Television: Tales from a couch

OK, I’ll admit it. I don’t have TiVo. I don’t even have cable. In fact, I really only get one channel perfectly. But am I going to let any of this stop me from telling you what to watch on television?

Of course not, because when I want to watch a TV show, it’s work. I put in effort, people. Up and down, adjusting the antenna, moving the rabbit ears, praying nobody in the building starts a power tool. If I’m willing to put myself through this, you can bet the show is worth watching.

There are two shows from last year that I never miss: “House” (Fox) and “Veronica Mars” (UPN). “House” is the best-written show on TV and has an Emmy to prove it. Hugh Laurie is brilliant as the cranky American doctor at a New Jersey hospital. He makes it look easy but check out his TV comedy work (on DVD) from his native England (the “Black Adder” series or “Jeeves and Wooster”) and you won’t believe it’s the same person.

The fact that I never miss “House” (except to cheer the White Sox) means that I have to skip “My Name is Earl,” which I was convinced was going to be a stinker but turned out not to be. It’s actually very funny, and I’ve liked Jason Lee since he starred with an unknown Ben Affleck in “Chasing Amy” way back when.

Most people have never seen “Veronica Mars” for the simple reason it is on against “Lost.” There’s no way this little gem can compete against the biggest of the big guns but it’s got a fanatically loyal following of its own.

Veronica is a high school senior who happens to do a little private eye work on the side (her dad’s a P.I.). Last season she solved her best friend’s murder, and this year she’s trying to figure out who caused the fatal crash of the school bus she was supposed to be on. Into this mix is an undercurrent of class (working, not senior) conflict between the rich kids at Neptune High and the so-not-rich kids like Veronica. This is not a cutesy teen queen show, though. It’s smart, funny, and has enough twists and turns to always keep you guessing – and begging for more.

You can’t get any smarter or funnier than Chris Rock so it’s a given that “Everybody Hates Chris” (also on UPN) is a winner. Tyler James Williams, who plays the young Chris growing up in Brooklyn, is so good he’s scary.

I never watched “The West Wing” (sue me) so I haven’t been intrigued by “Commander in Chief” with Geena Davis as the first woman president — that is until I read an article that said a lot of Republicans think it’s a conspiracy by leftists to get Hillary Clinton into the White House. It’s already a huge hit and anything that scares Republicans is fine by me, so (if it weren’t on against “House”) I’d check it out.

Throw in “Prison Break,” “Threshold,” and my old favorites “Arrested Development” and “Without a Trace” and you’ve got yourself some serious couch time.