Quote of The Weekend: "It's bad enough being a fugitive in North Korea, now I have to find out you slept with Will." — Vaughn (Michael Vartan) to Sydney on Alias

, after finding out about her intoxicated hook-up with her previously platonic pal.


AFC Championship: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
I'm from Boston, so let me say that the New England sports fan mentality runs deep. Even though the Patriots were ahead throughout (winning 24-14), I was nervous until the very, very end. Unlike other fans, I feel like we're less about the thrill of victory than just avoiding the continuing agony of defeat. It's an overwhelming mindset of "Please don't screw this up... Please!... What? They won?! Oh, thank God!" When Greg Gumbel kept saying things like, "The Patriots [are] 15 minutes away from Houston... " I was like, "Shut up! Don't jinx us!"

I bet the game looked like quite the brutal contest if you tuned in late. Several player uniforms were stained red thanks to the fresh "NFL Playoffs" logos on the grass at Gillette Stadium. My friend Bob's wife asked him at one point, "What is that? Are they bleeding?"

The Surreal Life
Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle seems like a real fun guy to hang out with. He was getting increasingly angry about "the cheese factor" of this whole show, which, in his mind, culminated in Gary Coleman coordinating their day at Mel's Drive-In. So he can't stand having his old (circa 1990) pictures on the wall of the house, but it's okay for him to badger Coleman to say "What you talking about, Willis?" in front of the whole restaurant? Thankfully, Erik Estrada was able to calm that jackass down later. As far as Trishelle (The Real World) goes... man, there's just something about her. (And I'm not just talking about the likely smell of alcohol either.)

NFC Championship: Carolina Panther at Philadelphia Eagles
I can only imagine how supremely pissed Eagles fans were after that apparently late hit by Mike Rucker on QB Donovan McNabb in the first half. No flag, but McNabb (hey, that rhymed) suffered a rib injury. Luckily, to gain some authentic Philly perspective, I talked to Michael Peck, fellow Weekend-Watercooler-Guy and proud Pennsylvania native, right after the Panthers won, 14-3. "Let's just say that I would have found that call infuriating," he said, "if the Eagles had actually been playing, but since they considered this a scrimmage in which they didn't have to try all that hard it didn't really matter one way or the other." Well, at least he's not bitter.

While they're both being held captive in a North Korean prison, Vaughn finally told Sydney how he truly feels about her. (It's amazing how getting pummeled in the face puts you in the mood to profess your eternal love.) But when they kissed it felt a tiny bit like an invasion of privacy since they're a couple in real life. Just a fleeting thought, don't mind me. And hey, who better to play Irina's sister than the exquisite Isabella Rossellini? OK, maybe cutie Katie Couric could have pulled it off, too.


Star Search
I think Naomi Judd is trying a little too hard to come up with snappy one-liners. The problem is that it leaves host Arsenio Hall or the next judge unsure of when she's actually done speaking, resulting in an awkward pause after such gems as "[Your] voice cuts like an acetylene torch and you have incredible range!"

And as David Letterman pointed out last year with a long-running clip, Arsenio feels a need to introduce each contestant's score in a forced, overly hip way. For instance, this time we got: "Hit me with the digits."
"Drop some digits on me."
"Let my digits go, Glenn!" (Glenn is the show's director, but why anyone would know that is beyond me.)
Here's some even lamer catchphrase suggestions for Arsenio:
"It's unhealthy to hold those digits in! It could cause you severe emotional damage."
"Pass the salt, and while you're at it, pass the digits along, too!"
"Release those digits or I'll go on a hunger strike."


Joan of Arcadia
For Joan and Adam, it's the splendidly awkward time after their unexpected first kiss. He's hoping they can be a couple, but she's not exactly sure what she wants. To clarify this muddy situation, God asks her to throw a party when her parents go away for the weekend. That doesn't sound like it would make much sense; nevertheless, they ended up dancing together outside on the sidewalk anyway. Awwww...

OK, complaint time: While the chemistry between Kevin and his boss is working, their recent dialogue seems to lack the subtlety needed for this delicate relationship. For Kevin to casually mention their "sexual tension" in a past episode seemed too pointed. As they say, less is more. ("They" also say "Don't feed the bears," but that has nothing to do with this.)

I'm a little worried. The season finale for this show, one of my favorites, is scheduled for February 6 — that can't be good. Sure, the buzz has left this series, and there aren't any mysterious dead bodies around to add drama, but it still has rich characters and clever, textured storytelling. Plus, they've acknowledged their dreaded "quirky-factor" and moved past it. Look, any show that can bring back a heinous off-screen character like Ed's cheatin' wife and make her sympathetic (with some considerable help from Lea Thompson) deserves a proper send-off.