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Tonight's TV Hot List: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

* American Idol (8/7c Fox)


America rocked the vote last week, trimming and molding the shape of the coveted Top 12. It was high emotion and weepy, embracing farewells when Katelyn Epperly, Todrick Hall, Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott were cut - with the talented Scott's elimination raising eyebrows. Those that outlasted the ousted now make up the newly minted Top 12 finalists, and that sturdy dozen performs in this two-hour music fest, the very first heat in the final round. They're slated to render songs by the Rolling Stones. But they can't always get what they want, as one finalist will be sent packing tomorrow.


* Justified (10/9c FX)


The last time we saw Timothy Olyphant on FX, he was Ellen's mysterious boyfriend on Damages. Now he's author Elmore Leonard's maverick U.S. marshal, Raylan Givens. Maverick? That means dealing with a bad guy in a way that annoys his bosses so much that they exile him to his Kentucky hometown, where he'll begin tussling in the opener with a white-supremacist criminal (Walton Goggins) with whom he once mined coal. Also in the picture: Raylan's ex-wife (Natalie Zea) and an ex-cheerleader (Joelle Carter) who still has a crush on Raylan.


* Lost (9/8c ABC)


Ben's a good guy? That'll have to take some getting used to. Or maybe not. With Charles Widmore's reemergence at the end of last week's episode, how good can we reasonably expect Ben to be? Perhaps we'll find out tonight, when Widmore's sub surfaces on the island. Meanwhile, the Locke Monster has a mission for Sawyer, and Charlie's brother (Neil Hopkins) turns up again, as does Oceanic 815 flight attendant Cindy. And finally, these casting notes: Rebecca Mader is back as Charlotte, and Sheila Kelley begins a recurring role (as Zoe).


* NCIS (8/7c CBS)


Could there possibly be a scent of spin-off in the air...or, rather, the high seas? The team has to work with their Coast Guard equivalent, the CGIS, to solve the murder of a Navy diver. The series usually manages to have lighthearted fun while never treating murder lightly, and this setup is certain to be full of humor as the agents find striking similarities between themselves and their seafaring counterparts.


* Samurai (8/7c History)


High-tech animation and host Mark Dacascos' expertise in the subject bring into focus the way of the Japanese samurai and the life of one of the most famous samurai, 16th-century warrior Miyamoto Musashi. Martial-arts champion (and former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant) Dacascos examines Musashi's life as a way of exploring the traditions, culture and training methods of the samurai.


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