"Idol" Takes Tumble Despite Addition of Aspirational Bikinis

More than 30 million viewers caught the season premiere of the new "American Idol" on Fox Tuesday, according to early statistics -- making it still the most watched TV series debut this season by many laps.

The kickoff of the singing competition's many promised changes -- including the introduction of a fourth judge, Kara DeAnnoying, the newfound emphasis on The Aspirational, and the introduction of the Talentless Chicks with Lithe Bodies in Bikinis Free Pass -- resulted in about 3 million fewer viewers than had caught last year's Tuesday debut.

Fox will argue the show might have lost more viewers without the introduction of the talentless Chicks with Lithe Bodies in Bikinis Free Pass. Sadly, we will never know.

And because you need to know in order to modulate your level of depression/elation over this year's Tuesday rollout stats, here's a partial Tuesday debut track:

2008: 33.4 million
2007: 37.4 million
2006: 35.5 million
2005: 33.6 million

"Idol" performed exactly as you'd expect a reality TV series to, taking its biggest hits among younger viewers.

Meanwhile, good news for CBS's "The Mentalist" -- this season's one bona fide hit. It clocked 18 million viewers at 9 p.m. Tuesday, right around the time Bikini Chick was making the "Idol" male judges' tongues hang out.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 14, 2009; 2:05 PM ET "American Idol"
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