Succinctly and accurately described: "They go away. They hibernate — they estivate and they hibernate — until the following January, when you will have forgotten what a pain it was to follow the show week after unrewarding week, and you'll be able to feel excited by the return of the boinging theme music, and the old panel of judges, who will file in wearily and act pained that they have to sit through it all again."
It does feel like a slog. Until Fantasia sings "Summertime" and you start crying and email all your gay friends to see if they were crying too. They were! Reward!
ADDED: The Dallas auditions are tonight and I'm crossing my fingers that maybe we get to see someone who's kinda like eccentric and funny at first but then when you see how the person lives, it looks a little sad and finally when the person auditions, he or she is so terrible that all 3 judges are pretty critical maybe even cruel and that person ends up CUSSING and GESTURING and CUSSING some more for the cameras. That's my hope anyway.