Michael Slezak
January 14, 2009 AT 09:00 AM EST

Hello, Idol addicts! I feel like my innards are currently residing atop my epidermis. Sick? Yes. But I’m so psyched to be back on the American Idol train, writing about my very most favorite show (and its very good new judge, Kara DioGuardi) that it almost physically hurts. Okay, so tonight’s season premiere was a little short on future Kelly Clarksons, but I was definitely craving a second verse of Southern gal Deanna Brown’s rendition of “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” — she can go directly to the semifinals, without interacting with Ryan, and without collecting $200 — and it seemed like the producers have lost their fascination with playing “kick-the-emotionally-damaged-child-in-the-schoolyard.” In other words, not the greatest audition episode of all time, but a promising start to season 8. Weigh in with your own thoughts below, then check back around 6 a.m. for my full TV Watch/episode recap (update: It’s live!). It’s been more than seven months since the last one, so you know I’m gonna be wordy!

More on ‘American Idol’

Slezak’s Season 8, episode 1 recap

Visit EW’s American Idol HQ
Kara DioGuardi: Meet Idol’s new judge
Slezak ranks the 16 greatest ‘Idol’ performances of all-time
Game: Pick your favorite Idol performance
The 12 songs we want banned from ‘Idol’ forever
Video: Josh Gracin rocks the EW.com offices
‘American Idol’: The 10 Worst Performances Ever

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