Daniel's Cautionary TV Tale

Picture this tragic tableau: After a hard day at work, my best friend Troy and I are parked in front of the television, munching peanut brittle and watching Jewelry Showcase on QVC. We are mesmerized by the sparkling, fake diamond ring on the screen. The nice hostess insists it'll look real when it's delivered. I scoff, at first — then quietly begin to seriously contemplate it as a gift for Mom... Soooooo sparkly... Suddenly, I snap out of my QVC trance, horrified. Turning to Troy, I cry: "Oh, no! We've become white trash!"

He drops the peanut brittle and grabs the clicker. The spell is broken; we're free. But I remind Troy of the lesson I learned back in high school, when prank calling QVC operators was a favorite after-school pastime. "You may tune in to QVC just to make fun, but don't watch too long, lest ye be lulled into a home-shopping coma. That's how they getcha, my friend." And now, we shake off the Diamonique daze and return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Gilmore Girls
Recently, GG teased us with the two-episode return of Jess (Milo Ventimiglia). He evaded Rory, finally told the girl he loves her, then he's gone. This week, they brought back Rory's other high school ex, Dean (Jared Padalecki). At first, I rolled my eyes. Ventimiglia and Padalecki were both supposed to get their own TV series — neither of which has materialized — so I guessed their schedules were freed up for a bit of stunt casting. But Dean's comeback felt less random than Jess', didn't it? Actually, this scenario felt a lot more real. Maybe you've been in Rory's shoes: You break up with a guy to be with a bad boy, who ends up making you miserable. Later, you run into the good guy, who's with someone new. You wanna be happy for him, since you chucked him, but it's hard, especially since your own love life isn't going so great. You start pondering "What if?" Oh, the land of Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda is a dangerous place. Rory, my girl, I feel your pain.

American Idol
Only true fans of reality-TV Tuesdays will get this: When she's singing, Kara Master makes her eyes bug out like Xiomara from America's Next Top Model. Before Ms. X got cut, Tyra Banks called her on that, so I just need to share with Kara that bit of constructive criticism, since the judges hadn't much to offer. (Every time Randy tells someone to "pick another song and sing it better," I wish he'd come up with some new material, too.) One thing I will say for Crazy Eyes — she wasn't boring, like the three karaoke kids who came before her. I also liked Lisa Leuschner, who genuinely practiced her singing and redeemed herself. Nice black fringe skirt and boots, too — it made me think of Stevie Nicks. But forget them. How great was Camile Velasco? She sang with so much heart, I don't care if she wasn't hip-hoppy like Lauryn Hill or whatever Randy was complaining about. And "can I get a witness?" I liked Marisa Joy's spunk.

Natch, the evening wasn't complete without Paula threatening Simon with physical violence. But how many times can Simon mix in "I'm sorry" with his criticisms? We like him for doling out the truth sans mercy, even when it's unpopular.

America's Next Top Model
Oh, puh-lease! Did April ham it up during the "Dear John Letter" exercise or what? Actually, all the Model wannabes did. The acting teacher's emotional-release task conjured a strong feeling in me, too. A deep need for my clicker to mute the whining! But later, it was a hoot when they read soap-opera scenes with As The World Turns star Mark Collier. How could Catie possibly have trouble kissing that dreamboat?! Boyfriend, schmoyfriend. (If only I could've stepped in to show her how it's done. Never send a teenage girl to do a man's job!) And Camille changing all of her lines — to make them more ghettolicious — was classic.

Yes, yes, yes! Jack whacked Nina in the final seconds of the show. Sorry to be so bloodthirsty, but from the moment this she-snake returned, you knew her comeuppance was comin'. I couldn't wait. Still, I'll miss loving to hate Sarah Clarke. At least she got to play Nina's cool, creepy Hannibal-Lecter-in-custody thing before the end. Guess that leaves us with just one supervillainess: Sherry Palmer. Interesting how the former first lady put the disapproving president in his place. He makes a deal with the devil to defeat his foe, then has the nerve to question her methods? Maybe someday Sherry will hook up with a smart man who can appreciate her wicked ways. It's not every woman who'll do wrong for you, honey.

One of my fave things about this show is Dennis Franz teaching what it means to be "a stand-up guy." He's like the tough love dad many of us never had. Henry Simmons did a nice job with the fatherly thing this week, too. (Sniff, sniff.)

P.S. A pal who's an armchair TV critic complains that I didn't give props to Charlotte Ross' "wrenching yet restrained performance" last week. I know, it's pretty high falutin' verbiage for dishing Blue, but he's a huge fan — and he's absolutely right. I'm just sick of suspense plots about reluctant terrorists who have bombs strapped to them. That aside, Ross did put a lot of heart into Connie's ordeal. When she broke down in Andy's arms in the end of that episode, we were right there with her.

H.R. Pufnstuf & Stuff
As a child of the '80s, I missed the wacky, tacky creations of puppeteer brothers Sid and Marty Kroft. Theirs was Saturday morning TV fare for '70s kids. But fortunately for kitsch-lovin' young 'uns, TV Land ran this four-hour marathon of Kroft shows, like H.R. Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. The freaky-lookin' characters and silly stories are a hoot, especially Pufnstuf villainess Witchiepoo. She's a hyperactive rip-off of — or perhaps loving homage to — Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. She even says "I'll get you my lovelies" instead of "I'll get you my pretty." The only downside to this surreal silliness? The human child stars who hang with the puppets are always breaking into song. Ewww!

Shameless Plug Alert: For more Kroft dish, watch me and my Watercooler buddy Michael Peck tonight on TV Guide Channel's What's On. 'Cause if there's anything more surreally entertaining than QVC, it's me dishing Pufnstuf in my psychedelic Dolce & Gabbana floral print shirt! Our producer said I look like a set of drapes, but what does he know about fashion? You be the judge.