SUNDAY

The Sopranos
Proof positive that Tony Soprano is a far tougher man than I: He can sit through The Prince of Tides. Furthermore, he wants to. On the other hand, he cites Doctor Phil when trying to close the deal with Doctor Melfi. That's the best he can muster? This show's always been among the best on TV, even in the third and fourth seasons, which for the most part were a letdown. And it's done so by observing some key rules and rewriting others. But one they shouldn't ignore: Romantic tension always trumps its consummation. (On TV, anyway.) Do not let Melfi and Tony get together.

Carmela calling her own son an a----le? Disturbing, but real. And in a fair fight between Tony and the bear, I'd bet on T. — even without the gun. As for the business of there being two Tony Sopranos, we fans know there's only one. And we expect he's going to give us a hell of a season this year.

Oh, and by the way, isn't in front of the TV a more appropriate place to read TV Guide? (What, you thought I didn't notice?)

Alias
It's been a couple of months since I've checked in with this because every time I do, I end up yelling about what a subpar, annoying and tedious affair it is. Yet, once again, I'm suckered by people whose opinions I respect who insist I just haven't watched it enough. Syd wears another silly wig. And then a knit cap. An F-150 pickup chases a Mustang in a parking garage and nearly catches it. (Funny how an ad for one follows, huh?)

Baby-Mitchell/plasma-charge/Dad's-watch/mayhem-as-aphrodisiac/point-of-view-chicanery-just-means-we-have-to-sit-through-the-same-crap-twice-and-even-Blur-can't-make-the-story-and-dialogue-go-down-any-easier-blah-blah-blah-blah.

Yup. Still sucks.

Crossing Jordan
Jordan hears a murder through an air duct and immediately gets to work in the name of justice. She also gets to making me feel guilty for the time I was home sick and someone kicked their way through the wall of an empty apartment above and into my neighbor's place — right over my head. I did nothing. Not because I was the uncaring New Yorker who refused to lift a finger for someone else, but because I simply didn't hear it. Far more embarrassing than being cold and callous, I think.

Anyway, Jordan's back. So maybe some of you guys will quit pelting the Televisionary with questions about whether it's been canceled or not?

Curb Your Enthusiasm
I always like this show's willingness to push the edge of the good-taste envelope, but I guess I'll have to amend that to almost always. I'm sorry — I just can't laugh at using Sept. 11 to build a gag. And as you might guess, same goes for Holocaust humor. Oh, well. Maybe next week.

SATURDAY

Trust
With everyone calling this L.A. Law in the U.K. and me seeing their point, why am I hooked nonetheless? Different country. Different city. Different faces, names and accents. No, my standards aren't low — if you're looking for more variety than that in your TV viewing, you're barking up the wrong medium, my friend. Robson Green, Sarah Parish & Co. have my interest. And not only do the Brits get to use the S-word in their shows, they tack an "e" on the end and use it as an adjective and a noun without modifying it. As in: "It sounds as s---e as all the other synthetic s---e."

U.K. Law? OK by me.

Nashville Star
I hate reality TV and I hate, hate, hate the modern-country sound (when I head in that direction, I'm more partial to Johnny Cash, Neko Case and Lucinda Williams). But it's either watch this or chew aluminum foil for my nightly masochism and I'm fresh outta Reynold's Wrap. And now's when it gets weird. See, I kinda... no, I am enjoying this. Gotta love Matt's Gomer-circa-Mayberry look and washboard prowess, and the performers only get better from there. Of course, just as I'm liking this more than I thought I would, and am thinking I can get through the hour without feeling too much like an Eagles fan at a Cowboys game, Brett Warren tells George, "I liked you. You look like the kinda guy that would kick somebody's butt and then lead 'em to the Lord." Uh... huh?. Now, is he talking Inquisition or capital punishment? Don't matter, I reckon — cain't relate to neither no how. Anyway, I know I care more than I should when I'm sincerely bummed about Richie being sent home and can't help thinking Brent squeaked through on looks. But it's a tough call; nearly all of these people are damned good, and how can you not root for an aspiring country star from Northern Ireland?

All that's coming from a guy who, as I said, doesn't normally take to this sorta thing. (That and the fact that I'm enjoying a song called "George Jones and Jesus" freaks me out in particular.... Who dosed my tea?)

Friday

The Help
Y'know, just the other day I was thinking: What TV needs right about now is a mean-spirited sitcom where the maid gets sexually harassed all day and there are lots of jokes at the expense of minorities and fat people. Please read plenty of sarcasm into that. Please. TV already has a cast of poorly behaved rich people and jokes of questionable taste. Only that show's called Arrested Development, it's funny, its writers can write and its actors can act. Here we have no humor, no originality, no redeeming quality whatsoever. And just when I thought it couldn't lack anything else, it stopped making sense, too. Usually I try not to be this harsh until I've seen a few episodes, but I'm not a bad guy and I don't deserve that. Besides, I'm reasonably certain this will stink just as much a few weeks from now. However, I always try to say at least one nice thing about every show, so here it is for this one: At least it's not an hour.

Monk
Good episode, as always. Good episode, as always. Good episode, as always. (Sorry, but I have to write that praise three times or something bad will happen.... Alright, not really — I'm just trying to see what it feels like.) Monk goes behind bars, befriends a murderer and, of course, figures out Kathy Baker is the culprit. (And, once again, I gotta love the makeup job on Tim Curry as Dale the Whale.) Also, it occurs to me: Had Oswald Penitentiary been lucky enough to get Mr. Monk in there for a bit, I think it's safe to say they never would've had to evacuate the joint at the end of the series.

The Late Show with David Letterman
A 25-pound burlap sack of coffee beans. I say float, my wife says sink. Me, Dave and Paul are right, my wife is not. Good thing she's so upset about that she doesn't catch me ogling the grinder girl.