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Crimes against humanity

Look at those eyes. You know what they're saying. "I dare you not to watch."

He needn't bother with the staredown. We're going to watch. Oh yeah, you might be there smugly insistent that there's no way you're going to waste time watching Steven Seagal in a reality series about the actual patrols he goes on with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. You've got better things to do at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night (watching "Top Chef," for instance).

But it's no use. You're already intrigued. You want to see Seagal numchuk a bad guy. You want to hear him in that faux-Eastwood cadence of his read a scummy piece of vermin their rights. ... You want to see him run! No, you're willing to give up a Christmas present (or two) if the new A&E series "Steven Seagal: Lawman" has footage of Steven Seagal running.

Trust me. It's worth not getting some socks or a can of mixed nuts to see Seagal at full speed. (Hint: watch his arms.)

You've seen his movies, or at least heard of them. And if you've caught "Executive Decision" on one of the countless repeats on TNT, you've cheered when Seagal bites the dust early. (That's not really a spoiler; you just can't spoil a Steven Seagal death scene.)

"Lawman," which premieres on Wednesday, Dec. 2, is one of the newest breed of reality shows. In these, celebrities head out into the real world and have themselves filmed taking part in actual society.

Bob Saget ("Full House") has one lined up for next year called "Strange Days," in which he'll be shown as part of a biker gang, join a survivalist cult, and go wilding with a group of Amish teenagers. Tony Danza is filming one called "Teach," in which (despite the more obvious roles) Danza will teach a class in a suburban Philadelphia high school. "Saturday Night Live" alum Al Franken even has one where he becomes a member of the United States Senate.

Oh.

But none of those has the cache of "Steven Seagal: Lawman." And so, despite your better judgment, you go to the show's Web site in hopes of finding something that will keep you from wanting to watch. Bad move.

"In addition to going out on patrol, Seagal is an expert marksman who has worked with their SWAT team and has instructed Jefferson Parish officers in firearms and hand-to-hand combat."

Now, you're tempted. You think of the officers in Jefferson Parish heading into the gym for hand-to-hand combat training and seeing Seagal stare them down. What do they do? Encircle him? That tactic never works.

Befitting the fact that we are dealing with actual police work here, the episodes have understated titles such as "Too Young To Die," "The Deadly Hand" and "Killer Canines." The plot synopsis for the first episode, "The Way Of The Gun," illustrates how the series will work.

"Seagal and his team capture an armed carjacker after a high-speed chase and tackle a convicted felon packing a pistol. In between these impressive busts, Seagal, the world-class marksman, teaches a fellow team member amazing Zen shooting techniques — techniques everyone on his team will need to survive the dangerous streets."

The Web site promotional material says that Seagal has been working as a fully commissioned deputy for nearly 20 years ... obviously taking a week off here and there to film a movie. But if it's just good guys and scum, we might get bored. After all, Seagal action movies are pretty predictable.

We need more ... and "Lawman" promises not to disappoint.

"When Seagal goes off duty, the cameras will continue following him as he pursues his many ventures, including musical performances (!) and philanthropic efforts in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans."

Oh yeah, we're there. We are so there.

In case you haven't heard, Oprah is pulling the plug on her daily talk show. In 2011, which gives the rest of the world plenty of time to discuss it.

We're not going to wait.

There are several angles to Oprah's departure, but the most interesting is that she's really not going away. She's just leaving syndication for her own network, to be called the Oprah Winfrey Network. Presumably, at some point she'll be more than just the owner of OWN, she'll have another show. But what will be shown on OWN for the other 23 hours a day?

We had some thoughts:

  • Law & Oprah: Suspicious murders take place in and around Oprah, leading a team of never-seen investigators to track down the perps and bring them to justice — in a court where Oprah is indeed judge, jury and executor of life sentences.
  • the view (of oprah): A group of never-seen woman sit with their backs to the camera as they discuss hot topics such as Oprah's wardrobe, Oprah's book selections and the other 23 hours of OWN programming.
  • who wants to be a billionaire like oprah?: A game show where contestants are asked a series of questions about Oprah by a never-seen host in an attempt to amass a fortune. If they get stuck for an answer they can call Oprah, or at least one of her assistants.
  • the oprah whisperer: Using inspirational clips from 25 years of Oprah's talk show as a guide, a never-seen intermediary helps the poor and disadvantaged improve their lives.
  • oprah idol: A talent competition in which comments from never-seen judges compare the abilities of contestants to how Oprah would have performed under the same circumstances. Contestants are eliminated week by week until only Oprah remains.

News editor Robert Galvin, who has seen "Under Siege" three times, writes about television for Tempo. He can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com.