The Shield
This third-season finale certainly didn't disappoint. Most Shield fans — and even some cast members — thought Det. Vic Mackey might whack one of his disloyal Strike Team cronies. As we saw, Lem admitted to feeling "nervous" about meeting Vic, Shane and Ronnie on that dead-end road. Who wouldn't be ulcerous in the gut after altruistically torching their ill-gotten gains? These guys had viciously connived and killed for that blood money, making already dirty cash so much filthier. Even I smarted at learning the $3-million Armenian money train was reduced to merely $195,000 — and I don't even have a piece of the action!

So it turns out Vic needs Lem alive, since Aceveda declared there's no more Strike Team if he leaves. Then, Shane risked his hide by telling that to Lem — shattering any last remaining illusions about the team's friendship — and mouthing off to Vic, who showed masterful restraint by letting Shane walk away. Sheesh. I had to exhale as the closing credits rolled — and applaud Michael Chiklis for working those expressive baby blues of his. The lost sadness in Vic's eyes (after all that ugly truth came out at once) was very palpable.

P.S. Props to Claudette for putting the right thing before her career. Props to Dutch for adopting that lil' blind kitten nobody wanted (presumably to atone for strangling the poor, noisy alley cat in the "Strays" episode).

P.P.S. No, Capt. Aceveda did not almost pick up a street hooker! Still, while I don't condone adultery, it's hardly like he has a sympathetic helpmate in Mrs. Aceveda. Don't forget how selfishly she reacted to his rape crisis. Like most of this show's characters, he doesn't need a sexual fix, he needs intensive therapy! Of course, if The Shield's characters dealt with their dilemmas morally and sensibly, it wouldn't be such a juicy drama.

Blow Out
Remember last week, when I said Jonathan Antin's construction problems were fast-forward material? Well, they still are. This whole situation — in which Jonathan's self-titled Beverly Hills salon wasn't open on schedule — felt as fake and set up as everything about this show. Jonathan's crocodile tears, crybaby pouting and calls to his therapist are gettin' old, too. Then, there's his assistant, uttering lines like: "Jonathan's having a moment. He can't see anyone now." (Careful, that ultrabutch veneer is slipping, Miss Antin...) I definitely don't like Jen, the officious "Senior Stylist" girl with the pink pixie 'do who comments on everyone's personalities. Whatever. I don't like Tish the irrationally irritable manicurist. I don't like the fakey drama of Jonathan headbutting with Brandon the "cool guy" — the fact that Jonathan and Brandon both compare themselves to James Dean at different times totally smacked of producers coaching them with "talking points" off-screen. (FYI, that happens all the time on "reality" shows.) I did like Days of Our Lives star Peter Reckell (Bo) getting his hair done by queeny Jason — a cute NBC/Bravo cross-promotional moment. But will such star-spotting moments be enough to keep me tuning in? Nah. I can't remember who Kate Bosworth is, though Jonathan keeps bragging every five minutes that he does her hair. Maybe it's 'cause I live in L.A., where I'm surrounded by superficial, pretentious losers with attitudes. I don't wanna watch it on TV. Maybe if you live in Podunk, this all seems terribly glamorous, but not in my 'hood, kids.

Last Comic Standing
Unlike Blow Out, I find this show relaxing. Kathleen Madigan is cool. I think I'm rootin' for her. Or maybe Ant the gay guy. Doesn't matter. I'm not all that invested in who gets picked. It's just fun going to comedy clubs to sit and laugh, and watching TV stand-up is the next best thing. Plus, there's no two-drink minimum at my place, which helps keep me sober whilst writing this column!

Sex and the City
I channel-surfed to TBS to check out the debut of SATC in syndication. Then, the first commercial came on (reminding me this ain't HBO) and I thought better of it. Look. This comedy was made for adults who enjoy the free-spirited, refreshing candor with which Carrie and Co. treated sex and single life. The sex scenes and profane language were sometimes outrageous, but they were a helluva lot of fun — and they reflected something of real, messy, unhomogenized human life. I never considered them gratuitous, unnecessary or in need of "cleaning up." If you missed SATC because you didn't wanna spring for a pricey cable package that included HBO, I don't blame ya. Buy the DVDs or rent 'em at Blockbuster. But if you're too prim to watch TV characters making whoopee or you want something safe for the kids to watch, SATC is not right for you. Don't waste your time on this Stepford-ized version where Samantha's sexual abandon has been abandoned and Carrie is censored. You wanna stay stuck in the '50s? Click over to TV Land.