The Week In TV: Lost Takes A Break, South Park Takes A Dive

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The sun chased the rain, I can feel summer coming, and I was greeted at the door by a rabbi that looks like Joaquin Phoenix. This was the week in TV Land:

• So, this is dumb: South Park has been forced by Viacom to bend to the will of Muslim extremists. The show's 200th episode was a two-parter that reunited every celebrity that the series had mocked since its 1997 debut. Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn't have any success showing the prophet Muhammad in the episode "Cartoon Wars" a few seasons back, an ironic and stupid development since they were able to depict him as a cartoon in the 2001 episode "Super Best Friends." In the wake of recent controversies dealing with cartoonists getting killed for having the gall to draw pictures of Muhammad, Comedy Central doesn't want to offend Muslims, especially since people at RevolutionMuslim.com have made threats against Parker and Stone, so they censored references to and images of Muhammad from the second part of the recent "South Park" episode. The network did it without the input of Parker and Stone, who later issued a statement clarifying that the censorship was not some "meta-joke" and that even Kyle's final speech, which dealt with "intimidation and fear" and didn't even mention Muhammad, was bleeped out for reasons passing understanding. (The Simpsons stood with them on Sunday.) The maddening thing is that the show's lampooned religions and ideologies with known wingnuts before -- fundamentalists like those at the Westboro Baptist Church aren't exactly making friends -- but the network hasn't caved to threats or some perverted attempt at political correctness before. Censoring the episode doesn't get rid of the zealots; it just gives them another victory.

• We're like 89 years into the run of Saturday Night Live, and long since past the point where it feels remotely original to talk about how sometimes it's funny and sometimes it sucks with an eagerness that knows no limits. So let's just assume that from here until eternity, every episode of SNL will have good moments and bad ones. The good ones, as is often the case, came last week during "Weekend Update," which is when Seth Myers gets to shine and the rest of the cast gets to trot out risky but potentially rewarding bits. Case in point: John Mulaney, a stand-up comic and one of the show's writers, had a cute bit about Girl Scout Cookies that wasn't perfect but showed some promise. (Maybe I'm just grading on a curve, too, because it wasn't nearly as entertaining as his routine about the Salt and Pepper Diner.) Bill Hader's Stefon character was fun, too, especially when Hader was overcome with the ridiculousness of the bit:

• Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are working with Warwick Davis for a pilot titled Life's Too Short for BBC2. It'll be a doc-style fictional effort about Davis' daily life and the frustration he probably feels when drunk twentysomethings shout "WILLOW!" at him on the street. Gervais and Merchant will have supporting roles.

• Good news: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have re-signed their contracts at Comedy Central, with Stewart there through June 2013 and Colbert through the end of 2012. Stewart got another write-up the other day in The New York Times about his relentless media criticism, particularly his attacks on the hucksters at Fox News. It's a good read, yet hardly surprising. The theory that Fox News is slanted and insane isn't exactly groundbreaking, but still, always fun to be reminded.

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• FX has set some summer premiere dates. Rescue Me (in its penultimate season) and Louis C.K.'s Louie will debut June 29. Rescue Me is a good show I can only take in limited doses. Just because Denis Leary's channeled his rage into the ashes of 9/11 doesn't make it easier to sit through, though the show does have some really strong moments. As for Louie, I'm cautiously optimistic: Louis C.K. is one of the best comics out there, but HBO's Lucky Louie was a sloppy mess. Here's hoping his new show is better focused.

Looking ahead: No Lost this week, kiddos. Tuesday's episode is a repeat, so you'll just have to hang in there a little longer to get more answers. The show's almost done, too: New episodes air in May on Tuesdays for three weeks -- the 4th, 11th, 18th --before the series finale on May 23. If we don't find out more about Walt, I'm gonna be upset.

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