be in the performance spotlight on PBS' "Austin City Limits."

Sunday: NBC's period drama "American Dreams" will feature R&B artist Van Hunt performing as Jimmy Ruffin, as well as an appearance by singer/songwriter Toby Lightman.