"Idol" saves itself

In theory, the "save" feature lets "American Idol" judges save one contestant from dismissal. Last season, that was Matt Giraud; tonight, it was Michael Lynche.

But it's more than that: Tonight, "Idol" really saved itself.

This edition only started with five really distinctive singers --and one of them (Lilly Scott) inexplicably failed to make the top 12. That left it with two great talents (Lynche and Crystal Bowersox), two very good ones (Siobhan Magnus and Casey James) and a lot of OK ones.

Then came the bizarre result. Lynche -- massive talent, massive likability -- had the fewest votes. Why? I'd guess:

a) He has an air of confidence and invulnerability. Viewers never feel like he needs their voted.

b) The peaks-and-valley effect. Sometimes, a singer will have lots of great nights and then one that's merely good. Viewers shrug if off, vote for someone else, and expect to return to him the next week. That valley could be the week he finishes last -- not because of being bad, but just because of being less great than usual.

So Lynche stood in front of the judges and was sensational again. The judges voted to save him; they also saved the show.

Here are a few of my other comments; please add yours:

1) The opening medley almost made us forget that John Lennon and Paul McCartney have written great songs.

2) We remembered it, however, a few minutes later, when David Archuleta returned to again sing Lennon's "Imagine." One of the best songs ever was performed perfectly.

3) Next week, there's no save left and two people must go. There are still four or five good prospects for that.

4) The viewers got two-thirds of it right, when they put Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly in the bottom three. But man, did they ever get the third one wrong.

5) The people who brought in a bagpiper and a didgeridoo both avoided the bottom three. Next week, it's definitely time for an accordion.