Every time I think I'm out, 24 pulls me back in. Once again I thought the show had done a Kim-cougar move on me and simply could not recover from its slump of unrealistic tedium. But recent episodes sure changed that, and tonight's capped it (sorry, Ryan — no pun intended). It was a pleasure to make time in the midst of all my other Sunday-night watching for this special Bush-bumped airing.

Not that it's any more believable when it's good, mind you, since, as a co-worker says, L.A. is reduced to being about the size of Gilmore Girls' Star's Hollow, judging by how easily and quickly everyone gets around town. And no Angelenos seem to bat an eye when the entire MI-6 office is blown to smithereens, either. (Though, to be fair, it happened downtown, where no one is.)

But man, was I impressed with how quickly people can get things done when a colleague's life is on the line. Nothing motivates like impending death, I suppose.

I just hope my boss wasn't watching.

State of Play
A mistress's life ends in the London tube, a teen's life ends by a dumpster and within minutes everyone else on this tightly written dramatic thriller has their lives thrown up in the air.

Alright, here I go again with the superior-Brit-TV rant. And to make matters worse, I'm doing it after only watching one episode. But do yourself a favor just the same: If your cable system carries BBC America and you missed this, search our Listings and catch a repeat. It's that good — and you can thank me later.

The Sopranos
The thing about this show? As disturbing as the violence is, the promise of the violence is worse. Watching Tim Daly trade a heroin jones for a gambling habit and build up a debt to Christopher he couldn't possibly pay off in time is somehow worse than enduring the inevitable beating.

And even more painful than the violence or the buildup to it are the inner betrayals. Polly Bergen's pathetic goomar playing Tony for sympathy and money, seeing if what worked on father will work on son. Tony discovering his dad gave his beloved childhood dog away to her son. Tony flashing back to having to lie to his mom about his father's affairs. No wonder I watch this show with my stomach in knots. But still I watch.

Lamisil Ad
Anyway, none of the mayhem Tony and his miscreant crew get up to can hold a candle to watching this cartoon fungus demon flip the toenail up, crawl underneath and tear into the brown, cracked flesh below. I don't care how bad the FCC thinks cursing and sex have gotten — this freaks me out more than anything else on TV.

You didn't really think Jack McCall was going to get a fair trial, did you? I didn't, either, but I was certainly hoping it'd go the other way.

Me, I'm still holding out for justice, pulling for Bullock to take care of Jack on the trail, Andy to survive and find his way back out of the woods and Alma to find the gold she doesn't know about on poor, dead Brom's claim.

And I've been thinking more about the fact that Swearengen's name is perfect for a guy who curses constantly and owns a saloon, which sells spirits. That's like naming Bullock, who's mighty handy with a gun and is opening a hardware store catering to prospectors, Shootenpan. Or calling Doc Cochran, who helps the sick and protected the little girl, Healengard. Or naming Joanie, who's a madame who works in the casino, F...

OK, I best stop right there.

Queer as Folk
Michael can't figure out how Brian can love him. Me, I can't figure out how Brian can even like him, what with him returning Brian's 'Vette covered in mud and full of empty burger boxes. Loyalty's loyalty, sure, but hey — cars are cars.

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Gigi marries Harvey, a bunch of other guys... and a bear. After making out with a hippo. Yeah, see — that's why it's called Adult Swim. In the meantime, how many of you could identify all too well with Harvey's "fatty grunt"? Oh, of course. Me, neither.


Chris Rock: Never Scared
The problem with writing about a Chris Rock show in this column? I can't repeat the best lines. I mean, can anyone figure out how to relate the R. Kelly insulin joke or the reasons why marriage may not be for you in a way that's printable here?

And that's not even the most unfortunate part. Rock's hardest-hitting stuff isn't even funny — at least not to me — and that's no fault of his own. The war in Iraq. Current drug policy. "Hate-riotism." The worship of money. The free ride of one particular "C" student. The rare straight answer from the top. The fact that marriage isn't really sacred in America after all. Good points, all — and too on target for me to laugh at.

But believe me: I don't hold him responsible for that.


Third Watch
Bad X, a bust gone awry and a Molotov-cocktail fire. I get the point, and that's it — no more raves for me.

Meanwhile, you know Bosco's snitch brother Mikey is as good as dead because he proposes they take a bonding trip to Atlantic City as soon as he gets out of jail. (I say that even with Henry Winkler on his side; it's not like the old days, when Winkler would've told him being a criminal and an informant was not cool before he and the Big Ragu would've jumped out of the lockers they were hiding in and taken care of the bad guys with coordinated handstand-kicks.) Once again I get the point, and that's it — no more being a stool pigeon for me.