SUNDAY

Desperate Housewives
Certainly not the funniest episode so far. That scene with Carlos physically forcing Gabrielle to sign the postnuptial agreement was DH's most disturbing scene to date. (Oh, c'mon, Mrs. Huber's strangling was not that bad.) Carlos instantly went from unpleasant, controlling husband to the show's reigning bastard. And John finally returned, just in time to provide a new mystery as to who will be the father if Gabrielle's "surprise" pregnancy actually happens.

In fact, this whole episode had a pervasive theme of violence and physical intimidation. From the police telling the remaining "Youngs" about the chopped-up woman found in the trunk to the shoving and throwing issues involving Susan's mother (Lesley Ann Warren) and stepfather (Bob Newhart) and, of course, Bree's spanking of little Porter Scavo.

And then there's Mrs. Huber's sister (Harriet Sansom Harris). She is so sickeningly sweet and splendidly conniving all at once, it's a thing of absolute beauty. So it appears (and I can't emphasize that word enough) that good ol' Mary Alice Young (or Angela) swiped Zach when he was a baby, changed his name, and then disposed of the female "private detective" who came calling for him. Private detective? Try real mother, I bet. The question is whether she was anybody notable or just a random soon-to-be corpse.

The whole spanking scenario was pretty interesting, which, I'm sorry to say, doesn't usually apply to the Scavo story lines. I mean, they're decently amusing and all, just not overly riveting. But this time there was a little more for Felicity Huffman to do than just act harried and disheveled. Thankfully, Bree and Lynette's friendship bounced back quickly. But the bigger question for Mrs. Van De Kamp is how she (and Rex) will ultimately react to Andrew's coming out. But that's for next week....&#151 Danny Spiegel

Deadwood
"You, Al, are an object lesson in the healing powers of obstinacy and a hostile disposition.... In the overall, sir, I call you a miracle." — Doc to Swearengen. Damn nice of you, Doc. He's been called a lot of other things in his time, certainly — sometimes by you.

Oh, how the scheming continues in earnest, to the point where it makes my widdle head hurt just trying to keep up, and I'm pretty sure I'm failing at that... miserably, if you must know. I realized Trixie was a con artist born, but she's sure at the top of her game now. Reporting on Sol to Swearengen and setting up a marriage between Ellsworth and Alma. She's swinging for the bleachers, huh?

And that's just the beginning, as we've got Tolliver dealing every which way and Miss Isringhausen proving to be no slouch in the manipulation department herself. I said last week she was a player, but I had no idea. Though I must admit I still can't figure out exactly what she's up to, I'll say again that Adams is going to come out the loser for letting his little brain guide his big one.

Then, of course, we come to the "Mother, look at the blood!" moment. Did anyone out there think Wolcott was capable of that much slaughter, and did you, like me, start to wonder where it would end?

I'm betting the credits people on this show must be the busiest in Hollywood, what with all the comings and goings. I'm also betting that Garret Dillahunt would like to know when he'll get to play a role that doesn't involve committing cowardly, heinous murders. Or, at least, when he'll get to play one on this show, since being asked back when Wolcott's time ends wouldn't be that crazy.

What else is there to say about this episode? Between the triple-throat-slashing homicide of three women, the bestiality and all sorts of alliances forming and dissolving on top of the usual conniving, is it any wonder I'm ending this hour with my stomach all dancy? The best line of the night did not belong to Al Swearengen, for once, but to Hostetler. "You need to die, Steve." If you didn't see it, you can't know how well it worked, and this site's devotion to family-friendly discourse prevents me from explaining more, even if I could do it justice. Let's just say Roy Rogers was never so passionate about Trigger as Steve was with Bullock's ride.

"Was it a difficult day?" Martha asks Bullock. "No," he answers. Maybe, but he's about the only who can say that this week. — Michael Peck

MONDAY

The Bachelor
So I'm starting to think that Charlie O'Connell needs to get a serious clue about women. And not the sort you get from a phone call to one's famous brother... who's dating Rebecca Romijn-ex-Stamos, OK? That's not exactly the real world, Chuckles. Not that most of the women still scrambling for a rose are all that real, either. I mean, what the hell was with Kimberley's Samantha Foxx getup for that art-gallery one-on-one? Hello! Pretty obvious that it's not so much her "down-to-earth" vibe as it is her gravity-defying other parts that are keeping her in the running. Which she really shouldn't do, anyway — those bouncy bad boys already threaten to bust loose every time there's a camera within 20 feet. And speaking of busting loose, was anyone else relieved that the O'C. sent Kara home after the Central Park skate date? Love her to death, but she deserves better than to have to convince a C-list celeb that she's worth it. Her daughter should be proud. Krisily's kin, however, may want to consider going underground, since the mouth that bored has once again bullied her way into another week. And nearly took down Sarah W. to get there. "I don't know even what the W stands for... wicked, maybe? Witch?" How about, "Wishing you were run over by a truck? Twice?" Oh, no, that's me. Aside from the single mom of the year, Charlie also gave the boot to Jenny, though I'm sure he wasn't kicking himself over that ouster once her needy side slipped out during the Rose Ceremony. "I feel like I'm being overlooked." Of course you are, sweetie. The poor guy has to keep one eye on Kindle to get proof that she doesn't stand to pee and the other one on the falls he's setting up for Sarah B. and Anitra. Because, mark my words, if the monstrous Krisily and stalker-in-training Sarah W. can last this long, you know they're a lock for the finale. And then, of course, a lifetime of shame. — Damian J. Holbrook

24
There's no resting easy for Jack and CTU. While Marwan didn't escape with our entire nuclear arsenal, he did make off with the codes and locations of several warheads. And we can assume he knows the right people to launch them. And no, this time I won't reveal any spoilers from the coming attractions. I'll be sure to warn you next time. (To those of you who change the channel: You've got great willpower. But I'm into immediate gratification. Sorry!) A few thoughts about 11:00 pm-12:00 am:

1) Isn't the football handcuffed to a Secret Service Agent at all times? Not to be all gross and everything, but shouldn't Jason have found an arm attached to that suitcase?
2) "Hey, Marwan! Can you hear me now?" Jack, you really need to put your cell on vibrate. Especially when you're hiding from terrorists in large, echo-y spaces.
3) And speaking of Jack's cell: Anyone try calling the number he gave to Jason? Yeah, dorky me tried it at the commercial. And about an hour after the show was over. A recording said the mailbox for 24 was full. If you had luck getting through, drop me a note.
4) Is there really such a thing as a playbook with color-coded chapters? One would hope the president wouldn't need something so basic.
5) He's got the scowl of Nixon, the deer-in-the-headlights look of Quayle and the robotic reactions of Gore. Toss in a coupla Bush Sr.'s not gawna do it's and the newly-sworn-in-POTUS is a walking greatest hits of American vice presidents. Just the kind of guy we want protecting us from Marwan! — Robin Honig

TUESDAY

Veronica Mars
First of all, I just have to extend my gratitude to UPN for picking up one of my favorite shows for another season. But I'm so conflicted right now: I had to rewind and rewatch Logan and Veronica finally act on all the unexpected sparkage between them and give way to a super-hot kiss. But I love 29-month-older boyfriend Deputy Leo and don't want him to disappear. Also, I still have the sneaking suspicion that Logan is the one responsible for Veronica's rape. So Ms. Mars and Logan's romance seems to lead to nothing but trouble, but just based on chemistry, these two get straight A's.

Also love that Neptune seems to be the locale where forgotten Home Improvement stars wind up. First Zachery Bryan resurfaces for a few eps as jock boy Caz, and now Jonathan Taylor Thomas shows up as an undercover FBI agent in teen-angst clothing. The artist formerly known as JTT totally frames the slightly freaky but otherwise innocent Norris, but of course the world's most adorable P.I. wouldn't let that happen. Even if she does have to suffer through flirting on the sword-collector's part. Just say no to the Kurosawa fest, sweetie, you've got enough men issues. Not only are there the double-your-pleasure love interests, but with your ex-boyfriend and maybe-brother Duncan hightailing it out of town after discovering that you were digging up the dirt about his dead sister's murder, and your daddy dating your best friend's sexy single mom, the last thing you need right now is a guy obsessed with his swords. That last sentence may appear to contain a lot of psychological, Oedipal, and sexual innuendos. That wasn't my intent while writing it all out, but if one of those topics piques the interest of another potential Veronica addict, I'd be really happy.

Oh, and I tried to go to the scary school-bombing countdown website that they mentioned a bunch of times, but to no avail. And now I've probably triggered some sort of red flag by typing in web addresses about death and destruction. We already had bomb-sniffing dogs in the office last week, and now if they return I'm just going to have to sit in paranoia, wondering if they are here for me. At least I don't have a bag of weed stuffed down my pants, just a cube filled with Hello Kitty stuff, and I'm sure the working dogs will have a field day with that. — Angel Cohn

The Amazing Race
Was I the only one who had the feeling that this was a nonelimination episode? Can you imagine being those teams that thought they had a rest coming up but instead found out that there was much more to come? That reminded me of this obstacle course I did years ago. There was a bike-pedaling part to it, and I thought we had to do only one lap, so at the end I gave it my all and pedaled like a madman. As I crossed the finish line, I found out that — oh, my god, no — there was one more lap to go. I kept pedaling, but I really thought I was going to vomit and pass out by the time I came around again.

But anyway, back to the race. For the most part it appeared that Ron and Kelly were back on track, but I'm not sensing an overwhelming amount of affection between those two. (Then again, ex-Racers Ray and Deana have announced their engagement, so what do I know?) There's also no love lost between them and their allies-du-jour, Rob and Amber. But at least, while they may not entirely trust Rob and Amber, they don't insult their intelligence behind their backs like Rob did. I'm still waiting for Rob to make one of these low-blow remarks and for Amber to tell him that wasn't the coolest thing to say. I promise I won't hold my breath for that, because I think I would turn a rather deep and unhealthy shade of blue.

For whatever reason, India brought out the largest crowds we've seen so far this season. I haven't seen that many people cheering from balconies and roadsides since A.C. Cowlings chauffeured his pal O.J. down the L.A. freeway. I imagine that when the autograph-seekers got home, they looked at their scraps of paper and thought, "Who the hell are Meredith and Gretchen?" The answer, my friends, would be this episode's unluckiest and most exasperated duo. When that last clue guy told Uchenna that he looked "tired," I thought to myself, "You think Uchenna's tired? Wait till Gretchen gets there!" But, bless 'em, those lovable grandparents are in it for at least one more week. — DS

WEDNESDAY

Smallville
Well, fine-AH-Leeee. New episode! Whoo hooo! And a banger at that. Obviously, someone behind the scenes has been through a few hundred billable hours of psychotherapy, because that lab explosion proved to be a total couch trip for Lex. And Chloe's right. He does have "one hell of a split personality." (By the way, LOVING her more and more.) Anyway, back to Baldy and his bad other self. Who knew he even had a darker side, huh? All along, I'm thinking Lexie's everyday behavior is poor form to the extreme and here comes this "Alexander" with Sean Penn's sense of humor and Ike Turner's temper. Michael Rosenbaum must still have pieces of the set stuck between his teeth from all the scenery he got to chew. Trying to mack on Lana, shooting Jonathan, using green meteor rocks to force Clark into being his Lap-dog of Steel — young Luthor's inner child needs a serious spanking, ya hears! And not the kind he gave his yummy fencing instructor. That was just spicy. This all just goes to show that playing with glowing space debris is bad, boys and girls. It makes genetically altered fruit taste rotten, it robs farm boys of their special powers and leads to all sorts of subtext-saturated chats between Clark, Lana and Chloe about keeping secrets from your loved ones. Which actually isn't such a bad thing, unless you're the one hiding in the Kryptonite Closet. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. — Damian J. Holbrook

Alias
Whoa! The last thing this world needs is two Sloanes. But if anyone is up to the task of matching Ron Rifkin's creepy, untrustworthy character, it's Joel Grey. He was an amazingly evil demon trying to kill poor little Dawnie on Buffy, mischievously good as the Wizard in the Broadway musical Wicked and his painted emcee from the movie Cabaret still gives me the heebie-jeebies, though that last one is probably unintentional. But this new twist — having fake Sloane responsible for Vaughn's wild-goose chase and most likely the hit on Syd that led to Irina's death — should make for some interesting future episodes. Too bad this wasn't one of them. Sorry JJ et al. I love the series, but watching Vaughn kick butt while Sydney's stuck home just talking to people is about as exciting as watching paint dry. And I had to turn away during that funky sequence in the hospital basement. The red room made my eyes all squinty.

The only thing that really grabbed my attention was Katya's chocolate allergy. That's almost a fate worth than death. But her willingness to risk her life in order to get her niece to visit her? I don't trust that, and she's obviously taken guilt-trip lessons from an expert. But Sydney's big-sister act seems forced, as does her welcome-home hug to Vaughn. Guess that's the reason that costars shouldn't date. But Marshall sneaking around worried that Jack might keel over from the nuclear mutations? That actually seemed like some genuine emotion. — AC

Revelations
Let me start by saying that I am about as secular as they come. So this is just another TV show to me, folks. Which is as it should be, I think, critically speaking. That said, gee, you think the NBC folks were paying attention to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ success? That might explain this Hail Mary (you can read that both in a prayer and a football sense) shot at pandering to the newly discovered religious audience, might it not?

I'll admit to being impressed early on with some of the creepy details — murderous Satanist Isaiah Haden snaps his fingers and stops airplane turbulence etc. — though I can't figure out why he and Dr. Massey (Bill Pullman) are on the same flight. But while I understand the advantages of casting pretty faces in lead roles, just once I'd like to see a big role for a nun who doesn't look as beautiful as Natascha McElhone. How about, for instance, one who looks like The Blues Brothers' Penguin?

Oh, wow — here's an odd development. It requires two lightning strikes to take out the little girl on the golf course? Like being blasted up into a tree after the first isn't being certain enough; better zap her back out of the branches just to make sure? (You think the Almighty wrote both shots down on his score card?)

"Doubt is healthy. I believe in doubt." says Sister Jo (McElhone). "Good, because I brought plenty with me," replies Dr. Massey. OK, people. My buddy-movie alert just went off. "Believe whatever you want to," Massey says later. "Or deny whatever you want to," counters Sister Jo. See? And talk about playing to a target audience. "It is they who are making a living out of this by cutting out her organs!" says Sister Jo, condemning the doctors who want to "harvest" the comatose girl's organs while they're still viable. Uh... am I the only who finds it just a tad heavy-handed to portray organ donation as some kind of ghoulish business venture?

But I suppose one could argue that turnabout's fair play. Churchgoers have had to watch their share of evil priests, preachers and whatnot in movies and on TV over the years. They also had to put up with Caleb on Buffy, not to mention The Flying Nun. Touch&#233... I guess. — Michael Peck

THURSDAY

The O.C.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. It's time for another edition of "Life Lessons from Orange County"!
1) When dealing with a graphic-novel consultant of a gender-nonspecific name (i.e., Reed) who's already nailed a high-schooler on Life as We Know It, teens like Seth would be wise to come clean about said consultant's sex with his rage-blackout-prone girlfriend (see below).
2) Rage-blackout-prone girlfriends such as Summer may want to think twice about running off with milquetoasty, Zachesque former flames after learning that their current emo-loving beau is working with a hottie who bears an eerie resemblance to her. Any jock that willing to comfort the girl who dumped him in front of his family is obviously up to something.
3) In the event of a husband's attempt to set his wife's secret crush/editor up with a comely surfer, guzzling wine as Kristen did to hide her jealousy has been proven to impede proper judgment. For example: "Be careful, comely surfer-girl Erin... his divorce has been really hard on him." Other side effects include tackiness, transparency, emotional infidelity.
4) Poison rules!
5) As does Whitesnake, but only in the case of "good old days" drinks with Julie Cooper's scuzzy pornographer ex-lover. And, sadly, the fashion sense of several unnamed TV Guide employees.
6) Just say no. No matter how hot the scuzzy pornographer ex-lover is, any thinly veiled offers to "take care" of hateful, older spouses of the Caleb caliber should be clearly and quickly refused. However, this can be waived if any of the parties involved either land a pilot or need to die for season-finale cliff-hanger purposes.
7) Before accusing an ex-con brother of buying dope in an alley, ask first, push later. Lest you find that he was actually helping a homeless dude and subsequently suffer the Ryan Effect, which leads to guilt-induced, though nonetheless off-the-hook, surprise 21st birthday ragers at the Cooper-Nichol compound.
8) Drug-addled jailbait must be kept away from felons and stuffed Care Bears at all costs. Tattoo parlors are acceptable, given that their low-riders reveal at least one third of their belly ink and that they promise to show the remaining two thirds to the birthday boy behind closed doors. Or off camera.
9) Drug-addled jailbait floats! (Caution: Data is still being tested to confirm whether this is the result of OD'ing or those double-Ds.)
10) Taking the blame for aforementioned overdoses to protect anyone, even fineness like Marissa, will assuredly lead to arrest and/or disgust from anyone within a two-block radius who's working a wifebeater and a kicky set of bangs. — Damian J. Holbrook

Survivor
I love Stephenie, the lone Ulonger. So much so that I had to resist shouting, "You go, girl!" in my white-girl way as she shimmied up a tree to get coconut and then single-handedly rowed the canoe that two people struggled with. She truly is She-Ra and I just hope she gets a fair shake, now that she's been absorbed by the Kororians (who have had 22 days to get under each other's skin). Most of them seemed to realize that Steph is one tough cookie, and cookies tend to get gobbled up pretty quickly when there are nine starving people around. This was proven by the way the tribe mates dove off their platforms for a sweet treat instead of trying to hold out longer for individual immunity. You'd think they hadn't eaten in days, when in reality the cool Palauan natives had provided fishing lessons and a boatload of aquatic creatures just the day before.

Seems like Jeff is having the blast on this island tour, kicking back in a lounge chair with a great big smile, teasing with food and torturing them with probing questions. But while Probst was asking about Steph, apparently the rest of the tribe sent out some secret Morse code signal that Coby was the next victim. My eyes can rest easy now that I won't have to see him in the skimpy banana hammock any more, but I think I felt the fun factor drop when Jeff said the tribe has spoken and snuffed the catty fella's torch. I guess the game is really on now. — AC

The Apprentice
Net Worth played a game of Red Rover, Red Rover when they called Bren over to their team, but the person who really crossed to the other side was Chris. When, after seven straight losses, the emotional kid got fired and broke down in tears, the Big D invited him over to the judging side of the boardroom table for some up-close and personal advice. That's got to be a first! Trump's two pearls of wisdom were for Chris to avoid tobacco and control his temper. The tycoon's words clearly fell on deaf ears as the earlier this week the "great kid" was arrested for disorderly conduct in Tampa. I still have a feeling that he'll bounce back, against all odds. Oh, no, that phrase just reminded me of Idol's Scott Savol. Hmmmm. I think if I had to pick which of those two reality brutes I'd rather spend time with, it would be Chris. He snuck in a maniacal Mr. Burns laugh at one point tonight, and anyone who makes Simpsons references can't be all bad.

But back to the task at hand, Net Worth went careening off the road trying to sell a sexy new roadster without highlighting its curves. Perhaps they were overconfident. Bren laughed, "It is three guys and it's a car." He's right, on paper it looked like a slam dunk, but the dude team gotten taken down by one girl. Lesson learned? Never underestimate the quiet ones. While Tana and Craig went to get their beauty sleep, Kendra stayed up all night putting together a classy and well-informed brochure that Pontiac wants to use as their actual marketing material. Who knew she had it in her? Not me. I just finally was able to remember her name this week. Could it be that this forgotten gal is secretly a femme fatale who has finally shifted into high gear to pass her remaining competitors one by one and go home with an Apprenticeship and one of the vehicles that she campaigned so hard for? Hmm... — AC