The Sopranos
I assume everyone in town, including A.J.'s guidance counselor (David Strathairn) knows what Tony does for a living. (He says he's heard "some.") So is he really putting the preliminary moves on Carmela? Get the feeling the high school's gonna be taking out a "help wanted" ad soon?

Now, I was a knucklehead as a youth. And my buddies were even bigger ones. Drawing on the passed-out pal's face? Yeah, it happened (along with covering his mug with peanut butter and sticking Trivial Pursuit pieces into it to achieve a modern-primitive mosaic effect). But shaving off the eyebrows? Krazy Gluing the face to the floor? Way over the line. All. Out. War.

And speaking of war, putting Feech (Robert Loggia) on a bus back to prison avoided one. (The beauty of owning a cheap car, by the way: Had I been at that wedding, my ride would've still been there when I came out.) But I'm betting Tony's rare act of mercy means his ruthlessness is failing just when he's going to need it most.

Two positive developments here: I was correct last week when I wrote that the initially slow-moving Deadwood was going to turn into something interesting. (I'm sure you're celebrating that victory as hard as I am.) Also, I've now adjusted to the seriously lowdown cussin' (about the only c-word they don't use on this show) to the point where it doesn't pull me out of the story anymore. (Hey, maybe the potty-mouth thing actually makes the show better? If they start slinging four-letter zingers on The Help, would it be funnier?)

Me, I'm trying to forget my knowledge of history as fast as I can so I don't ruin the story for myself. And while I'm not having much luck, I'm hoping David Milch and company take enough artistic license to keep surprising me.

The weirdest part, though: Ian McShane's Swearengen (appropriate name, no?) is a murdering sociopath with no goodness in him. Yet he's also the smartest and funniest guy in town, so he's still the one I'd want to hang with. And then he'd kill me.

Crossing Jordan
Nigel finds Devan to be "a tad pushy." That's like saying the people they perform autopsies on are a tad dead.

Speaking of which, I don't get how these folks can be appropriately saddened by the discovery of a dead baby girl, yet crack wise about the 36-year-old woman found dead, battered and bloodied at the bottom of her staircase. Maybe I just haven't watched enough to get the M.E. humor code down yet?


The Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular
My favorite moment in this all-college edition: when UCLA's Derek, doing his best to dutifully "come on down," gets body-blocked into the seats before he can make it past even one row. (It's not usually a full-contact game when the housewives and retirees play.) And is it me, or does it seem like Bob Barker's been doing this so long he can only entertain himself by unloading a big "awwwwwwwwww" face on a girl who just blew a chance at a Chevy Impala?

Annie's husband, Dominic, feels odd at the firm's client party because he's a teacher dropped in among "people who make money for a living." Me, I'd be freaked because they all know how to deal with real bowties while I'd be desperately trying to hide my clip-on.

Meanwhile, points to Maria for shooting down her party-lizard suitor with a line of defense so withering and off-color I can't figure out a way to cleverly hint at it here. And demerits to Dominic for cheating on Annie — and to his on-the-side gal for text-messaging him with the evidence. Louse. Dope.


NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
This is why I've sworn off watching my favorite teams: the happiness-to-frustration quotient. I was a loyal Syracuse fan for years, but gave it up when I realized the joy of winning lasted only until the next big loss, while the pain of losing seemed to endure a whole lot longer. So I gave up watching, until the 'Cuse won the championship last year.

So I watch them again this year, and bang — they get knocked out and here come those tears again. Why mention this at all, considering that was Thursday's game and it's different teams playing right now? Well, Illinois' uniforms are damned close to those of the Orangemen, so if I turn the sound down and squint, I can pretend it's a Syracuse-Duke game. So I do. And they do, too. Lose, I mean.

And suddenly I'm the sports-fan equivalent of the bald kid in the yellow zigzag sweater. Good grief.

Jaye and Eric are looking for the "Irish Johnny Cash," who's also chasing the young woman they're chasing. The producers even try to cement that characterization by playing "I Walk the Line" when he shows up. But he ruins it by grinning. The Man in Black may have smiled every now and then, but he never out-and-out grinned.

Only I have to admit that while I'm still rooting for this show to succeed — and you know it's in trouble when the creator sends out a personal note asking TV writers to watch, which happened last week — and it's fun to try and figure out who's being helped in each episode, I think its biggest problem is length. An hour's too long when 30 minutes would probably do just fine.

The reason I bring this up is that though Jaye's exorcism ploy didn't work, she was onto something there. But she doesn't need a priest when she can just pull a "Sunny Came Home," light a big ol' fire and toss the talking animals in. Sure, it wouldn't burn hot enough to melt the monkey — assuming he's metal and not plastic, it'd probably just blacken him a bit — but having only one critter left might help with the length problem. And if more people don't tune in fast, Fox is gonna scorch the whole thing, which would be a shame.

The Help
Mindy Cohn goes from The Facts of Life to lines about using the Ridgeways' bidet. Antonio Sabato, Jr. goes from the world of soaps to lines about using the Ridgeways' bathroom water fountain. Think about it for a moment.... Yup, that's considered a joke on TV these days. Not for long, though, hopefully. I mean, how much more time's this thing got?

The D.A.
I'm no detective. Nor do I play one on TV. But I think I could do the job in the world of series make-believe. For instance, when the wife says she kept the rifle she shot her husband with in the cabinet over the oven? Immediately I'm thinking, "no way — how would that fit?" Pretty sharp of me, right? Even better: When looking at a mystery, figure out what would be best for Franks' career and assume that the opposite is what really happened. So when he wants to let the abused wife off, you know she's actually guilty of something more insidious than it appears. (It's my mental version of Homer Simpson keeping a do-the-opposite-of-what- the-boy-says card in his pocket.)

Except that... I didn't see the psychotic-kid hook coming at all. Maybe because it's a ridiculous development (though given the Menendez case, maybe it's not). And I thought that the boy, being the son of an actor, would be found to have faked his lunacy in order to protect his mom. That didn't happen, so I'm forced to admit I'm not that great at this after all. Still, the writers blaming both the Internet and videogames was predictable.