SUNDAY

Deadwood
"Even in an Eden like this, wrongs sometimes occur." — Sol Star

That they do, Sol, but at least in the beginning of this hour, we seem to get a brief respite from the mayhem. Here we have a setup episode, which, given the action we've seen in Deadwood's previous two weeks, is perfectly understandable. And it's some good setting-up, too. A scary power broker's operative shows up in town; the hapless E.B. tries to con him, and Joanie and Maddie have ideas of their own (which I'm betting have better odds than E.B.'s quick-to-form disaster). In the meantime, Alma's planning to make E.B. as miserable as she can, even though he's already doing a great job of it on his own.

And oh, the painful climax. Remember when I said that all of Al's ills couldn't have happened to a nicer guy? If you're thinking I'll say the same about tonight's little stone-passing activity with Doc, you've got gleets on the brain. (And I'm only too happy that the family nature of this site prevents me from going into any more detail.) Nobody has that coming. Nobody. Hell, I'm not even sure we deserved to watch it.

And speaking of watching, your eyes aren't deceiving you. The actor portraying the newcomer, mining-company scout Francis Wolcott, is played by Garret Dillahunt, who also played Wild Bill's killer, Jack McCall. — Michael Peck

MONDAY

24
Did Jack finally make a huge miscalculation by agreeing to make himself a hostage? There must have been a better way to get to Marwan. In fact, Tony's idea of capturing Joseph Fayed was a lot less dangerous and totally doable. After all, Jack and Dina were able to walk up to the guy's house and knock on his freaking door! Seems to me CTU would've had a pretty good shot at dragging him in for a light evening of torture and questioning. Looks like that's how Jack will be spending his evening. Meanwhile, who really thought that Dina would shoot Jack? It's times like these you think, "No way they're gonna kill off the star of the show." And, of course, you're right. I was bummed to see Dina go, and in such an awful way (though I'm looking forward to Shohreh Aghdashloo's Emmy nod). At least Chloe's back and in command, working the satellites with furrowed brow and clenched jaw. (Am I weird for thinking there's sexual tension between her and Edgar? Those two need to have a secret makeout session in one of the torture chambers.) And last but not least, poor Audrey. Not only is her husband possibly dying, but her boyfriend leaves for a dangerous mission without saying goodbye. Can't anyone catch a break? — Robin Honig

Medium
Hands-down the best ep of the season. Loved the flashbacks and the way Allison became part of a 1960s TV sitcom. (Naturally, "I Married a Mind Reader" would be a medium's favorite show.) In fact, Allison's "time traveling" reminded me a little of Quantum Leap, only she was fixing problems in the present, not the past. Kinda makes me wish they'd do more episodes like this one. It's pretty cool to see the hair, clothes and the homes from that era (producers did a great job re-creating the decade); even the black-and-white filming of the sitcom within the drama was very Bewitched (get it?).

Deliberate in-joke: Anyone catch the nod to Pierce Brosnan? Henry told Dorothy he couldn't do Bond because he was tied down to a TV show — exactly what happened to Mr. Remington Steele. The reason for the shout-out? Medium's creator, Glenn Gordon Caron, used to write for that show. — RH

TUESDAY

The Amazing Race
I think there were four races this time around:
1) Who would come in first: Yeah, Rob and Amber won. They're either good, lucky or good at being lucky. What's really "amazing" is that the other teams haven't devised a way to slow them down yet (at least on camera they haven't).

2) Who would come in last: Unfortunately, it was Susan and Patrick who encountered an unusually haggard-looking Phil Keoghan at the end of the day.

3) Who was the least likable: This was a little closer than it has been lately. Usually Team Survivor blows away anyone and everyone in this category, but Ray came up strong on this leg. His stream of comments demeaning the other competitors provided a close finish. For instance: "Those people [Meredith and Gretchen]," he said, "don't belong in this race with us." Hmm, which one to choose... Oh, let's just call it a tie.

4) Who was the most pessimistic: Another tough call. As night fell, Gretchen and Patrick were the chief sourpusses for their respective teams. Patrick, the admitted "realist," nails this particular contest, though. (Patrick: Bet you thought you'd lose this one, too, right? Get it, dude? Aw, c'mon, just kidding.)

You know, when it gets down to this many teams, I almost wish there wasn't the constant threat of elimination. Of course, it substantially adds to the tension each week, but whenever a duo bites it (and I don't mean the meat from last week), an element is lost. Is there some way the producers could incorporate the NASCAR way of racing? That system has drivers earning a certain amount of points for each race, but they all have a chance until late in the season. My colleague Rob, TV Guide's expert on all things NASCAR and Carol Channing (long story), will be so proud that I actually — sorta kinda — remember this. — Danny Spiegel

House
I do so love when television not only entertains but educates us as well.
So, class, what obscure medical factoids did we glean from this evening's episode?

1) If you have a genetic condition known as OTD — avoid steak!
2) If you're taking Interferon meds to treat your Hep C — avoid Chinese herbal smoking-cessation lozenges!
3) If a young child starts shoving small objects up his nose — don't panic! It could be a sign of advanced intelligence; look for the pattern!
4) If you suspect that someone's just faking their coma, hold a Nintendo DS next to their head and wait for a response — then call 911!
5) Estrogen — it's not just for menopause!

Danny Nucci is plenty convincing as a wise guy, no? When he told House to do whatever it takes to keep his brother Joey in the hospital or, "one by one, I'll take away things you love until there's nothing left," I was shaking — with laughter, that is. All the cantankerous doc had to do was hand over his Nintendo DS and cane and say, "OK, now what?"

The real villain, of course, is Vogler, who represents everything that is unholy and terribly wrong with profit-driven modern medicine when he makes it perfectly clear to Dr. Cuddy that House has to go. "This is a business, that's all it is. You like him; that's bad for business." I think House should give the mob boys back the '65 Corvette and ask for a little help with the new administration instead.

So Joey comes out of the coma, case solved, everyone's happy — but hold on. We still have 20 minutes of show left. What gives?! Oh, wait, there he goes, comatose again. Just can't seem to make up his mind. Thanks to the contents of a little boy's nose however, House manages to solve the medical mystery as well as the bigger mystery regarding Joey's sexuality. Turns out that going into the witness protection program might be a ruse so that he could "come out." And while Joey's intern-slapping brother may not want to hear it, House won't let him bury his head in the sand, which gives us the best exchange of the night:

Bill Arnello: He's not gay!
House: Maybe not gay, but certainly delightful.

Only House could say that to a mobster's face and walk away unharmed. — Dan Roberts

WEDNESDAY

Survivor
OK, I know it's wrong to take so much delight in other people's suffering, but it's kind of fun to watch the Ulongers get their hopes up, fail and then watch Jeff's disgusted head shake when they show up at tribal council again. Pretty soon the Kororians are going to have to sit out almost their entire tribe at each challenge if the Ulongers don't step up their game. Stephanie, however, might be better off dropping the dead weight she's dragging around — she took home that reward challenge almost single-handedly.

And I was glad to see James go instead of Ibrehem, especially after James' particularly delightful quote: "Ibrehem's overstayed his welcome. He was meant to go last time but by the grace of Allah he didn't. My God says he is [going] today." Charming, truly. For that alone the knotty boy deserved to be hung out to dry. — Angel Cohn

Alias
I almost wish they'd use subtitles all the time on this show. At least that way it would be easier to make sense of the mishmash of names, covert organizations and faux-techno jargon that's thrown around whenever new missions are assigned. Prior to this episode, I liked Mia Maestro just fine, but this performance rocked. You name it, she did it — from a tragic death scene to her restrained exchanges with Sydney and Sloane. Muy bueno.

So it appears that both of Irina's resourceful, butt-kicking daughters were approached and trained by criminals posing as national intelligence agents. Adding to this week's coincidence roundup was Vaughn's Lisbon trip, which revealed that his father (are we thinking dead or not now?) had delivered Nadia to Sonia Braga's orphanage years ago. And what the hell did "Nightingale" mean? It sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. So much to digest... wait — I almost forgot — Marshall and Vaughn will be grabbing lunch together at some point in the near future, too. Wow, that was a jam-packed installment. — DS

American Idol
How about that? Somebody figured out how to screw up the voting process and still give us something to be happy about! Replaying Tuesday's performances to make up for some fubu graphics slipup, this do-over was more than just Fox serving the egg on their face with a side of rehashed sounds. Simon finally got to have his say about the singers without Paula the Human Pom-Pom on Percocet getting all up in his gravy, Seacrest got the voting phone numbers right, Pepito the Wonder Chihuahua got a full hour of scratches and we got to see those smashing numbers from Vonzell, Carrie and Nikko once again. Honestly, aside from a series of way raunchy "leaked" Pat O'Brien voice mails, those three were the best things I heard all day. Unfortunately, we also had to relive Mikalah's full-frontal attack on Taylor Dayne and Nadia's mohawk, but hey, the good with the bad, right? And speaking of good, cheers to Cooler reader Tom N. for suggesting that Anwar check out "Calling You" from the Baghdad Caf&#233 soundtrack. An inspired pairing, sir. Now if someone could only find a song that Mikalah could take on without having to hide the body. — DJH

THURSDAY

The O.C.
Wow, I guess prison really does change a guy, because the Trey who just got out of jail sure ain't the same Trey from the pilot. Or from Ryan and Marissa's Thanksgiving trip to Chino last year, for that matter. Nope, this is a whole new actor with all new facial hair. Thankfully, Ryan sees past the DNA alteration to realize that big bro is still the same old trouble. Which begs the question as to why Sandy would ignore the signs and invite yet another incarcerated Atwood into Casa Cohen. Then again, we are talking about someone who's totally missing the fact that wifey has developed a Teen People crush on Carter and that button nose of his. Anyway, it's nice to have a scrappy bad boy around, if just to force Marissa and Ryan into shopping situations and bar fights where her flats and his lats get a good workout, you know? Maybe after Julie's lived down the debut of her Ramen-fueled porn flick, she can get back to throwing leg to dudes young enough to be her daughter's boyfriend. Or in this case, purse snatcher. As for the return of Zach, big deal. Aside from Coop and Summer's hilariously forced "Ooohhh" over his lame Bon giornio! greeting, water-polo pal's basically the tool needed to give us our fix of the increasingly sweet Seth-Summer squabbles. Which can only mean one of two things: either her dad is coming back with a fatal illness and a dying wish to break them up or his big mouth is gonna send her into a rage-blackout one-nighter with too-tall. Is it too much to hope for both? And maybe a bonus disc of The Porn Identity within the Season 2 DVD set? Just so my buddy Graham can complete his collection of Fox-inspired smokers The Nympho Life: Interns, Talcum in the Middle, America's Most Wanted Cheerleaders and The Ho.C., that's all. — DJH

The Apprentice
Craig's teammates complained that he couldn't speak clearly, but in space could anyone hear him scream? Just wondering. The first-time project manager boxed Magna Corp. with his bland idea, and the looks that his team gave him seemed to suggest that they were contemplating stuffing him inside one of his trunks. But they won anyway, thanks to good execution and complete incompetence on the Net Worth side, especially prissy beauty-queen Erin, who treated the entire Home Depot project as if it were beneath her. With her fashionable wardrobe and tough-talking attitude, she might fit in better with the crowd over on Top Model, I hear they've got some fabulous prizes. Either way, I was glad to see Carolyn and George stick up for Angie. I know I shouldn't play faves, but I'm rooting for the den mom to go to the final two with that goofy Bren.

The most annoying thing about this show is the endless boardroom bickering. On-the-job performance should count for more than how loudly you can argue or twist facts in front of The Donald. (At least I think that's how it works in the real world... lemme check with my boss on that one.) The second-most-annoying thing is that ever since the Omarosa "Oh, my head" incident, the contestants have to wear hard hats on construction sites while Mr. Hyperbole wanders around without anything that would muss up that big tuft of whatever he's sporting. — AC