FRIDAY

Into the West
I know one thing: I'd have never survived the Lakota life back in the old days. The two teenagers leading the buffalo stampede over the cliff before jumping off and swinging from a rope into a cave underneath? No way. I'd have been left hanging from the rope like an idiot, or I would've pulled a Wile E. Coyote and made it into the cave, only to have all those buffalo collapse the stinkin' thing right on top of me.

I'll say this, too: I wouldn't have succeeded all that well among Jedediah Smith and his guys, either. Watching your boss get his scalp ripped off by a grizzly, then having him order you to sew it back on for him? Uh... sorry, sir. I think you'll just have to buy a hat. (Of course, I still would have chosen that job over Loved by the Buffalo's being strung up by his nipples any day. Owie.) Nope, unless there was a job writing about TV back then, I'm pretty sure I'd have starved, been eaten by a cougar or ended up staked out over an anthill.

Good stuff, though I'll have to get used to the lack of Deadwood cursing. But in all seriousness, you know what? By the time I've finished watching Jacob and Thunder Heart Woman leave their respective homes, go through their ordeals and finally meet, I'm hooked — and looking forward to the rest of this. I've always been a sucker for a good Western, heartbreaking as this one promises to be. — Michael Peck

SUNDAY

Entourage
So how much do we love Jamie Pressly? Not only is she a dead ringer for my smokin' friend Sara who works at The Continental in Philly's Old City, she's also ballsy enough to mock her craptacious biker flick Torque as a way to guilt Vince into cohosting her animal telethon! Of course, I could do without her suggestion that Vince replace his Rottweiler with one of Pepito the Wonder Chihuahua's peeps. Think our small Latino buddies are a punch line or something? Please, Tinkerbell Hilton has more of a future than her owner. Speaking of futures — and Hiltons and dawgs — it looks like Nicky-dater Kevin Connolly just got a brighter one, now that Eric's booted the so-enhanced Kristin for cheating on him, bagged himself a Perfect 10 model and caught the digits of a Van Cleef & Arpels salesgirl, all in under 30 minutes. Not bad, son. Hopefully, E can give Drama a lesson in smooth before he winds up in a Page Six blind item about the washed-up actor obsessed with other men's legs. And what sort of role requires hunky calves, anyway? Usually that sort of gag is a bit too Steve Sanders for me, but mercifully there's a curly-haired sidekick in the 90210 vicinity who can actually pull off that sort of silliness. Now we just have to see if Vince can pull off Aquaman. And pull in better ratings. Seriously, people, don't make me start a campaign. It's not pretty. &#151 Damian J. Holbrook

The 4400
Noise is a part of baseball, but it's worse when you're telepathic, like luckless minor-leaguer Garry Navarro. In 1973, he was an up-and-coming star when he got abducted into the future, and now that he's in 2005 he can hear what's going on in everybody's head. It's not so bad when he's just focusing on the pitcher (he went 5 for 5 with two homers in one game), but he can't handle reading the minds of his teammates, opponents and the crowd simultaneously (good thing he's not in Philly). Garry hopes NTAC can help him, but instead of turning the sound down, they use him to spy on Jordan's 4400 center. Garry accepts, provided they treat his condition. Tom swears NTAC will. When Garry enters, he can hear a perky woman preparing her bright-eyed pitch. I couldn't help but wonder if this was how Tom Cruise was introduced to Scientology. Then, before you can say "bad guy," in pops Ian Duvat, an arms dealer with a grizzled expression that just screams "heavy." Even worse, he's swiped the drugs that help Garry focus. Luckily, Tom and Diana arrive in the nick of time to save Garry before the poor dude gets his head blown off, but for a guy who just wanted to play in the World Series, the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans are too much. Then Tom's word goes out the window when NTAC decides to use Garry on another mission. That's the spy world for you. Oh, and Richard's eerie daughter gives dad a mild seizure. Just wait till she reaches the terrible twos. — G.J. Donnelly

MONDAY

Summerland
So what would be so horrible about Ava and Johnny getting together? (Besides, isn't Sean Christian just John Stamos with shorter hair?) Why all the drama? She loves him. No, whoops, she's engaged to another guy! But she calls off the wedding! But wait, now he's seeing someone else... who, uh-oh, just died in a horrible car crash. And now she wants him back! Enough with the hot temptations and the resulting heartbreak. It will not ruin anything if these two hook up! I repeat, let's get these two into bed already! OK, now that I've calmed down a little... anyone else notice that the kids are the smartest ones on this show? Bradin shows true character by choosing old-pal Jay over a corporate sponsorship offering free boards, babes in bikinis and beaucoup bucks. Wise-beyond-his-years Derrick (and way-too-long-in-the-hair) explains to Johnny that it's OK to make mistakes in love. And even though Nikki promises not to tell anyone that Cameron's father is a drunk who beats him, I have a feeling she won't be able to sit on that secret for very long, especially since everyone talks about their problems in Playa Linda ad nauseum. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. It helps keep us up-to-date with this on-again, off-again drama, which has been pulled from the schedule how many times? But one thing's for sure: These three kids transformed themselves from bratty orphans into a sophisticated surfer/model, a budding pretty young thang and a li'l skate-punk wannabe. Let's face it, summer never looked so good. — Robin Honig

The Closer
TNT has assembled an interesting cast — Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons (the Oz guy and Peter Parker's boss) and Jon Tenney (a go-to everyman) — for what is a pretty disappointingly generic police drama. Kyra's the fish-out-of-water deputy chief who's been reassigned from Atlanta and put in charge of an L.A. murder investigation unit. She may have a sweet Southern drawl, but she's tough as nails and known as someone who can close difficult cases. Right, seen it before. It doesn't even have the cool, flashback-inspired twists like Cold Case, or a really gritty so-bad-he's-good guy like The Shield. The only truly original thing about this skinny blonde detective is that she's got a secret addiction to junk food. But in my book, watching Sedgwick have a When Harry Met Sally... moment while eating a pastry doesn't really have anything to do with crime fighting. Not to mention the fact that though I'm impressed with her interrogation skills, I can't warm up to her character at all. I feel like I should at least be interested in what happens to the lead, but honestly, I couldn't care less. The case itself, with its sexually ambiguous murderer/victim, was kind of compelling. Using the crime-solving skills that I've amassed from too much TV over the years I figured it out pretty early. I kept hoping there'd be some big twist, but I guess sometimes that's asking for too much. — Angel Cohn

Six Feet Under
Samuel Wayne Hoviak, 1965-2004. I don't know about this one. Most guys too lazy to get out of the SUV to grab their morning paper wouldn't die doing it. They'd have already sent the wife, kid or dog out to get it, and would choke on their Krispy Kreme at a stoplight. But what the hell is Keith thinking, wanting Claire to donate an egg for the child he wants to have with David? As my coworker would say, "Dude (everyone here says dude) — you really want Fisher genes in your baby?" And damn, is that puppet-faced girl creeping me out. Far worse than the Belial-like creature she left behind, even.) Synchronized birth-control-pill cycles, no exercise, no drinking, hormone injections and "harvesting" surgery done with a needle. Can David sell the donation process or what? Oh, right — intentional failure. Of course.

As for Rico's latest girlfriend going AWOL and turning out to have nothing wrong with her beyond not wanting to hang out with him anymore? I shouldn't really use the word "wrong" there, since it implies she's at fault for that. Just ask Vanessa. And does anyone really think that lie about the girl dying in order to get sympathy from his ex isn't gonna come back to bite him really, really hard? Moving on... you've gotta feel for Billy taking crap from his "friends" for not being his old, wild self. I've seen it happen all too often to former "crazy" friends who got one too many DUIs or just decided they didn't want to be "that guy" anymore. People don't like it when their buddies change. And everybody repeat after me: Poor Ruth. Poor George. Above all, poor Maggie. Get ready to add Billy and Claire to that list, too. By next week, I'm betting. — MP

TUESDAY

The Shield
So when Rawling wants to undermine the DEA plan with Antwon, she goes to Vic and Shane. She's certainly talking to the right guys to undermine just about anything... including her. Then there's the situation Dutch and Claudette face — a girl's coming-out party that ended with her dad getting shot to death. (Well, I assume it ended there, anyway — I really doubt anyone popped another beer after that happened.) Let's face it, though: That's just B-story, and this week all we care about is A. Boy, do we get it, too, with an impressive Lem fighting his way out of a three-on-one scrum at Gusano's place when he definitely would've woken up dead had he lost. "Nice job, Windtalker," Vic later tells Gusano, mocking his simplistic cipher system for phone numbers. Second week in a row this show has made me laugh rather than squirm. (Of course, watching the stoned girl vomit blood a moment later covered the squirm, too.)

"We just busted Bonilla, snagged Antwon. I think I just bought myself a little cover," Rawling tells Vic when he advises her not to make another seizure after our party-shooting B-story suddenly joins up with A. "Or we can quit while we're ahead," he replies, his words falling on deaf ears. See, here's the thing: When Vic says you're going too far, it's a good bet you are. This is the guy who killed another cop in the very first episode of this show, after all. Sure enough, Acevedo and those in power sell her out and she's on her way to the exit. (And kudos to Dutch for turning down the "company yes-man jellyfish" role when offered her spot.) So how warped is it that I'm able to see this ending as good news? Glenn Close decided not to return to the show next season, and I was afraid they were going to make the melodramatic choice and kill her off. At least now the possibility remains for her to come back for an episode or two in the future. I mean, c'mon — didn't you love what she did with the place? — MP

Blow Out
You know, I really feel for Jonathan. Stuck with two bangin' salons, greatish bone structure and a hottie sister with the Pussycat Dolls on speed-dial, it makes perfect sense that he spent so much time tonight bitching about how rough he has it. Poor guy. He probably has too much money and fame, too. Please. Of course, it's not all golden for hair's best friend. He does have to deal with that spikey-tressed tool who's designing his product line and a girlfriend who seems more into the freebie 'do and flowers than she is into the actual dude attached to them. Oh, and let's not forget the borderline unethical shrink who allows cameras into his weepy sessions. That is just so wrong, you know? As is Jonathan charging his gal-pal Jenn a thousand bucks to go from platinum rocker ho to a brunette "nugget," as he would say, although based on his comments about it having been a while since he "did her," I'm guessing she scored some sort of deep discount — wink, wink — we don't know about. What I do know is that trouble is brewing in a big way at both the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood shops now that Jon Boy's picked his team for the New York Fashion Week gig. You see that girl Kim's face? She is not happy about being left behind. Maybe he can cheer her up with a jar of that there Dirt hair paste. God knows it would make my day if I could find a place that sold the damn stuff! — DJH

WEDNESDAY

Dancing with the Stars
"G.I." Joey McIntyre jumped over Ashly's head. Wow. Didn't see that one coming, or the period costume. The young couple both looked like they were having tons of fun out there. He and John O'Hurley are by far the most fun celebs to watch, so I was biting my nails when it came down to the New Kid and the boxer in the bottom two. I was about ready to start writing my diatribe about this stupid voting system that allows people to vote for people they like, regardless of their dancing abilities. I mean, I like Evander Holyfield, and I think it is pretty amazing that he even attempted this show, but he's never going to gain the grace and lightness that you need to be a ballroom dancer. As for all the people who wrote in to tell me that they voted for Kelly Monaco because they were GH fans? Yeah, I get that, but it seems to go against the purpose of the show, which is to reward dancers based on a specific performance. If the audience vote for Kelly that was revealed tonight were actually based on her upbeat little jive instead of last week's less-than-perfect rumba, I'd be happier. And sure, I understand that she's working hard, but all of the celebs out there are amateurs, and before this week, her progress was seriously slower than the others'. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if John was serious about that Speedo comment — that certainly would add some spice to the show. And speaking of needing a little flavor, can someone please tell the band to put a little more spunk in their music? Right now they sound like the group you'd rent for your prom, and for a big national TV show, it would be nice if they were at least the kind you'd want at your wedding. — AC

30 Days
Is Morgan Spurlock trying to punish himself for being so successful with Super Size Me? He starts this painful experiment literally the day after he lost the best-documentary Oscar to the one about kids in brothels. He and his fianc&#233e, lovely vegan chef Alex, will live in Columbus, Ohio, on minimum wage for 30 days, just to see what it's like. What did poor Alex do to deserve this? Anyone who's read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed (an eye-opening and entertaining book, if you haven't) knows how this one's going to turn out. Yet the couple seem really optimistic as they move into the apartment where a homeless person was squatting the day before, conveniently located above what was recently a crack house, according to their cheerful landlord. And what luck! They find crappy jobs right away! But already by Day 3, things get serious, and the show isn't all voyeuristic fun. (At least there's an excellent soundtrack to keep me happy.) Alex's dishwashing job at the coffee shop won't pay her for weeks, while $7 an hour for Morgan at the temp labor agency actually translates to $4 an hour when you factor in transportation and waiting for an assignment. Morgan's coworker says their pay is less than he made in his first job 29 years ago. Thanks, Morgan, for lifting the mood with silly songs about picking up trash and pronouncements like, "It's like heaven, with boxes" about your workplaces. Cartoons help, too.

I wish those politicians who've kept minimum wage at $5.15 since 1997 would watch this — or at least the people who voted for those politicians. When disaster strikes in the form of Alex's infection and Morgan's hurt wrist, I'm about to give up on mankind altogether. At least these two can ignore their astronomical hospital bill until after the experiment is over, what does everyone else do? As their bank balance sinks lower and lower, I'm getting really stressed out for them, not to mention cold while watching them wait for the bus all the time. It seems a little foolish of them to invite Morgan's teenage niece and nephew for the weekend, so they could see how people manage to spread the money even thinner with kids to feed. Good call though, buddy, forcing Alex to go out to dinner with you for her 30th birthday. That $20 meal may have blown the budget, but I have a feeling it saved your future marriage. As did Morgan's decision to host the rest of the five episodes of this show instead of participating in them himself. He says he's a better person for having done his 30 days, but I'm also sure he's pretty happy to go home. — Sabrina Rojas Weiss

THURSDAY

The Cut
Shauna wants to quit this childish reality series because it has nothing to do with fashion design. Welcome to the freakin' club, Shauna. Even though I think she may have a screw loose, she's got a point. And James is the only one who can sew! Can you see me rolling my eyes? Honestly tonight's episode was more Pimp My Ride than Project Runway, had more product placements than The Apprentice and even recycled a celeb — Fabolous — who was already on The Donald's show last season. I thought Tommy Hilfiger was supposed to be such an innovator. So far the only original idea he has is changing the teams every week. Whoop-dee-doo. However, I am glad that Princess got to stick around. I'm learning hip new phrases like "giving so much fever" instead of being hot; this brown-eyed girl even refers to her eyeballs as "cocoas." I didn't learn anything from Vlada except how to spell her name. Tommy was shaking in his oblivious little tuxedoed body, and I think Mr. Hilfiger decided to keep the socially inept but well-dressed guy because he liked his name. And while Little Tommy clearly could step into Carson Kressley's Italian leather shoes with his off-the-wall antics, the Freaky Contestant of the Week award still goes to Jeff. The wannabe believes that God put him on this reality show. Well, Jeff, I've got a hunch that the Lord giveth and Tommy Hilfiger will taketh away, very soon. — AC

Hit Me Baby One More Time
I feel bad for Howard Jones. Not only was he cheated out of winning, he also had to perform on the Night of the Crazies. I should have been prepared for the worst night yet of Hit Me Baby as soon as Wang Chung announced they'd be performing Nelly's "Hot in Herre." I love Nelly. My mom's favorite song is "Hot in Herre." When she calls me, my cell rings that song. That's why Wang Chung's version of "Hot in Herre" was basically sacrilege to me. No fortysomething British white man should ever attempt to rap. But shockingly, when compared to Sophie B. Hawkins (who I'm pretty sure was on something), Cameo (who sported a red jockstrap) and Irene Cara (who did some bizarre form of dancing), Wang Chung wasn't even that bad. I mean, they were bad — they just weren't that bad. And through it all, Howard Jones proved to be the best performer. Sure, prior to tonight I thought Simply Red sang his song "No One Is to Blame," but that doesn't matter. Even with the cheesy smoke machines working overtime, he gave a decent rendition of Dido's "White Flag."

We're three weeks into this show, and I just don't get the point anymore. The first week was cool because it had the whole nostalgia factor working for it, but that only lasts so long. Now I'm into the "Who cares?" mode. Sure, I love Fame and Flashdance, but Irene was off-key. And what's up with her plugging her new band in Anastacia's "I'm Outta Love"? She brought two new group members on stage. Isn't that cheating? What if Wang Chung had suddenly added two decent rappers to the band for "Hot in Herre"? Would that have been allowed?

Still, as I watched this show two more questions came to mind. First, how on earth does Vernon Kaye keep a straight face? He should at least have cracked a smile when Irene said how excited she was about being tonight's audience favorite. The woman won an Oscar, yet she's freaking out about this silly honor? Vern, despite his overly bleached teeth, deserves some commendation for never breaking a smile. Second, why are so many of the performers British? They already did this show in England — did these guys just not make the cut over there, or are they doing the show in both countries? And finally, when the heck is the final episode of this show? I'm really not sure how much more I can handle. — Ali Gazan