Friday, December 29, 2006

Year-End Thoughts

My final thoughts of 2006 and being a first-time TV critic, expressed in haiku form:

Television is
not necessarily an
awful medium.

It's been a pretty good TV year. Not perfect, but more good than bad. Here's hoping for a better 2007.

May you have better luck than the survivors on "Lost."


The TV Guy.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Georgia fans can go through another angst-ridden Saturday when the Bulldogs square off against Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl (ESPN, 8 p.m.)

The academically depleted Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech face the we-did-better-on-our-final exams Mountaineers of West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Monday (CBS, 1 p.m.)

You can choose which network you want to see have the big ball drop, but I think there's a law somewhere against not watching Dick Clark on Jan. 1 (ABC, midnight).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Super Re-Runs

In anticipation for next month's Justice League origins episode, "Smallville" is re-running the debuts of some of the heroes who will return.

Tonight, the repeats of "Run" and "Cyborg" (CW, 8-10 p.m.), which introduced us to the Flash and Cyborg. Next week, the reruns in which Clark encounters Aquaman and Green Arrow for the first time. All of the characters then get together to save the world from evil in the episode, "Justice," set to air in January.

SCRUBS MUSICAL: "Scrubs" returns Jan. 4 with new episodes, and its highly publicized musical episode hits the air Jan. 18.

But thanks to YouTube, you can catch a preview of the episode online beginning today.

THURSDAY'S BEST BET: Catch the finale of "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.) tonight. This series has gotten better every week, and the ratings have been strong for a cable show, so hopefully this will return in the fall.

Fans of the surprising Georgia basketball team can watch tonight's matchup at Clemson at 7 p.m. on Fox SportsSouth.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Catch-up Time

Just a brief update today, since I've been swamped doing stories about James Brown.

For some reason, The Telegraph tends to always send me out to do the story when somebody dies. I don't really know why that is. But put it this way: If I'm showing up on your doorstep to talk, odds are somebody somewhere is having a bad day.

May we all be as well-loved as James Brown was when our time comes.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: This is dedicated to Gina, one of the literally dozens of loyal readers to the blog.

A belated Christmas gift, with four episodes of "Heroes" running tonight (Sci-Fi, 7 p.m.) will give you the chance to catch up. Not only that, three more re-runs air Monday night on NBC, so this is a good chance to catch up.

Speaking of catching up, you can see the three most-recent episodes of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) tonight, so here's a chance to see this excellent series once more.

A heads up to readers, "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.) is wrapping up its freshman season this week with two more new episodes tonight and its finale on Thursday at 10 p.m.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Year's Best Wrap-up

I got a call over the weekend telling me how I got it wrong with my year's best Top 10 list and how the caller disagreed with virtually all my choices.

The caller was my dad. He left the country a couple days later.

The timing of his leaving was purely coincidental and should in no way be construed that I can't take criticism.

But it just goes to show you that people can have vastly different cultural tastes, even within the same family.

Perhaps I should have clarified my Top 10 list this way: These are the 10 hours of TV I, Phillip Ramati, The TV Guy, can't miss at all, for any reason. If I do, furniture will likely be smashed.

That's not to say I don't enjoy the other shows I didn't put on the Top 10. As I wrote previously, "Ugly Betty" or "Scrubs" or any of them could have easily been included. But even though I don't want to miss any of those episodes, I feel that if I did, I'd still survive.

I can't say the same if I missed an installment of "The Shield" or "Battlestar Galactica." Some criticized my choice of "The Sopranos" in the Top 10, but at the end of the day, I still look forward to watching a first-run episode more than just about anything, because of the potential of what might happen.

And there are plenty of shows out there that I hope to catch at some point, like "The Wire" (produced by some of the same people that did "Homicide: Life on the Street," my all-time favorite American cop show) or "Dexter."

I like to watch a show from the beginning. I like to see story arcs in the order they are supposed to go and characters develop over time. In some cases, like "Lost," for example, you simply can't watch it out of order and be able to follow what is going on.

But in other cases, I think it simply adds to the enjoyment of the show. For example, I didn't catch "Buffy" when it first came out, mainly because I had no desire to see a TV show based on a crappy movie. Clearly, though, the TV series was a completely different animal.

I could have jumped on the "Buffy" bandwagon during any one of its subsequent seasons, but I decided to wait. I'm glad I did. I was able to catch up on repeats once FX started airing episodes, and it made for a better viewing experience watching the various characters develop over time.

Maybe that will happen with other shows currently on the air, which I never caught the first time around for whatever reason.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Your favorite TV critic (at least, your favorite that isn't named Matt Roush or Mo Ryan) is a little worn out from being the only working reporter for real news during the holiday season. So the holiday TV break isn't all a bad thing, especially since new episodes will hit the airwaves just after the new year. Look for some comments late this week or early next week on new series such as "Dirt" and "Knights of Prosperity."

In the meantime, it's not all reruns. You can try to catch "Big Day" (ABC, 9 p.m.) while it's still on the air (which likely won't be that long).

Also, two more new episodes of "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.) hit the air. This series is more enjoyable every week, though I stress that no sportswriter I've ever met has a career like P.J.'s, in which you get every night off to play poker with your friends. I try to look past all that, however.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Season's Greetings

No posting today except to say Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Best of 2006, Part III: The Top 10

If you've read the postings the last two days, you know that I didn't include some pretty darn good shows on my personal Top 10 list. I hope you remember that and it shows you how highly I regard the shows below.

An anonymous poster said on yesterday's post that I didn't show enough love to HBO's shows, but I tend to disagree, since I've put most of them one or another of my lists. As I have said all along, TV viewing is extremely subjective; there aren't two people in the entire U.S. who would come up with the same Top 10. I could, in theory, be chastised by someone who thinks I was wrong leaving off "According to Jim" as I was leaving off "The Wire." Doesn't mean I am right or wrong, just that I have different tastes. I happen to think all of the shows on all my lists are worthwhile viewing.

These are my 10 'can't-miss' hours of TV.

In alphabetical order:

1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): OK, the list is supposed to be alphabetical, but in this case, this would also probably be No. 1 in terms of quality. You simply can't have a better-written, better-acted drama. The effects are top-notch, and it's one of those rare shows that provides a great comment on our world today. If I listed all the adjectives I knew in praise of BSG, I'd run out of Internet.

2. Doctor Who (Sci-Fi/BBC): I was absolutely amazed at not only how good the show was under new Doctor Who David Tennant, but how consistent it was. "The Girl in the Fireplace" was one of the most beautiful hours of TV this year.

3. Heroes (NBC): I'll admit, this list is pretty tilted toward the Sci-Fi genre, but "Heroes" is on most people's list. In addition to the wonderfully compelling puzzle woven into the plot and Tim Sale's great art work, the cliffhanger twists have knocked my socks off all season long. It also has TV's best new character, Hiro (Masi Oka).

4. House (Fox): This has always been one of TV's best shows since it debuted, and it hasn't fallen off one bit. Hugh Laurie is simply amazing.

5. Life on Mars (BBC America): Far and away TV's coolest show, with that great 1970s soundtrack. John Simm and Philip Glenister are my kind of odd couple partners. From the same people who brought you "Hustle" and "MI-5."

6. Lost (ABC): Some people say the show has fallen off. Some people are idiots. So are the people at ABC, who seem intent on killing the show in the ratings. I re-arrange my life around "Lost" episodes. I even stop playing poker on those nights.

7. The Office (NBC): TV's best comedy has at least equalled, if not surpassed, the British original. There, I said it. I love, love, love watching this show.

8. Rescue Me (FX): Mo Ryan of The Chicago Tribune said this show hasn't lived up its previous seasons. I don't agree with that, but even if I did, 50 percent of "Rescue Me" is better than 100 percent of 90 percent of the shows out there. Creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan are totally unafraid to push the envelope.

9. The Shield (FX): I didn't think anything could surpass Season 4, which featured guest stars Glenn Close and Anthony Anderson. But, holy moly, Forest Whitaker comes in and Shazam! March can't come soon enough for me, when "The Shield" returns. TV's best cop show, and nothing else is even close.

10. The Sopranos (HBO): I debated this one a long time, because I don't think this season lived up to previous years. But at the end of the day, it always leaves you wanting more.

So, what are your Top 10 shows? Which ones did I get right, and which ones do you disagree with? Log in and post a comment!


AROUND THE DIAL: CBS announced it would end its run of "The Class" early this year, to make room for a new comedy, "Rules of Engagement." The Eye is doing some creative juggling of its Monday schedule.

"The Class" will run from Jan. 8 to March 5, when it will be replaced by "The New Adventures of Old Christine," which is on hiatus until then. "Rules of Engagement" debuts Feb. 5. "King of Queens," which is officially in its last season, starts its final run on April 9.

HBO, at least one viewer's network of all networks, announced that Season 2 of "Rome" will kick off Jan. 14 at 9 p.m., followed by the season premiere of the Ricky Gervais comedy "Extras" at 10 p.m. "Extras," by the way, probably could have made my also-rans list on Wednesday; the Hollywood guest stars like Kate Winslet and Ben Stiller were brilliant in playing send-ups of themselves.

FRIDAY'S BEST BETS: On Festivus Eve, a ton of early presents.

Sci-Fi presents a marathon of "Doctor Who" begining at 9 a.m. and wrapping up with the two-part season finale beginning at 8 p.m. Here's a hint: Daleks and Cybermen.

"Monk" fans rejoice, the defective detective returns tonight (USA, 9 p.m.) with a twist. The same episode is running back-to-back, but it's in black-and-white at 9 p.m., followed by a color version at 10 p.m.

And just a reminder for Zodin2008, who seems to keep missing "Justice," there is a new one tonight (Fox, 8 p.m.)

Good luck with your Festivus feats of strength!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Best of 2006, Part II: Honorable Mentions

These are the shows that nearly cracked my Top 10 list, but for one reason or another, didn't. It's more of a tribute to the 10 shows I rank ahead of them than a slap at any on this list.

In fact, look at this list here and you know how highly I regard the Top 10 I did pick.

In alphabetical order:

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO): The other heir apparent to "Seinfeld" (along with "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), this show is just too brilliant and funny for words.

2. Friday Night Lights (NBC): One of many shows with great quality but marginal ratings. I'm glad NBC is giving it a chance. As a sports writer who covered small-town high school football, a lot of this really rings true. But it's also the intersecting lives of the students at the school that makes this so worthwhile.

3. How I Met Your Mother (CBS): That I consider this the second-best comedy on TV (tied with "Scrubs") shows just how much I love "The Office." I can't decide which is funnier, Robin Sparkle or the slap fight between Marshall and Barney. This is the true heir apparent to "Friends."

4. Hustle (AMC): One of TV's most stylish shows, the only reason why it didn't crack the Top 10 is because they only do six episodes a season. It's a show about five con artists and their weekly capers, and it hits every note perfectly.

5. MI-5 (A&E): Produced by the same people who make "Hustle," this is far and away TV's best spy show. It has everything "24" lacks - realism, for a start. Those wankers at A&E have treated this show shamefully, putting it in a lousy timeslot, then pulling it.

6. Monk (USA): The plots sometimes leave a lot to be desired, but there's no denying Tony Shalhoub's genius and a top-notch supporting cast.

7. Scrubs (NBC): Glad to see this back on the air and as good as ever. It's a different kind of comedy, with its serious moments, but those only add to the show's quality.

8. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (NBC): For some reason, people in general are disappointed by this show, and I really don't know why. Perhaps because it's set in the world of a fictional comedy, people expect it to be a comedy. Though at points this season the writing was a little uneven, the cast has been terrific and it has already provided a lot of great moments. A worthy successor to "The West Wing," both for NBC and Aaron Sorkin.

9. Ugly Betty (ABC): Another near-miss for the Top 10. I really had no desire to watch this initially, a soap opera set in the world of fashion. But the raves over the summer were so good, and with my new role as TV critic, I was obligated to check it out at least once. I'm lucky I did. America Ferrera is a near-lock for an Emmy, and this may be the best supporting cast on TV.

10. Veronica Mars (CW): I really didn't like this show's second season, as the main mystery for this girl detective went off the beaten path. But it has bounced back strongly in Year 3. My major knock against the show is that, with the exception of Keith Mars (Enrico Colatani), the supporting characters aren't developed enough.

Coming Friday: The Top 10 of 2006.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Again, more reruns.

However, you can catch the brilliant Christmas episode of "The Office" (NBC, 9 p.m.) in case you missed it last week. Pam's gift for Jim was truly a gift to all of us.

CBS also airs the Christmas classic "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Interrupting Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

I didn't intend to break up my year-end wrapup, but two potentially really terrific pieces of news caught my attention and I wanted to share them.

News No. 1: The No. 1 here doubles as a pun. Variety is reporting that the new "Prisoner" TV miniseries will air on AMC in Jan. 2008. The series is being co-produced by Britain's Sky/Granada network.

This is a TV miniseries remake of the original "Prisoner" TV series from the 1960s, starring Patrick McGoohan. It shouldn't be confused with the movie-version remake of the same series, to be co-written by David Webb Peoples ("Unforgiven") and directed by Christopher Nolan ("Batman Begins," "Memento"). Perhaps appropriately, the number of initial episodes for the AMC series will be six.

News No. 2: We may see a new animated "Star Trek" series on the air. Unlike the 1970s series that ran for one season which continued the adventures of Captain Kirk & Co., the new proposed series would be set 150 years after "Star Trek: Nemesis" and feature an all-new crew. (I've been saying the Trek franchise should have gone in this direction instead of "Star Trek: Enterprise," but no one listens to me.)

The series would be set up along the lines of the very successful Cartoon Network series, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which ran a couple of years ago and bridged the gap between the second and third prequels.

Anyway, the Trek cartoon sounds pretty promising. You can read about it here:

Best of 2006, Part I: The Also-Rans

As pointed out in a recent posting on our music blog, Amped, Top 10 lists are a bit of a mixed bag that are pretty much dictated by the individual critic's taste.

Still, there's no new episodes of anything on, so I can stretch my Top 10 picks for 2006 out for three days' worth of postings.

I saw the year's end Top 10 list put together by the great Mo Ryan of The Chicago Tribune. It's a good list for the most part, though I took her to task for picking "Psych" over "Rescue Me." By the way, you should check out Mo's blog if you get the chance; it's always worth a read.

As Mo points out, there is so much good TV on right now that it's hard to limit it to just 10. So, in an effort to try, I am limiting myself to scripted, dramatic series. That means quality TV like "The Colbert Report" or "The Daily Show" don't make the list. Nor does any reality program. (Not a problem for me this year). Nor any TV movies or specials.

I am also limiting myself to shows I watch. As our music critic, Maggie Large, mentions on Amped, that's one of the drawbacks to doing lists of this kind: You can't see or listen to everything. For example, I don't have Showtime, so I don't get to see "Dexter" or "Weeds" or "Sleeper Cell," any one of which will make most critics' lists.

How good is TV these days? Even without listing the reality shows, fake news shows, and shows I don't watch, there's enough left over deserving to be mentioned. So much in fact, that today's list is the also-rans. These are good shows that don't even make my honorable mentions, let alone the Top 10. (Honorable mentions will come Thursday, Top 10 on Friday).

Here they are:
*Rome (HBO): This lavish, well-acted, well-written series could have broken into the Top 10. Sadly, it's so expensive to make that its second season will be its last.
*Prison Break (Fox): The writing stretches you beyond the point of belief, but it's a thrill-a-minute ride, and boasts one of TV's best villains in T-Bag (Rob Knepper).
*West Wing (NBC): The reason why this got bumped off the honorable mention list is that it ran last season. Kind of a dumb reason, since it was one of the venerable show's best seasons. The election was a great storyline, though I think Alan Alda should have won.
*NCIS (CBS): One of CBS' many procedurals, this one is produced by Don Bellisario, so it gets extra points there. You can tell the cast and crew also have a lot of fun with it.
*Bones (Fox): This show makes the list because of the terrific chemistry between TV's best couple, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. I also like the Squids, the series' lab techs. The plots, though, are far-fetched.
*Smallville (CW): Two years ago, they had the great addition of Erica Durance as Lois Lane. They've only added to that by building on the DC comics lore, adding Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) and Jimmy Olsen (a hilarious Aaron Ashmore). It also has another of TV's best villains, Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor.
*Supernatural (CW): This show is having one of the best sophomore runs of any on TV. The writers have done a great job in keeping the show clever and consistent.
*My Name is Earl (NBC): You can't help but love these characters.
*Kidnapped (NBC): Despite the dorks at NBC's attempts to kill this show, while it was on the air, it was one of TV's most compelling hours. Had it played out its run on the air instead of the internet, it would have easily moved into the honorable mentions.
*It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX): Along with "Rome," this one one of the most difficult shows to leave off the honorable mention list. It's the true heir apparent to "Seinfeld."
*Numb3rs (CBS): Yet another CBS procedural, this one makes math fun.
*Shark (CBS): It rips off the "House" formula, but James Woods makes it compelling.
*24 (Fox): I really hate this show. I really do. Why I keep watching it, I don't know. It's beyond ridiculous, the writing to get every disaster to fit into the span of a day. And Jack landing that plane on, what, 100 yards of freeway? I could to a 10 Worst List, and have "24" on it, no problem. I mean, it really bothers me to include this. Seriously. But the acting is good (especially Chloe, a character I hated but have grown to love) and one thing I can't say is that the show is dull.

Coming Thursday: Top 10 Honorable Mentions

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Nuthin'. It's all re-runs. However, the second "Bones" (Fox, 9 p.m.) airing tonight is a pretty good repeat of last year's Christmas episode, when the gang is quarantined in the lab for the holiday after a deadly spore is accidentally released.

Also, you can catch the re-airing of Tuesday's "My Boys" (TBS, 11 p.m.) tonight. Since I'm already plugging Telegraph blogs, I was mentioning to 'Rose' of our Macon Love blog the other day, this series continues to get better each week, and these two installments were quite good.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Golden Globes, Part II: The Picks

Today I pick the eventual winners, and who should win, for the Golden Globe awards, to be broadcast on Jan. 15.

I'll stick with TV, since Keith Demko already made his movies picks over at Reel Fanatic, so check those out.

(I will say I hope "Thank You For Smoking" sweeps.)

The Golden Globes are certainly interesting in their nominees, to say the least. Forest Whitaker may win Best Actor for his movie role in "The Last King of Scotland," but didn't get nominated for his electrifying work on "The Shield." Helen Mirren has a shot at winning two Globes, both Best Actress in a movie ("The Queen") and in a Miniseries/TV movie (she faces off against herself in "Prime Suspect 7" and "Elizabeth I").

As always, there are plenty of deserving people left off (they wouldn't be if I ruled the universe, more is the pity that I don't) and a few less-than-deserving who are included.

BEST DRAMA: Nominees - "24," "Big Love," "Grey's Anatomy," "Heroes" and "Lost."
What should win: "Heroes," TV's best new show, bar none.
What will win: "Grey's," TV's most popular show, bar none.
Comments: How can you include "Big Love" and leave off "The Shield," "Rescue Me," "Battlestar Galactica" and "House?" Friggin' foreign press association!

BEST COMEDY: "Desperate Housewives," "Entourage," "The Office," "Ugly Betty," "Weeds."
What should win/will win: "The Office." Long live Dunder Mifflin.
Comments: If "Ugly Betty" pulls off an upset here, I won't be disappointed. If "DH" pulls one off, I demand that the foreign press be shipped back to France, toute suite!

BEST MINISERIES/MOVIE: "Bleak House," "Broken Trail," "Elizabeth I," "Mrs. Harris," "Prime Suspect."
What should win: "Prime Suspect." Helen Mirren's final bow as Jane Tennison was four of the best hours TV had to offer.
What will win: "Elizabeth I." Voters like those well-done historical dramas. Someone ought to do one on the battle of Hastings. Hey, that's a good idea!
Comments: As long as the person beating Helen Mirren is Helen Mirren, what do I care?

ACTOR, DRAMA: Patrick Dempsey; Michael C. Hall, Hugh Laurie, Bill Paxton, Kiefer Sutherland.
Who should win: Out of this group, please, Laurie in a no-contest vote.
Who will win: Sutherland. Voters for these awards are nitwits. I'd love to see Hall pull the upset if Laurie can't win.
Comments: Geez, McDreamy? Really? Can we get a little love for Edward James Olmos and Michael Chiklis here?

ACTRESS, DRAMA: Patricia Arquette, Edie Falco, Evangeline Lilly, Ellen Pompeo, Kyra Sedgwick.
Who should win: Falco. No one should ever beat Edie Falco in anything ever. Unless it's Helen Mirren.
Who will win: Sedgwick. Not a bad choice.
Comments: Enough with frakkin' Patricia Arquette already! Good God, voters should be ashamed of themselves that she's on the ballot and Kristin Bell and Mary McDonell aren't. You foreign press guys suck!

ACTOR, COMEDY: Zack Braff, Steve Carell, Alec Baldwin, Jason Lee, Tony Shalhoub.
Who should/will win: Baldwin. Carell got his Emmy, and Baldwin has re-invented himself as a near comic genius. He's really the only good thing about "30 Rock."
Comments: I'd love for Braff to get something at some point, but "Scrubs" always seems to get shafted.

ACTRESS, COMEDY: Marcia Cross, America Ferrera, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Felicity Huffman, Mary Louise Parker.
Who should/will win: Ferrera. You can't watch her and not vote for her. You really can't; I defy you to try!
Comments: Not even the brilliant Marcia Cross can save the drivel "Desperate Housewives" has become. The writing is beneath her. Look for Parker to score an upset here.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Thomas Haden Church, Jeremy Irons, Justin Kirk, Masi Oka, Jeremy Piven.
Who will win: Piven. Hollywood insiders will love his Hollywood insider role.
Comments: Notice how I didn't say who SHOULD win? This is an idiotic category, foreign press guys. How can you compare a role in a weekly series, such as Oka from "Heroes" with a role in a TV movie, such as Irons with "Elizabeth I?" You can't. It's stupid to try. Go back to France already, foreign press. That being said, if anyone deserves the upset, it's Oka, the breakout star of 2006.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Emily Blunt, Tony Collette, Katherine Heigl, Sarah Paulson, Elizabeth Perkins.
Who will win: Heigl. Her whole trying-to-save-Denny storyline is the kind of thing actors live for. This is as close to a sure thing as any award listed.
Comments: See above for the stupidity of doing the category like this. Also, how could pick Paulson as the lone "Studio 60" nominee, especially ahead of the luminous Amanda Peet?

R.I.P.: Joseph Barbera, half of the great animation team of Hanna-Barbera. He was partly responsible for some of the best TV cartoons ever, including "The Jetsons" and "The Flintstones." I grew up on the "Superfriends."

MORE ABC SHOWS FINISHED: In addition to pulling "Day Break," ABC has also ended the William Shatner-fest game show, "Show Me the Money." In addition, Ted Danson's "Help Me Help You" appears done, since the network is burning off "Big Day" episodes two at a time on Tuesday nights.

TUESDAY'S BEST BET: A quiet night full of repeats. I only am making a pick here because "House" (Fox, 8-10 p.m.) is re-running two of its best episodes, the one where House is shot and the subsequent episode of his recovery. Why, it's a Golden Globe worthy performance!

Actually, there are a couple of things on. You can catch the classic "I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown!" (ABC, 8 p.m.) and two new episodes of "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.), a series that is growing on me despite the fact that it in no way depicts the life of a real-life sports writer.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Golden Globes, Part I

The Golden Globes are already considered to be precursors for the more-ballyhooed Oscars and Emmys, but in reality, there are enough differences in who gets what award that the Globes are their own separate thing.

Picked by the Hollywood Foreign Press, the Globes have done a better job over the years, I think, in getting it right more than the Oscars or the Emmys.

For example, "House" star Hugh Laurie got a deserved Golden Globe for Best Actor last year. At the Emmys, he wasn't even nominated even though his show got a nomination for Best Drama. Anyone who watches five minutes of "House" can see the show doesn't work without Laurie's performance. Anyone, that is, except for the folks who run the Emmys.

Perhaps what I like best about the Globes is that they separate comedy and dramatic performances in the movies. That means someone like Aaron Eckart has a shot for winning for "Thank You For Smoking" (the year's best movie IMO) because he doesn't have to go against the likes of Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland," since they are completely at opposite ends of the spectrum.

That doesn't mean the Globes get right, however. How can Whitaker, for example, not be nominated for his TV work on "The Shield?"

More importantly, in the supporting actor/actress category in TV, the Globes don't separate comedies/dramas/miniseries. So you have Masi Oka of "Heroes" squaring off against Jeremy Irons for his performance in the TV movie "Elizabeth I." They aren't comparable, and it's really unfair to any of the performers. Would it kill the foreign press to add separate categories for supporting performers?

Coming Tuesday: Golden Globe picks.

DAY BROKEN: As predicted, ABC has pulled the plug on "Day Break," yet another fiasco for the network on Wednesday nights. The decision comes with two episodes yet to air, which will be shown on instead. The network will run comedies it had planned to run come January, such as "George Lopez" and "The World According to Jim." Thanks, ABC.

MONDAY'S BEST BET: NBC has been really good about sending me screeners for nearly all its series, so the fact that I didn't get anything for the new game show "Identity" (NBC, 9 p.m.) may be an indicator of the show's quality. Taking the idea of "What's My Line?" a little far, Penn Jillette serves as host on one of those laser-and-glass sets now required of all game shows.

Also, get that early Christmas with Rob Lowe in the TV movie "A Perfect Day" (TNT, 8 p.m.) I haven't seen it, but here's guessing that someone learns an important lesson about the true meaning of the holidays.

Finally, another pitch for "Eleventh Hour," (BBC-America, 9 p.m.), a pretty cool series with Patrick Stewart as a government scientist who troubleshoots crises and Ashley Jensen as his bodyguard.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Report Card V: Proud as a Peackock, But Not as Pretty

Ah, NBC, poor NBC. You work and you work, you put out some of the best shows on TV and how do the ingrate viewers reward you? By making you a third-place network, at best.

You really can't fault the programming chiefs over at NBC, who have developed about as good a slate as there could be on the dial. This isn't just my opinion; of the 10 shows picked by the American Film Institute as the best of the year, four came from the Peacock - "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes," "The West Wing" and "The Office." (A fifth, "Battlestar Galactica," is produced by NBC-owned The Sci-Fi Channel.) Only one other network, Fox, managed to make that same list with only one show, "24."

NBC also did very well among the Writers Guild of America choices, landing two of the top five comedies and four of the top five new shows. And NBC acquitted itself very well in the just-announced Golden Globes.

And yet, viewers seem to be avoiding NBC like the plague. Not counting Sunday night football, only two broadcast shows draw any sort of ratings: "ER" and "Heroes."

NBC's problem may be that the shows that have come out have been TOO good, that the American public doesn't want shows that challenge them intellectually.

The one silver lining to NBC's struggles is that the network is giving these shows a chance to find a place by giving most of them renewals for the full season, probably because it doesn't have anything else better sitting on the shelf. Most of the other networks wouldn't have been so generous.

THE GOOD: You can't accuse NBC of not trying. The Emmy-worthy quality of "Heroes," "Friday Night Lights," "Studio 60," "The Office," "Scrubs," "Kidnapped" et. al. is pretty undeniable, no matter what the numbers are.

"Heroes" has emerged as the season's breakout hit, despite the lukewarm reception it got from critics over the summer. While it could have been pigeonholed as a genre show, it has found a large, mainstream audience and has taken over the watercooler chats normally reserved for ABC's "Lost." It's also produced the breakout star of the season, Masi Oka.

NBC has actually used ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" to give some life to "ER," which has enjoyed a renaissance in the ratings. And game shows like "Deal or No Deal" and "1 vs. 100" have proven popular.

THE BAD: Why, oh why, is no one watching the rest of the stuff NBC puts out there? "Friday Night Lights" is arguably the best family show on TV, yet it has come under attack from family groups. "Studio 60" is perhaps the most expensive show on TV, yet really only survives because it's able to charge some of the most expensive rates. Unfortunately, viewers haven't stuck around to see Aaron Sorkin's return to TV, along with the most talented cast of any show.

Not everything NBC touched turned to gold. The network did foist "20 Good Years" upon us for three miserable weeks.

THE ANNOYING PROVERBIAL KICK TO THE JEWELS: One thing NBC royally screwed up was my second-favorite offering of the new season, "Kidnapped." Though some of why "Kidnapped" failed wasn't the network's fault - viewers had already been turned off to the concept by Fox's horrible "Vanished" debuting first and a general backlash to shows that have season-long arcs - NBC didn't do the show's loyal fans any favors by moving it to Saturdays, then yanking it for Internet-only telecasts. I finally gave up on "Kidnapped" because I missed a couple online because I couldn't find them. It was too much effort on my part, no matter how good the show was.

That leads to another criticism: NBC has the worst Web site among any network. They don't put up every episode of the season to let viewers catch up, the site works very poorly with Mac computers, and it's almost impossible to find where the episodes are on the Web site. At least here, NBC ought to take a page from ABC's playbook. I really hope you guys from the Peacock are reading this. Seriously.

OUTLOOK: Geez, who knows? I mean, what's NBC going to do, put out better shows than the ones they've got now? Perhaps it ought to spike the drinking water, give everyone a transplant of IQ points and taste. GRADE: A- in effort, C+ in results.

BEAM YOURSELVES UP: Some news for Trekkers. Fans of "Star Trek: Voyager" can watch that show again when it debuts on Spike TV Monday at 9 a.m., while fans of "Star Trek: Enterprise" can reminisce when the Sci-Fi Channel starts running it beginning in early January.

Also, writer-director J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias") who is helming the 11th film in the franchise, said to expect it out sometime in the summer of 2008.

FRIDAY'S BEST BET: It's beginning to become a blue Christmas as first-run episodes have virtually run out for 2006.

You still get a full night of new stuff on CBS, beginning with "Ghost Whisperer" at 8 p.m. and followed by first-run shows of "Close To Home" and "Numb3rs."

Since a lot of people are annoyed at missing the final "Justice" episodes, here's another reminder to catch a new one (Fox, 8 p.m.)

"Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) has had a phenomenal run, and last week's installment may have been one of the cleverest hours of TV anywhere. Another new episode, "Fear Her," airs tonight. "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) wraps up its fall with the beginning of a two-part finale tonight.

Finally, a Happy Chanukkah to all from the TV Guy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Report Card IV: Fox in the Henhouse

Fox is the Jekyll and Hyde of network TV.

When the TV season kicks off, it offers very little and gets its butt kicked in the ratings. Come January, however, and Fox unleashes the monster that changes the landscape of TV: "American Idol."

With "AI" and the return of "24," Fox is actually in a position to do the butt-kicking in the winter. ABC has essentially acknowledged this, bumping back "Lost" to 10 p.m. so as not to compete with the "AI" phenomenon.

THE GOOD: Not a whole bunch between September and December. Fox really only had two shows of any quality that did well in the ratings - "Prison Break" and "House," and really only the latter can legitimately stake its claim as one of TV's best hours because the former often borders on the preposterous.

THE BAD: Virtually all of Fox's new shows this season bombed, including "Vanished" and "Justice." "Standoff" may make it through the rest of the season despite middling ratings because of the appeal of leads Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt. Shows such as "Bones" and "The O.C." have also seen a drop in the ratings.

Sitcom-wise, nothing the network has trotted out has been memorable, and even the quality of the Sunday night animation block has fallen off.

THE OY VEY, IS THAT UGLY: Fox was going to run its O.J. Simpson Special, "If I Did It," until the backlash against the network became so great that it had to pull it. When the network has to come in to put the leash on reality-savant Mike Darnell (see how I switched the words "reality" and "idiot?" Wasn't that cool?), you know they have crossed the line.

OUTLOOK: Despite lackluster fall ratings, Fox will be a contender by the end of the year because of its second-half schedule. How a network can keep its good stuff on the shelf for four months while foisting steaming piles of dog poo like "Vanished" upon us boggles the mind, but there you go. GRADE: C-

GOLDEN GLOBES: The list comes out today and will be in Friday's edition of The Telegraph. I will devote Monday's blog to the TV picks. I will say that I'm glad the voters remembered my favorite movie of 2006, "Thank You For Smoking." I hope the Oscar voters show the same savvy.

THURSDAY'S PICKS: Sadly, the first-run episodes of 2006 are fewer and fewer, but we do get one last holiday treat with the NBC Thursday night lineup, beginnig with a one-hour "The Office" at 8 p.m., followed by new episodes of "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" beginning at 9.

The ultimate holiday episode of any TV series ever is also supposed to be running tonight, when TBS re-airs the "Seinfeld" classic episode that introduced the world to Festivus. That Festivus remains part of the national culture nearly a decade after "Seinfeld" has left the airways really says something about our culture. What that is, however, I don't know. But I do have quite the long list of grievances to air. And I will be making my donations to The Human Fund.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Report Card III: Insert Clever Nickname Here

The CW seems to be born behind the 8-ball.

The product of the union of two failed networks, the grade for the fledgling CW probably should be "incomplete" as it wraps up its first fall.

After all, anything you say about the CW seems to be a qualified statement, as in "Veronica Mars gets good ratings FOR THE CW," point out that pretty much any show on the CW would be ratings toast if it appeared on one of the other networks.

Still, the outlook isn't all bleak. The CW manages to stay pretty competitive in the much-loved 18-49 age group, always a good sign.

THE GOOD: Again, you have to qualify this by remembering it's good FOR THE CW.

Culling the herd to bring with it the best the defunct UPN and WB had to offer, the CW doesn't have the worst lineup in the world. The network does pretty well with "America's Next Top Model," and its Thursday offerings of "Smallville" and "Supernatural" have been solid both ratings-wise (for the CW, anyway) and creatively.

"Veronica Mars" has actually seen a slight ratings bump on Tuesdays.

THE BAD: "Gilmore Girls," as much a signature show as anything the CW offers, has suffered both a ratings and critical decline since the move. Most of the new dramatic offerings by the network, such as "Runaway," were DOA. Very little new stuff seems to be coming on the horizon.

THE IRONIC: "Reba," a show the CW didn't want but sort of had to take because of certain contractual obligations, seems to be the network's best offering on Sundays in terms of ratings.

OUTLOOK: New shows that appear on the CW almost seem to have an instant death sentence. Still, the holdover shows from UPN and the WB seem to have their built-in audience and are holding steady for the most part. GRADE: Incomplete

AROUND THE DIAL: FX announced it's picking up a third season of documentarian Morgan Spurlock's series "30 Days." ... Orlando Jones will have an upcoming part on ABC's "Men In Trees." ... The Golden Globe nominees will be announced Thursday morning. ...

In the latest reality offering that makes me want to drive an icepick through my temple, CBS is coming out with ‘‘Armed & Famous’’ starring the likes of Erik Estrada, LaToya Jackson, Jack Osborne and other C-listers as volunteer cops with the Muncie, Ind. police force. Already, there have been issues with the show, since the producers and cops have had difficulties getting suspects to sign waivers so their face can appear on TV.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Thank you, cable TV, for forcing networks to broadcast more first-run episodes this late into the holiday season. On the drama side, you can get "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.), "CSI: NY" (CBS, 10 p.m.) and one of the final episodes of "Day Break" (ABC, 9 p.m.), though I gave up on this one about two weeks ago.

On the comedy side, there are two episode of "The King of Queens" (CBS, 8 p.m.), while reality TV offers the two-hour finales "America's Next Top Model" (CW, 8 p.m.) and "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 8 p.m.)

Speaking of finales, you can also catch the final part of the miniseries "The Lost Room" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) I've yet to catch Part 2, but Part 1 was pretty cool. You can catch Part 2's rerun at 7 p.m.

Finally, I promised updates on when to catch "Heroes" reruns. is supposedly offering all of the fall episodes of "Heroes" and its other shows on its Web site through the rest of the month. I find rather aggravating to navigate, but it should allow those of you who need to catch up the opportunity to do so before new episodes arrive in January.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Report Card II: Eye of the Beholder

CBS reminds me of one of the football programs that sticks to the wishbone offense years after everyone else has switched to something like the run-and-shoot.

CBS will continue with their old, reliable, grind-it-out formula and ultimately win that way.

The Eye has been able to claim victory so far, winning the overall ratings war for the first half of the TV season with its old standby: procedurals.

Between "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY," "NCIS," "Without a Trace," "Numb3rs," "Criminal Minds," "Cold Case," "Shark" et. al., CBS has bucked the recent trend of developing story arcs over a season in favor of telling stories that can conclude within an hour.

There's nothing wrong with that. If something is working for you, why not repeat the formula six or seven more times?

Of course, it doesn't leave a lot of room for variety. Shows like "Lost" or "Heroes" never would have found a home on CBS, denying the Eye a shot at putting greatness on the air.

THE GOOD: Well, whatever it is CBS is doing, it seems to be the right moves. True, the Eye isn't really battling for any of the 18-49 age group demographic that advertisers love, but CBS is dominating the ratings otherwise.

Among the new shows, "Jericho" - one of the few CBS shows to have a multi-arc storyline - and "Shark" have broken out as solid hits. Ratings for the existing CBS shows like the CSIs remain consistent.

CBS has also developed a solid block of comedy on Monday nights, though freshman show "The Class" has struggled.

Probably the biggest story of the year has been how "Criminal Minds" has beaten ABC's "Lost" head-to-head during the latter's final two episodes. "Criminal Minds" earned the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot in February.

THE BAD: "Smith," one of the most anticipated new shows of the fall, died a quick death after three episodes despite a great cast including Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen. "Smith" probably killed any chance that CBS would try to go outside its game plan and develop shows with season-long arcs.

The show that replaced "Smith," the "House"-ripoff called "3 LBs," also had the plug pulled after three episodes.

On its news side, CBS' strategy and heavy promotion of Katie Couric as anchor for the nightly news has seemingly flopped, with ratings continuing to fall.

THE OUTDATED?: CBS used to rule the roost in reality TV with shows like "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," but both shows have suffered lately both in ratings and in quality. CBS doesn't have a music-based reality show like "American Idol' or "Dancing with the Stars" that seems to be all the rage these days.

OUTLOOK: Something tells me that CBS won't be getting away from the procedurals any time soon. No reason why it should necessarily if the ratings stay strong. Viewers may not get a ton of variety, but that's why they build TVs with remote controls. Grade: B

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Wow, I can't remember a year where you had fresh programming as late as Dec. 12, but welcome to the world of post-modern TV, where quality on cable has changed all of the rules.

Viewers get their choice of new episodes at 8 p.m. among CBS' "NCIS," NBC's "Friday Night Lights," and Fox's "Standoff." At 9 p.m., you have "House" (Fox, 9 p.m.) and "The Unit" (CBS, 9 p.m.)

For those who like classics, you can celebrate the 40th Anniversary Special of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (ABC, 8 p.m.) And it wouldn't be a December without a Barbara Walters Special (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Also, Part 2 of "The Lost Room" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) airs tonight. If you missed Part I, you can catch it again at 7 p.m.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Report Cards I: Alphabet Soup

It's been an interesting fall for ABC, the network that refuses to add me to its critics' list.

The network would likely spin it is as a successful season, pointing out that the ABC was No. 1 in the ratings in the coveted 18-49 age group bracket.

But with ABC, for every good thing that happened, something bad seemed to always follow.

THE GOOD: ABC is still a contender for No. 1, with a roster that includes "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and its top show, "Grey's Anatomy." ABC also scored a major success on the reality front with "Dancing With the Stars." And of the new shows, "Ugly Betty" has been among the best of any network both critically and commercially. Even "Brothers and Sisters," which came into the season looking like a disaster, has seemed to find a home on Sundays.

THE BAD: "The Nine," one of the most anticipated new shows of the fall season, never found a ratings home and is gone. So is the heavily hyped new show, "Day Break." "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" have both seen ratings decline, and the latter show has been in a creative slump for two years now. "Men in Trees" is getting mediocre ratings, and "Six Degrees" never caught an audience. "Help Me Help You" needs a lot of help, period.

THE UGLY: ABC has totally mismanaged Wednesday nights, an area it once dominated. Not only has the network seen "Lost" slip into a tie in its timeslot with CBS' "Criminal Minds," but it also has hurt all of the shows around it.

ABC is practically giving up on the night when the winter season starts up by moving "Lost" to 10 p.m. so it doesn't have to face Fox's "American Idol." Instead, it will load up the 8-10 hours with sitcoms, one of which, "Knights of Prosperity," had a lot of positive buzz but will likely die a quick death in the 9 p.m. slot. And with "Lost" not returning until Feb. 7, it's going to kill a lot of momentum the show had.

Creatively, "Desperate Housewives" is a mess and largely unwatchable. "Grey's Anatomy" made more headlines with its soap opera off the air than it did with the soap opera on the air. "Brothers and Sisters" has had solid ratings numbers, but they appear to be built on quicksand - it's losing a lot of its "DH" lead-in.

OUTLOOK: Folks, ABC is looking a lot like NBC was about three years ago when it was in first place, and NBC is now a third or fourth place network. Bringing "Lost" back earlier than February would be a start in the right direction. GRADE: C+

MONDAY'S BEST BET: A couple of treats this holiday season.

While I was on the road last week, I wasn't able to plug "Eleventh Hour" on BBC America (9 p.m.) Starring Patrick Stewart as a government scientist and Ashley Jensen ("Ugly Betty") as his assistant/bodyguard, the show follows scientific mysteries in Britain. Last week involved illegal human cloning attempts; this week's installment is about a deadly outbreak. It's a show worth catching if you can.

Also tonight is the first of a three-part miniseries called "The Lost Room" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) It stars Peter Krause as a detective investigating a murder at a pawn shop, where he finds a key to a mysterious hotel room. Julianna Margulies also stars. The series will continue with episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Odds & Ends

Just a quick posting today, because I have a lot of work to do with the job they actually pay me for.

First, a couple of "Heroes"-related items. The ever-popular Masi Oka will appear as himself on an episode of "Studio 60" later this year. Oka has already lined up a part on "Scrubs," reprising his former recurring character on that series, but with a twist - he will have his Hiro power of bending the space/time continuum. No word on whether Oka retains his power for "Studio 60" as well.

In an unrelated item, castmate Thomas Dekker, who plays Claire's platonic friend that is handy with a camcorder, will take on the role of John Conner in the "Sarah Conner Chronicles," set to debut on Spike TV next year. Dekker joins Lena Headey, who takes on the role of Sarah. The series will bridge the gap in the Terminator franchise between "T2" and "T3." Interestingly enough, Headey is only 14 years older than Dekker, yet they will be playing mom and son.

For those who paid attention to the coming attractions after "Smallville" last night, you were able to see glimpses of the future episode "Justice" set to air when the series returns after the winter break. The episode sees the banding together of the young Clark Kent with Green Arrow, Cyborg, Aquaman and the future Flash (and possibly the Martian Manhunter) as the nascent Justice League. Now word is coming out of the Warners lot that "Justice" may not be the only time all of these characters get together. There may be a second outing on "Smallville" and possibly a spinoff in the future after "Smallville" ends its run. Stay tuned.

Finally, Rebecca Romijn joins the cast of "Ugly Betty" as the mysterious woman working with Vanessa Williams' character. Romijn will be playing the former editor of the magazine thought to have died in a car accident. The character has been seen in bandages and shadows only thus far, and is being played by a different actress.

FRIDAY'S BEST BET: Your final chances to catch the remaining episodes of "Justice" are currently being burned off (Fox, 8 p.m.) This was a solid, if by-the-numbers, series starring Victor Garber and is worth a look if you haven't had a chance to see it.

WEEKEND'S BEST BET: The critically acclaimed "Sleeper Cell" (Showtime, Sunday, 9 p.m.) begins its second season this weekend. The series deals with an Islamic terrorist cell working within the U.S. and the FBI agents who are trying to catch them.

Also, you can catch the finale of "The Amazing Race" (CBS, Sun., 8 p.m.). Personally, this has been the worst installment of the race and I hate all three teams. I suppose I'm pulling for the male models, since they are the least reprehensible of the teams remaining.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Midseason report cards for the networks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tale of the Tape

Blog fan Gina, in her kind message on yesterday's post, brings up an interesting subject that I was debating over Thanksgiving.

Way back in the day, my family bought one of the first VCRs on the market. It cost around $1,000, was made of all metal parts, and had a remote control that had to be attached to the unit by a cord. No one was even sure if the VCR would be a wise investment, since the Betamax platform was also popular. In addition, there was only one tiny store in Savannah back in the pre-Blockbuster days that rented videos, and you had to pay a member's club fee to join.

Fast forward to more modern times. VCRs, made with cheaper, plastic parts, cost under $50. Even if it's a VCR/DVD combo, it's still under $100.

Of course, VCRs are becoming more obselete with the rise of DVRs and Tivo. My brother has joined the DVR revolution and often chides me for not joining the 21st century.

But the DVRs aren't the be-all and end-all of recording TV. At least, not yet. My brother has sometimes missed a program because a football game or other show preceding the program may run long, and you can't change the time settings on a DVR; all you can do is tape the program after the one you want to record as well.

On occasion, members of my family have been unable to record programs on their DVRs for a variety of reasons. When they miss a show, they inevitably call me, knowing in all likelihood my old reliable VCR has it on tape. And unlike a DVR, I can drop the video in the mail and send it to them in a couple of days. If I miss something and a family member has it on DVR, I have to wait until the next time I visit in order to see it.

My DVD/VCR combo cost about $80, and the videotapes within the machine are cheap. Things like Tivo are more expensive, and DVRs usually require a monthly fee with your cable company.

I'm certain at some point I'll likely break down and get a DVR, but I won't deep-six my trusty VCR in the process.

In a side note, Gina, if you don't have a VCR or DVR, you still have some options. First, NBC will undoubtedly re-air episodes of "Heroes" (and other shows) during the holiday break to let new viewers catch up before the show returns with new episodes in January. In addition, most networks now put their episodes online. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you can easily view an episode with pretty good picture quality and limited commercial interruptions.

Also, many networks will re-air their first-run episodes on the weekend or on a sister network. NBC Universal owns the Sci-Fi Channel, and has shown "Heroes" reruns from the previous week on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m., so you can catch up with the previous week's episode before watching the new one on Monday.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Thankfully, there are still some first-run episodes being shown before the holiday reruns and specials air.

NBC has an hour-long "My Name is Earl" starting at 8 p.m., followed by new episodes of "Scrubs" (9 p.m.), "30 Rock" (9:30 p.m.) and "ER" (10 p.m.)

CBS counters will all-new episodes of "Survivor" at 8 p.m., followed by "CSI" and "Shark."

Fox airs a first-run episode of "The O.C." at 9 p.m., while The CW gives viewers new episodes of "Smallville" and "Supernatural."

As for reruns, people who have heard about "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) but haven't had a chance to catch this great series can catch the re-airing of the pilot episode tonight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hey, I'm Back

For all of the devoted TV Guy followers who have missed me for the past few days, the good news for both of you is that I'm back from a mini non-vacation over the weekend.

I would have loved to have posted earlier, especially with absolutely killer episodes of "Heroes" and "Studio 60" to close out their final run of original episodes before breaking for the holiday.

"Heroes" gave us some tantalizing glimpses of the future, plus continued to explore the ambiguous nature of HRG, Claire's dad. "Studio 60" gave us a huge burst in the Danny-Jordan relationship in addition to delivering some great moments of comedy.

Of course, this time of year kind of sucks, since virtually all the original episodes of most network shows are now finished (though "Standoff" and "Friday Night Lights" both advertised their final episodes for next Tuesday). Usually, we get stuck with various Christmas specials and movies.

The most interesting news this week is that ABC continues to shoot itself in the foot and will air "Lost" at 10 p.m. once it returns on Feb. 7. Between the increased popularity of "Criminal Minds" (which earned the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot in January) and the new "American Idol" returning in January, ABC is virtually conceding a night it owned last year.

Making matters worse, ABC announced it will air "Knights of Prosperity" and "In Case of Emergency" in the 9-10 p.m. hour, two sitcoms of some promise that will get demolished when they hit the air.