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''American Idol''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2006

I don't have a pick for a winner on ''Idol'' yet, but I do have a favorite in the top 24 -- the singer I tend to think of as just Gray-Haired Guy, the one with the gospel style and the moves of Joe Cocker. I know it's not just for his singing, of course. It's that I like his manner of singing, and that he looks a little bit old -- that, well, he looks closer to my age than most of the other singers.

Curious bunch, this 24, though, with what feels like a lot of recycling of personality types from previous rounds -- a brash in-your-face personality reminiscent of Mikalah, a crooner a la John Stevens, a young man with unconventional looks and a big voice who invites comparison to Clay Aiken (and I think Simon may have already made that comparison), and others. We'll see if this makes for a good show, or if it feels a little second-hand.

I was disappointed in the way the show handled the Hissy Twins. Pretty funny to end their tale with TV newscasts about their legal problems, although I wonder where they were in the whole business when that happened. We know they both made it through the elimination on Tuesday's show, so you would think they would have still been around for the winnowing to 24.

If they had been, were they picked for the top 24? (News reports had them saying they were ''uninvited'' after their problems became public, suggesting they intended to keep going.) If so, was there a little TV magic at work here -- a couple of people who were eliminated and then un-eliminated, or held back as alternates if something happened? If they didn't go on, why not just show them getting booted and then explain what happened next? And if their elimination came between the Tuesday telecast and the Wednesday telecast, I would have loved to see them receive the news. Sort of like when the ''Real World'' producers have had to intervene on-camera.

This way, we were set up for a big moment that never played out on TV.

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