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I Am Going to Figure Out a Way To Make This Work

By RD Heldenfels Published: November 17, 2006

Today's Beacon Journal includes my piece on Calvin Trillin, my look at the new James Bond and ''Casino Royale'' and a HeldenFiles. I'll have another piece on Sunday and had to work ahead on some Thanksgiving things. Busy times, and a big reason why I haven't been here. (I am beginning to feel as if my eyes are glued to a monitor.)

That is probably irksome to those of you kind enough to check in here regularly. It is definitely irksome to me. We've got a conversation going here -- all right, I have a monologue and you folks make it a conversation -- and I have enjoyed it from day one. So here's some of my recent viewing. You will note I enjoyed it all to varying degrees. With less time for TV, I'm more likely to watch things I'm predisposed to like. When you've read my bit, jump in with yours.

''The Office.'' Good squirmy-funny episode last night. (Best line in both those categories: ''Was your dad a GI?'') Loved the interaction between the two staffs, Phyllis getting tough, Stanley being Stanley, ''The Scranton Witch Project'' (a great throwaway after ''Lazy Scranton''), Dwight and his new nemesis and, oh, the looks on Pam's face. Still the smartest comedy on television.

''30 Rock.'' Not in the ''Office'' league but still funny. Great expression from Tracy Morgan when he was trying to figure out whether to hold the bluff about reading. Also fine the way Tina went all Afterschool Special about literacy; nice that she lets herself be a jerk. Good use of Krakowski -- sparing but effective when there. And Alec Baldwin. Well, he's Alec Baldwin. His presence made the recent ''Saturday Night Live'' one of the best ''SNL'' telecasts I have seen in awhile.

''My Name Is Earl.'' Disappointing this week. Not enough Joy and Crab Man, maybe. And Randy was off his game. The Claymation joke faded quickly, and the Christian Slater cameo wasn't all that inspired. Of the three super-sized comedies last night, this one felt the most padded. I'm hoping it's just an off week. And even in an off week, it's pretty good to back some of the commune stuff with Ten Years After.

''Grey's Anatomy.'' I haven't seen it for a few weeks, and that may be a good thing. As a ''Grey's'' fan at work noted, they've dragged out the Burke plot far too long to be plausible (although ''Grey's'' often pushes implausibility). I managed to miss some of the dragging. Good to see Meredith a little settled. Liked the stuff with George's father -- surprised they were willing to pile on like that. Cristina's always watchable, and the Chief is a grand, sad soul. Could have done without the Alex and Izzy stuff, weakest part of the episode (and Izzy's return is way, way down on my plausibility meter). Still, I enjoyed the hour. I'm beginning to think ''Grey's'' right now is better in smaller doses.

''Survivor.'' A show I had more or less voluntarily drifted away from, since it seemed to be getting boring. Much better now. Love the smaller, smarter tribe kicking sand at the bigger, inept tribe. Stunned that Jonathan hasn't been dumped yet; the man could not remember compass directions for 10 seconds. Liked the dump-two twist. Will definitely be back next week.

''Jericho.'' I won't for a minute pretend that this is a realistic depiction of life after nuclear bombs have gone off. (That fallout sure proved easy to get rid of.) And some things just seem too soapy -- right, the wife is pregnant just as her husband is about to dump her. But I am watching it, a lot. It's suspenseful, the action is well done, the characters are understandable and the mystery aspects feel  as if they can be explained -- not the sort of stretch-it-and-bend-it mystery of, say, ''The X-Files,'' ''Lost'' or ''Alias.'' ''Jericho'' is taking us somewhere, and I am happy to follow along.

''Veronica Mars.'' No ambivalence here, and a good, disturbing episode that continued this season's threads about trust and judging character. The look on Keith's face when he realized he had declined in Veronica's eyes! The rape attempt, and the reminding viewers that she had been in this awful place before. One quibble: The spiked drink was blatantly telegraphed. When she came back to her table, the open drink was so much in the foreground, I immediately thought, ''Uh-oh.''

''Lost.'' Yeah, I'm way late on this one. But I just want to share the profound lack of enthusiasm for the midseason cliffhanger that so many other folks have felt. One of my co-workers called it the worst ''Lost'' ever. Not sure I would go that far, although I am not easily coming up with a specific-episode rebuttal. Still, it was using a lot of amped-up acting to mask a low-octane story. Definitely a wasted hour, probably a wasted fall.

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