SUNDAY24 What a relaxing show to curl up with on a Sunday night. The frantic pace and unbelievably heightened tension have (at least) two weird effects, in my opinion: 1.) Normal conversation seems like a huge waste of time. Whenever two characters are doing anything except racing to prevent some sort of horrible disaster, you feel like yelling at the TV, "What are you doing

?! Quit talking about your stupid relationship and stop that bomb/assassination/toxin! Move it!" 2.) Extreme/semi-crazy actions actually make sense. When Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) shot that guy in the leg to uncover the "primary objective" mere minutes before it was supposed to occur, you're apt to think, "Yes, that's excessive but arguably necessary. And hey, it's Jack, the good guy who wouldn't do anything really bad, right?" Now, isn't that logic somehow screwed up?

Anyway, I'm not sure if Donald Rumsfeld is a big fan of the show, or the Fox network in general, but if he is, after tonight's premiere, he likely won't be. (Somehow he seems like a solid History Channel man, the cable channel it's cool for politicians to say they actually watch.) Then again, he might have liked William Devane's secretary of defense yelling into his slacker son's face to "spare me your sixth-grade Michael Moore logic!"

A few other things of note:

  • Tell me again why there wasn't a better-coordinated meet-up plan for Jack to connect with Andrew at the train station? I've organized a group of friends to convene at a movie theater better than that.
  • Thinking of poor Andrew (hey, it's Luke Haas, everybody!), when he called his mother to warn her, was I the only who thought of that classic Terminator 2 scene in which John Connor was calling home to warn his already-killed foster family?
  • In just one episode, Chloe has once again won the award for most annoying character in all of television. Case in point: She says to Jack, "Bad luck about Audrey being there when her dad got kidnapped."
  • While we're giving awards out, let's give one to William Devane for "Most Prolific Sweating."
  • That was real subtle to have Behrooz the teenager take the briefcase to the drop-off spot. Yeah, most high-schoolers carry those around, along with their homework and business proposals for the day. So, what, in the years of preparation for this terrorist attack, no one could buy a duffel bag?
  • Jack's partner du jour is shot just as they were arguing about what to do. Jack, sorry to say, but you're not blameless in this one.

    Desperate Housewives
    It's ironic that on the night this show wins a People's Choice Award for Favorite New Drama, ABC airs what has to be DH's funniest episode yet. There are usually several clever quips, but I was laughing out loud at Susan's bitter rendition of "New York, New York" aimed at ex-husband Carl, who she had just found out was a serial groper. "I wanna be a part of it," she sang, "New York, New York! These vagabond shoes — You're an ass, you know that? — are longing to stray."

    The only funnier moment was during Mrs. Huber's missing-person search when Susan told the girls that Mike had recently said "I love you," and then Lynette's "Oh, my god!" reaction was misinterpreted by the other volunteers as a grisly discovery. Brilliant stuff. Too bad though, about Mike getting framed for Mrs. Huber's disappearance. Kind of a damper.

    The Surreal Life
    Quote of the Weekend:
    "The woman doesn't mind being naked. I mean, it's obvious that she lives life naked, just punctuated by a few moments with clothes on." — Chris Knight (Peter from The Brady Bunch), commenting on his new skinny-dipping housemate, Adrianne Curry, winner of America's Next Top Model's first season.

    The "highlight" of tonight's episode began when rapper Da Brat decided to go sleep in the living room because she couldn't stand ex-wrestler Joanie "Chyna" Laurer's Chewbacca-like snoring (really, the least obnoxious thing she's done so far). On her way, she came upon a drunk Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer, who was in a "predicament," to say the least. She went into the guys' room to enlist their help. Off-camera we heard, "Chris? He's outside your door... naked in his [mobile] chair... pissing." The former Brady brother did help the little guy back to his room, but he was clearly, as he put it, "at a loss." I know the feeling.

    National Geographic Explorer: The Perfect Swarm
    To balance out my viewing of The Surreal Life, I thought it was only right to watch something educational. (Don't freak out, National Geographic — I also found this special to be fascinating and entertaining as well.) The modern epidemic of locusts in Africa was juxtaposed with the devastation caused to our country by those same insects in 1875. From the cool CGI effects in the 19th-century re-creations, you can tell this has been in production for a while, but its similarities to the tragic tsunami disaster were eerily echoed by entomologist Jeff Lockwood when he said, "There's very little humans can do in the face of natural elements."

    The 31st Annual People's Choice Awards
    Basically, if you saw a celebrity in the audience, there was a damn good chance that he or she was going to win something. "Hey, there's Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, who just so happen to be nominated for Favorite On-screen Chemistry... And wow, they won!" "Mel Gibson looks really bored — why'd he show up? But wait, his Passion of the Christ just took the coveted Favorite Movie Drama award. What a coincidence!" Yeah, anyway, the smoothest introduction of the evening had to have been when Jason Alexander said, "And now here's two crazy kids with a sparkle in their eyes and a movie to promote, the stars of The Wedding Date, Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney." But the goofiest moment overall was certainly Will Smith and Mike Myers bear-hugging twice and then yelling "I love you!" "No, I love you!" "No, no. I love you!" to each other.

    By the way, which is it: Is recognition from the fans the most important thing to celebrities, or is acknowledgement from your peers what really matters? Depending on the awards show, you'll get a different response. It's not fair though, that those are the only two groups who get singled out for thanks. Apathetic loners not in the entertainment industry get nothin'.

    I watched the second-season premiere of this engrossing, Depression-era series with a buddy of mine who summed it this way: "Man, the '30s sucked." Oh yes, they certainly did. And what must've sucked even more was if you tried to watch this show without revisiting the finale that aired on HBO more than a year ago. Psychic/catatonic Apollonia has apparently gone up in flames (for actress Diane Salinger, either the sweetest or lamest acting job in all of television); Ruthie is alive while the Professor is indeed dead (and dumped); Brother Justin, who was caught checking out his sister's crotch, is now sending out subliminal messages over the radio (however, it's not "Check out my sister's crotch."); and it seems we actually know who Management is now.

    Ol' craggly-voice from the ominous trailer is actually a Russian soldier that the notorious Henry Scudder, Ben Hawkins' father, originally faced off against in WWI (from, like, a three-second appearance in an episode from 2003 that I'm so sure we all remember). "[Scudder] is to me," said Management, "what the creature [Justin] is to you." And so the torch has been passed... or has it? Is this a false lead? Maybe. But I don't care, because for some reason I find material from this time period fascinating, and just about everything about this show (writing, acting and particularly the production design) has a high-quality — but appropriately grimy — gloss all over it.

    The Will
    Calling this reality show a guilty pleasure is like saying it's a guilty pleasure to stare at the bloody aftermath of a tragic car accident. Bill Long, a 73-year-old land developer, decided, for some insane reason, it was a good idea to gather his family and friends — those with and without breast implants — for a competition that technically hinges on his eventual death. The "winner" gets this kook's 560-acre Kansas ranch. Now, it appears this extended family is already screwed up enough (fourth wife Penny is horrid), so why would this guy, if he actually gives a damn about anyone here, put them through a situation that could fracture their relationships forever? People hold grudges over unintentional wedding slights for decades, never mind the quick-trigger backstabbing this show proudly displays. Hey Bill, nice legacy, buddy.

    The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
    When Ferguson, previously best known as Mr. "Carey, you're fired!" Wick, got the hosting gig last month, I bet he was as surprised as anyone. But five days after his premiere show, it's starting to make sense. You can tell he really wants to be there, and most importantly, he's an engaging conversationalist, including tonight's banter with Jeremy Piven. As far as the comedy bits go, while I liked him as an 8,000-year-old vampire who says "Anyhoo," I look forward to seeing Ferguson out of the studio, like he was during his tryout week in November when he auditioned for the new Elvis TV-movie. There'll be no five questions anymore, so I'll just ask one: Kilborn who? (OK, it's not like I suddenly have amnesia, I do remember him; I was just trying to make a point.)