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Have fun wrapping the catapult

We're in the home stretch of Christmas shopping — or, if be your wont, the annual non-denominational solstice-gifting obligation — and by this point I know what you're trying to decide ... bottle or draft?

But in case you're still in the mood to indulge the holiday cheer before imbibing the holiday spirits, take a moment to consider unusual gifts for the various odd people in your life. Like me, for instance.

My wife, bless her heart, is giving me a new sweater. I know this, even if she doesn't; because when I ordered HER new sweater from the catalog, I ordered one for myself as well.

It's not a Cliff Huxtable sweater, though. The good doctor would wear a new sweater every week on "The Cosby Show," a tradition that because so universally acknowledged that fans would send sweaters to NBC with hopes that Cliff would wear them some Thursday night.

Side note: The world is a strange place. I had wanted to drop in the number of sweaters Cosby wore during the series, but couldn't find it after an exhaustive, 10-minute Internet search.

I did, however, discover that Facebook has a page for the "Cliff Huxtable Sweater Club." There are 56 members; it wasn't clear from their pictures whether wearing a sweater was required to join.

But annual-non-denominational-solstice-gifting-obligation sweaters are so '80s, don't you think? Television is awash in holiday specials, classic holiday movies and special holiday episodes of your favorite shows that there should be a catalog of TV mementos available for the couch potato(es) on your list.

And in this perfect world — and by perfect, I mean one with five fewer nights of "The Jay Leno Show" — here's what you'd have bought for me:

Transporter Room No. 3 ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"). Let's face it, we don't like to travel, especially in the years when they've been working on the I-5 interchanges. So, now that the bugs are out of the Heizenberg Compensators, and the transporter isn't turning crew members into Hamburger Helper, it's time to have one of my own.

Why Room No. 3? Well, it was Chief O'Brien's favorite outpost on ST:TNG and — since not everyone will have a transporter — we'll need him to beam us back home.

Frasier Crane's apartment ("Frasier"). Speaking of homes, many were considered; but the one I kept coming back to was Dr. Fraiser Crane's condo overlooking beautiful downtown Seattle. As you can tell by the floor plan (yes, that's it above), Frasier's domicile has a spacious layout and features hardwood floors, high ceilings, a patio and a live-in masseuse.

It will have to come furnished, however, since Marty's broken-down recliner must be included.

Horatio Caine's sunglasses ("CSI: Miami"). It might be the only way to get the damn things away from him. David Caruso uses them not to shield his eyes, but as punctuation in his dialogue.

The downside of "H" losing the shades would end the best TV drinking game since the glory days of "Hi, Bob."

Wile E. Coyote's Acme Insta-Tunnel ("Looney Tunes"). We like going to the coast. You like going to the coast. But despite what the map would have us believe, we all know it's a pain-in-the-carseat to get there from here.

So, if you can't afford the transporter — or, for that matter, George Jetson's flying car — the next best thing would be an easy-access tunnel that could bring us through the Siskiyous without lying to the California produce guards about the apples in our knapsacks.

Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor's "Man's Bathroom" ("Home Improvement"). To be precise, the Binford 6100 Man's Bathroom — truly a "man's can" and a "John's john." When Tim and Al demonstrated this stainless steel beauty, men across America wept.

It includes hand-held dispensers for mouthwash, soap and tootpaste; a multi-head, multi-level shower; built-in floor drains; heated, in-stall automatic drying; headlights in mirror (equipped with "brights" for those pesky nosehairs); the LazyBowl "plush... when you flush" reclinging toilet — with jukebox, phone and magazine rack within easy reach; a refridgerator; a universal remote; and a high-def television behind the mirror.

Al Bundy, eat you heart out.

Chris "In the Morning" Stevens's catapult ("Northern Exposure"). "It's not the thing you fling," proclaimed the all-day deejay at KBHR in Cicely, Alaska, "It's the fling itself." And with that, and a wave of a sword, Chris had Ed start up the bulldozer, engaging the catapult and sending Maggie's fried piano into a million little pieces.

Why a catapult? Sometimes, things just need to be flung. For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, no explanation is possible.

Piper Halliwell's ability to freeze time ("Charmed"). Witches, demons, aliens, vampires, infomercial hosts and other supernatural beings have demonstrated all sort of otherworldly abilities. But the middle Halliwell sister's clock-stopping charm always has seemed to me the most beneficial.

Of course, Piper never seemed to use it when it would really be of use — like, say, when looking at the candy rack at the checkout counter.

The Chairman's job ("Iron Chef America"). He selects contestants. He procures the secret ingredient. He does a backflip to the podium. He engages in snappy repartee with the chefs. Then, for an hour, he paces and watches mayhem erupt on the floor of Kitchen Stadium. Then, he eats.

That's it. Get a stuntman for the backflip, and it's a snap. Without the stuntman, something still might snap.

Hugo "Hurley" Reyes's lottery numbers ("LOST"). Okay, so there might be a teensy-weensy ethical problem with how he stumbled upon the 4 8 15 16 23 42 series. And he might have something about the numbers being "cursed," since they seem to show up everywhere — including on a hatch lid of the uncharted island on which he crash-lands.

But for the $114 million, we might take our chances.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin writes about television for Tempo. He can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com