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There is a sort of weird confluence going on.

I must admit to being pretty much addicted to politically themed TV shows, and lately have been watching "Homeland," "24," "Designated Survivor," and "Madame Secretary" (my wife's favorite), while awaiting the May 30 return of "House of Cards."

I'm probably a glutton for punishment, since I also find myself rotating among the various cable news channels during the day. The fictional versions of Washington intrigue often seems only marginally crazier than the stuff going on in the nation's capital these days, and sometimes not nearly as crazy.

But it is hard to keep track. Elizabeth Marvel, who plays the president-elect in "Homeland," played a presidential candidate in the last season of 'House of Cards." Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the accidental president in 'Designated Survivor," used to be the take-no-prisoners Jack Bauer in "24." Miranda Otto, who was a duplicitous CIA agent in the last season of "Homeland," now is a righteous (so far) anti-terrorism agent in "24." And Jimmy Smits, who plays a Senator running for president in "24," played a Congressman who won the presidency years ago in "The West Wing."

And this doesn't even count the fact that Mandy Patinkin, who hunts terrorists on "Homeland," used to hunt serial killers on "Criminal Minds."

I'm so confused. Every once in a while we have to check to make sure we are assigning the right backstories to the right characters on the right shows.

That said ... I am happy to confess my hopeless addiction to all these shows, and to recommend all of them to you. There are all escapism - mostly in the conceit that in each case there is someone who is flawed yet noble trying to do the right thing. (Not in "House of Cards," of course, where abject cynicism is the coin of the realm.)

I must confess that my main problem with these shows is that they unfold slowly, on a once-a-week basis, in the manner of traditional television series. I want more, and faster ... I'm primed for binge viewing, and think that'll be the primary appeal of "House of Cards" when it returns - I can gobble it all up as fast as I can, in the manner of a can't-put-it-down novel.

But I'm in for the duration ... though I'm dreading the inevitable, which is that Martin Sheen gets cast as the head of some terrorist cell. If that happens, my head may explode.

That's it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!! And Happy St. Patrick's Day, especially to my friends Anne & Fiach, Denise & Feargal, who for me personify the soul of a land that brims with optimism, compassion and human poetry.
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