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john doyle

Never mind Valentine's Day. Let's talk about Lent.

Lent is about enduring a period of fasting, repentance and moderation. In other words, you give up certain indulgences. You just stop. So here we are in Lent, and there are things that you, I and others should just stop doing. Where to start?

Taking Lena Dunham too seriously. Let's stop that. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Girls is a comedy. It can be a black comedy, a poignant comedy or a whimsical comedy, but it's still a comedy.

The seriousness of the attention paid to both Dunham and Girls is now an overindulgence. It's ridiculous. Discussion of last Sunday's episode, in which Dunham's character, Hannah, spent a few days with that doctor guy in his plush house, has become so earnest, it reeks of extravagant oversincerity and overreach. Yeah, yeah, Hannah goes around half-naked or fully naked, showing a body that looks rather different from that of most female characters on TV. Big deal. It doesn't shift the universe. (Does it occur to anyone that Hannah looks rather like one of the young women in Honey Boo Boo's family? Think about it.)

For those who obsess, it might be better to speculate on the reaction if there was a gender reversal. Suppose the male equivalent body of a young man was on such display and he was having a fling with a comely fortysomething female doctor? It would be seen as a comedy, wouldn't it? Girls is a comedy, so quit the avid, pompous obsessing.

Taking Downton Abbey too seriously. God bless my soul, great Scott and heavens to Betsy, but this thing is no masterpiece, and it doesn't matter if PBS labels it "Masterpiece Classic." It's hokum.

There are two kinds of dogmatic devotees of Downton, I think.

First there are those who think it's historically accurate. They believe that rich but very nice people traipsed around saying, "Well, well, the world is changing, by Jove! And we must change with it." Not true. Most of the English aristocracy resisted change and resented it. Usually they plotted to stop it, keep the servants and tradesmen in their place and cling to their entitlements. Fools who see veracity in Downton need to quit pampering themselves with this daydream.

And then there are those who imagine themselves living in the Downton world. The clothes, the cars, the big house with the gorgeous furniture. This is the worst sort of indulgent delusion. Sure, the clothes are nice, but remember the confinement that came with them. The incarceration inside a rigid class system. Nice to be able to fantasize about the wealth and beauty of it all. But it's like a bad sugar high. Give it up for Lent, if it's your indulgence. It's what Lent is for.

Excuse my sternness. I'm not truly asking for a Lent of total fasting and repentance. Just a little moderation. You get to return to immoderate obsessing come Easter.

Airing tonight

Zero Hour (ABC, Global, 8 p.m.) is the convoluted new drama I told you about yesterday. Since then, I've noted that the critic for The Hollywood Reporter described it as "crazy-ass," which is apt. Anthony Edwards returns to TV as Hank Galliston, who is entangled in the most elaborate of international and ancient of conspiracies, after his wife is kidnapped. You get a bad guy and a kidnapping and by the end of the pilot you're inside a plot more elaborate than The Da Vinci Code.

Mars & Venus Today (CBC, 9 p.m. on Doc Zone) is a documentary that looks at the book by John Gray, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, 20 years after its publication. Selling by the truckload, it sure was influential. The doc promises an answer to this question: "Does this book help us solve the mystery of the opposite sex or does it throw us back to the fifties and only perpetuate gender stereotypes?"

Glee (Fox, Global, 9 p.m.) has a Valentine-themed episode. Will and Emma finally get married. There's a lot of singing and dancing. And in the case of Will and Emma, one imagines it as a musical version of The Big Bang Theory (CBS, CTV, 8 p.m.), which tonight involves the guys buying Valentine's gifts.

All times ET. Check local listings.