SUNDAY

CBS at 75
CBS's self-congratulatory special had a ton of clips; but what it had the most of was uncomfortably long and strangely timed reaction shots of the celebrity audience. (Hey, there's Loni Anderson saying something we can't hear to Howard Hessman! Look, the guy next to Dennis Weaver just took a sip of water!) Still, it was a treat to see footage of shows that I've only heard about, but have never seen before, like Our Miss Brooks and The Jack Benny Show. And John Schneider and Tom Wopat each deserve a new car with doors that actually open for singing all those theme songs.

The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XIV
It's become more of a Halloween tradition than throwing eggs at passing cars (although that's still popular too).
The Opening:

  • Bart (in a Charlie Brown costume): "Good grief, this candy's terrible. Circus peanuts, raisins, nicotine gum, a library card... " By the way, I'd like to add Sweet Tarts, Good & Plenty, Necco Wafers and half-packs of Lifesavers to the list. When someone dumped third-tier candy like that in my bag, I always felt like saying, "You know what? Don't bother, old woman — I'm just gonna throw this back on your lawn in about thirty seconds."
  • Kang (Kodos?): "Pathetic humans! They're showing a Halloween episode in November." And he's holding an issue of TV Guide. Seeing that was surreal, I have to admit.
    "Reaper Madness": Homer takes over the Grim Reaper.
  • Homer's about to kill one of Grampa's elderly pals (the dude with the long beard). Jasper: "Where's the regular guy? Where's Doug?...I liked Doug."
  • For Lisa's "My Dad's Job" day at school, Homer is there as Death. When the teacher asks "Would anyone like to see Mr. Simpson harvest a soul?" a homeless guy is brought in. Instead of the "hot meal" that was promised him, he's killed. The kids cheer.
  • Homer supposedly takes Marge's life and then brings her body covered in a sheet to the top of a hill. God discovers the ruse.
    Voice of God: "Hey, wait a minute, this isn't Marge! This is her fat sister, Selma!"
    Homer (running away): "It's Patty, chump!"
    This was my favorite exchange. It's hilarious on so many levels. "Frinkenstein": Professor Frink's father (voice of Jerry Lewis) turns into a monster who craves organs and body parts.
  • Frink Sr. pulls out Ned Flanders' heart and (I think) a digestive tract; removes Principal Skinner's spine; rips open the skulls of several Nobel Prize winners; and, off-camera, appropriates Snake's tattooed arm and Comic Book Guy's giant "posterior." Mmm... dismemberment. (So, maybe these specials aren't for kids of all ages.)
  • Marge (as Frink Sr. wreaks havoc during the awards ceremony): "This is more violent than the Hip Hop Awards!"
    "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off": Bart and Milhouse find a watch that freezes time.
  • The '70s comic books include Batman and Rhoda and Superman vs. Patty Hearst.
  • Outside the Town Hall, the sign says "Recent Strange Events." It quickly changes to "Never Eat Greens," "TV Teens Get Acne," and "Gent's Rear: Ten Cents." This is pretty clever, but my colleague Dan did the real thing once. In this case, he rearranged the letters on a sign outside a church that read "Note: Thanks Dad," in honor of Father's Day. Dan changed it to: "Hank's Not Dead." I love that story.
  • Homer, Marge, Maggie and Bart turn into bobbleheads and then four different TV Guide covers. (Surreal, once again. And funny.) Lastly, they transform into the Fantastic Four. Homer is the Thing; Marge is the Human Torch; Maggie is the Invisible Woman; and Bart is Mr. Fantastic.

    Arrested Development
    Jason Bateman is a beleaguered widower who takes over the family business after his father (Jeffrey Tambor) is sent to prison. I laughed out loud when his wife (Jessica Walter) defended him to the press: "The SEC is making [my husband] out to be some kind of mastermind, which, believe me, he's not. The man can barely work our shredder." What does work, in a splendidly sick way, is the amazingly awkward crush that Bateman's on-screen 13-year-old son appears to have on his first cousin. Ewww... and yet, brilliant.

    Alias
    Evil fake Francie (Merrin Dungey) is back! And it appeared that Dixon &#151 usually a very calm, professional guy — wasn't a big fan when he said, "I want that bitch dead." Well, it almost happened, but she apparently now has some sort of hyper healing ability. Great. You know, if she gets adamantium claws, too, just forget it.

    Malcolm in the Middle
    It's hard to say which was more intentionally disturbing, Reese and Dewey's 80 lb. rabbit or David Cassidy belting out over-the-top versions of "Get the Party Started" and "Papa Don't Preach" as an unctuous lounge singer. The latter song was at least tweaked a bit: "... I've made up my mind, she's keeping my baby..." Speaking of babies, Lois remains the family's sole female member — little Jamie is a boy.

    SATURDAY

    CMT's Morning After: 40 Greatest Drinking Songs of Country Music
    Wynonna proudly announced Garth Brooks's 1990 hit "Friends in Low Places" as the number one intoxicator. Look for 40 Greatest Puking Your Guts Out Songs next week with "The Electric Slide" and Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" surely in the top 10.

    Saturday Night Live

  • The good: Host Kelly Ripa as Angelina Jolie gamely watching Amy Poehler's impression of her in the Live With Regis and Kelly skit; Chris Kattan's surprise appearance as Gelman; Ripa's faux commercial in which she chirpily endorsed a hair product that had "just a little bit of crack cocaine"; Jeff Richards as the gleefully irritating Drunk Girl; and Rachel Dratch's hot streak of portraying old ladies.
  • The bad: Horatio Sanz's way-too-long Jimmy Buffett bit and a poorly received Weekend Update joke about Price is Right announcer Rod Roddy, who recently passed away.
  • The odd: Sanz downing two Twinkies at once and the usually spot-on Darrell Hammond not quite nailing his impression of President Bush.

    FRIDAY

    Joan of Arcadia
    So it looks like Joan's geeky younger brother Luke (Michael Welch) may be getting some action in future episodes from that belligerent girl in his chemistry class. Ah... romance. And, thanks to Joan trying out for the cheerleading squad, a young girl who left her baby in a Dumpster is ferreted out. I'm pretty sure those no-nonsense Law & Order cops solved a crime like this once, too.

    Life With Bonnie
    The Halloween-themed episode had the cast made up as characters from The Wizard of Oz. The typically underused Anthony Russell and Chris Barnes were standouts as the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, respectively. And Holly Wortell was a perfectly surly Wicked Witch. A fun episode except the particularly lame old people jokes delivered by Martin Mull as Bonnie's talk show guest.