TV column for Tuesday, May 22

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,”
8-9 p.m., Fox.

A promising season stumbled last week,
when the immensely gifted Joshua Ledet was ousted. That leaves the
possibility of a fifth straight white-male winner – Phillip
Phillips, 21.

Standing in his way is Jessica Sanchez,
16, with an amazing voice and a subdued personality. Each will choose
one song from earlier in the season; also, producer Simon Fuller
chooses a song and the third will be a new one, planned as each
person's first single.

p.m., Fox.

Even on TV, teen-agers occasionally
finish high school.

Now it's graduation day for Kurt,
Rachel, Finn and more. That may be overdue:The actors playing those
three are, respectively, 21 (turning 22 on May 27), 24 and 30. Next
year, “Glee” juggles stories of high school in Ohio and the
grads' life at a performing-arts college in New York.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Civilization,”
8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings); concludes next week.

Over four centuries, Niall Ferguson
says, the world transformed. Western Europe had 16 pecent of the
population in 1500; by 1913, its empires ruled half the population,
with 80 percent of the wealth.

Why? Ferguson – a Scottish-born
Harvard professor – has explanations and warnings. China had
retreated inwardly, allowing others to expand. The West had vigorous
science and technology. And the West had competition – among small
countries, businesses, even religions. When religious beliefs
dictated, he says, the East stagnated. It's a fascinating story, told
against ancient backdrops.

Other choices include:

– “Dancing With the Stars,” 8-11
p.m., ABC. First, we get a rerun of Monday's hour, when William Levy,
Katherine Jenkins and Donald Driver had their last chance to impress
voters. Then – after lots of commotion and guest performers –
we'll learn this year's winner.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The two “NCIS” shows flip-flop their slots for tonight's
reruns. Here, the team heads to Mexico, trying to track down
hazardous material.

– “NCIS,” 9-11 p.m., CBS. After
the crash of a military plane bearing caskets, the DNA results show a
discrepancy. Soon, the team is looking for a missing Marine. In the
second half of this rerun, Gibbs and Ziva try her last known
whereabouts, in Afghanistan.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Here's a new hour of New York auditions, following an 8 p.m.
rerun of Monday's hour.

– “Dateline,” 10 p.m., NBC. Back
in March of 1992, this magazine show debuted with Jane Pauley and
Stone Phillips anchoring. Now (a couple months late) it celebrates
its 20th anniversary with clips of reports by Pauley, Tom
Brokaw, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Chris Hansen, Hoda Kotb and more.

– “Hollywood Treasure”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Syfy. Joe Maddalena has spent his life with
movie memories, but this tops anything so far. He might get to
auction off the ruby slippers from “Wizard of Oz” … and to
handle a huge collection that ranges from Kryptonite to Superman
costumes. Also, in a fun hour, he eyes The Riddler's cane and talks
“Lord of the Rings” with Sean Astin.