Ignoring the fact that Vince had no idea what Smallville was while house-hunting with Tom Welling's realtor, I'm sending up a huge hurray that our "It" boy wised up and signed to do Aquaman so he could afford Marlon Brando's old pad. Now we can get on with the filming, which should be a hoot. Especially with that Gay Pride-meets-ComiCon costume! Plus, that line in the theme song about being a superhero finally makes sense. And let's also get a woo-woo for the writers who cooked up the idea of Drama being banned from the Playboy Mansion pajama party for freeing Hef's monkeys during a Cuervo-fueled night at the grotto with Ralph Macchio and Pauly Shore. Who knew Pauly was such a friend of PETA? Or that the washed up Karate Kid was such a snob, calling Drama an "ex-evening-soap star," like that's a bad thing? Um, hello, Daniel San? Given the state of your career, you'd be lucky to have Melrose on your IMDb profile, OK? So simma. The rest of Vinnie's posse, you just stay cool. 'Cause I'm thinking things are going to get very hot next week. — Damian J. Holbrook

The 4400
Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo guest-starred as Trent Applebaum, a 4400 with the ability to induce weight-loss. Having discovered his calling, Applebaum did what any patriotic crass American would do in his place — market his talent for greenbacks. (Why this surprised Tom, after all his run-ins with Jordan about the latter's 4400 center eluded me.) But poor Trent would pay for his capitalist ways thanks to a side-effect that bore curious parallels to "The Trouble with Tribbles" from the original Trek. In that classic 1967 tale, the Klingons dosed a wheat-like substance with a poison that broke down fat cells faster than the victim could replace them — just like Trent's infectious saliva. Not a great way to I die, I grant you, though on one level I envied the couple in the steakhouse. They tore through multiple T-bones like Dobermans, albeit middle-aged Dobermans with a mortgage. It was like boozing, only with meat. Speaking of which, Jordan had a sweaty romp with sexy Chloe, a pop tart he's hoping will attract more patrons to the center. "Celebrities have deep pockets and deeper insecurities," he preens to Shawn, who decides it's high time he let rip with a mild obscenity on basic cable: "You're a manipulative p---k, you know that?" I wish I could say that this distasteful remark acted as a wakeup call for Jordan to change his scandalous ways and become pious like Eric Camden, but knowing me, I'd blow my wishes on stuff like money and the destruction of my enemies.— G.J. Donnelly

The Comeback
I knew as soon as Shayne pronounced Valerie's character as "Ahhnt" Sassy there would be tension. But I also knew going in that an episode entitled "Valerie Bonds with the Cast" would crack me up. Another half hour of Lisa Kudrow's brilliant facial expressions. The highlight was Valerie giving Juna advice on how to deal with the tabloids and paparazzi, not knowing that Juna was in a popular rock band and had already been in the tabloids. Tonight's best line was from Jimmy Burrows to Valerie: "This is not your show — that (in reference to her reality show) is your show. This is the car that takes you to that show." The industry in-joke here: Jimmy is well-known for directing premiere episodes of sitcoms (as he did for Lisa's Friends.

Other random moments:
1) Valerie highlighting her lines at the first table read — one on every third or fourth page — while Juna was highlighting pages of dialogue.
2) Valerie asking cohead writer Tom if the teen characters were children of her brother or her sister and Tom not caring. "But Tom, it makes a difference."
3) Valerie's line to Jane after walking in when the other cohead writer, Paulie G., was getting pleasured in his dressing room: "Whoever that was needs to sign a release!"
4) Valerie waiting forever for her car but still giving the valet a tip since the camera was rolling. — Dave Anderson

The Dead Zone
This just in: The Stockholm Syndrome hits Maine as Johnny burns grilled cheese. The connection here is Sarah Bannerman, who, instead of calling the fire department to douse the culinary cinders, asks the psychic's help in tracking down a missing homeless gal. Now that son J.J. is growing up a bit and Sheriff Walt's busy enforcing the law, Sarah has been volunteering at a community center, where she's been helping a woman named Erica, who has suddenly disappeared. Erica was played by Joely Collins, whose father is the gnome-like drummer for Genesis. Fortunately, Joely doesn't mug the way Phil does in his videos, so when Erica was forced to act like a Stepford Wife by some weirdo wearing a see-through hockey mask, I felt for her. Joely's high cheekbones and squinty eyes made her look like a cute blonde version of Dianne Wiest, which meant tears gushed like Niagra Falls. Once on the case, Johnny and Walt encounter one of Mr. Face Mask's previous hostages, who, at the outset didn't want to help but then changed her mind (pay attention, we're approaching Sweden). Abandoning her loving husband, the woman suddenly pulled a Patti Hearst d&#233j&#224 vu and enthusiastically reclaimed her inner Tanya, even though it meant dressing like June Cleaver and facing the very real possibility of torture if she overcooked a sirloin. Caught between Walt's .45 and Mr. Face Mask's shotgun, Johnny escapes without a scratch (he did see it coming), even as the plant where Face Mask stashed Erica explodes. As the police backup arrives (just after the nick of time) to pick up the pieces of the hell that had broken loose, the Proverbial Tanya takes her beloved Face Mask off into the night, in search of a new and disturbed life. I wish them many happy detours. — GJD


Into the West
As much as I enjoy watching this, the difficult part is knowing history and, thus, what's bound to happen to most of these characters, especially the Native Americans. So when Dog Star tells Running Fox he'll trust the Great Spirit to guide him and guard him against the Cheyenne, the Crow and the white man, I can only cringe and wait for him to be proven wrong. Not that those who aren't native to the area have it much easier, as we see Hobbes the preacher/doctor lead Jacob's party in prayer before their wagon train sets out from Independence. They'll need that and more; it's still not enough to save Leah, who drowns in the river, or Rachel, who's hit by a runaway wagon and suffers a compound fracture. (Not to be a wiseass here, but didn't anybody think it was a bad idea to hang out directly in the path of a massive load being lowered down the hill with a make-shift block and tackle built from cut-down trees? And I'll say this now: The worms crawling around in her wounded leg are about the most disgusting things I've seen in some time, though that was nearly outdone by the following scene in which they sawed her leg off and she died.)

"I've always been envious of you, brother. You've always had that spark, that sense of adventure," brother Jethro tells Jacob as Jacob sees him through his bout of cholera. Later, Jacob takes an arrow through the chest while doing more than anyone to defend the group from marauding Cheyenne. So when he must be left behind to heal and takes nearly a year — if not more — to catch up to his Jethro and Thunder Heart Woman, only to find his wife is now his brother's wife as well as the mother of his new nephew, is it any wonder he leaves a sign behind and takes off? Heartbreaking stuff. And it's not like it's likely to get any happier along the way. — Michael Peck

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