SUNDAY

Entourage
See, this is why I love Ari. Only the Agent from Hell could go from denying his wife's therapy slurs about his anger to firing a mailroom guy in a full-on rage blackout. Of course, he did think the kid was a Mischa Barton-coveting junior exec who forgot to tell him that James Cameron was directing Aquaman, so it's a tad more understandable. What I don't understand is how E. hasn't blown up over the fact that they have yet to see a firm offer for Vince's superhero debut. Um, hello? Our "It" boy is blowing serious coin to trick out Brando's old place! You think that $11,000 pet shark is gonna pay for itself? What about Drama's calf implants? Let's just hope Queens Boulevard wows 'em at Sundance. Because now that Leo DiCaprio is considering getting back into the water for the King of the World's comic-book flick, Vinnie and company are going to need a lot of those film-festival freebies just to get by. And since we're talking Sundance, the Line of the Night totally goes to Ari, though there is no way I can repeat it without offending the Mormons. But consider the source and throw in a few f-bombs. You'll figure it out. — Damian J. Holbrook

The 4400
There's no pleasing some parents. Take these disgruntled moms and pops in Fairview, Wash: Several of their kids are turning into artistic geniuses, and they're mad. They don't like the idea that teenagers can suddenly sculpt like Michelangelo or paint like Rembrandt (of course if they were athletically gifted or cutting it in entertainment, that'd be another story). It's too weird even for high school, the parents think. (Either that or they're jealous. A woman I knew from college won a Pulitzer last year, and I was envious until I realized I knew squat about medical journalism.) Thus I can identify with Greg, the only kid in Heather Tobey's class who isn't a genius. Heather was a 4400 and has become a human Erato (the Greek muse who regularly pops up in crossword puzzles); she gets arrested for turning many of her pupils into superprodigies. Unfortunately, Greg's artistic talent is limited to the kind of clumsy doodles that fill up the margins of algebra notebooks. Unlike me, however, Greg's bitter dad berates him constantly, prompting a Columbine-inspired standoff in which Greg demands that Heather awaken his gift. It's like Archie Bunker saying to Edith, "Come on, CHANGE!" — except here, Greg is saying "CHANGE ME!" with a revolver in his quivering hand. Heather's muse fails, but Greg's father tearfully eats crow, so tragedy is averted. It's a tidy and predictable ending, but I don't care. It makes me think of a Connecticut high-school English teacher whom I treated shabbily when she really tried to help me. I won't name names, but I thank you for putting up with a punk like me. BTW — who'da thought Isabelle would accept Jordan? Babies. — G.J. Donnelly

The Comeback
Someone recently said to me that they thought this show was far too industry-related and if you don't work in television, you just won't "get it." I disagreed, but then thought, "Maybe he's right." I worked at Fox for so many years — of course I was going to enjoy a show like this and be able to relate to it. What happens on this show is exactly what happens behind the scenes at network TV shows. But what if I never worked at Fox — would I be able to enjoy this show? Then I talked to a nonindustry friend who told me he liked the show simply because he thought it was funny, which, of course, made me feel better. Being a fan of Lisa Kudrow was what brought him to the show, and the fact that it makes him laugh is what brings him back.

Tonight's episode was another one made better by Jimmy Burrows playing himself and being Valerie's "voice of reason." I knew he wasn't going to like it when she made those line suggestions to the writers: "Honey, stay out of it." And I recognized Henriette Mantel right away. Here she played the gal who gave Valerie the puppy, but I remember her as Alice from The Brady Bunch movies. Speaking of which, I am loving Jennifer Elise Cox (aka Jan Brady) on Six Feet Under as the surrogate mom. But back to The Comeback: I look forward to the next episode in two weeks (after they repeat the premiere next week). — Dave Anderson

The Dead Zone
In one of his E.L. Wisty monologues, British comic Peter Cook observed that "once bees use their stingers, they die" and thus bees use them on "the deterrent principle." I'm not sure what they meant to deter when they stung Alex Sinclair over 90 percent of her body at the ripe old age of 7, but I can only imagine that a) she apparently posed quite a threat or b) the bees were committing mass suicide. Regardless of their motives, the bees awakened a psychic ability in Alex that rivaled Johnny's. It's about time another seer made our hero's head spin, and Jennifer Finnigan's flirtatious Alex was a perfect foil. It was great seeing her one-up Johnny in the first half, particularly when a vision led Johnny to a parking garage where he smugly expects to surprise her. Instead, he's surprised when he finds Alex at a snooty eatery, where she's already ordered his favorite meal: a T-bone with candied carrots and, yuck, creamed spinach. "Is this where you tell me this town is not big enough for two psychics?" Being a Stephen King-inspired drama, however, the light tone quickly dissipated as the pair hunted a sniper who targeted a priest and a doctor for failing to heal his comatose boy Charlie (a fixture of Alex's visions). It climaxed in a church, with Alex near death from an allergic reaction to a beeswax candle and Johnny trying to persuade the bereaved dad not to gun down a man of the cloth. I almost needed a cloth myself to wipe away the proverbial tear over Alex's departure, but to quote Johnny, "How can two people who see everything ever have a relationship?" Before I could reply to the screen he added, "Sure would be fun trying though." Would be fun watching too.— GJD

Queer as Folk
OK, this may be the dirtiest show I ever write about. Seriously, there are times when it feels like I should be wearing a trench coat loaded with quarters. But beneath all the, um... topping, there's an addictive, emotional soap. And not just the kind that gets dropped in the shower. So, since it's the last hurrah for the gang, I've decided to set the Liberty Ave. habitu&#233s a place at the Watercooler table. And boy, did they bring something to the party! We got Mel and Linds inching toward a reunion after Lindsay's mom set her up with a dude; Ted finally humiliated the fella who, uh, pity-somethinged him back in 2002; and, of course, there was the whole ruckus over Proposition 14, which basically strips anyone with a Cher album of his/her civil rights. But the best is the bucket of karma dumped on Brian. It's about time Justin wised up and left that commitment-phobe. And kudos to Michael, giving his bitchy best bud a dose of "no-he-di'nt" for blaming blondie's desire to settle down on him. I didn't realize that Mikey had it in him. Oooh, and speaking of in... oh, never mind. Let's just say that it's gonna be like "Dangerous Li-gays-ons" now that Babylon's new scraggly-haired maneater has lured Brian into a "Who can bag more boys?" bet. Though someone may want to warn Pittsburgh's health department, because once these two Valtrex ads get down to getting down, the body count is sure to be high. And, more than likely, very hot. — DJH

FRIDAY

Into the West
So let's start the concern derby early on here. Will Jethro get caught up in the gold rush and meet with disaster, or will Margaret beat him to it on her search for Jacob? (Or will Jacob, for that matter, beat them both to bad fortune, thinking his family is forever lost to him?) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner — Jethro. (Though it doesn't take long for Margaret to come real close until Ethan the photographer saves her from being assaulted by a soldier.) "There's some making more coin selling a man his three squares than standing in water all day," says Martin, Jethro's new prospecting pal. Good point. But some are making even more by selling a man whiskey, which Jethro buys plenty of. "I came out West to make my fortune," says cousin David when he arrives, looking to get into the panning biz himself. "I intend to die a rich man, not pounding iron." Well, put a period after "die" and you're quite the soothsayer, friend.

Now I have to say, if you don't mist up when Margaret finally finds Jacob, you don't have a heart. And the scene where Jacob returns to Thunder Heart Woman? A beautiful thing, too. That said, though, who decided it was a good idea to replace the actors playing Jacob, Thunder Heart Woman, Running Fox and Dog Star with older players to portray them some years on? No, I've never much cared for the old baby-powder-in-the-hair miniseries trick to age a character, but I've gotten used to it. And while I'm also used to adult characters looking nothing like the kids who played them earlier in life, having a different adult Jacob with a different voice and a... c'mon, he's a different guy! Suddenly I don't feel a bond with the character anymore. And it's not just me. Look what happened to Bewitched after poor Dick Sargent took over for Dick York. — Michael Peck

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