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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.

Sunday night I also recorded ''Dancing With the Stars'' and have peeked at the conclusion. Although I thought Stacy Keibler was better over the course of the show, I can't kick about Drew Lachey winning. He certainly did what it took to dazzle viewers on the Thursday telecast. But that still leaves me puzzling over Jerry Rice's second-place finish. Sure, he fit best with the idea of the show as ''journey'' (which I wrote about in a previous post), but his dancing was so much less impressive than the other two finalists, that I have to wonder if some people voted for Rice just to make mischief with the results.

As for why I was doing that recording, the answer is that the bride and I have rejoined the ''Sopranos'' dinners involving a bunch of our co-workers. The dinners date back to the previous airings of new episodes of ''Sopranos.'' Basically, every couple of weeks, people bring food, we eat and then we watch a couple of ''Sopranos'' episodes -- usually the one from the previous week followed by the newest telecast. Some conversation accompanies, often along the lines of ''Wait, whose bloated body did they just find on the beach?'' Attempts to understand the plot may also follow. It's low-key fun. Good food, too, although the show's violence may not be easy on the digestion. One co-worker turned away from the grisly scenes rather than risk losing her vegan chocolate cake. She told me later that violence is not good for the soul and the psyche. One more reason for me to write off my soul.

The dinner-and-TV format does not work with just any show. ''Carnivale,'' for instance, was not as big a draw (and required a lot more plot discussion). But ''The Sopranos'' has been a consistent pleasure, so people started warm-up dinners. Last night, we watched the 11th and 12th episodes from the fifth season; on March 12, the 13th episode (which finished the fifth) will be followed by the sixth-season premiere. I'm going to be hungry for new stuff then, since the episodes last night just made me hungry for more.

But I'm still waiting for review copies of some new episodes. Today's mail instead included a real oddity: a Joan & Melissa Rivers bobblehead.

Someone in TV decided that bobbleheads are a cool way to hype shows. A little Chuck Wooley bobblehead on my desk has been joined by a ''Dennis Franz as Andy Sipowicz'' figure (tied to the release of the third season on ''NYPD Blue'' on DVD). I may take Sipowicz home to keep my Vic Mackey bobblehead company. I am keeping him a safe distance from Joan & Melissa, who arrived to promote the TV Guide Channel (where they will be holding court for the Oscars soon).

But there's something wrong with Joan & Melissa. Joan in particular looks too normal -- well, bobblehead-normal. And that may just be more marked with time. The figures should come with their own tiny scalpel, so they can be brought up to speed with Joan's nip/tucks, then keep pace with future changes.

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