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‘Idol’ opens season in Philadelphia

Tonight’s must-see

“American Idol” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

While the rest of TV scrambles and stumbles, “Idol” is expected to have a huge year in the ratings.

That starts today and Wednesday with the auditions, which tend to bring an odd-lot mixture of optimism, absurdity and talent. First comes Philadelphia, which has always shown – from the early “American Bandstand” to the recent “Clash of the Choirs” – that it has lots of strong singers.

Tonight’s might-see

“Comanche Moon,” 9-11 p.m., CBS; concludes Wednesday.

Here’s the mid-section of this miniseries, which juggles opposite emotions.

On the one hand, it has the romances for the two young Texas Rangers. Gus frets that Clara (Linda Cardellini) will take the safe route and marry a local businessman; Woodrow won’t acknowledge to Maggie (Elizabeth Banks) that he’s the father of her son.

On the other, it’s a fierce action story in which both the soldiers and the Comanches are brutal and treacherous. The miniseries opened with soldiers committing a massacre; tonight, the Comanches attack Austin, the struggling Texas capital.

Meanwhile, the Comanches also have Captain Scall (Val Kilmer) in a snake pit (literally). Gus and Woodrow are assigned to a rescue mission, in a film that is sprawling and inconsistent, but interesting.

Other choices include

“Batman Begins” (2005), 7-10 p.m., FX. Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) directed this film, taking the Batman tale back to its beginning. Christian Bale stars, with a supporting cast that includes Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and more.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s an hour that was scheduled earlier, then delayed. Out of respect to a family’s Muslim beliefs, Ducky refuses to do an autopsy.

“Nova: The Race for Absolute Zero,” 7 p.m. KSPS, 8 p.m. KUID. Last week’s film was easy for laymen to enjoy, tracing the efforts to use cold for refrigeration, air-conditioning and more. Tonight’s hour is far more technical, as we see scientists get close to reaching the coldest point possible. The details are complex, but the scientists themselves are a likable lot.

“Reaper,” 8 p.m., CW. This show went unnoticed in its previous slot, but now it gets a new time. It starts over with the fun pilot film, in which an ordinary chap learns that his parents have sold his soul to Satan.

“One Tree Hill,” 9 p.m., CW. In most ways, last week’s two-hour season-opener was exceptionally well-done, with its young actors stirring complex emotions. Tonight, Brooke is moving her fashion business back to One Tree, where she’s also financing Peyton’s new record label. Kevin Federline guest stars.

“According to Jim,” 9 p.m., ABC. A food fight seems to solve the marital troubles of Jim and Cheryl, at least for a while.

“Boston Legal,” 10 p.m., ABC. Here’s another episode that was scheduled previously, then delayed. Colleagues worry, when Denny refuses help on a headline-grabbing case.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Rhea Perlman plays a vigorous defense attorney, in a case involving a secretive religious community.

“Independent Lens: Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita,” 10 p.m., KUID. Allison Kessler was 15 when a skiing accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Her father, Jack Kessler, soon changed his research, to focus on the possible use of embryonic stem cells to cure spinal cord injuries.