Todd Bridges and Jenni Meno, <EM>Skating with Celebrities</EM> Todd Bridges and Jenni Meno, Skating with Celebrities
The Book of DanielThe mob won't give Daniel back the church funds unless he lets their favorite construction company the Vaporellis build the St. Barnabas school. I'd say that entitles Reverend Webster to three Vicodins, but then, I'm not Jesus (who notes that three pills are "a new record" for our beleaguered priest). "I don't think this will kill me," Daniel tells the Savior. However, his confusing the Vaporelli brothers with a gay couple just might do him in  though that Vaporelli on the left did dress nicely. Somehow, it didn't surprise me that Yoda the computer genius turned out to be an obnoxious adolescent letch, nor was I bowled over that Jessie ran off with Victoria's jewelry. It's this overabundance of whimsy that's turning this potentially pointed drama into a ratings-starved curio. It's too bad the show doesn't take exception to the kind of blinkered "Christian" thought process that inspired

Pat Robertson to blame New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina. Defending Monty Python, the BBC's director general Hugh Carleton Greene said, "There are some one would wish to offend," and with the exception of James Dobson, I can't think of a better gentleman to start with. Polemics aside, when Daniel sticks to the beguiling interaction between the priest and Jesus, it shines; when it throws in the kitchen sink, it's a drag. I feel for Adam, too, but c'mon, his thing with Caroline isn't the first star-crossed mixed-race romance. I have to admit that I really hate her parents few can play a puritanical stuffed-shirt with the flair of Dylan Baker. Also, Susanna Thompson is dynamite as Judith. For all their familial dysfunction, she and Daniel make a truly loving, sexy couple. Sure, Judith could ease up on the martinis, but with a pushy mother who won't even give her the deed to her own home! and a dingbat sister, can we really blame the woman for drowning her sorrows so religiously?   G.J. Donnelly

After weeks of the USA Network (over)promoting the new season of Monk, the anal-retentive gumshoe is back and as in need of meds as ever. Tony Shalhoub continues to mine the hilarious quirks of his character, particularly during the opening scene when he compares the work of different shirt inspectors while shopping for clothes. (Monk says No. 8 is his "soul mate." He once wrote her a fan letter.) But what seems to be an extraneous gag quickly segues into the night's mystery. Ah, the Monk mysteries. Even a 5-year-old can solve them with just one peek at the episode's roster of guest stars. Hmmm, let's see, No-Name Actor No. 1, 2, 3... aha! Malcolm McDowell, best known as Alex from A Clockwork Orange and my second childhood crush after Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (I have issues.) I know him, therefore he must be the murderer! And anyway he's sporting a cigarette holder, so he's got to be evil. The crime at hand strays into Matlock territory: A supermodel is killed, and a poor Mexican delivery boy named Pablo (the son of Inspector No. 8, for those of you wondering how the heck we got here) is framed for her slaying. Monk agrees to prove Pablo's innocence because his mom is so distraught that she's no longer inspecting shirts to his liking. At some point the bitchy McDowell invites Natalie's tween daughter to strut down the runway in his Jaclyn Smith-like designs at a cheesy fashion show, but by the end he's in handcuffs and Pablo's freed and reunited with his madre. Every time either one of them is on screen, vaguely Spanish-sounding music plays; the climax is no exception. Next week: Monk finds out how immigrants live in "Mr. Monk Works in a Sweatshop for Jaclyn Smith."   Raven Snook

Battlestar Galactica
After last week's killer intrigue, they shift gears and start us off with Apollo floating in space... then do the "48 hours earlier" trick. It worked when they did it with Starbuck in flames a while back, and it works just as well this time. Here we go, with Helo and the Chief barely escaping a Full Metal Jacket-style soap opera, Cain asking Starbuck in for a drink, Apollo confronting his father about the hit he put out on Cain and so on, right up until the point where Cain's colonel comes onboard the Galactica and takes command of the Marines there. One poignant note to break things up: Adama asks Boomer why the Cylons hate humanity so much. She reminds him of how, in a speech, he said humanity never asked itself why it deserves to survive. "Maybe you don't," she says. On to more disturbing beauty as Apollo, forced to eject during the attack, floats through space, leaking air, with a front-row view of the battle's pyrotechnics. And speaking of disturbing beauty, how about Baltar rebelling against Number Six, telling her prisoner self the same story Number Six told him? He's made a choice; I'm just not sure what it is. And when Adama calls Starbuck off at the point of the hit (and Cain does the same with the colonel), I must admit I have no idea how this is going to play out. So when Prisoner Number Six takes the guard's gun, begs Baltar to kill her and takes off when he refuses, it's a nicely constructed surprise when she shoots Cain herself. It's also a nice setup to hear Starbuck say they were safer when Cain was around. I sure don't think so. Then again, I'm lousy at predicting what's what on this show and I don't mind a bit.  Michael Peck