Question: Do you know the name of the actor who played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld? My friend says it's Tony Shalhoub, but I know it's not him. Thank you! — Sarah

Televisionary: Right you are, Sarah. That was actor Larry Thomas playing the temperamental genius-with-a-ladle. If you're a fan, you might keep an eye on the reruns of The Weakest Link (see our Listings for time-and-channel details). The acidic Anne Robinson recently laid into an assortment of minor Seinfeld players, including Thomas, Phil Morris (who played Jackie Chiles) and Susan Walter (Mulva).

Just don't expect the allegedly mercurial Al Yeganeh — the real-life New York soup master upon whom the character was based, to show up singing the praises of the show that gave him the unwanted gift of infamy. After the character appeared, fans reportedly swamped the talented soupster's International Soup Kitchen to see if he was indeed as ornery as Thomas's portrayal indicated. To my mind, such visits — especially those from fans who have no intention of buying anything — would wear thin for even the cheeriest proprietor.

And in the my-two-cents department (it's my column, after all), the show in which you can see Shalhoub, USA's Monk, is worth a look. As cranky as I am over the latest small-screen offerings, I must say that throwback to the Columbo days is a welcome addition to the cable roster. Kudos to Shalhoub, who's a crackerjack actor, and company.