"American Idol" season 9 will be remembered as the year without judge Paula Abdul, the last year for Simon Cowell and the year Votefortheworst.com rocked and mocked the Top 12.
This year is the litmus test for what will happen to the singing show if — and that's still a big if — it returns for season 10.
No honcho at Fox has uttered a word about "Idol's" future, but here's what we know.
* Jugger-not: "Idol" no longer owns Tuesday and Wednesday nights in terms of ratings. Two weeks ago, for Frank Sinatra night, only 17.5 million viewers tuned in. It was the least-watched regularly scheduled episode of the competition since 2003, according to the Nielsen Co. Four years ago, at the show's zenith, "Idol" averaged about 30.3 million viewers per show.
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* Judges' jinx: Many "Idol" fans have blogged and conversed about the lack of overall talent this season. How many times have you heard, "He's got to go" or "She's got to go" or "How did they come up with this group?" Thank the judges, who seemed lackadaisical from the get-go.
* Theme night(mare): With a group ranging in age from 16 to 27, some of the theme nights were a nightmare for the contestants. Songs of the Cinema, Sinatra, Elvis, the Rolling Stones? Song choice certainly unleashes Cowell's brutal honesty — when he pays attention.
Whatever you think, good or bad, about season 9 of "American Idol," comparing the show to a 21st century take on "Ted Mack & the Original Amateur Hour" is like saying "Survivor" on CBS was going to be a real-life "Gilligan's Island."
The show debuted in 2002 as a summer offering. Eight years later the first winner, Kelly Clarkson, is still making hits.
Other contestants — winners, runners-up and beyond — have soared, including Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and David Cook.
Three contestants remain this season: Crystal Bowersox, 24; Lee DeWyze, 24; and Casey James, 27. On tonight's show, they head to their hometowns for the traditional reunion with friends, family and people they've never met.
Then, if the show follows its usual course, the three will perform two songs each, usually a song they pick and one judge's choice.
Prediction? It will be Bowersox facing DeWyze in the finale — unless the fans of Votefortheworst.com get their way and James survives.
Now you know
The talent show airs at 7 p.m. today and 8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox, cable 4.