Before giving birth to our daughter, my wife worked behind-the-scenes in the television news business. Along the way, one of her many responsbilities was making sure that everything ran on time. She spent a lot of time adding up segment lengths, double-checking the duration of pre-recorded packages, and then counting backwards to zero in the control room to ensure that the newscast ended when it was supposed to.

They could have used her at “American Idol.”

Again last night, the show ran a couple of minutes over, and there’s no excuse for it. They’re down to seven contestants, who each sang a single song for about 90 seconds. Even with the Quentin Tarantino advice sessions, there’s no reason that the show should have gone long, or been so hurried that only two of the judges got to speak after each performance.

That was a particularly bad decision, because without Simon’s opinion, the judges panel is useless. Randy and Paula say essentially the same thing every week. As for Kara, last night she criticized Kris Allen for singing “Falling Slowly” from “Once” (the theme for the night was songs from movies) by wondering why he chose such an obscure song. Obscure? Not only was it the most contemporary of choices, but the tune won an Academy Award for Best Song! But I’m sure that in Kara’s mind, it’s obscure if it doesn’t fit the power ballad roster of Bryan Adams and Whitney Houston dreck that the show is already too full of. I’d rather hear “Falling Slowly” than the 18,000,000,000th version of “I Will Always Love You” (surprisingly, no one chose that theme from “The Bodyguard” to over-sing).

As far as timing does, “American Idol” should either go back to three judges (get rid of Randy first, or make it Simon alone), cut out the other interstitial nonsense, or hire my wife and her stopwatch!