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''Veronica Mars,'' ''My Name Is Earl,'' ''The Office,'' ''CSI''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2006

I did like the twist in the middle of ''Veronica'' -- when we found out she wasn't as innocent as we have come to expect from watching shows that aren't as well made as ''Veronica.'' And it was a nifty way to tie up some storylines, while starting a new one for Wallace. But I set a high bar for ''Veronica'' and it didn't always reach it. The end suggested the FBI is all done with Veronica, when there seemed to be enough evidence to keep interrogating her as a witness if not as a suspect. And I hope that the settling of this story means that at some point we'll get back to the bus mystery.

''Earl'' and ''The Office'' had good things. But I've also felt as if I'm trying to shake a bug today, and it seemed especially pronounced when I was watching TV. Have you noticed that, when you're even a little bit sick, TV feels slower? It's as if your brain has reduced the pace at which you receive images because you can't process them very quickly.

I checked on last week's ''CSI'' for a couple of reasons. One was that I wanted to see how scary-looking Faye Dunaway had gotten; she had looked bad when she did that WB reality series and I was hoping it was an aberration. No such luck. Age and what appears to be some cosmetic surgery have not been kind to her. In a strange way, though, the look fit her character; I think there's a real-life Vegas star who had a romantic connection to a mobster, and who in more recent years looked as overdone as Dunaway did on ''CSI.''

The other reason I watched was that this spring the bride and I are going to Las Vegas; she has been there before, while it's something I have just dreamed about for years. (The dream was very specific, too: Renting a convertible in L.A. and driving across the desert, hitting Las Vegas at night, with its lights a beacon out of the darkness.) So I have not only been reading up on modern-day Las Vegas -- and watching cable specials about it -- but thinking about the mythology I have accumulated from books and movies and shows like ''CSI.'' Thursday's episode was awash in the mythology, from the lavish modern settings to the echoes of the city in the '60s. I'm really curious about how the real thing will measure up. For instance, will it look as startlingly colorful as ''CSI'' in HD?

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