Dark Angel: FOX
Caroline Kepnes
February 26, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Really, how much downhill skiing can one person watch? This week, the winter games take NBC hostage (read: buh-bye ”Friends,” hasta la vista ”Law & Order”). Sure, the net’s bound to win the February-sweeps rating race with its nightly Olympics coverage, but what about the millions of viewers who could care less about Michelle Kwan’s every triple axle?

Perhaps your idea of figure skating is watching ”Dark Angel”’s Jessica Alba glide across the screen. Or maybe the competition that really gets your blood boiling (if you know what we’re saying) is the one that goes down at the season finale of ”Temptation Island 2.” Hey, it’s okay to choose these offerings; you’re just as patriotic as your luge-lovin’ neighbor, and if we may say, a hell of a lot cooler. Here, a look at the week in sweeps.

Friday, Feb. 8

Strange World (Sci Fi 8 p.m.)
Yeah, I’ll say. A series debut in which an Army dude’s (Tim Guinee) life depends on a ”now you see her now you don’t” Asian babe (Vivian Wu) and her life-saving drugs. And, in what we presume to be the down-to-earth part of the plot, one of the captain’s Gulf War buddies is accused of kidnapping a little boy.

Wayne Gretzky: The Great One (A&E 8 p.m.)
The Canadian puck master is hockey’s all-time leading scorer, which is why he’s a plum candidate for a profile. That, and his striking resemblance to Sean Penn. Score!

Dark Angel (Fox, 9 p.m.)
All season long, Jessica Alba had to watch rival tough babe in tight clothes Jennifer Garner become a superstar on ”Alias.” And in tonight’s episode, she gets shot and dragged to the ER. That’s gotta hurt.

Senior Year (PBS, check local listings)
Don’t worry if you’ve missed the first five episodes of this riveting high school documentary series. After all, tonight’s episode marks the debut of Danielle, a cheerleader/aspiring journalist.

Saturday, Feb. 9

Goldfinger (ABC 8 p.m.)
Go for the gold without watching the biathlon! Connery, Sean Connery, goes to great, sexy lengths to protect American gold reserves in this 1964 classic.

The Deer Hunter (Bravo 8 p.m.)
Why you would schlep to the multiplex for ”Black Hawk Down” when this Robert De Niro-Christopher Walken Vietnam masterpiece is on TV is, well, beyond us.

Ebert & Roeper (Check local listings)
Thumbs are likely to go down to the center of the earth as the critics get their hands on ”Rollerball,” which stars Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

The Middle Passage (HBO 10:05 p.m.)
A beautiful, tortured mind. This inventive film foregoes dialogue for an enslaved man’s (Djimon Honsou) interior monologue on his tragic transatlantic journey to America.

TRL Presents: Beauty & the Beat (MTV 8 p.m.)
So, you’re writing your PhD on the theory that success in modern pop music is based solely on looks and image? Well then, start your research here with this countdown of ”the most beautiful people in music video.”

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