Gilmore GirlsSo Luke spends the entire night caring for Lorelai's pukey Paul Anka (the dog, not the singer), and all she can say is, "I don't want to set a wedding date until things are right with Rory." Not "Thank you, Luke." Not "I love you, Luke." Not "I know how much you hate dogs, especially sick, smelly, barfy dogs who just ate three lbs. of your best baking chocolate in the middle of the night when all the animal hospitals were closed and you had to wake up the town vet who was probably in his pajamas, please god tell me that he was wearing pajamas, and beg for his medical expertise, which of course means I'll never, ever be able to repay you in this lifetime or any other lifetime, for that matter, Luke." (My best Lorelai impression, thank you very much!) Boy, does she have him wrapped. "There are lots of ways I can screw up this relationship," he tells the vet. "But I can't lose her because I killed her dog." He should be more worried about her screwing up the relationship and she needs to focus a lot less on the dog. But instead of making things better, she's hell-bent on filling the hole Rory's left behind. From the dog-for-daughter replacement to her obsessive need to mother the carpenters (the workers, not the singers) to the creepy/compulsive way she pumped Paris for information, Lorelai is jonesing for her Rory fix. Who needs who more? We're not seeing Rory stare longingly at her cell phone. We're not seeing her drive by the Inn. We're not seeing her pump Paris for information. Sure, she looked miserable watching Yale orientation go on without her. And who could miss that dour Grams Gilmore look on her face as she was being inducted into the DAR? Still, neither heartache had anything to do with Mom, who has her nuptials on hold until her daughter finds her way home. She better not put it off for long, or she might miss out on a wild and crazy wedding with

Paul Anka. (The singer, not the dog.) We hope.   Robin Honig

The Amazing Race: Family Edition
Although The Amazing Race is one of my favorite shows, I wasn't looking forward to this family edition but when I heard the theme music, I'll admit I jumped up and started dancing around my apartment. This installment doesn't disappoint. With 10 teams of four, there are a lot of people on screen. It's a testament to the producers that after one pit stop I pretty much have all the teams in order. There's a good bunch of eager players starting with the Godlewski sisters, henceforth known as "the Pink Ladies." They are an excitable bunch, squealing with delight in New York City while searching for the town of SoHo. I figured they'd be lightweights, but they were first on the mat and won 20 grand for being so. Nice. Even more rewarding were all the shout-outs to the first season, especially guest participants Kevin and Drew. (Extra points to me for identifying them before they dropped their own names.) Ah, memories. I'm well aware all this nostalgia supports Season 1's DVD release, but I don't care.

Since it's the family edition, I was not surprised to see racers asleep on the job for the first time. Kids you'd expect that including young children would slow a team down. It did for regular folk like the Black family, who was nearly swept downstream to Trenton (yeesh!), but not for the superhuman Gaghan family. These marathoners are pretty gung-ho and look to be in the race for the long haul. Teams traveled from Brooklyn to Amish country in Pennsylvania by way of Washington Crossing. It wasn't hard to predict that the Black family would be the first cut; speed just wasn't their M.O. The Linz family barely missed elimination by pulling a Gretchen-and-Meredith elephant maneuver. Swap out of the buggy, guys! Then there are the Paolos. Let's call them argumentative. This week's best moment was Mama Paolo urging the Revolutionary war reenactor to "speed it up a bit" as he solemnly folded the flag.

By show's end we'd had a whole leg without an airport experience. Guess we're sticking to North America this season, which is fine. It shakes things up and gives us a break from the equalizing effect of group flights. As usual, the race is a thrilling ride, but I hope next season the one I'm going to be on (I say this every year) will be back to globe-trotting, because I plan to dance on the winner's mat.   Rhoda Charles

House
For a second I thought I was watching Desperate Housewives: Here's Cuddy, running around in belly-baring exercise wear, and her Hispanic young handyman, who can't say no to his sexy employer. Yes, I said sexy. Surely you haven't missed Cuddy's transformation? Three weeks ago she was sporting a white ruffly number straight out of a '50s secretarial pool. This week she's a tank top-wearing, nightgown-donning woman. Those writers are planning something. Raise your hand if you're up for a House-Cuddy-Stacy triangle? Yeah, mine's not up, but that doesn't seem to matter, because I see a tangled web on the horizon. Chase said it best: "You two are just too nasty to each other not to have been nasty." You can't beat British logic. Either way, I believe House when he deflects Chase's suspicions with a precious comeback: "Hey, I can still be a jerk to people I haven't slept with. I am that good." I betcha Cuddy will declare some sort of attraction to House, who will be too into Stacy to fulfill Cuddy's fantasies. She in turn will end up enjoying Wilson's bedside manner, leaving House out in the cold. Hold on to your gurneys, it's going to be a bumpy ride! Wow, I just turned that triangle into a square. Somebody stop me! Despite my doomed vision for a Cuddy-House relationship, their chemistry was pretty palpable this week. They bicker like husband and wife already Cuddy: "Are you being intentionally dense?" House: "Huh!" but in the end they still respect and care for each other. Love story aside, it was nice to see Charlie Robinson of Night Court fame in the B-story line on racial politics and healthcare.   RC

My Name Is Earl
Today's homework, class, is to look up Kathryn Joosten's résumé on IMDb. You might already know that she just won an Emmy for her guest work as Mrs. McCluskey on Desperate Housewives, and that she was the president's secretary on The West Wing, but damn, this feisty lady gets a lot of work in every show on the tube, and a whole bunch of movies in between. Tonight she's Donnie's mom, the last-minute addition to Earl's list, and she wields a mean large-print Bible. If people keep getting added to that list at this rate, this show's going to have to last longer than Frasier for Earl to get any kind of good karma. That just means more wacky characters for us to enjoy, like crazy-eyed Donnie, who found Jesus while in the slammer for Earl's water-gun holdup of a doughnut shop. He's got a tattoo of Moses parting the Red Sea on his butt, but thankfully, when Earl asks him "What would Jesus do?", Donnie peeks under his shirt and talks to the Jesus crucified on his chest. The ELO soundtrack playing in a montage while Earl and Donnie's mom quit smoking was a special touch. Also, I'm wondering if rights to Betty Boop are easy to come by, 'cause she keeps showing up on all the TVs in this show. I just hope all the fancy guest stars don't relegate vengeful Joy and Crab Man Darnell to running sight gags. They crack me up and more than any of the other characters, they remind me of people I knew growing up in Central Florida but their act could age faster than a chain-smoking Bible thumper whose bumper sticker reads "Jesus is my airbag."  Sabrina Rojas Weiss

The OfficeWhat has two thumbs and loves The Office? This girl. OK, that joke doesn't so much work in print, does it? You know you're in for a real treat when your sitcom starts out with an "adult content" disclaimer. And let's face it, this week's visit to The Office had an awful lot to live up to after last week's masterpiece of a season premiere. Truly, the "Dundees" were a wonder to behold; I defy you to look at a Chili's the same way ever again. Fortunately, the fine folks at Dunder-Mifflin didn't let me down in Episode 2 there's nothing like a good sexual harassment seminar to keep things painfully hilarious. If there's anything better than a good punch line, it's the awkward pause right after; in fact, I'm pretty sure this series boasts the best reaction takes on television. (Shh, don't tell Jason Bateman I said that. You know you're still my main squeeze, Michael Bluth.)

Are you guys gonna totally make fun of me if I confess how much I'm loving Jim and Pam's tortured nonaffair? Seriously, I just want to eat them both with a spoon. So sweet, so unassuming, so very perfect in a show that's got me gleefully cringing the other 21 and a half minutes. Let's not go and mess it up by actually letting these kids get together, shall we? I wonder if series writer and costar B.J. Novak's accepting suggestions over at his TVGuide.com blog   Chana Shwadlenak

Commander in Chief
Hey, I'm all about daring to imagine a world in which a woman can become president. But do we really want her to take the office as the result of an elaborately rhetorical double-dog dare? Come on, Donald Sutherland, surely you must have seen enough Looney Tunes in your day to know a little something about reverse psychology: Wabbit season! Duck season! Blam! And you're left with a face full of gunpowder, wearing your nose as a hat. And if you're not gonna follow the teachings of His Most Honorable Bugs Bunny, at least remember who you're dealing with they told Geena Davis "girls can't play baseball," and she like, took over the whole league.

So as the title pretty much assures us, Mackenzie Allen does indeed take the oath and become the ruler of the free world. She also manages to rescue a Nigerian woman from certain death at the hands of her own government, wow a joint session of Congress with an I'm-ad-libbing-because-they-sabotaged-the-prompter address to the nation, and even put in a little June Cleaver face-time with her three adorable children. (Oh, and can we please talk about the adorable children for a second? Was anybody else completely skeeved out that first son Horace turns out to be baby-faced superhottie Matt from Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model? Hey, don't judge me.) And speaking of the family angle, maybe the yummiest part of the whole premise is the delicate power struggle between Mac and her chief of staff-turned-first gentleman hubby. I'm not sure how many who-wears-the-pants? discussions we can squeeze out of this thing, but as long as we get to keep on watching Kyle Secor tackle his FLOTUS duties from his pretty pink office, I'm game.

So now all the series premiere pomp and circumstance is out of the way let's see some actual governing next week, huh? Woo hoo! LadyPrez '05! Come on, people, I'm a patriot first, a couch potato second. OK, whatever... it's a tie.  CS