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Tonight's TV Hot List: Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010


* American Idol (8/7c Fox)


Simon says - Season 9 of the well-tuned talent contest begins tonight with a two-hour premiere blast. Judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi journey to Boston for the first edition of the preliminary auditions, where starry-eyed hopefuls are rated. (And berated?) In Boston, it's a good bet that some will be wicked good and others will be just plain wicked. Season 9 brings a sweeping change, of course: New judge Ellen DeGeneres replaces the departing Paula Abdul and joins the judges after the audition episodes. The tryouts continue tomorrow night in Atlanta.


* NCIS (8/7c CBS)


Robert Wagner guest stars as Tony's father, who is connected to a case involving an assassination attempt on a foreign prince. The family link to the investigation has Gibbs more than a little worried that Tony might not be able to do his job effectively and with objectivity.


* Southland (10/9c TNT)


TNT picks up where NBC left off by adding the once-canceled police drama to its lineup, beginning with the series opener. Benjamin McKenzie stars as Los Angeles rookie cop Ben Sherman, whose future with the force depends on a good evaluation from his partner (Michael Cudlitz), who is, of course, a tough veteran with his own way of bringing down the bad guys. When a bust gets out of control, Sherman has to act on instinct and hopes that his partner won't judge him too harshly. Otherwise, his first day could be his last.


* Independent Lens (9/8c PBS)


Nothing compares to the Young@Heart Chorus, a New England senior-citizen choir that tackles such unconventional fare as the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia." The doc, which chronicles the group's preparations for a hometown concert in Northampton, Mass., also steps off stage to profile some of the participants, including 92-year-young Eileen Hall, and features a very funny take on the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."


* Tabatha's Salon Takeover (10/9c Bravo)


The salon makeover and takeover series closes shop for the season. There will need to be plenty of style counsel in the Season 2 finale when hair-parlor authority Tabatha Coffey journeys to Illinois to rescue a sinking salon, and she won't let her hair down until she succeeds. Among the establishment's tangled problems: The owner lacks leadership skills, the manager is snippy, and a stylist isn't making the cut.


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