My wife was channel-searching tonight for something to have on TV while she finished a chore. You know the kind of program. Something either familiar or undemanding, something that works as company but that doesn't require your full commitment.
She settled on ''Love Actually,'' which was on one of the umpteen HBOs -- HBO Comedy East, I think. (One of my favorite jokes about branded-channel excess is in ''Dodgeball,'' where games are not only on ESPN 8, but that its name has to be accompanied by its contrived nickname, ''The Ocho.'')
''Love Actually'' is indeed comforting, and is near the top of my favorite Christmas movies. But I wouldn't call it undemanding. Like a handful of other TV shows and movies, it's one that begins by drawing you in for a scene or two, only to make you realize that you're not leaving until the end. And so it was tonight. Long after her chore was done, long after we could have moved on to something else, I was watching. And laughing, and smiling and feeling sentimental.
Now, we could watch ''Love Actually'' any time. A DVD of it sits in the movie cabinet. And more than once, we have pulled out the DVD to watch. But it was also fine to happen upon it on regular TV, and to linger.