Arrested Development
"Michael, what are you doing tomorrow?" asks Lucille. "Having my day ruined with whatever you're about to ask me to do," her son answers. Nice to see my family dynamic isn't an anomaly.

You know the toughest thing about writing up this show? Whenever I take the time to make note of one really funny thing, I miss three other ones. But damn, I have to say once again that poor, hapless George Michael's face makes me giggle every week with its permanent mix of adolescent terror, earnestness and befuddlement.

"Take me. Take me to your secular world," pleads the devout Mrs. Veal (Say Anything's Ione Skye!) as she tries to kiss Michael. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and says that's the first time that's ever been said on TV and, probably, the first time it's ever been said... ever.

I'm also gonna proclaim flat out that this is the funniest episode yet. Which is saying something. I even laughed during the commercials while replaying Tobias's ankle-breaking Mrs. Featherbottom entrance in my head. And I'm through begging you guys to watch this show... for now; I'll just keep repeating how great it to increase its karma enough to get it renewed. (Hey, it worked for The Wire, didn't it?) — Michael Peck

Desperate Housewives
It's hard to decide what was a more shocking scene: Juanita taking a tumbling header down the stairs; Andrew being dragged off to a juvenile center in the middle of the night; or — and this one might be the craziest of all — Edie casually hanging out with the girls early in the episode. But we all knew that couldn't last, which it didn't as soon as Susan accepted the date with Bill the contractor. Even Susan later agreed that she does "invite the drama in — just a little." She needs somebody boring. Hey, how about George the pharmacist? He's available and, except for eating TV dinners and slowly killing Rex, he's got a lot of free time, too.

It's a true testament to Eva Longoria's undeniable likeability that we still empathize with Gabrielle, who, if you're objective about it, is a selfish, egocentric bitch. First, she gets pissy with Carlos on the day he's burying his mother, then strongly encourages him to spend some time in prison and finally neglects to mention the big fat settlement from the hospital — and yet we still (mostly) love her.

Sincere kudos go out to Housewives' creator, Marc Cherry, and his writing staff for maintaining the show's consistently clever quips and sharp dialogue despite the melodramatic themes this serial gets into. It would be easy to let those get lost, but tonight was another fine collection of smoothly executed one-liners.

  • "Maybe you should've waited until I left to do that." — Mike, having just slipped a letter halfway under the door to Susan, who took the envelope a moment later.
  • "I have it in my head that only bad people break up marriages and offend the handicapped." — Lynette, after she arguably did both.
  • "You just signed 'I told you so,' didn't you?" — Lynette to Tom, who had learned a little sign language from guest star Marlee Matlin
  • "Oh, you can toss that." — Gabrielle to the nurse who had put together Juanita's personal belongings.
  • "I know what the odds are, but I just love those scratch-offs...!" — Gabrielle hypothesizing with her and Carlos' lawyer about what would happen if she were to come into a lot of cash from, say, the lottery (or a hospital settlement). — Danny Spiegel

    For my money, Powers Boothe's Cy Tolliver remains the scariest in a cast chock full of scary characters. And once he's figured out Wolcott's particular proclivity, it makes for an interesting situation, one sociopath using the leanings of another to gain advantage.

    Which brings me to the Deadwood exchange of the evening. Or, rather, the first of a couple: "This here is the epaulette of a Union Army General," says the self-proclaimed N----r General Fields. "And this here is the ass of a drunken s--tbird," replies Calamity Jane.

    But here's a question: Adams being the player he is, do you think he realizes he's being played by Miss Isringhausen and is letting it happen? Or is he just plain being taken for a ride?

    Anyway, another beauty, delivered by our beloved Al Swearengen as he discusses the government scum: "Do they understand how most of what happens is people being drunk and stupid and trying to find something else to blame besides that that makes their lives totally f---ed? No, they don't.... They're too busy stealing to study human nature."

    Just as an aside, though: Between Bullock firing into the ceiling in the Bella Union and Swearengen doing the same a week or two back in the Gem, am I the only one who wonders why nobody ever worries about someone upstairs being hit in the foot, or worse? Oh, yeah... Wild West. Gotcha.

    The second great exchange: "I am not a prisoner. I am in protective custody," says Jarry, who's been locked up for his own good. "In care of a deputy, deputized by the deputy sheriff, who orders you to shut the f--k up!" Calamity Jane replies at full volume. (Notice how this show keeps the hyphen key busy?)

    Finally, I've long been aware of the practice of tarring and feathering, but never gave much thought to the idea that the tar is really, really hot and seals itself to your skin. And then has to be pulled off. Along with your skin. Why must I be freaked out at the same time I'm satisfyingly entertained every week I watch this show? Of course. Because that's what good drama is. — MP


    NCAA Basketball
    There comes a point in March Madness where your favorite team is out and/or your bracket is so busted that you're just rooting for good games. (Unfortunately, I reached that point in the first round, when my beloved Syracuse Orange were ousted by a bunch of Phish-listenin', Ben-and-Jerry-eatin' hippies from Vermont!) Alas, Saturday's semifinals featured no upsets, overtime drama or controversial three-pointers. I love a Cinderella story as much as the next guy (provided the next guy isn't from Vermont), but tonight was all about the chalk.

    The opening matchup between Illinois and Louisville was touch-and-go until Roger Powell made the most impressive second-half turnaround since John Travolta's film career and Luther Head showed the world why the NCAA really needs to move the three-point line back. CBS viewers haven't seen a duo that destructive since Rob and Amber. The Illini won 72-57 and go after the school's first basketball title on Monday.

    The nightcap was also a tale of two halves as Sean May and North Carolina made the second stanza sing, running away from Michigan State 87-71. Down the stretch, the Spartans looked shakier than Damian Holbrook's Chihuahua on a fistful of cheap trucker speed. Noticeably absent during the broadcast was the tourney's ubiquitous American Express commercial/Duke recruiting film starring Saint, er, Coach K. Either CBS feared calls from irate Tar Heel fans, or there was a conflict of interest with Roy Williams' lucrative Diner's Club endorsement ("The card for the coach with everything, but a national title."). — Jon McDaid

    Saturday Night Live
    If there is one thing the life of Pope John Paul II taught us, it is that fate often chooses the right person for the times. Last January, Jennifer Garner's backache forced her to back out of a hosting gig, allowing deadpan Topher Grace to step in and save us from a night of Alias, Elektra and Bennifer jokes. Taped from New York, it was Saturday Night:

    Biggest Laugh: Will Forte's psychotic "crazy man" Zell Miller from the Hardball skit. Eggplants aren't as purple as this guy, who accomplished the remarkable feat of making Darrell Hammond corpse.

    Best Sketch: Weekend Update oozed acid hilarity. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gleefully targeted Prince Harry's Nazi armband controversy (a video depicted Harry hanging out with a Klansman and a minstrel, and swapping saliva with a woman dressed like Hitler); the Brad and Jen split ("If these two get tired of having sex with each other, what chance do the rest of us have?"); and Barbara Walters' puffball interview with Laura Bush and that thing we elected ("The questions don't need to be difficult to seem difficult"). Honorable mention: Rachel Dratch as the Phyllis Diller-ish hooker.

    Worst Sketch: The cold opening with Forte's President Bush discussing tsunami relief with Hammond's former President Clinton. Bad enough that Forte can't cut it as Dubya, but it took 10 minutes to make a tiresome point about the Prez's feckless communication skills. Also, you can chuck those Eurotrash Nunnis into the Annoying Recurring Character Incinerator anytime now, Lorne.

    What we learned: Topher is short for Christopher; The Killers make catchy records, but they're lifeless onstage; the depreciating, self-deprecating U.S. Dollar talks like South Park's Mr, Hankey, has hands like Mickey Mouse and is as respected as our President.

    G. J. Donnelly FRIDAY

    Battlestar Galactica
    Baltar's willing to stand in flames just to hold Number Six's hand? Now that is love. And I'm glad to see that the engineers in the Galactica universe employ the same timing devices on their spaceships that we enjoy on earthly TV cars. You know, the ones that blow the fuel tanks of burning vehicles after — and only after — the last passenger dives out and hits the deck? A minor quibble, though. Still love this thing.

    Meanwhile, back in the jungle. Or down on Caprica, rather: Caprica Boomer... well, lowers the boom on Helo and tells him she's pregnant. Like he wasn't already freaking out about being the only human left on a planet overrun by the enemy? Then Starbuck shows up and has no problem finding the arrow in the museum, which is why she's the hero. Me, I headed to the Natural History Museum out here and couldn't even find the men's room. (She does get points off, however, for shooting the glass out of the arrow's case without aiming away from the actual arrow. Wouldn't that have been a "doh!" moment if she'd blown the head off it?

    Now here's Number Six to engage Starbuck in a blonde-on-blonde smackdown, which is pretty — OK, completely — one-sided, but at least they didn't end the fight with Six slapping her over to her fallen gun or anything. Instead, they concentrated on the gravity of the situation (ha!).

    And poor Galactica Boomer, having to face a whole crowd of her exact duplicates. I know the first thing that would go through my head: I'm not that fat, right? And... holy crap! she just shot Adama! Not once, mind you, but twice, leading to a decidedly church-like ending. Will this show actually kill off one of its leads? Could be, but c'mon, folks. Edward James Olmos lands his first hit series since Miami Vice and this is what he gets? Besides, if he's really dead, I'll never see my dream of a Vice reunion with Glen Frey on here.

    See you next season, people; hell of a first one, I say. — MP

    Channel Surfing On Saturday night Disney impressed again with their new adaptation of Little House on the Prairie. This modern six-part series is quite a different look at frontier life that is wild and unruly but ultimately educational and unlikely to entice kids to read the books like the vivid Harry Potter movies do... On Friday, the foul-mouthed industry show Dinner for Five sat down for another helping of movie gossip and tasty tidbits. Comedian Jay Mohr tried desperately bring the fun in, but came off as egotistical and annoying as his Action character. No wonder that series failed, perhaps he should have sat back and taken a lesson from Deadwood creator and former NYPD Blue writer David Milch for tips instead of fighting for screen time over the entree... And in the funniest parody of the weekend, Monster House host Steve Watson decided to do his best impersonation of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington, complete with megaphone, his own special project and a string of creative T-shirts that bore slogans like "How to Ty a Knot" and "Ty Dye". Props to the graphics guy for putting in the days of the week, it just made the joke that much funnier. American Idol could use someone like you.

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