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Best bets: ‘American Idol’ returns, minus Paula

Paula Abdul has left the judges' panel, but Ellen DeGeneres has joined. Also this week: "The Book of Eli" hits theaters; "The Hurt Locker" comes to DVD.
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TVIt's baaaack. "American Idol" has returned, with new judge Ellen DeGeneres replacing Paula Abdul. How will witty DeGeneres, who lacks a professional music background, fit in with the other three judges? If you've ever watched even an episode of this show, you know what else to expect — crazy delusional singers, a few great discoveries, lots of Simon Cowell snark, and by the end, a new "Idol." (Season premiere Jan. 12, 8 p.m., Fox.)

Jack Bauer, a grandpa? Somehow we think the star of "24" is not quite ready for the nursing home yet. Also, if his cute little grandchild somehow wanders into harm's way this season, we'd like to smack the producers with a big copy of Dramatic Cliches. The click starts ticking Jan. 17 with the first half of a two-night premiere. (Season premiere Jan. 17, 9 p.m., Fox)

Who's ready for some bad medicine practiced by very pretty people? "Grey's Anatomy" returns this week after a more-than-a-month hiatus. Will Meredith and Derek live happily ever after? Will Izzie and Alex rekindle the romance in their marriage? Come on, have you ever seen the show? (Jan. 14, 9 p.m., ABC)

So "The Road" wasn't depressing enough for you? Denzel Washington stars in yet another post-apocalyptic movie, "The Book of Eli." In this one, Washington guards a book that could redeem the lost society. This one's an action flick, and Washington received martial-arts training from Bruce Lee's protege Dan Inosanto, according to IMDB. (In theaters Jan. 15.)

DVDThe National Society of Film Critics selected "The Hurt Locker" as its . While the group's choices rarely mirror the Academy Awards, they're not the only ones shouting “Locker’s” praises. The New York Times called the film "the best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq." Check it out for yourself on DVD this week. (Out on DVD Jan. 12.)

Japanese film "Departures" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film last year, surprising many who thought Israel's "Waltz with Bashir" or France's "The Class" would take that honor. The film focuses on a man who apprentices in the funeral industry, preparing bodies for cremation, and Roger Ebert described it as "uncommonly absorbing."(Out on DVD Jan. 12)

MusicOK Go is still best known for their fun video where the band dances on treadmills, which has been viewed more than 45 million times on YouTube. The band's still hoping that their musical cred soon outranks their "gee, that was a cool video" cred. Ira Glass says on the band's site that their new album, "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky," is "adventurously, emphatically musical — intricate, emotional, completely self-assured while it stakes out new musical territory." (Out on CD Jan. 12)

Former Beatle Ringo Starr calls his new album, "Y Not," his most personal yet. His surviving bandmate, Paul McCartney, joins Starr on two tunes, including the album's first single, "Walk with You," which Starr's Web site describes as a "moving new song about the power of friendship." If their bond could survive the craziness of Beatlemania, then Starr and McCartney's friendship is powerful indeed. (Out on CD Jan. 12)