Survivor: Palau
Survivor was starting to get too Real World predictable. So I liked that they switched up the game tonight by not splitting into two teams right away and making the players share a beach. I just wish organizers could've made that curveball fly a little farther. (Also would have been nice if CBS' promo guys hadn't given the big twist away. But what can you do.)

Along the way, though, there were some serious lessons to be learned from tonight's season premiere:
1. Don't stick out. In this game you don't want to be too exotic (Hello, Janu), too beautiful, too punk-rock (Angie), too strong, too crazy or too damn anything. When schoolteacher Wanda stood up on the boat and started singing her Survivor songs, she might as well have asked them to "Please send me home now."
2. Don't win the first immunity challenge. Even if you easily can. It just puts a target on your back. Wish Jolanda had thought of that.
3. Don't try to be the boss. Again, Jolanda girl, you've seen other Survivors. You should have known this.
4. Do make multiple alliances as soon as possible. Otherwise your one bond may leave you hanging like Coby did Angie and Stephenie did Jonathan.
5. Don't try to eliminate the brothaman too quickly. This one just pisses me off. I mean, really. Were those women blind? Why leave Ibrehem to the eighth round? Come on. Don't scare me like that. I don't have much in life. Let me at least get a few episodes out of the shirtless black guy. OK?
6. And, hell, whatever you do, don't jump out of the boat before you get too close to shore. How funny was it when Miss "I'm a Good Swimmer" Stephenie dived overboard, silly Jonathan followed suit and the rest of the castaways just looked at them like they were crazy and rowed right on by?

The O.C.
In tonight's very special episode, Seth lost his God-given mind, Marissa came out to Summer, Caleb thought about adopting Lindsay then didn't (psyche!), Kirsten almost put her foot up Rebecca's butt, and Zack made plans to go to Italy a boy and come back a woman. And I loved every second of it. I know. I know. There's no surprise there. But really, tonight's ep offered a well-balanced feast of Newport drama.

First off, you know I can't stand Marissa, but I gotta give it to the writers for the way they handled her whole wow-I-just-might-be-gay dilemma. Of course, it wouldn't be easy for Miss Rich Teen Angst to come out. I mean, dating the new bad girl is one thing. But partying in her sapphic circle and having everybody at the country club know it is a whole 'nother thing.

On to Kirsten. I'm just joking; she didn't go to Rebecca's room to fight. She went over and very diplomatically asked that tramp to leave her husband and family alone. "While you've been running, we've been building a family," she explained. Of course Sandy got mad when he found Rebecca gone. But screw him. He's on my [bleep] list for defending his outlaw ex-girlfriend and putting his family in jeopardy. As if they haven't had enough problems. (See Ryan's appearance, Seth's disappearance and all things Caleb.)

Back to Zack, I gotta say the writer crew dropped the ball there. That boy may be a wealthy romantic but making plans to lose his virginity "in a villa in Tuscany" and saying it like that... It was all too je ne sais quoi?... girly. They should have handled it like they did the Seth depression thing: taking him to the clich&#233d brink of H&#228agen-Dazs-binging insanity but then flipping it a little.

CSI
OK. So, the Strip's big, bad, mean, casino-owing mogul guy — the one everybody fears — had a secret baby room complete with playpens, crib, diaper-changing station and a rocking horse all built to his grown-man, adult-sized scale. Yeah. I thought the Plushies conference was weird, but now I have seen everything. When Grissom popped open the secret door to that Wacko Jacko, playroom I was with Warrick, who said, "Get outta here." And when the clerk at the crazier-than-thou Forever Baby store asked Grissom, "Are you a drinker or a stinker?" it was all over. I rolled. Literally. I can barely type it without laughing. I mean, somebody please tell me there is no land of Baby Hueys where adult men live like infants. 'Cause I can't handle that. I can't.

The Ken Jennings Cingular Commercial
Is Clay Aiken in his family too?

The Apprentice
The Donald gave both teams $5000 seed money and a shiny Airstream trailer to create a mobile business. The book-smart Magna crew created a respectable mobile spa. Meanwhile the street-smart Net Worth team came up with a shady meet-with-a-casting-agent business. Emphasis on the shady. I mean, isn't it just like the money-hungry hustlers to cash in on other people's ignorance, charging $25 for wannabe actors to talk to a casting agent? It made me sick. (What's next, a $200 modeling contest?) Of course they won, annoying Michael got fired and The Donald conveniently glossed over the fact that team Net Worth's $991 take left them in the hole by $9. (They paid $1000 to rent the agent for the day.) But whatever. All I could think while watching it was, "I'm missing Luke Perry on Will & Grace for this?!" As my friend Nerina would say, "I hate everybody."

ER
A stroke may close down your language center. But apparently nothing — not even a blood clot in your brain — can keep a girl from lusting after hot doc Luka Kovac. "This one is gorgeous," Cynthia Nixon said. Sorta. I mean, she thought it but she couldn't speak it because of the stroke an' all. Wait. Don't be getting all mad. I'm not making light of a very serious medical condition. Just the fact that even after she realized she was partially paralyzed, Cynthia Nixon's 35-year-old mother character (who was married, mind you) could not resist Luka's charms. (Ah, Goran Visnjic...) Later, when he leaned over her and said, "I thought you might want to see a familiar face," you know her unspoken reply was, "Hell yeah, if it's yours!"

Funny bits aside. Tonight's episode was solid. Not nearly as ground-breaking as the evil NBC promos would have you believe. Still, I just about died when Carter gave the social worker his whole I-love-hanging-out-with-you-but-I-cannot-love-you speech. "We spend the night together. We enjoy each other's company. We have fun," he told Wendell. "But look: I know what you want me to say and I can't say it. OK?" Ouch. I mean, I understand. It's too soon for him to be in a relationship. But how does he think saying that will make it better? Speaking of making things better, I was fascinated by the modern miracles of medicine. When Commander Tuvok removed the clot by threading a needle thing through the vein in Cynthia Nixon's leg, and sending it up through her torso and into her brain... the fact that doctors really do that on a daily basis... I was floored. Modern technology is a beautiful thing.

BTW: I am so hoping that they'll show more of those little kids' story next week. That poor boy, trying to take care of his brother and sister while their mother rotted in the next room... they cannot leave me hanging like that.

Without a Trace
You know what irks me about this show? That every time one of the FBI agents meets someone and asks them how they knew the missing victim, that person almost always tells them exactly what they need to know. Like tonight. All five agents were investigating the kidnapping of this Paris Hiltonesque publishing heiress called Chelsea Prince. (Great soap opera name, BTW.) They asked the clerks at the site of Chelsea's last book signing one question, and the clerks proceeded to cough up everything but the girl's blood type. She was late. She sat here. She did this. And, oh, by the way there was this one weird stalker guy who gave her all these letters from his dead sister. I think he said his name was this and here's what he looks like. Go solve the crime, now! Ugh.