On Wednesday night's 'American Idol', the judges began the process of winnowing down the 42 remaining contestants down to the final 24. Let's see how many hearts Steven Tyler has a hand in breaking.

Again, for the neophytes who've never endured the torture of being a regular 'Idol' watcher, the way this particular round of cuts works is the judges sit at the end of a mile-long walkway that's dramatically lit to make the contestants feel they're marching to their inevitable doom.

After each singer packs a snack and a bottle of water, they hike to a chair in front of the judges to be told their fate. Either they're going home, or they've made it to the next round and they'll be on the live shows that start next week. The ones who are going home tend to get hysterical about it -- and worse yet, the set this year involves a stage surrounded by water, which may be unwise since there don't seem to be any divers on hand to fish out the jumpers.

Steven talked a lot about how much the judges all "fell in love with these kids," but of course that won't stop them from ripping their melodramatic little hearts out with a lot ... of ... pauses ... for ... dramatic ... effect. So it's kind of like William Shatner is the unseen fourth judge.

"How do you think you did?" Steven asked one guy, not really caring about the answer because the judges' decision had already been made. "I dunno, dude ... what we're looking for ... is an 'American Idol' ... a singer who's got all that ... and ... it's you."

Lookit little Stevie, playing the Game of Needless Tension like a pro when he's barely into his second season! Aw.

He called another guy an "ugly, great singer -- like me" and made the dude cry. Or maybe the dude cried because he was happy to make it to the next round. Whatever. There were tears and Steven caused them.

"It's funny. We're all bozos on the bus until we find some way to express ourselves, you know? And as singers, we take everything we've learned and let it all out through our singing. We feel it," he said in understanding.

More tears and Shatner pauses on Thursday night as the rest of the Top 24 is chosen. See you then.