Last night’s Austin, TX, episode of “American Idol” was my favorite thus far. Up until now, the Wednesday-night showings have been two-hours long. Thankfully, Fox has dropped them down to 60 minutes. While I hated sitting through two-hours of "Idol," I was continually amazed (from a production standpoint) with the show’s ability stretch 30 minutes worth of material into a 120 minutes of TV. Someone should get an Emmy...followed by a beating.

The episode began with an “apology” from the network in regard to Steven Tyler’s behavior. I assumed it had something to do with the aging rocker’s penchant for underage girls, but in fact, it was for his use of off color language. As it turns out, the whole thing was a “joke,” as the show immediately cut to a scene on the rocker mocking someone for having a name that rhymed with f*ck. Now that’s pushing the envelope.

The Good

J-Lo’s Husband Marc Anthony dropped by for a short homoerotic exchange with Tyler, and then we were treated to the first contestant of the night. Meet Corey Levoy, a nursing student with a high pitched voice who shares a rather paculaiar relationship with his sister. The pair were separated at birth, but reunited as teenagers, and are now “best friends.” I read a similar story about a couple in Germany, but they ended up going to jail for incest. Considering Levoy has a self-proclaimed “J-Lo booty” and chose to sing a Bonnie Raitt song, I doubt we have to worry about about any man-on-woman sex, but still. It was weird.

In a moment that clearly wasn’t staged, the judges asked Levoy’s sister to come up and help judge her brother. That sort of “spontaneity” continued with the next contestant, 17-year-old Hollie Cavanagh, whose first attempt left the judges less than impressed. Luckily for Hollie, she must have been waved through in the pre-screening process, because the judges “randomly” decided to give her a second chance. And wouldn’t you know it, she nailed it! Even Randy, who had already said no, reversed his decision! Hollie celebrated with her family, and a bunch of fat housewives watching at home felt good about life for a while.

It must have been family night on the show, because the judges felt the need to bring the next contestant’s parents into the audition room. John Wayne Shultz (who made it through) is a real-life, honest-to-goodness shit-kicking cowboy. Yawn. But on the plus side, his father basically called Ryan Seacrest a pussy on national television, so that was cool.

Then there was Courtney Penry. She had a sick fascination with Ryan Seacrest, calling him the sexiest man alive. She went on to make a fool of herself, impersonating a chicken and acting like an all around asshole. I wanted to hate her. I tried to hate her. But god damn it, I just couldn’t hate her. I think that says more about the carppyness of the other contestants than it does about her.

Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink, a young couple from Arizona, auditioned together. Their constant PDAs were nauseating, but it was clearly being encouraged by the producers, so maybe in real life, the couple isn’t that disgusting. As it just so happens, Jacqueline is really fun to look at, especially from behind, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste. Good for Nick. Also, they can both sing, which is a plus.

At the end of the episode, a guy name Casey Abrams came on and sang really well, but by that point, the Vicodin was kicking in pretty hard, so I kind of zoned out. I remember something about a mini-keyboard and a beard, but that's about it. At any rate, he made it.

The Bad

Rodolfo Ochoa, dark-skinned guy with bright-green hair tried to belt out “The Circle of Life” and was quickly dismissed. This was followed by a montage of off-key cowboys who didn’t make the cut. However, one cowpoke felt the need to point out that he was “completely and utterly heterosexual” for no apparent reason. On the one hand, it’s 2011, so who gives a sh*t? On the other, only steers and queers come from Texas, so I guess I understand why why people might assume. But if he’s really worried about being perceived as gay, he needs to drop the cowboy hat. Also, he shouldn’t have tried out for “American Idol.”

Other rejects included a seven-foot-tall armadillo, a fat guy who looked like a live-action version of Cleveland Brown’s son, and a girl in a Viking outfit (or maybe it was Hermes, but honestly, who cares). Overall, it was pretty uneventful, although when the girl in the armadillo outfit left, she had to shuffle away sadly while wearing the armadillo feet. It was hilariously pathetic, and was reminiscent of David Brent getting fired on the British version of “The Office.”

The Judges

I’m supposed to write something here, but honestly, there’s nothing to report. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez might as well have stayed home, since they contributed nothing. Randy Jackson is still the only one who isn’t afraid to mock the contestants, but unfortunately, his comments are about as witty as...f*ck! I was trying to think of something witty to write, but I blanked. Maybe I need to give Randy break.