SUNDAY

The Sopranos
Bang! Straight through the head! And Tony B. drops like a sack of bloody cement at the feet and rubber-gloved hands of his conflicted, guilt-ridden cousin Tony. As the HBO promos ominously trumpeted for weeks, "Hell hath no fury like the Family." It's still amazing to me that I can watch a guy commit a cold-blooded murder — never mind that it's his cousin whom he supposedly loves — and thanks to phenomenal writing and a multilayered performance by James Gandolfini, I can actually, on some level, fathom his warped motivations.

Johnny Sack may be the New York big man, but when Tony leaned into him and growled, "I've paid enough, John. I've paid

a lot," I could've sworn that the physically smaller boss may have flinched a little bit there. Of course that heated exchange was rudely interrupted by the FBI approaching Sack's house and arresting him after his brief escape attempt. (Why bother, dude?) What I don't get is how Tony managed his rather sloppy getaway (that less-than-graceful slide down the snowy embankment said it all). Now wouldn't the FBI have surrounded the area in some way? And also, wouldn't Tony have called someone to pick him up at some point before he got home? Or how about a cab? Small complaints, in an otherwise eventful season finale. Oh, and before I forget, here's a great little piece of dialogue: Carmela: "Is there a number I can reach [Adriana]? Christopher: "Not that I know of."

NBA Finals, Game 1
Oh my God, do I hate the Lakers. When you're from Boston it's ingrained in you. But their overwhelming cockiness this year, their general attitude of "We'll play hard when it counts, suckers" certainly makes it that much easier. So, to put it mildly, I found it very satisfying to watch this so-called team of destiny lose the first game, 87-75, on their home court to the smothering Detroit Pistons.

Although, I have to admit that the heart-tugging halftime segment on Karl Malone finding his energy and drive from his mother who just passed away last year did make me waver ever so slightly in my all-consuming Laker loathing. I guess what I'm saying is that if there's some way for the Mailman (whose full name, per all NBA announcers, is now "40-year-old Karl Malone") to get a ring and for the rest of the Laker team to lose the series in a miserable, humiliating fashion, let's do that.

The Dead Zone
So which is it? Does Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) need that cane or not? In some scenes he's really leaning on it, while in others he seems to be quite spry without it. Just asking for a little consistency, that's all. Regardless, since this show's original premiere I have been a pretty big fan. It doesn't always hit the mark, but there have been some well-crafted and gripping episodes. And this was one of them. After last season's self-contained episodes, it was nice to see the return of Congressman wannabe and future-Armageddon-catalyst Greg Stillson. Johnny's been arrested for murder and clearly that snake isn't too upset about it. Can't wait to see the conclusion next week...

Arrested Development
It's always a bit of a disappointment when you find out that your father may have committed some "light treason" by building shoddy model homes in Iraq. Poor Jason Bateman. This long delayed season finale had a little bit of everything in it, from a clever riff on the Atkins diet to a subplot that had Maeby trying to make her cousin George Michael jealous. But one of the funniest bits was the flashbacks to Lindsay's previous business failures. There was her "photo enhancing" service called "Mommy, What Will I Look Like?" which showed parents what their infant child will look like in 50 years (not an appealing result, believe it or not). And later we saw a quick clip of a half-green dog scurrying away from her that perfectly illustrated the mishaps of her "custom pet coloring" business. The lesson to learn here? If you're going to color your dog, use a nice shade of blue or purple. Dogs just hate being green.

SATURDAY

X2: X-Men United
As a somewhat proud comic-book aficionado/geek, I will say this is definitely a superior sequel. Seeing the ending again with the very subtle Phoenix image reminded me of an interview I did with director Bryan Singer last year. (Yes, I did some copy-n-paste here): "The original ending was that she was going to be saved after stopping the water, potentially by Nightcrawler. I had a larger vision for this character, is all I'll say, and I wanted to be sure in my mind that I was going to kill her before I told Famke [Janssen]. I took her into her trailer and said I'm going to do something with your character, and she said, 'What?' and I said, 'I'm going to kill her," and she smiled and said, "Oooooh." She knew exactly what I meant and she knew it gave her more to play. Then right there on the spot we changed the dialogue." On the trivial side, since he was getting on an airplane right after our phone call, I asked him if he had taken any air-sickness medication and he said, "No, it makes me sick and I fall asleep."

FRIDAY

Dateline
It's been 10 years since the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. I imagine Katie Couric's interview with O.J. Simpson had either one of two effects on viewers. If you actually think he's innocent, you probably felt he came across as a fairly affable guy who's dealt with this tragedy as best he can. However, if you believe he did commit those murders, Simpson most likely made you unbelievably sick to your stomach. Some excerpts with my comments in brackets:

Couric: "In 10 years, the subject of their mother's death, her murder has never come up ever?"Simpson: "Never, ever." [So there was enough evidence to put Simpson on trial for murder — and he was actually found liable in a civil trial — but these older teenagers aren't somewhat conflicted by the possibility that their father had something to do with the death of their mother?] Couric: "... the civil trial determined that you were responsible for the murders of Ron and Nicole, and required you to pay their families more than $33 million. Have you paid any of that to the Brown or Goldman families?"Simpson: "Well, they seized assets of mine... What I find curious is that in the beginning, all I heard Fred Goldman — I kind of respected him for always saying, 'It's not about the money, it's about responsibility.' But ever since then, I don't think I've ever heard him speak without him saying, 'We didn't get any money.' You know. So hey, tell him to go get a job." [OK, maybe Fred Goldman has mentioned the money. But look, if that's the only way you could somehow punish the man you believe murdered your son, would you just drop it? I think not.] Couric: "... In closing, how would you like to be remembered?Simpson: "... I like to think I'm a good guy. I treated everybody the way I wanted to be treated. And I gave what I got. You know, I think I'm a good father. [Yeah, good luck on that perception. Considering everything that has happened, you are not going down in history as a "good guy."]