The musical episode: A sign of confidence or the kiss of death? It's not like "The Neighbors" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) wasn't

already a tad over the top.

A tale of two New Yorkers, Marty and Debbie Weaver (Lenny Venito and Jami Gertz), who are stranded in a sterile New Jersey subdivision popu-

lated by aliens trying to pass themselves off as hyper-"normal" Americans.

The visitors have even adapted names from the sports pages -- Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye).

This sitcom has always sacrificed logic and consistency on the altar of cute one-liners. So why should the musical episode be any different?

As the action begins, Larry and Jackie beg their neighbors and all-too-human minders to take them to a Broadway musical. But Marty and Debbie are cranky. So the disappointed alien couple, feeling a bit frisky, decides to bolt the 'burbs and walk to the Big Apple and take in a show.

Larry and Jackie return deliriously happy and inspired by their first time experiencing the musical comedy genre. This is where the coy production numbers begin and consistency goes out the window. They've never seen a Broadway musical, but their homemade version is filled with knowing and snide wisecracks about Fox's "Glee" and "American Idol." Apparently, it never occurred to them to watch a DVD of "High School Musical" or "Guys and Dolls." Sorry to sound like Spock on a bad day, but that's simply not logical -- or terribly funny.

---Speaking of musical numbers, the top 10 finalists perform on a two-hour "American Idol" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14). "Idol" has been around so long and become so self-referential that the finalists will be performing "The Music of Amer ican Idols," roughly defined as songs performed by any past "Idol" winner.

And, as product placement is never far from the center of the action on the "Idol" stage, the finalists will also perform their first number as an ensemble. It's the song "Shine Your Way," from the upcoming 3-D animated movie "The Croods."

The show's promotion of this movie is significant, as "The Croods" is the first DreamWorks animated release to be distributed by 20th Century Fox. With all that corporate synergy and cross-promotion in mind, some of the musical taunts from Disney-ABC's "Neighbors" about Fox's "Idol" and "Glee" begin to make sense, at least from a business point of view. And it's another sign that like too much of our popular culture, the marketing cart is out ahead of the creative horse.


---Whitney and Alex's honeymoon getaway features a surprise guest on "Whitney" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14). A repeat (8:30 p.m., TV-PG) follows.

---John mulls retired life on "Southland" (10 p.m., TNT, TV-MA).

---A mission reunites Philip with an old lover, further alienating Elizabeth from their arranged marriage on "The Americans" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).


The 1956 documentary-style drama "On the Bowery" (8 p.m., TCM) follows the lives and struggles of discarded and destitute men. It's part of a festival of films directed by Lionel Rogosin, a pioneer of politically charged documentaries and dramas.


---Attempted sabotage on "Sur vivor" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

---The squad plans a major raid on "Boston's Finest" (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14).


---Halle Berry and Ben Hoffman appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).

---Elisabeth Moss, Dan Levy, Sarah Colonna and Gary Valentine are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).

---Jim Carrey and Richard Thompson appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).

---Jay Leno hosts Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Cuban and Jose James on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

---Jennifer Lawrence, Katie Couric and Tegan and Sara appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).

---Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin and Justin Timberlake visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).

---Craig Ferguson hosts Olivia Wilde and Windell Middlebrooks on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at