Tuesday & Wednesday 8pm, Fox
And so it begins again. The “Idol” machine has been getting some bad press lately, as several of its underperforming stars—Season 2 champ Ruben Studdard, Season 5’s Taylor Hicks and Kat McPhee—have been dumped by their labels, while last year’s Idol, Jordin Sparks, had the lowest-selling debut for a winner ever. But does America really care about the success of the would-be pop stars after they leave the show? I always thought we were just invested in keeping our favorites on week after week so they can warble through another Air Supply cover. The show will also likely benefit from the writers strike—what excuse do you have to skip it if nothing else is on?—so I think Season 7 will do just fine. Especially since Sanjaya f’ing Malakar will be nowhere in sight. (One hopes.)
Wednesday 9pm, Discovery Channel
In each episode of “Mythbusters” a team of special effects wizards, scientists, artists and other assorted geeks determine the veracity of three urban myths. They don’t just investigate the claims; they restage the incidents multiple times to see if the myth can be confirmed, if it’s plausible, or if it’s as busted as a reality TV contestant’s weave. Will a poppy seed bagel really cause you to flunk a drug test? Can a singer actually shatter glass using only her voice? Only the Mythbusters know for sure. On tonight’s season premiere, the team questions whether superspy James Bond could actually pull off half the crap he does in the pics.
Sunday 10pm, AMC
AMC scored big with its period ad agency drama, “Mad Men.” The classic movie channel could have a twofer on its hands with this nifty show, kind of a darker, male version of “Weeds.” Bryan Cranston—the dad from “Malcolm in the Middle”—plays a very different kind of family patriarch as Walter White, a high school chemistry mired in a thankless middle-class life. After he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer, Walter snaps out of his funk and decides to screw the rules; he’s going to make sure his family is taken care of by putting his scientific background to use by creating the world’s most amazing crystal meth recipe and selling it for beaucoup bucks. He hooks up with one of his drug-dealing ex-students, sets up his own RV lab, and then things, as they do, get complicated.