Arrested Development
OK, I'll start on a downer and scold the writers and producers for crossing the line, tastewise, with Amy Poehler's Lynddie England photo gag and the setup with Buster headed to war in Iraq. I recently used the line about comedy being tragedy plus time — and guy-whose-name-I-forgot who wrote in to "correct" me, claiming it's tragedy plus timing, you're simply wrong — and it applies here. Abu Ghraib is still fresh, the whole torture thing's an ongoing mess and people are still dying in Iraq. No joking matter, people.

That said, pretty funny AD double shot, otherwise. Yes, I chuckled at the "all right" hand gag, as well as the seal that bit off Buster's hand coming from Gob's act. And yeah, the mixed-cocktail line made me a little queasy, too.

Didn't see the pregnancy twist coming, though. And for my money, Michael Cera (George Michael) has the funniest straight-man (in the comedy sense) mug on TV. Poor kid. &#151 Michael Peck

"Welcome to f---in' Deadwood! It can be combative." — Al Swearengen, greeting young William while thisclose to putting a knife in Seth Bullock

Now, ain't that an understatement? Y'know the toughest thing about this series, which I have very sorely missed? The best lines come out of the mouth of Swearengen (Ian McShane). And those are exactly the ones I can't quote without an overkill of dashes that would render this column well nigh unreadable. Nor can I quote the wonderful Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert), who only had one word in the whole hour, for exactly the same reason (though what a word it was),

But has this show learned to stir it up or what? A scant few minutes in, Bullock and Swearengen go off the balcony, locked in a brawl, just as Bullock's wife and Billy the kid show up, and right after he got out of bed with the widow Garrett. Quite a change from last season, when it took several episodes to get things moving. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I like slow pacing.

Gotta like Swearengen's E.B. imitation, too, which is somewhere between the real McCoy and Marvin the Martian. And I've got a feeling that kid William's gonna be a serious factor one way or the other. Overall, however, the greatest truth of the evening belongs to murderous Dan Doherty: "We're joinin' America and it's full of lyin', thievin' c------kers that you can't trust at all."

The man has a point. But ain't that what makes for great TV?— MP

The Starlet
OK, I know a lot of you hatehatehate reality shows, but this one is actually kind of important. First off, it introduces a whole new generation to the freakish glory that is Faye Dunaway. As one of the judges of this Next Action Star for ingenues, the notoriously prickly Oscar winner gets to play Den-Mommie Dearest to the 10 wannabe actresses enduring improv classes, screen tests and insults from La Faye herself, casting agent Joseph Middleton and Vivica A. Fox (whose career should be going better than a gig like this would suggest). Secondly, the winner gets a "career-launching" role on One Tree Hill. And if you don't understand why that is so important, than you're obviously not plugged into the most addictive teen drama south of Smallville and just west of Orange County. Honestly, whoever takes the prize here had better be good, 'cause I won't stand for some slacker messing things up for Peyton, Haley and Brooke. These ladies have enough trouble with Lucas and Nathan, aiight? So far, though, it doesn't look like we'll have a problem, since the talent-challenged Andria and Andie are already gone and Philly girl Mercedes is fast becoming the judges' fave. Which not only bodes well for Hill, but could also prove that not all of the drama queens in Philadelphia are dancing to Cher remixes down in the gayborhood. — Damian Holbrook

Their Eyes Were Watching God
I've gotta thank my high-school English teacher for making me read this book all those years ago. I loved it then, and without his influence I don't think I would have tuned into this beautifully made movie, because I'm still scarred from Catwoman and I only saw the commercials. Sans shredded leather, Halle Berry plays Janie, a daydreaming 17-year-old girl in the '20s who leaves her arranged marriage to run off with an ambitious, sharply dressed man. But while he gives her everything and becomes mayor of the first all African-American community, the spirited young woman is stifled. After 20 years, he passes away and she meets the dreamy young Tea Cake (Michael Ealy), who helps her get her groove back. But all the love and heartache help people recall that Halle's a tremendously convincing actress and an Academy Award-winner who made a bad choice. Personally, I'm jealous that while she's nearing 40, she can still pull off 17 without having to stretch too much and that she got to do that hot-as-sin kissing scene with Mr. Ealy, who is as delicious to watch as his alter ego's name implies.

Oh, and while I'm thanking people, I wanna thank Oprah, who exec-produced this adaptation. I know she gets a lot of flack for her book club, but if she can get Zora Neale Hurston's stories to the masses, then I say more power to her. And I can't help but wonder if Their Eyes will skyrocket to the top of Amazon's best-seller list now. — Angel Cohn


Battlestar Galactica
Baltar talks about suicide and I'm thinking, forgetting myself for a second, that maybe he's remorseful about being this show's traitorous scumsucker. But no — he's just lazy. And when Starbuck walks in on him with his fly down, she thinks she's caught him doing something bad... but as only we, Baltar and Number Six know, she doesn't realize the half of it.

Now, this Cylon-testing thing? I'd say it's a shame they never saw, say, The Thing or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, since they might've picked up some tips on telling humans from the bad guys. But things didn't work out so well in either of those movies, huh?

Speaking of which, I was all set to wonder if Tigh's lost-and-found wife Ellen might be one herself (and she may reveal herself to be one yet — remember who's doing the testing, after all), but I wasn't counting on her being the Mrs. Robinson model.— MP