SUNDAY

Desperate Housewives
Susan (Teri Hatcher) has the most rotten luck. I mean, nothing spoils a romantic evening like a giant German shepherd nearly choking on a gravy-soaked earring. (Then again, since Mike is casing the neighborhood, maybe this interruption isn't so bad after all.) You can be sure such an untidy calamity would never happen to red-haired Bree Van De Kamp. Is there anyone better to play the archetypal housewife than Marcia Cross? She just reeks of plastic perfection. Good luck with that marriage counseling, by the way. If things get too tense during a session, you should either sew on another button or whip off your wig, revealing a disgusting six-inch scar (that's of course for Melrose Place fans everywhere). Since it's advice-giving time, I'd like to also suggest to Mary Alice's widower to be more careful the next time you're weighing down a trunk to throw in the lake. C'mon, dude, that's just sloppy.

I finally figured out what this show reminds me of: the surreal suburbia from

Edward Scissorhands. Not surprisingly, Danny Elfman composed music for both. On that note (totally unintentional pun. Sorry.), Mrs. Huber (Christine Estabrook) could be a 21st-century Mrs. Kravitz (you know, from Bewitched? "A-b-n-e-r!") and Lynette (Felicity Huffman) has shades of Lois, the mom from Malcolm in the Middle ("Boys!"). With that said, this well-crafted drama takes all these elements and makes a seriously addictive show.

Frankenstein
Yikes! You know what's really scary about USA's monster movie? If this Mary Shelley takeoff were to actually become a series (at one point it was a possibility), there might not be enough gloomy shadows and clunky dialogue to keep it going on a weekly basis. This update of the classic horror novel takes place in modern-day New Orleans with the original creation (Vincent Perez) now having walked the Earth for over 200 years. And it looked like he was one of several superbeings (two hearts, ultra-dense bones, etc.) engineered by the eccentric doctor. Too bad that they're either suicidal, homicidal or both. Adam Goldberg was mostly mentally sane as a too-quippy investigating detective, but I'm sorry, despite a solid turn in Saving Private Ryan, he's still crazy Eddie from Friends to me.

Inside the Actors Studio
After having watched Jennifer Lopez share so much of herself during her candid conversation with James Lipton, I feel almost guilty taking a cheap shot at the Anaconda/Gigli star for appearing on a show that focuses so seriously on the craft of acting. Oops — wait, was that already kind of a dig? Well, any interview that starts with a reference to the star's hard-won Blockbuster award and includes the question "What drew you to role of Mary Fiore in The Wedding Planner?" is just asking for it.

60 Minutes
Two things:
1. During the Queen Latifah profile we heard her new version of "California Dreamin'," and, damn, it was good.
2. For once, Andy Rooney's crazy-long eyebrows didn't distract from a very clever line he had (frankly, I think he's not trimming those white caterpillars just to be stubborn or to drive his CBS makeup person absolutely insane): "We 'decided [voters]' are so absolutely certain who we're going vote for — or who we're going to vote against — that nothing the candidates say is ever going to change our little minds. Our man could say he was going to declare war on Switzerland or raise taxes on the homeless, we'd still vote for him."

MSNBC News
Flipping around late on Sunday, I came across the news on the cable channel about Christopher Reeve dying. Celebrities die all the time and you feel a little "blip" of sorts when you hear about each person's passing, but this time I literally gasped and felt such sadness. My heart goes out to his wife and family.

SATURDAY

Saturday Night Live
Considering that the opening sketch was a parody of the town-hall debate from the night before, I bet it's safe to say that the SNL writers and cast, especially Seth Meyers and Will Forte, got even less sleep than usual. It wasn't bad, but the best line of the night came during the "Prince Show" from Amy Poehler as Sharon Stone: "Who says you can't be 29 and sexy?"

FRIDAY

The Presidential Debate
Ah, the debate. So for the last week I've been thinking how to write about this without offending anyone. But this is a TV event — much more so than the conventions, which are really for the delegates — so it's fair game. Hey, they didn't hold this for just those 140 members of the audience.

OK, with that preamble out of the way, it's safe to say that, unlike last week, when it seemed that the majority of viewers felt John Kerry won, this heated exchange probably satisfied each candidate's most ardent supporters. If you like Kerry, you probably thought he gave a solid performance; if you didn't, maybe he seemed to drift into "Senate-ese" at times. Now if you like President Bush, you probably felt he was energetic and enthusiastic; if you're not a big fan, you probably thought he was a bit over-the-top. Talking over ABC's Charles Gibson was an interesting choice, certainly. While you could argue that the President is the President and he had something to say, it still would have been smoother to just wait until the next question to address it, much like Kerry (and Edwards and Cheney on Tuesday) typically did.
More observations and questions:

1. Poor Charlie Gibson, you just had to feel for the guy. While he did a fine job, his moderator role seemed particularly thankless, and, to top it off, his closing (with a clearly visible TelePrompTer) was drowned out. And, I wonder, how low can a pair of glasses rest on your nose before they fall off?
2. That audience had some smart, focused questions. They were at least as good as the selection from the first debate and the vice-presidential one.
3. Was I the only one who was a little tired of hearing nearly the same phrases from each candidate over and over again? I feel for those journalists who have to follow Bush and Kerry around to each campaign stop and listen to their stump speech until their eyes roll back into their head. For instance, Kerry's line contrasting his mistake in talking about the war with Bush's decision to go to war was arguably effective the first time, but it obviously lacked spontaneity in Round 2. (You can't act like you just thought of something when you've already said this rehearsed statement.) And how many times can the president repeat the "mixed messages" (from the first debate) and "wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place" bits?
4. At various points, I could almost hear the likely advice each nominee received from his team of political experts. "Now, Mr. President, don't use Kerry's name much, use 'my opponent' if you have to. And no more scowling, hold it in check. You can do it. And be energetic and on-the-attack. Lots of blinking, on the other hand, that's OK." "Senator, use each audience member's name when you answer a question. We need to project warmth. And no matter how far away we've moved from a topic, go back to it if you need to clarify anything about liberal labels." Ironically, when each man was truly himself at various times, you could say that these were their strongest moments.
5. So did the president not remember he had an interest in a timber company at one point (as we found out in the post-debate wrap-ups), or was this reference's seeming randomness just too tempting not to fool with?
6. Wow, there were a lot of facts being thrown around tonight (unfortunately, incomplete on both sides). Say what you will about these guys, that's a lot of information to have in your head at one time.
7. And lastly, on the trivial side: When the CBS announcer used the phrase "Campaign '04" (pronounced "Oh-Four"), it just didn't have the power of "Campaign 2000" or "Campaign '96" (and so on).

Star Trek: Enterprise
It's tough times for Trekkers these days. But last season's finale and this season premiere should provide a little hope. The major problem I've had with this latest Trek spin-off is that it was rare for me to feel an underlying tension, a sense of unpredictability, as each by-the-numbers plot unfolded. I can thankfully say that that feeling of coiled suspense was back this time around, thanks to the temporal cold war finally exploding into "an all-out conflict." You had aliens as Nazis, the Suliban returning, an alternate reality and a rather repulsive, time-ravaged temporal agent (boy, Daniels sure looked gross). It's been a while since I've said this, but I can't wait for next week.