SOON it will be "American Idol" season, that sweet time of year when the world stops to crown a new singing sensation. The naysayers predicted that last year would be the year Americans stopped idolizing, and they were so, so wrong.
With the entertainment industry's writers on strike, and current scripted series expected to run out of episodes by mid-January, "American Idol" which averaged 30 million viewers a show last season, could actually become as big as, say, the Super Bowl.
But wait -- the networks, trying to prepare themselves for a world without writers, have been busy ordering up more alternative fare than ever. Along with such staples as "Survivor" and "America's Next Top Model," viewers will have a chance to pick who is the best dad, observe women taking over the universe and watch as a farmer finds the love of his life. Additionally, Howie Mandel will have plenty of company with new game shows hosted by the likes of Regis Philbin and Tucker Carlson.
No premiere dates have been scheduled, but here's the alternative programming you can expect around the dial sometime after January. (And if this is not enough, both Fox and CW say they have more coming down the development pike).
Returning: "American Idol," "Don't Forget the Lyrics" and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"
New shows: "Moment of Truth" -- A Colombian import, it puts contestants to the test using a polygraph and 21 increasingly personal questions to judge whether or not they are telling the truth for a chance to win $500,000.
"When Women Rule the World" -- This unscripted series will reveal how women and men react in a world where women are in charge and men are subservient. The participants will be brought to a remote, primitive location where the women will have the opportunity to "rule" as they build a newly formed society -- one with no glass ceiling and no need to dress to impress.
Returning: "The Singing Bee," "1 vs. 100," "The Biggest Loser," "Deal or No Deal" and "Celebrity Apprentice."
New: "American Gladiators" -- This show will follow four men and four women gladiators as they take on contestants. The contenders are weekend warriors who take pride in their fitness and want to test their physical ability. Hosted by Hulk Hogan.
"Amne$ia" is a comedy game show in which contestants are challenged to answer questions from their own lives for money and prizes. Memories will be tested and blasts from the past will be revealed as contestants wrack their brains to answer some of the most challenging questions -- often with hilarious results. Dennis Miller is the host.
"My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad" is a competition series that will finally prove the familiar schoolyard boast -- "My dad is better than your dad!" Dads will be at the forefront of the action competing with their families in a series of unique stunt-driven challenges.
"Clash of the Choirs" takes celebrity artists back to their hometowns to assemble an amateur singing group made up of everyday people. Once the best have been selected and the choirs assembled, they will compete live.
"Baby Borrowers" is a new alternative series that asks five young couples -- ages 16 to 19 -- to set up a home and begin fast-tracking on parenthood by becoming caring parents first to a baby, then a toddler, pre-teen and grandparents -- all over the course of one month.
"Most Outrageous Moments" -- A clips show of hilarious TV moments caught on tape.
Returning: "America's Next Top Model," "Beauty & the Geek" and "Pussycat Dolls 2: Girlicious."