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By RD Heldenfels Published: August 11, 2005

Odds and ends from too much TV watching (and thinking):


-- Over the weekend I was watching ''Million Dollar Baby'' again, and watching it in two ways. One was the involvement in the story and the characters. The other was feeling that I was watching a really great movie.


I get the same feeling when I watch ''Rescue Me,'' the FX drama starring Denis Leary as a troubled firefighter. This week's episode was moving and powerful -- and, while I was being moved, another part of me sat back and said, ''You realize this is absolutely brilliant, don't you?''


Now, I like plenty of things on TV. But I try, with mixed success, not to throw the word ''brilliant'' too much. Still, when ''Rescue Me'' was doing its elaborate party sequence, with multiple stories playing out, with one moment telling you to laugh, and another daring you not to cry -- well, it was brilliant. There's no other word. This show should have many millions of viewers, and every award available -- and run forever.


-- I don't know what's going on in the next episode of ''Rescue Me'' but I did jump ahead on ''Entourage'' thanks to review copies of the next couple of episodes. If you haven't already discovered this HBO comedy-drama about a young actor and the friends enjoying his success, then you should go catch up (the first season is on DVD) and tune in now. The acting is good, the characters are intriguing and there are some really good plot twists coming up.


-- I won't tell you what those plot twists on ''Entourage'' are because I try not to spoil the surprise for viewers. Because of that, I sat on the major development at the end of the first episode of ''Over There,'' even though I knew where it was going. And I have so far kept quiet about a twist at the end of the first episode of ''How I Met Your Mother,'' a new CBS comedy, because it would wreck a surprise -- and because I was asked not to by one of the producers. This created a peculiar dynamic during a ''How I Met'' press conference in July, where pretty much everyone in the room knew the twist, and there were a lot of questions about the twist, and some pretty good answers -- and, for me at least, none of it is usable until people have had a chance to see the show.


We live in a spoiler culture, after all, where eager Internetters are seeking and finding news about where shows are going and posting it for anyone who wants to know. I still think most viewers would rather not know ahead of time. Although, to return to a famous twist, I enjoyed ''Million Dollar Baby'' as much on second viewing as I did before I knew its surprise.


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