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''Amazing Race'': Nerd Power!

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2006

Great to have the show back, and back the way it should be -- traveling internationally, showing off remarkable locations and with teams of two. And, although it's still early, I have a tentative favorite: Dave & Lori, the nerds. It's not just that their nerdiness is so complete that Lori at times seems to be channeling Gilda Radner. They're just so darn likable, and they seem to have a real shot at winning this thing. A competitive fourth place when people are just getting going is not a bad spot to be in.

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''American Idol'' Tonight

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2006

Before we get to the report card, a couple of points. Paula Abdul has fallen into her worst habits, especially on that incoherent analysis of Katharine McPhee.

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I Hate Meredith Grey

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2006

Before you get out your cudgels, let me be clear about one thing: I like ''Grey's Anatomy.'' I am a devoted watcher. My wife is a devoted watcher. I do post-mortems on telecasts with other people, too. Ithink Sandra Oh is terrific, and that Cristina & Burke are a much hotter couple than Izzie &Alex, and that a scene brightens when Chandra Wilson is in it. I marvel at Kate Walsh, whose mere presence demonstrates what a fool McDreamy is. I laugh when the Chief gets exasperated (and delight that Cleveland's James Pickens Jr. is a regular on a hit series), and I get misty over the patients' suffering.

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The Ascent of Neil Patrick Harris

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2006

This morning, thanks to bad traffic and the scheduling that comes with a teenage son, I spent more than two hours shuttling between my house, high school and the dentist's office. Granted, the news was worse for my younger son, who will be facing the removal of awkwardly growing wisdom teeth this spring. But after my journeys, I needed to stop and breathe before going about my usual business. I also wanted a laugh. I turned, therefore, to my recording of last night's ''How I Met Your Mother.''

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The Third One: Dennis Weaver

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2006

Many folks insist that deaths come in threes, and so it wasn't exactly a surprise that the news of Dennis Weaver's passing came today -- on the heels of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin.

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''Sopranos'' Dinner, Grey Monday, Bobbleheads

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2006

I think we may have to make Monday ''Grey's Anatomy'' night at the House of Heldenfels, since Sunday seems to fill up with other commitments. Not that Mondays are always easy, either. It took me almost a week to get to the Feb. 18 episode of ''Grey's,'' and last night's episode is filling a spot on the DVR until we get to it tonight. I hope.

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Darren McGavin

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2006

To me, the great good fortune for an actor is to find a great role somewhere along the way -- a role that sticks in the public imagination, a role that is satisfying to play, a role that other actors can look at with awe. Don Knotts, eulogized below, found that role in ''The Andy Griffith Show.'' Ray Walston, an actor who had done wonderful work along the way, once longed for that kind of role; he looked more than a little enviously at Burgess Meredith, who at the time was enjoying just such a role in ''Rocky.'' Of course, Walston was stuck doing dinner theater at the time, which may have added to his depression; years later, he would have another grand moment in the sun on ''Picket Fences,'' winning Emmys for it.

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Don Knotts

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 25, 2006

The whole family was out for the evening; when we came home about 11 p.m., there was a message from my office that Don Knotts had died. It went without saying that a beloved TV actor was gone.

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More podcasts

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2006

Just when you've had enough of reading what I think about Thursday's telecasts, I have podcasts up with me talking to Knight Ridder's Jim Arnold about TV. Here, courtesy of Jim, are the links to the individual topics or the whole thing.

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Thursday Night, Part II: ''Dancing With the Stars,'' Olympics

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2006

As soon as Drew Lachey made that first jump in the freestyle section of ''Dancing With the Stars,'' I knew he was going to win the judges' cards in that round. Like the judges, I had expected more from Stacy Keibler, who has been very good in what I've seen of the competition (which hasn't been much before last night. I was much more involved in the first season of ''Dancing.'') Keibler's freestyle routine on Thursday was just too safe. Lachey has no fear of audience-grabbing dance moves -- or of seeming camp, which was part of both of his dances on Thursday's show.

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First Part of the Night: ''Idol,'' ''Survivor''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 23, 2006

Pretty nasty little tactic on ''American Idol,'' wasn't it? I'm talking about the two-phased eliminations, where people were led to believe they were spared elimination, only to find that the small group on the block was not, in fact, the bottom two or three. No, only one was eliminated, then a second round was inflicted on them, and us.

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Titanic Clashes, Now and Then

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 23, 2006

''What are YOU going to watch?'' my boss asked this morning. She was talking about tonight's clash of the TV titans, where ''Survivor,'' ''Dancing With the Stars,'' ''American Idol'' and women's figure skating at the Winter Olympics are all head-to-head for an hour.

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''Idol'': More Mediocrity, A Note About ''Everwood''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 23, 2006

I know Ace Young has a following, because I live with part of it. Getting home from my meeting late in ''Idol's'' telecast last night, I began telling her how things went. She cut me off. Ace was singing.

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Digging Through the Viewing Pile -- With a Late Wednesday Addition

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 22, 2006

I actually managed to get a little bit ahead on my work today, finishing a mailbag column and a Tom Amandes story reasonably early. That let me spend the day catching up on new DVDs (the Monty Python ''Personal Best'' series, a ''Drew Carey Show'' sampler, ''Bleak House,'' some other things) for my Friday DVD column, and looking at some of the upcoming shows, including ''The Unit'' and ''Free Ride.''

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''Idol'' Scorecard, Lying as Strategy

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 22, 2006

Look, we all know that ''American Idol'' contestants may not, um, show their true feelings. That some of those hugs-and-tears for an ousted contestant are accompanied by the happy thought that one more competitor is out of the way. That smiling and nodding are not at the top of the emotional heap when Simon is tearing you apart.

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''Idol'': The Local Angle ...

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2006

Proof yet again that I should never take a day off: My voice mail included a weekend message about an ''American Idol'' contestant being born in Akron -- something that had not been in the information Fox sent out about the top 24. My boss received a similar phone call. I checked it with Fox this morning.

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Waiting on ''Everwood''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2006

Monday night the bride and I went out to Wadsworth for a dinner with the cancer support group there. Both my wife and I lost spouses to cancer, and we were glad to be part of a good cause. But we were mainly there to see ''Everwood'' star Tom Amandes and his wife, Nancy Everhard.

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Where I've Been

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 20, 2006

Over the weekend I saw some of the Winter Olympics, a bit of the NBA all-star game and a good dose of the Weather Channel. That's about it. Life did not let me near a TV set most of the time.

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For ''Future'' Idol Reference

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 17, 2006

From today's mail...

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Bruce Morton

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 17, 2006

I saw this morning on Jim Romenesko's journalism site that Bruce Morton has retired. He did so with as little folderol as possible, according to this report. But Morton had a long and impressive career at CBS and later CNN.

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Figure Skating: Got Milked

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 17, 2006

I liked to get a good night's sleep. NBC would rather I didn't.

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''Survivor''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 16, 2006

I'd like to think that, if his tribe had lost immunity, Shane would be gone by now. Or will be as soon as he ends up in another tribal council. He is actually managing to destroy his own alliance through his manic behavior.

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''Slings & Arrows'' Season 2

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 16, 2006

In high school and in college, I did a little acting. Not well. In college and in my twenties, I did some writing for the stage, mainly comedy sketches. Also not very well. But both experiences gave me a chance to hang around theaters, to see some of the dynamics that go into productions -- the clash of egos, the sexual and emotional tension, the struggle to get things right, the accidents -- and the utter joy that comes at the end, if the play comes off as well as everyone hoped.

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''Idol'' Updates

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 16, 2006

I tried several times to paste here a list of the ''Idol'' Top 24 and their brief bios, and the lines kept getting messed up. So I'll just have to suggest you go to Idol contestants.

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''Lost''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2006

I'm not the best one at catching the little surprises on the show. I was happy when I spotted Kate's mom last week, but tonight I didn't recognize her dad (although he looked familiar) until we saw her picture. And I'm going to have to go back into my recording to see the images that replaced the numbers on the countdown device, although I suspect I won't know what they mean either. The refererences to the armory threw me at first, since we knew it had been cleaned out; I wondered if episodes were airing out of sequence.

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Are the Olympics in for a Bad Night?

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2006

''Grey's Anatomy'' beat the Olympics Sunday night in the national ratings. ''American Idol'' crushed the games on Tuesday night, and ''House'' did so in some markets (including Northeast Ohio). I see a bad night coming for the Olympics.

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''The Shield'': Tune In Tonight

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2006

If you thought that Mackey's play on Kavanaugh last week was enough to slow down the internal-affairs investigation, think again. Tonight Kavanaugh actually escalates the war with Mackey -- and, as we know, Kavanaugh plays dirty.

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Bode Miller's Comeuppance -- Or NBC's? (With Possible Spoiler)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2006

One of the things I like about the Olympics is the grit people show in the face of trouble, the people who face seeming disaster and go on to finish their competition, even win medals. But there's another half to that lesson, which is to show that overconfidence and poor preparation can bite you. Which brings me to Bode Miller, and to Sunday night's Olympics telecast.

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Olympics: Stepping Back

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2006

On Sunday I began to realize that I was getting a little crazed about the Olympics. Before going to bed, I set the DVR timer for the rest of that night's prime-time coverage, and for 3 a.m. to get some of the coverage of men's curling. Then, during the day Monday, I watched a good bit of women's curling before deciding (for the time being) that I needed to step back and recharge before diving deeply into Olympics telecasts again. As I have said before, this is a marathon, and -- as I learned while blogging and podcasting about the opening ceremonies -- it's a lot more fun to watch when you're not fighting burnout.

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''Grey's Anatomy'': Tough on the Women?

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2006

I was completely involved in last night's ''Grey's Anatomy'' (which I watched this morning). Loved even some little things, like O'Malley's reaction to Bailey's hand-crushing during childbirth. The shower scene, bringing us full circle, was terrific. And in the moment I was willing to forgive the sometimes considerable dramatic license, such as how prettified Meredith for that meeting with McDreamy; for crying out loud, she had taken the concussion from a bomb blast and had been asleep, and looked almost perfect again when she saw him.

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Live Action/TV Ambiance

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2006

On Saturday night the bride and I took in a Cleveland Cavaliers game. Actually, we stared down at the Cavs' duel with the Golden State Warriors, since we were up in section 226, row 11, just a few yards below the Van Allen Belt. But even from that height, the sight-line was very good and we had a better sense of how the action unfolded than you usually get in the close-up-conscious confines of a TV image. Although the Cavs lost, and LeBron James managed to score 33 points and still seem under par, the overall spectacle and the excitement were enjoyable.

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Olympics: There Are Limits to How Long I Will Wait

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2006

Most of the time, I am willing to ignore the results of the Olympics in order to watch events on TV as if they are live. And I have seen considerable drama -- Georg Hettich's tough-as-nails win in the Nordic combined, Kristina Smigun's exciting finish in the women's pursuit. The crash at the beginning of men's pursuit was so stunning that I backed up the telecast and watched it again.

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Couples Conversation

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2006

In case you missed it, I have a column in today's Beacon Journal about how we view celebrity couples -- and whether we should take romantic inspiration from them. You can find the piece here.

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Olympics: Constant Watching

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 11, 2006

Slept in a little this morning, but I wasn't awake very long when I found myself watching Olympics biathlon coverage. We took two of the cats to the vet for a checkup, and I was a little irked that the TV set in the vet's office was tuned to CNN. Although I considered asking if I could switch to the Olympics, we didn't wait long enough for me to raise the point.

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Podcast Now Available

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

My first Olympics podcast should be available here: Heldenfels Olympics.

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The Torch Arrives

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Costas is reciting torch stats. Carriers: Alberto Tomba, the 1994 Italian cross-country skiing relay team, Piero Gros from the '70s ... and I keep waiting for NBC to ask Bode Miller what he thinks of all this.

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11:15-11:37

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Sophia Loren is carrying the Olympic flag, with Susan Sarandon, Isabel Allende and other ''women of distinction'' explains Costas. The walk with the flag is slow, but the camera work is very impressive and the HD picture is great -- the flickers in the stadium, the lights reflecting off the stage. Stately music, too, making for a more serious moment than the light-hearted disco accompanied earlier.

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The Closing Part of the Opening Ceremonies

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

If Bette Midler and Cher toured together, the set would look a lot like this. Only with better dancers.

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The Bode Miller Channel

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Brian Williams makes it official. He manages to use the arrival of the team from Chile to talk about interviewing Miller and discussing his training in ... Chile.

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The Parade of Athletes

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Greece kicks things off, with the countries ''in Italian alphabetical order,'' Costas tells us. NBC has a handy graphic listing the countries in order of appearance. Graphics also show us what the country looks like, its population and other handy information.

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Costas and Williams Enter

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

The A-team has arrived, Bob Costas and Brian Williams. Williams is the new kid, and his presence has fueled speculation that Katie Couric is heading out the door to CBS soon -- so NBC is more interested in promoting a talent who will still be on the team at the end of 2006. But if I'm Couric, I'd figure I didn't have to work the Olympics -- that NBC is going to want to keep me happy, and that means no huddling into a parka and pretending to enjoy snowball fights. And if I'm gone, then I don't need to do the parka drill, either.

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Olympics continued

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

I've gone back to HD. The audio seems OK now.

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Coverage begins

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

We're into the poetic zone, where the narration refers to ''capacious piazzas'' and the music swells behind a reference to ''a vivaciuous brand of excellence'' -- and behind everything else. Athletes most viewers have never heard of, and some of fame, are wrapped in splendid images and grand teases of tales of drama and heroism. Oh, sorry. I momentarily fell into the narrative rhythm. But the HD transmission is unbelievably gorgeous.

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More Warm-Up, ''Olympic Zone''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

The USA special is over, so there's a little break here. I am so far fighting the urge to read the online reports about the opening ceremonies, so that I can watch it fresh. I thought about watching more of Saturday's ''Saturday Night Live,'' but my wife is not a fan and what I have seen so far hasn't been that good. (Exceptions: The opening bit, with Steve Martin trying to kill Alec Baldwin, and Maya Rudolph's Oprah -- dead-on impression without pushing too far into caricature. Good to have Maya back.) So we're watching a little bit of the Cavs game on FSN until 7:30 when ''Olympic Zone'' comes on.

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Olympics Warm-Up (Stretching and Pizza)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Here's how this thing is going to work: I am at home, with a laptop in front of the big TV, and I will be posting from time to time during the Olympics. The posts will be listed in reverse chronological order, with my earliest post at the bottom of the list -- much the way it worked with the Super Bowl.

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More ''World News Tonight'' News

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

From ABC this morning:

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''Survivor'': In-Shane-Ity (From Tonight's Episode)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 9, 2006

There are times when ''Survivor'' contestants just overthink the whole game, obsessed with strategy and long-term goals and not looking at the short-term harm they are doing. That was the case last week, when a tribe ousted a strong member who could help in the immediate challenges and kept people who were much weaker. It happened again this week, when an early alliance in one of the tribes -- now down to two -- decided it was more important to maintain its voting bloc than get rid of an obvious loon, Shane.

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Live Men Talking

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 9, 2006

You're invited to the Beacon Journal offices in Akron on March 1, when movie writer George Thomas and I will take questions, some of which we might even be able to answer; listen to your comments and bicker. (We are famous around our office for that last category.)

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Bad News for ''Love Monkey'' Fans

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 9, 2006

This morning I lent a tape of the ''Love Monkey'' pilot to a co-worker who has gotten hooked on the show. I also began trying to research a question from a reader who liked the show and had noticed an interesting detail. Alas, there are not enough of us watching the show. Note the asterisk at the end of this CBS announcement:

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The Other Cleat Drops -- And A Rabbit's Foot With It (Update)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 9, 2006

Yesterday, after the announcement that Al Michaels had gotten out of his agreement with ESPN, a colleague and I wondered how long it would take NBC to announce a deal with Michaels. We guessed it would happen the same day. NBC instead waited a whole extra day. Here are highlights from the network's announcement:

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''Lost,'' ''Veronica Mars''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

I reversed some of my viewing tonight. My wife was out for most of the evening, so I recorded ''Lost'' and waited for her return, since that's one of the shows we like to watch together. Instead, I watched ''Veronica Mars'' in real time. And, because this was one of those nights with lots of overlapping programs, I had a VCR running for the Grammys while the DVRs handled other shows. Besides, this way I can take the videotape into the office tomorrow and watch it while I do a few other things.

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M.C. Gainey Says Hello

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

Regular blog readers will recall my Jan. 18 post, ''Ladies and Gentlemen, M.C. Gainey,'' about the actor's appearance on ''Lost'' as the apparent leader of the Others (the one Sawyer nicknamed Zeke). Not long after that post appeared, I received a very nice thank-you e-mail from Gainey's wife, Kim, and today Gainey himself was on the phone to say hello and say thanks. It was a friendly call, but I couldn't pass up the chance to interview him some as well.

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''Monday Night Football: The Next Generation''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

If you thought the farewells by John Madden and Al Michaels at the end of the Super Bowl looked a little tepid, well, it doesn't seem to be a very long goodbye.

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''Gilmore,'' Grammys

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

Still pondering last night's ''Gilmore Girls.'' Good in some ways, lots of snap in the dialogue and the handling of Paris's ouster from the newspaper was pretty good (although, once again, I look at Alexis Bledel and think how much more another actress could do with this material). Of course, we've all been waiting for Rory to succeed Paris -- I would have been more intrigued by Logan becoming editor (since his connections saved the day) or a Logan/Rory tandem -- but I'm hoping the show will make something of that added responsibility.

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Not a News Flash: 19 Manipulates A Story

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2006

There's a story I have been wrestling with for several days. Wrestling with it because it's sleazy Because merely by discussing it, I am probably going to please the very people I want to criticize.

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The Irving Button

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2006

My wife will be the first to tell you that I am slow to throw things away. I would be the second, but with a plea for understanding. I have a hard time giving up objects that meant something to me along the way, or things that are important for research, or things that might prove important down the road, or things I simply like.

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''Love Monkey''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 6, 2006

Now that we're done with the Super Bowl, and waiting for resolution of that ''Grey's Anatomy'' that followed the game, it's time to move on to other TV topics. Like ''Love Monkey,'' a show I am growing ever more fond of, even if the audience hasn't committed yet.

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''Grey's Anatomy''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

I don't know how it will play out west, but ''Grey's Anatomy'' undoubtedly kept male Super Bowl viewers around with that group shower at the beginning. And actually managed to make fun of the scene (and any jaw-dropped men remaining) after doing it.

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After the Game

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

I love the speed with which the marketing kicks in. There, in the post-game show, is a pitch for Super Bowl product from the NFL Shop. (Big display up on its Web site, too.)

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Inside Four Minutes

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Michaels and Madden have Seattle in trouble -- Pittsburgh in position to force Seattle to use up its timeouts. ''Almost home,'' says Michaels as the Steelers have a third and short. ''No different than week one,'' Bettis is heard saying to his team. First down. ''That was a Super Bowl-winning first down,'' says Madden.

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Fourth Quarter

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

History kind of repeats, doesn't it? Each quarterback has a key drive going, and each gets intercepted. ''The ebb and flow of this one -- wow,'' says Michaels. Ebb and flow, but not much scoring. Ebb and flow, but the kind where the highlight reel consists of offensive miscues. I prefer the ebb and flow where one team grinds out a touchdown, and the other team responds in kind, back and forth in a way that makes every down feel like a game-winner.

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Second Half Continued

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Nice piece with Bettis and Parker on the sideline.

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Second Half

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Well, everyone's awake now, thanks to the Parker touchdown. And 22 seconds into the half, we're going to a commercial.

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HALFTIME

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Pizza break. Much chatter from the gang-of-four commentators, but the best thing was the shot of Holmgren jawing with the officials. Clarifies a little more the situation right after the half, when ABC tried to interview Holmgren -- and got an answer that didn't match the question.

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Inside Two Minutes in Half

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Michaels striving for optimism with more than a half to play, recalling the Super Bowl two years ago had a "phenomenal'' second half after a lackluster first. I'm just sorry ''Topper'' is over on TCM.

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And on we go

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

''Mission Impossible 3'' ad. Insert your own goofy-Tom-Cruise joke here.

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End 1st Quarter to Seattle Interception

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Jay Mohr, Pepsi can, Jackie Chan. Stunt can gets crushed -- much the way the big foot crushed that guy in the FedEx ad. Trend alert!

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4:14 To the Seattle Score and More

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

More punting. Madden says both teams look a little tight. Well, maybe if the networks and the NFL didn't delay the game for two weeks and then make the teams sit through hours and days of hype, they'd still be on their playoff rolls.

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Game Goes On

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

''Believe me, this is a Pittsburgh Steelers crowd,'' says Madden. Not exactly a 12th Man, though, given the way the team is moving backward -- salvaging just enough to get a fourth-and-9 for punting.

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Finally ...

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Before I switched back over from the DVR to live, I heard Al Michaels saying that everyone and his grandmother has assessed the game. So true. Of course, ABC was putting a lot of that analysis on the air to fill its hours of pre-game coverage. Have you been watching? Isn't pre-game the time for snacks and idle chatter?

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No Kickoff Yet

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

One of the first things I had published was a letter to Sports Illustrated in praise Joe Namath. I retain a lingering fondness for the guy, and the hope that he has indeed put his personal problems behind him. Besides, the guy's a showman, even now, and I enjoyed his mischievous grin while showing off the Jets logo in his jacket lining.

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Stevie Wonder, et al.

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

What is this, karaoke night? Nice period costumes for the folks, but the music mostly isn't doing it. I would have listened to John Legend work through all of ''Grapevine'' but got nothing from Joss Stone(''Signed, Sealed & Delivered'') or india.arie (''Dancing in the Street,'' zzzzzzz). Stevie himself sounded out of breath on ''Living for the City.'' And lots of audio issues -- they couldn't seem to get people's microphones on at the right time. And a trruncated-for-medley ''Superstition'' doesn't cut it.

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Inside the One-Hour Mark

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

What's with Steve Young's arm movements? He looks like one of those old Crazy Eddie commercials. (''Those Seahawks! Their lineups are ... insane!'') Mick Jagger once again proves he is a very smart man (although a very old one, too, especially in HD), by refusing to make a prediction in the game.

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Background Music

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

They're playing a hip-hop song about the Seahawks on ESPN, but ABC is really pushing the whole Detroit/Motown thing. I just wish their song choices weren't so predictable -- Jackson 5's ''ABC'' just now -- as if they had just stuck some greatest-hits disc into their player

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Life With a Browns Fan

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

My wife is rolling through the on-air menu. ABC is running a profile of Bill Cowher. The bride, a hard-core Browns fan, will watch anything instead of Cowher. I flip back to ABC. ''Blind me!'' she screams as Cowher appears onscreen.

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It's Only 4 O'Clock...

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

And the ESPN and ABC guys are talking about strategies, talking about matchups, talking about thing that will have gone out the other ear sometime in the next 2 1/2 hours,  before the kickoff finally happens.

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You Don't Need a TV to Hear about the Super Bowl..

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Church this morning: The pastor noted that everyone later today will be busy celebrating the Seahawks' win. ''I have two teams I root for,'' he said. ''The Browns and anyone playing the Steelers.'' When some Steelers fans in the congregation challenged him, the pastor with considerable humor urged them to remember that ''any victory by the kingdom of darkness is always temporary.''

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''House''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2006

Well, it's Super Bowl morning and they're talking about the game on ESPN's 'Sports Reporters'' (today's lineup: Albom, Wilbon, Lupica). But I'm still thinking about ''House.'' The bride and I wound down last night by watching a disc of two new episodes, including the one airing Tuesday.

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Is It Super Bowl Yet?

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 4, 2006

Tomorrow I will be blogging regularly about the Super Bowl, its commercials and anything else that strikes my fancy during this annual rite of excess, advertising and football, in more or less that order.

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5 Questions for Donald Wildmon (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 3, 2006

Update: NBC, more and more the National Buckling-Under-Pressure Company, has backed away from the plans announced for the episode of ''Will & Grace'' described below. You can find a story about it here. But I'm keeping my comments about the situation, below, as is. I am mightily sick of narrow-minded groups trying to force the audience to see only the kinds of shows the groups find acceptable. Anyway, here's the earlier rant.

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''Survivor'': Fear of Leaves (With Info From Tonight's Telecast)

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 2, 2006

Well, we started with the four tribes (young men, young women, older men, older women), which was too gimmicky and created groups too small to be all that interesting this early in the game. That said, is it wrong of me to instinctively root against tribes dominated by young men? They always bring so much arrogance to the game that it pleases me when they got knocked on their backsides, especially by groups of older players. So there was some satisfaction tonight in the success of the older-men tribe -- even if it's loaded with formidable older guys (including a former fighter pilot and a former shuttle astronaut).

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''American Idol''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2006

I don't have a pick for a winner on ''Idol'' yet, but I do have a favorite in the top 24 -- the singer I tend to think of as just Gray-Haired Guy, the one with the gospel style and the moves of Joe Cocker. I know it's not just for his singing, of course. It's that I like his manner of singing, and that he looks a little bit old -- that, well, he looks closer to my age than most of the other singers.

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For Fans of ''The Closer''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 2, 2006

This arrived from TNT today:

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''Veronica Mars''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 2, 2006

In a sign of progress in my home obligations, I actually managed to watch ''Veronica Mars'' on the same night it aired. All right, not all of it -- about half last night, and half this morning, and all of it from a recording. But I'm getting closer to real-time viewing. I may even be able to see most of tonight's ''Survivor'' as it unfolds for the rest of the Eastern time zone.

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I Guess You Can Only Twist So Long...

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2006

It was about a year ago that CBS announced that Bob Schieffer would temporarily replace Dan Rather while the network figured out its master plan for a new anchor. That put John Roberts, thought to be on the short list of Rather's successors, in limbo. Now, with nothing changed, he's getting out, according to this announcement from CNN.

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''Everwood'' Fans, Please Note

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2006

Here's an upcoming schedule for The WB, including plans for the return of ''Everwood,'' a new night for "Supernatural" (paired with "Smallville,'' which sure feels like a scheduling move the UPN/WB-combined CW will want to make in the fall*) and some new shows.

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''Gilmore Girls''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2006

I had hopes for tonight's ''Gilmore Girls,'' hopes that the show would take advantage of its Valentine's Day tie-in to have Luke get back on track toward marrying Lorelai. And there were promises made, and ideas bounced around. But at the end of the episode, there we were again, with Luke and Lorelai not quite connected, and April a huge question mark between them.

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