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''House''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 31, 2005

Hugh Laurie is such a powerful presence on ''House'' that it's sometimes easy to ignore the show around him. And in the early going, I think the show leaned on that idea -- letting the character's appeal carry the day when the plots were not as strong as they should be.

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Teased

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 30, 2005

A critic once summed up ''The Empire Strikes Back'' as a very long trailer for ''Return of the Jedi.'' Tonight I watched a ''West Wing'' episode that was an hour-long trailer for next week's ''West Wing.'' Most of the time I didn't mind.

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Comfort TV

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 29, 2005

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.

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Change of Pace

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 29, 2005

''Why is an entertainment guy making calls?'' a police officer asked me this morning.

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Patrick Fitzgerald for ... Something

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 28, 2005

In his press conference today, Patrick Fitzgerald noted that Scooter Libby had come to the Plame investigation with a compelling story.

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''Dancing'' Back, ''Alias'' Plans a Break

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 28, 2005

The official word, from ABC today:

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''Chris'' Saves the Night

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 28, 2005

As I said in a previous post, I've had the TV blahs this week. And on Thursday night, ''Survivor'' just added to the feeling. But before I went to sleep, I gave one more show a chance, pulling ''Everybody Hates Chris'' off the DVR. And felt better for doing it. What a good show -- funny, sweet, unpredictable, with characters I'm happy to spend a half-hour with every week. If you haven't found the show yet, you get a couple of chances next week -- in the show's regular time slot at 8 p.m. Thursday, and in back-to-back reruns from 9 to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

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Sulu Comes Out

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 28, 2005

Over the years, when a new ''Star Trek'' series was unveiled, at least one reporter would ask about the show's underrepresenting gay characters. It was a reasonable question, and you couldn't really count that ''Deep Space Nine'' episode where Kira's parallel-universe self was attracted to her.

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Viewing Blahs

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 27, 2005

Well, tonight was one of those ''Survivor'' episodes where it's obvious at the end that the editors held back crucial information. Amy was voted off, and it wasn't close, and all we saw going into the vote was her attempt at forming an elimination-proof alliance -- not the other alliance that easily trumped hers.

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Love That Local Angle

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 27, 2005

With the availability of information across the Internet, some news organizations across media have become ever more focused on the local angle -- either a story about something in the news organization's backyard, or a local element of a national or international story. It provides a way of giving a story a unique context, as well as connecting with readers. To cite an obvious recent example, I have written a lot about ''Three Wishes'' because it has taped a bunch of segments here.

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No, You're Out of Order!

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 26, 2005

Here's another beef about television shows on DVD: Episodes that are not arranged in the proper sequence.

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Tuesday Tubing

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 25, 2005

Has ''Logan'' gotten a bad name? Think of Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) on ''Gilmore Girls,'' who is so bad for Rory. And troubled, cynical Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) on ''Veronica Mars.'' And, if you've read some of my e-mail lately, you would add Mike Logan (Chris Noth) on ''Law & Order: Criminal Intent.'' Some fans of the show consider him a wan alternative to Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio), now seen in about half the ''CI'' episodes. Maybe they'd like him better if he wasn't a Logan. ...

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The Mayor Says Thanks

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 25, 2005

Terry Nill, the mayor of Mineral City, Ohio, called me today to ask people to stop being so generous.

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Laid-Back Monday: ''American Gothic,'' ''SNL,'' ''West Wing,'' Halloween and DVD

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 24, 2005

When I go on vacation, it usually takes me a couple of days to start relaxing for real; naturally, by then I can see the end of the vacation and begin agonizing over all I'll have to do when I get back. I am, in other words, not a good vacationer. A day off -- like today -- comes with an undercurrent of dread over all the things I will have to do when I go back to work. And, just as it is with a vacation, it can take me about eight hours to feel that a day off is a real day off. Right about at the eight-hour mark today, I was finally cruising into nap-land. Of course, the phone rang.

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''American Gothic'' again

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 21, 2005

When I was thinking ahead about my DVD column for today, I expected to make ''American Gothic'' my pick of the week. I loved the thriller when it aired on CBS in 1995-96. As I have said here before, it may well have been ahead of its time, ''Lost'' a decade too soon. Shaun Cassidy, the ''Gothic'' writer-producer now in charge of ABC's ''Invasion,'' agrees. (See my Aug. 1 post, '' 'Gothic' Revival? 'Popular' Remade?)

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A Few Minutes With Lucy Lawless

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 21, 2005

On Thursday, I sat in on a conference call with Lucy Lawless about ''Vampire Bats,'' a CBS movie she's co-starring in. It was not heavily attended. In these calls, you punch in a code to get in line to ask a question; I punched in well after other people had had a chance, so things would be rolling before I began talking, and still ended up second in line. The reporter who was first in line sounded very surprised to be there. And while such calls start with a warning that you should ask one question and one follow-up, it was possible to ask a bit more -- since it was clear there weren't many people waiting, and Lawless's conversational style pretty much invited more back-and-forth.

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Good News from ''SNL''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 20, 2005

This arrived in today's e-mail, from NBC:

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Tweaking TV History

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 20, 2005

I was looking at an upcoming re-release of ''Sex and the City'' on DVD when I noticed a significant change in one episode. Samantha, a social outcast after a prominent matron caught her with the matron's husband, redeemed herself by making contact with John F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy himself did not appear in the episode, being presented instead as a figure in a shining light; it was a funny little bit.

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Best/Worst Shows?

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 19, 2005

The following comes from the folks at the Parents Television Council, and I pass it on for your information. I'll have a few comments after the release.

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A Warm and Fuzzy Interlude

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 19, 2005

A couple of calls have come in this morning from people wanting to donate books to a library that ''Three Wishes'' helped set up in Mineral City. (I have a story about it in today's Beacon Journal, which you should be able to see here.)

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For '60s Music Fans

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 18, 2005

One of the landmarks in local TV history will be celebrated yet again, as the following release from Cleveland's WEWS (Channel 5) reveals. I wonder if Don Webster will dip into his fabulous turtleneck collection -- or even buy a new one.

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Look, Up in the Sky

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 18, 2005

As I was getting ready for work this morning, my wife called to say that on her way to work she had seen a handsome man's face on the Beacon Journal's new clock tower.

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Charles Rocket

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 17, 2005

Back in 1980, Charles Rocket was set to be the next big star to come out of ''Saturday Night Live,'' a combination of Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. It didn't quite work out that way. Instead, to the extent that he is remembered at all, he is remembered for saying the f-word on live TV.

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''Nightline'' Changes

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 17, 2005

Here's ABC's official announcement of the ''Nightline'' lineup after Ted Koppel steps aside:

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On the Road with ''Three Wishes''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 15, 2005

''Do you have a piece of paper?'' a blond kid asked me as I was walking away from an interview with Amy Grant.

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Missing Fox Shows?

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 14, 2005

Fox's carrying the baseball playoffs and World Series has bumped a lot of its regular series off the air (and forced baseball fans to sit through promos that boil down to ''please remember that our shows are coming back''). But a promo is no substitute for an actual episode. Maybe the following ideas will help more.

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Baseball Blues

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 13, 2005

Having just spent a lot of energy on comparisons between ''Survivor's'' Stephenie and the Boston Red Sox, I'm remembering a conversation I had with a co-worker in late September.

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''Survivor'': The Curse Reversed?

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 13, 2005

It has been increasingly easy to believe that Stephenie really does have one of those little clouds over her head, especially given the way the reward challenge went in tonight's episode. It was a wipeout so thorough, it was like her cumulative experience from ''Survivor'' rolled into a single challenge. She didn't even get a chance to show her grit and rally her tribe -- the sharp stone was in someone else's hand.

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Thinking (and Rethinking) ''Commander in Chief''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 13, 2005

I wasn't much impressed with ''Commander in Chief'' when I saw the pilot, but I saw enough good things that I decided to watch more and on Wednesday checked out two more episodes. In the interim, the show has become a nice hit for ABC and even sparked discussions about the way the show might help a presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton.

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''Lost'': Defying Assumptions

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 12, 2005

Nice one tonight. I get so caught up in the questions about the story, I sometimes forget that ''Lost'' can also be quite touching. It certainly was tonight, by putting Hurley at the center; as even one of the characters acknowledged, he's probably the best-liked character on the show. Even his flaws are benign. So having his crisis over the food lead to a moment of collective joy -- well, it was nice. Not entirely believable, of course; in a group that large you have to figure a couple of killjoys would demand either outright rationing or at least an equitable distribution of the goods -- not some handing out of gifts like ''Night of the Meek.''

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''Veronica Mars'' In Real Time (With Notes About Tonight's Episode)

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 12, 2005

So I'm sitting through tonight's episode and wondering if we are really going to learn much about the bus crash, although I can forgive some digression.

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'Tis Which Season?

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 12, 2005

I'm still trying to get ready for Halloween, including such all-important steps as buying the candy -- preferably at the last possible minute, when the sales kick in.

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More Good Comedy News

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 12, 2005

This was in today's e-mail, from Fox:

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It's Not That Complicated

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 11, 2005

The New York Times has a story about declining audiences for reality shows. You can find it here. Lots of theories to be found there, but I think there's a simple explanation. The key shows being discussed just aren't that good right now.

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Links

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 10, 2005

I took the day off from office work, spending it instead doing yard work. But hardly a day goes by when I don't check certain things on the Internet.

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Sunday, Sunday

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 9, 2005

I saw some of the Browns game today, but neither the go-ahead score nor the follow-up that put them out of reach. I did see the game-winning home run in the 18th inning of that Atlanta-Houston playoff game, but only after I read online that it was turning into an epic. Watched some of ''A Few Good Men'' for the thousandth time while relaxing after dinner. I may get through ''Desperate Housewives'' and ''Grey's Anatomy'' tonight; if sleep overtakes, the DVR is already set for both of them.

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''CSI:NY''/''CSI''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 8, 2005

I've started dipping into ''CSI:NY's'' first-season DVD, and I keep thinking that the box should have a big label saying ''We're Not Like This Anymore.''

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Weekend Note

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 8, 2005

Finally got to this week's ''Gilmore Girls.'' You know the scene where Lorelai is going through her videotapes and won't get rid of anything? That's me, except that she did a much better job of labeling her tapes.

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What's in the DVR

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 7, 2005

Since I've said more than once that I have a backlog of shows recorded and not yet watched, I thought I'd tell you what gets watched and/or recorded regularly in the House of Heldenfels.

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''Lost'': Back on the Roller Coaster

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

Last week I griped about the season's second episode, which felt like a time-filler after the season premiere. So I am obliged to admit that Wednesday's episode was a great improvement, getting us back into an ongoing narrative and actually telling us things about the island and its environs.

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''Veronica Mars''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

Finally caught up with ''VM'' tonight. (Also this week's installment of ''The Office,'' where the workplace boredom-beating made for one of the truest, and best, episodes of the American show so far.) I am confused, concerned and delighted. I bow to series creator Rob Thomas, and to Diane Ruggiero, ''VM'' co-executive producer and a writer who has made an enormous contribution to the show.

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''Survivor'' (With Spoilers From Tonight)/''Amazing Race''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

Well, they did switch tribe members tonight, and Brooke was voted off by her reconfigured group, and Stephenie really is beginning to look cursed -- as she admits -- since even a change of tribe couldn't keep her out of tribal council.

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Commercials Everywhere

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

The other day, my wife was checking out some baseball highlights online. (The best was that Ronnie Belliard catch.) Before some of the highlights showed, there was a promotional spot for hurricane relief.

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Comedy Comeback? (Expanded)

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 5, 2005

On Tuesday, NBC announced a full-season pickup for ''My Name Is Earl,'' the very funny sitcom starring Jason Lee. Today, UPN gave a full-season order to ''Everybody Hates Chris,''  the even funnier sitcom based on Chris Rock's youth.

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TV in Pieces

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 5, 2005

I managed yesterday to get through an episode of ''Gilmore Girls.'' It was the one from a week ago, but at least I can now watch the latest one.

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Nipsey Russell

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 3, 2005

Nipsey Russell, the comedian and TV mainstay, has reportedly died. (One report is here.)

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A Weekend Around the Indians

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 3, 2005

A few minutes before 9 on Sunday night, I gave myself a mental foreheard-pound. I had forgotten to watch ''The West Wing.''

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We Love You, Dr. Funkenstein

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 3, 2005

In a previous posting (''The Music of Vincent Chase'') I mentioned an upcoming ''Independent Lens'' documentary, ''Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove.'' It's due to air Oct. 11 here; check with your local PBS station for date and time -- and don't take no for an answer. I have now seen the documentary and it's great stuff: interviews, great video footage and, of course, the music of Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk .. whatever name you attach to George Clinton's musical coalition.

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