The Week In TV: So Long, Julia Sugarbaker

Even with my dependable shows in reruns, it feels good to be back in the stern embrace of David Simon. This was the week in TV Land:

• Thank God for Hulu, you know? The video site is the only reason I actually keep up with Saturday Night Live most weeks. The show's had a real hard-on for tweens lately, booking hosts like Taylor Lautner and musical guests like last week's Justin Bieber, so it's easier to wade through the dreck by checking out the few weekly bright spots online. Case in point: Tina Fey hosted a couple nights ago, and the only reason anyone bothered to tune in was to see her bring back the Sarah Palin impression that boosted 30 Rock's profile in fall 2008. (And I'm sure it's just a wild coincidence that she hosted the show the day after her new film comedy, Date Night, hit theaters.) The good news is that her Palin shtick was just as strong as ever, and the sketch's jokes about a Sarah Palin Network were spot-on, including an awesome jab at Jay Leno. Of course, I don't think it's an accident that SNL's shots at Palin and Leno are sharper now than in the past; they seem to want to play it safe in the moment, but once the election's over or a host has been fired, they go to town. Anyway, here's the clip:

• Dixie Carter died Saturday night. She acted for decades, but Designing Women was her defining role. I've got fuzzy but fond memories of the 1980s sitcom, mainly tied to syndicated reruns that seemed ubiquitous during summer vacation. Her husband, Hal Holbrook, said her death resulted from complications of endometrial cancer. She was 70.

• More news on the Conan O'Brien front: He's still in talks with Fox about returning to late-night on the network this fall, but The Hollywood Reporter says that Conan is reluctant to commit unless Fox can guarantee that his show will be seen in all (or almost all) of the country. That means that Fox affiliates nationwide would have to swallow the costs of any late-night programming they've already got booked for the fall, like syndicated sitcom repeats, which might make for some turf battles for the new host. It's an important point, since affiliate griping was one the things that contributed to the demise of The Jay Leno Show. No official word yet beyond that, but still, an interesting turn of events as Conan gets ready to launch his comedy tour this week. And in case you missed it, Slash appeared on The Tonight Show last week sporting an "I'm With Coco" pin, which NBC did not appreciate.

• I've got a separate blog post about it, but: HBO's Treme, the new series from David Simon, premiered Sunday night, and the first episode was the kind of strong opening chapter you'd expect from the man behind The Wire. The series deals with New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the first season runs 10 episodes. Be sure to check it out.

• In sports news, because why not: The Masters blew up this year, ratings-wise, with ESPN's Thursday coverage ranking as the golf tournament's most-watched opening round ever and the biggest audience in history for a golf telecast on cable. Apparently people thought Tiger Woods would actually start having sex with porn stars on the green. They should've known better, though. Woods decided to class it up with a non-apology apology ad featuring the voice-over of his dead father. As you can probably guess, the remixes are better (though the sound is NSFW). For a truly awesome response, though, there's none better than Stephen Colbert.

• Speaking of Comedy Central: Jon Stewart did a piece the other night on the latest round of reality-denying from Fox News. It's a thing of beauty, and the best way I can think of to start your week. Enjoy:

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