'Ed' tries long-distance relationship plot

Ed undergoes therapy on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC). The normally effervescent bowling alley lawyer has hit a rough patch. It took three seasons for Ed to get Carol (Julie Bowen) to become his girlfriend. Now, in a welcome plot twist, Carol has decided to pursue her dream job, writing for a New York magazine. And on this Capra-esque comedy, nobody turns down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This means Ed and Carol have to conduct a long-distance relationship. And it gives "Ed" plenty of chances to exploit the difference between big-city sophistication and Stuckyville's eccentric charms.

Ed becomes hostile and jealous when Carol returns home with a handsome New York photographer, who documents the quirky town with an ironic eye. Ed feels like a fish out of water during his weekend trips to the big city. There's even one amusing scene when he seems to be speaking a different language than the jaded Manhattan types. This doesn't entirely make sense, considering the fact that Ed's character lived in Manhattan for years.

  • But the city vs. small-town humor on "Ed" is Moliere-like compared to the crude stereotyping found on "A Minute with Stan Hooper" (7:30 p.m., Fox). Last week, Stan (Norm McDonald) was shocked to discover that women residents of his small Wisconsin burg were denied the right to vote. That's funny? Tonight, he encounters a pool shark. Yes, it's a regular River City.
  • "Secrets of the Dead" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) returns to the scenes of the 1957 movie "Bridge on the River Kwai." The celebrated bridge was part of 260-mile railway, linking Burma and Thailand, built in record time by the Japanese Imperial Army.

A miracle of engineering, the railway also was a war crime. The Japanese put more the 200,000 American, British, Dutch and other European prisoners of war to work on the construction project. And thousands of them were beaten, worked and starved to death in the process.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): New Jersey foster parents answer charges that they starved their children; the Grateful Dead reunite, years after the death of Jerry Garcia.
  • Julie's secret is revealed on "The O.C." (8 p.m., Fox).
  • The rejects return on "The Bachelor" (8 p.m., ABC).
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): an interview with actor Robert Blake, who is accused of murder.

Late night

Jack Hanna and Dolly Parton appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Penelope Cruz on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Brendan Fraser and Marg Helgenberger are scheduled on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Omar Sharif is scheduled on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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