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The television week in review

By David Hiltbrand, The Philadelphia Inquirer –

Enough already! I’ve had it with the elements and it’s still November. Old Man Winter is just lacing up his boots in Canada.

Those of us in the Northeast have lived through a brutish few weeks, with regular broadcast programming preempted first by storm coverage, then election news, then another storm called a nor’easter which apparently, unlike Sandy, originated in a Horatio Hornblower novel.

You may be thinking, “How callow and petty to be thinking about ‘Mike & Molly’ during a natural disaster!” Actually, it’s entirely fitting. In case you haven’t noticed, TV has turned into one long gripe-fest, a soap box for people to complain about how their selfish personal needs aren’t being met. I’m surprised there isn’t a show on called “These Eggs Are Too Runny!”

Anyway, why should I be held hostage by nature and politics? Yes, I understand we were choosing the leader of the free world, but is that any reason to miss “NCIS”?

Why shouldn’t I have the same rights as people in places like Phoenix and California, where they don’t have weather? They didn’t have give up “The Mob Doctor” in Albuquerque.

And let’s get honest: the around-the-clock storm bulletins were excessive. Endless oration, scant information.

Mostly it was a chance for politicians to burnish their images by hogging airtime. Watch the mayor talk monotonously for 45 minutes without taking a breath, throwing out a series of phone numbers that will get you helpful recorded messages. Now the governor will drone on for 20 minutes. Back to the mayor. It was the world’s most boring and self-serving tag team match.

Sandy soaked up so much air time it created its own unlikely stars, like Lydia Callis, the sign-language interpreter for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who became the subject of her own skit on “Saturday Night Live.”

And Jim Cantore, who cemented his place as the Jim Fowler of meteorology. He took time out from his busy schedule of doing TV standups on every remaining boardwalk on the Atlantic to be a guest on Letterman.

Focusing on massive, damaging events like these is indisputably important. But we live in a 1,.000-channel universe. Surely the networks could be offering “Parenthood,” “Glee,” “Elementary” and “Happy Endings” on an alternate feed.

We have the technology. Let’s use it. I chose a career where I get to sit in a climate-controlled room with easy access to snacks precisely so I wouldn’t be subject to the vagaries of nature.

All this “special coverage” has done is to drive me into the arms of the CW, which shows their marvelously cheesy prime-time schedule no matter what is happening in the outside world.

“Arrow,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural,” “Nikita” — you have a new, devoted and most grateful fan.

—Set your phasers! This week’s episode of “Castle” was wittily built around a sci-fi convention and an enduring but obscure (apocraphyl) space opera entitled “Nebula-9.”

In an inspired piece of stunt casting, the plot’s high-tech prop tinker was played by Armin Shimmerman, best known as the Ferengi Quark on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and as Principal Snyder on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

BTW, the episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, aka Commander Riker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

—The name’s familiar. In a wilder-than-usual episode of “American Horror Story” this week, a newly committed patient (Franka Potente) professed to be diarist Anne Frank, who had survived Auschwitz and moved quietly to America.

She recognized the asylum’s sadistic Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) as an evil Nazi named Hans Gruber.

Hans Gruber? That was the name of the droll villain played by Alan Rickman who took on Bruce Willis in the original “Die Hard.” Coincidence? We think not.

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