My Name Is Earl
"Feliz Navibla!" Tonight teetered dangerously on the border of overly sentimental. Earl saving Christmas is too reminiscent of so many other holiday fables. Of course, over the years he'd ruined Christmas for Joy and the boys in some rather original ways, like by giving her such meaningful gifts as AA batteries, flavored condoms, and her own car keys, and by crashing the boys' bikes on a beer run. I just don't get why Earl feels he needs to repay Joy in such a generous way as giving her a car. He's probably done worse to Randy, and Randy's actually the one who won the car. I hope we get to see more of Buzz and Connie in the future. It was pretty brilliant how they started off looking like these Southern stereotypes, who'd "crap in a sock," according to Joy, if they found out she'd gotten divorced and married a black man. In reality, Connie (Brett Butler!) was leading a double life as a compulsive gambler ("Don't judge me!") and Buzz wasn't racist, he'd just been protecting Joy from dating her half brother in high school. All that was way too much plot and not enough quotable lines. OK, there was Brett/Connie's "I'm a black pot, am I? That would turn you on, wouldn't it?" dance. You can cross me off the karma list if you give us more random humor soon, Earl.   Sabrina Rojas Weiss


The Office
"Happy birthday, Jesus sorry your party's so lame." How's this for mind-blowing irony? The folks at Dunder Mifflin had their Christmas shindig at the exact same time as this year's TV Guide soiree. Which means a bare minimum of two things: A) my life is so closely mirroring television that I can no longer function independently of it (see also, me and Veronica Mars both being called up for jury duty this month), and 2) I subscribe heartily to Michael Scott's second of four reasons Christmas is awesome: "You can get drunk and no one can say anything." OK, fine, so maybe lots of people said things, but that doesn't mean I remember them now. Happy holidays! Among my many yuletide blessings this year, my cup runneth over in the supporting-cast-making-me-want-to-pee-my-pants category, as usual between Kevin's obsession with his self-secret-Santa foot bath and Meredith's farewell-to-vodka last hurrah, I'm officially spent. (Honestly, I'm not sure which was more spectacular: Kate Flannery's triumphant moment of topless glory, or Steve Carell's incredulous digital-camera snap. Kudos! Kudos all around.) Add to that the subtle soundtrack shout-out to Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" and the sheer silliness of Dwight's pointy elf ears and, well, you're looking at a true embarrassment of riches.

I hate to go all Bing Crosby on you, but the fake snow drifting down on fake Scranton made me all yearn-y for something other than 70 degrees and partly sunny to go with my tinsel and mistletoe. Call me sentimental, call me a weather geek, I don't care just call me! Wow, I'm sorry. I don't think the party's quite worked its way through my system yet.   Chana Shwadlenak

The Amazing Race
And so the leg continued taking our merry teams into Wyoming and Montana. Did I say merry? My bad  I meant grumpy. Is it so wrong to want to watch a show with people who actually like each other? Just because you're related doesn't mean you'll get along, as evidenced by the Godlewski gals. First, is Chris adopted? She's so unlike her sisters that I wonder about their blood ties. Second, what is up with Michelle and Sharon Godlewski? Evil much? I feel for the cameraman assigned to their team but at least his tour of duty is up since the four sisters were last to greet "Phil Dog" the "Philinator" at the pit stop. How much you wanna bet the Linzes won't be greeting Phil that way next week? And what was with that Silence of the Lambs moment in the car? That was a little creepy. No wonder Megan wore a perpetual scowl this leg. Her brothers are nuts! Speaking of nuts, these producers are driving me in that direction hinting at what would be an interesting dramatic turn like, say, the Weavers running out of gas  only not to deliver. The detour gave me new appreciation for the pioneers. Imagine riding cross-country with giant spoke wheels on unpaved roads. Now that would have made for an interesting race and I think Papa Bransen would have felt more at home as well. That's not a crack on his age, he just seems like an old soul. Old or new, the Bransens are kicking butt with yet another first-place win and a new car as an added prize. What was it again? I didn't catch the name amidst all of that product placement custom Buick Lucerne golf carts, real subtle. Now they've got me doing it. Next I'll be mentioning BP  you know, the sponsor with those really clean gas stations....  Rhoda Charles


Nip/Tuck
I knew from last week's previews that this plane-crash episode would be a change of pace, and it was. It even came equipped with a former X-Files cast member (Mitch Pileggi as Dr. Marcus). For a while there, I was thinking they gave Julian McMahon a week off, and then 22 minutes in, there's Christian to the rescue. That was Napoleon Dynamite's Sandy Martin so brilliantly playing Helen, the woman Julia was desperately trying to save. I like what the entire experience did for Julia it made her realize how good a surgeon she could be. It also made her get out her frustrations towards her mother Erica. When she thought the woman with the severely burned body was her mama, she was able to tell her all she wanted to tell her, even though a lot of it wasn't pretty. Then we got the now-classic Nip/Tuck shocking ending that makes us wait with anticipation until next week to find out more. How many of you thought that when Julia went to the refrigerator at the end, the Carver was going to show up? Then, poof! it's Erica, and she's not dead. I was already shocked after the pillow suffocation scene. But back to Christian. Of course he started hallucinating that Kimber was there at the accident site telling him that "death is just the ultimate orgasm of life." And good for Julia for firing Quentin. I think we all know someone in our lives just like Quentin who, according to Julia, is "someone who can only be big by making others feel small." Best line was Julia's after Quentin called her a bitch: "Maybe, but at least I'm not yours." Love it.   Dave Anderson