Credit: Michael Becker

‘Tis the season for American Idol pundits (myself included) and fans (yes, you!) to come out of the woodwork and tell the show’s producers how to improve a ratings juggernaut that crushes everything in its path. You know they love us for it.

Alan Sepinwall from the Star Ledger makes a case that Idol would benefit from more screen-time parity for each semifinalist — since the contestants who don’t get shown before voting gets underway (i.e., Stephanie Edwards, AJ Tabaldo) are put at a distinct disadvantage — but producer Nigel Lythgoe has no intention of making that change, saying it’s his job to produce the best hour of television possible. “If they’re as boring as hell, I’m not going to show them,” he says. “Once they do something that’s interesting or good and we believe are going to excite the public, then we’ll put them on.” This, of course, raises the question: If a singer is “boring as hell,” why in the name of all that’s holy would he or she make the Top 24? Also, Nigel, great singing is never really “boring as hell.”

That aside, as I suggested on an episode of Idolatry last year, why not run a special Saturday-night episode (or two) of American Idol showcasing the auditions of every singer who made it through to Hollywood. I’d love to see the kind of talent (or lack thereof) that the judges deemed worthy of a Golden Ticket. I’ve got three other ideas to help keep Idol on top of the ratings heap, too. Without further ado…

addCredit(“American Idol: Michael Becker”)

1) Shake up the judges’ table once the live performances begin. And no, I am not advocating Gladys Knight or Neil Sedaka sit in ever again (though Tarantino is always welcome).Instead, why not rotate the critiquing order, so Randy doesn’t alwaysgo first and Simon last? This would accomplish three things. First, wewouldn’t have to hear Randy stammer and “dawg” and “yo” for 30 secondswhile trying to choose from his grab-bag of four adjectives. Second,Paula would be forced to have an actual opinion on every thirdperformer, rather than simply mimicking Randy. And finally, Simonwouldn’t always find himself getting cut off by the clock-consciousRyan Seacrest. Don’t you HATE when that happens?

2) Focus on the contestants, yes, but please don’t turn TV’s best singing competition into Extreme Makeover: Aspiring Singers Edition.Yes, yes, it’s great that the producers have realized Season 6 focusedtoo much on guest mentors, but when I hear Lythgoe talking about how hewants to inundate us with contestant backstories, it makes me skittish.In other words, I liked knowing Carrie Underwood came from a smallfarming town, and that Elliott Yamin had an adorable mom, butultimately, it’s the performances, not the maudlin interview packages,that should be bringing me to tears.

3) Bring on Dolly Parton night! Don’t even argue with me that this would be the greatest evening in Idol history.

That’sall from me. (Except for a brand new “Idol Public Service Announcement” below.) How would you make Idol a better show this season?