Is it wrong of me to want a rebus every Thursday? Probably, but that's the way it is. And with that in mind, I am prepared to say that this is just what a Thursday puzzle ought to be.
I knew something was fishy almost immediately, as most solvers probably were, when I hit 4D: Wee 'uns in Scotland (B[AIR]NS). At first I tried "B[ai]rn," thinking both that maybe "bairn" could be used as a plural and that the theme might revolve around "artificial intelligence." When I got to PR[AIR]IEDOG (17A: Great Plains tunneler), I figured out that it must revolve around "air" instead, and that even if "bairn" were able to function as a plural, that it didn't need to here. Phew!
I like it that the revealer - COMPRESSED[AIR] - uses the rebus. Sometimes I've seen it where the revealer explains, but doesn't use. This does both, and I love it! CL[AIR]VOYANT (50A: Visionary) is lovely, AST[AIR]ES (73A: Sibling duo in "Lady, Be Good!," 1924) made me laugh because of Tuesday's puzzle/review, and P[AIR]OFSOCKS (27A: They rarely cover more than two feet in one day) was excellently clued. So thumbs way up on the theme.
But what about the fill? Well, let's look at the start - 1A: Bagatelle (BAUBLE) is strong, and 1D: I.Q. test pioneer (BINET) is tough, but the crosses were all fair. Two abbreviations on the rest of the top row are iffy, and UPHOLDER (14A: Sustainer) is just barely ok, but elsewhere things pick up again. TRUDGE (70A: Walk laboriously) is a good word, ENTRUSTS (69A: Charges, as with a responsibility) is solid, KNELT (30D: Prepared to engage?) made Frannie chortle, and I thought "60A: Bouquet" was a good clue for SCENT. Sure, we get the usual helping of ESO, EMTS, EDDA, and ORS, but the good far outweighs the bad here, in my opinion. Heck, I'm not even going to complain about EVENER.