In case you missed the 4,000 promos last night, tonight's American Idol is all about Idol Gives Back. So that means lots of guest performers, lots of fund-raising and lots of hard looks at hard situations that children in the U.S. and around the world are facing.
Oh, and possibly an elimination of a contestant, too.
The show is happening in two places -- the usual L.A. theater where Ryan Seacrest and Co. usually are, plus a Pasadena arena, where Queen Latifah is playing host.
The first performance of the night is by the Top 12, resplendent in white and assisted by some unnecessary AutoTune.
Jennifer Garner is featured in a segment about the work that Save the Children does in Breathitt County, Ky. One of the families shown heats their trailer with kerosene when they have the money for it, with the oven when they don't. Terrifying.
Next, the Black Eyed Peas hit the stage in Pasadena surrounded by dancers dressed like robots.
The next segment visits a malaria clinic in Uganda, where a young expectant mother lost the fight against the disease. It goes on to explain how mosquito nets can help prevent these deaths and cost only $10. (By the way, if you want to donate, you can do so here or by calling 1-877-IDOL-AID or give $10 by texting IDOL to 20222.)
Then, some results: There is a joke about how George Lopez won the chance to "host" the results. He plays with the lights, then tells the Idols to stand up, then sit down. He decides instead to judge the judges. He roasts them. Kind of. OK, back to the actual results. Crystal Bowersox and Casey James are called to the center of the stage. She is safe; he is in the bottom three. Lee DeWyze and Aaron Kelly are next. Lee is safe, and Aaron is in the bottom three. Poor Aaron looks like he's about to throw up.
In another abrupt switch in tone, we head back to Pasadena, where Jeff Beck and Joss Stone perform "I Put a Spell on You."
Next is a heartbreaking segment about mothers dying in childbirth in Africa.This whiplash of mood changes is kind of tough to take as a viewer.
Morgan Freeman takes to the stage to discuss graduation rates in public schools today. He wants to promote physical activity and learning and introduces video of himself and Randy Jackson visiting Mound Bayou, Miss., and examining the work that Save the Children is doing there.
The next performer is last night's mentor, Alicia Keys.
Ryan checks in with Russell Brandt and Jonah Hill and a goofy segment about a phone bank that is so painful that I would rather watch the malaria segment again.
Back in Pasadena, Carrie Underwood takes to the stage to perform "Change."
The next segment shows Ellen DeGeneres and David Arquette checking out the work that Feeding America does in Monrovia, Calif. Then Ryan visits with Bill and Melinda Gates to talk about why they have put their support behind the Global Health Fund.
Wanda Sykes comes out to roast the show a bit, and it's a lot funnier than George Lopez or Russell Brandt and Jonah Hill's appearances.
Oh, right. Results: Siobhan Magnus, Michael Lynche and Tim Urban join Ryan at the center of the stage. Siobhan is safe. So is Mike. Which leaves Tim as the last member of the bottom three.
David Cook comes to the stage to talk with Ryan about a trip he took to Ethiopia. He visits a school that tries to save girls from troublesome situations in Addis Ababa.
Annie Lennox visits with a 7-year-old girl who has pneumonia and AIDS, which could have been prevented if her mother had had access to anti-retroviral drugs when she was pregnant. It's totally heartbreaking; the little girl weighs what a 1-year-old should weigh. Annie was supposed to appear on the show, but she couldn't get to L.A. because of the Icelandic volcano. There is a second segment, when Annie revisits the young girl a few months later, and she is doing so much better thanks to good medical care. Then Annie performs on tape.
Next, there's an all-star performance of "Stairway to Heaven," with Mary J Blige, Randy Jackson, Travis Barker, Orianthe and others. Not sure I got everyone there.
Next, we see Simon's report on the Children's Health Fund's work in Douglas, Ariz., which had no pediatrician until this mobile medical unit moved in.
In Pasadena, Elton John joins Queen Latifah on stage. He talks about the Elton John AIDS Foundation's work for a bit. He performs "Your Song."
Finally (FINALLY -- It's 10:16!), it's results time, well, after the break anyway.
Next week's mentor is Shania Twain, and the theme will be her music, Ryan announces before the results.
Bottom three time: Aaron Kelly is safe. Tim Urban is going home, and Casey James is safe.
And this ends the longest episode of Idol EVER. Sheesh.
(Photo of Simon Cowell visits the Children's Health Fund and their new mobile medical unit in Douglas, Ariz., courtesy of Fox)