This week, EW's editor-at-large marvels anew at late screen queen Hutton's finest hour, in the brilliant 1944 Preston Sturges comedy ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.'' Plus: fun with ''Andy Barker,'' ''The Riches,'' and more

By Ken Tucker
Updated March 19, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Everett Collection

Andy Barker, P.I.

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Remembering Betty Hutton’s ”Miracle” performance

1. Celebrate the life of Betty Hutton by watching The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
The actress, whose death at age 86 was announced last week, is being widely lauded for her most high-profile role in Annie Get Your Gun, but her most astounding performance was in this, the greatest of all Preston Sturges comedies, released in 1944. As Trudy Kockenlocker, Hutton manages to be brassy, sexy, and slapstick-funny playing a young woman who goes out partying with some servicemen about to be sent overseas and wakes up to find herself pregnant… but by whom? Working with Eddie Bracken as her long-suffering beau, William Demarest as her cranky father, and the lovely Diana Lynn as her wisecracking younger sister, Hutton overpowers them all with sheer, burst-through-the-screen life force.

2. Has There Ever Been a More Lovable TV Detective Than Andy Barker?
(NBC, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m.)
Sure, I miss 30 Rock, but Andy Richter’s very funny Andy Barker, P.I., the new occupant of its time slot, has a tone all its own. Playing an accountant moonlighting as a private investigator, Richter has put together a crafty show, in which strong sarcasm is expressed through character-Andy’s nice-guy, hesitant manner. On this week’s episode, for instance, when a large, crude man dies and Barker investigates, he comes across attractive women who all say this big lout was irresistible. ”Reeeally?” Andy says, his crinkled nose conveying disbelief. ”He was pretty smelly.”

3. Film Noir Vérité in The Naked City
(Criterion Collection DVD)
Director Jules Dassin’s 1948 black-and-white thriller works as tense suspense but also as a grand tour of New York City landmarks. Watching this glowing print, you can understand why cinematographer William H. Daniels won an Oscar — the scenery gives you as many goosebumps as the plot does.

4. Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as the Married Couple of the Moment on The Riches
(FX, Mondays, 10 p.m.)
Izzard and Driver, as indigent con-artist parents who assume the identities of a dead couple and move into a posh suburban home, seem to be having a quiet blast in this delightfully wonky comedy-drama. These two Brits have some wobbly American accents, but who cares? They commit to every aspect of the series’ premise, portraying believably eccentric but caring parents and partners-in-life who love, fight, and baffle each other.

Episode Recaps

5. The Most Good Guests on One Talk Show This Week: Late Night With Conan O’Brien
(NBC, Thursday, 12:35 a.m.)
O’Brien — who, like time-slot rival Craig Ferguson, has the interest in and taste to book authors he likes — this week welcomes Sarah Thyre, whose marvelously funny, shrewd new family memoir Dark at the Roots I made an ”EW Pick” in the magazine. Also on the bill: Lindsay Buckingham, whose melodies on his solo album Under the Skin are frequently gorgeous; even as his songs veer into unexpected tempos, his vocals taking pleasingly surprising shifts in register and mood.

Andy Barker, P.I.

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