Gilmore GirlsToo bad Lorelai wasn't there to see that one, huh? Her prim and proper, buttoned-up-to-here mother giving Shira Huntzberger the blue-blood bitch slap. No actual contact occurred, just plenty of calmly delivered, sweetly stated, cold, hard insults. My favorite? "You're a two-bit gold digger who got off the bus from Hicksville when you met Mitchum at whatever bar you stumbled into." Go, Emily, go! Someone had to take down that horrible family, especially since Richard clearly wasn't up to the task. (And what took the two of them so freaking long in the first place?) While Richard did push hard for an explanation from Mitchum, he said very little to defend Rory. ("You crushed that girl!" Uh, you tell him, Richie. As if Mitchum actually

cared about how Rory felt.) I was hoping he'd actually belt the guy, but that would have been most improper. I was able to forgive Richard's horrible misstep when he got all teary-eyed watching Rory thank her guests at the USO party. It seems as if he's accepted what Rory has become: a brilliant but lost soul whose dreams were crushed by a heartless, self-righteous, wealthy snob. At that moment, no one could deny that he and Emily truly love Rory. Now whether they're going to do right by her, and by that I mean encourage her to go back to Yale, is another story. Doing so would mean ending their dysfunctional battle with Lorelai. And I am not so certain they're ready to wave the white flag on that war.   Robin Honig

My Name Is Earl
I know Earl is technically supposed to be the messed up one who's done all the bad things, but who could blame him for No. 84, "Faked death to break up with a girl"? Yeah, personally, I like doing a lot of the same things as crazy Natalie, yet tonight I'm seeing how silly these pastimes are through Earl's eyes, especially after he thought she'd be a wild biker chick. Suddenly I agree with his observations on papier mâché ("She found a way to make newspapers even more boring"), on hikes ("I like going uphill. I wish we could go uphill on the way back") and on that weird nose-rubbing thing. It's a testament to Earl's fundamentally sweet nature that the only way he can be mean to her is by kicking flowers and peeing near their picnic. Even when he pretends to be cheating on Natalie, he gets into bed with Catalina fully clothed to do it.

As much as I admire Earl for his effort, Randy is hands-down the best character of the night. I don't have enough space here to quote an example of how he often "takes a long road to a simple thought," spewing long-winded observations about men and women and life and death in an almost Socratic philosophical style. He gives professional-sounding advice about flower arrangement, then turns around and talks about the "monkey" in E.T. He owns a "stealing jacket," and high-pitched squeaking sounds make his toes hurt. He kind of makes me wish I could live a simpler life and share his sense of wonder at things like candy dishes.  Sabrina Rojas Weiss

Commander in Chief
This week on "Mackenzie Allen, Warrior Princess": "This is not Mac the President talking, this is Mac the Mother. Don't mess with my kids." And then she pulled out a semiautomatic weapon and filled the entire White House Press Corps full of lead. With her eyes. While Mom's dealing with an international crisis, the two older kids head back to school for the first time since they became the first family. Hey, I feel your pain my first day at school was always like that, too. With the secret service motorcade, the paparazzi and the News 5 chopper circling overhead just wait till you get to calculus. Then your day's really gonna start to suck.

I'm glad to see we're still getting flashbacks with the former president peel back the layers ever so slowly. So maybe Templeton's not all insidious weasel, and maybe the late President Bridges was actually kind of a tool. And speaking of Bridges, what chance does your kid have not to be president if you name him "Teddy Roosevelt," really? He's either going to rule the free world or own a car dealership.

Before all is said and done, Mac manages to overthrow a rebel government in Latin America, put a dent in international drug trafficking and share a peaceful evening with her husband and sleeping youngest child. Oh, with the beautiful tableau of the Oval Office and the mother protecting her children, your children and all the children who ever skipped merrily across this harsh and lovely Earth. It's a heavy-handed ending to a perfectly solid episode and I have to wonder how that might change with the arrival of new show runner Steven Bochco. Secret Service Agent Sipowicz has a nice ring to it, no?   CS