You watch. We know you watch. How can you not watch television's guilty pleasure shows that, for reasons obvious and mysterious, suck you back to the viewing couch each week.
Alas, tonight the TV gods have preempted that guiltiest of pleasures, "Desperate Housewives," in favor of the American Music Awards.
To help with the withdrawal symptoms, we indulge in some nostalgia for guilty pleasure shows of yore that lasted at least five seasons and made guilty (but satisfied) viewers of us all.
Peyton Place (premiered in 1964). It was the mid-1960s and Americans, judging by the show's audience size, were ready to delve into the lives of these New Englanders with their extramarital affairs, illegitimate children and philandering priests. Television's first successful prime-time soap opera also launched the careers of Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal.
Hawaii Five-O (1968). Hula dancers. A villain called Wo Fat. The catchy opening tune (by composer Mort Stevens, who also penned the "Gunsmoke" theme). Jack Lord's hair! Viewers indulged in this over-the-top cop drama for its fast pace and beautiful scenery (filmed on location), but who knew there was so much crime in this tropical paradise?
Dallas (1978). The masterpiece spawned a whole generation of prime-time dramas, including "Knots Landing," "Falcon Crest" and "Dynasty." J.R. became a household name and millions of children may have learned the facts of life from all that cavorting taking place at Southfork. We loved the series so much, we even forgave the producers for writing off Bobby's death (and the entire 1985-86 season) as just a dream.
Fantasy Island (1978). Who didn't want to be greeted by the happy islanders bearing fruity drinks and have Ricardo Montalban hand them their dreams? Viewers could empathize with the Average Joes with large problems getting off "da plane! da plane!," seeking answers from the wise and cunning Mr. Roarke.
Knight Rider (1982). Yeah, the car could talk; you got a problem with that? It could also reach speeds of 300 mph and defy gravity, and we all like to watch cars fly. Plus it seated one fabulously coiffed and blue-jeaned David Hasselhoff, whom a nation embraced. That nation is Germany, but he was pretty big in the United States as well.
The A-Team (1983). I pity the fool . . . who wasn't in the demographic and therefore missed out on this ragtag team of outlaws fighting injustice. We elevated Mr. T (B.A.) into a pop culture superstar, but the names Hannibal, Faceman and "Howling Mad" Murdock will always be ingrained in our memory.
MacGyver (1985). The ingenious secret agent could turn a turnip into a truck, a lollipop into a laser and a Danish into a dagger. Sure we made those up, but we tuned in for eight years to see what unbelievable concoction our hero could invent next.
Melrose Place (1992). We tuned in to see what tragedy would befall Allison next. We taped and rewinded to see Dr. Michael slowly transform from all-around nice guy to certified meanie. We rushed home to see cat fighting and attempted suicides and the Melrose Place apartment complex blow up. But mostly . . . we watched to see Heather Locklear.
Dawson's Creek (1998). The high school love affairs and the platonic, almost-love affairs. That's what drew us in every week as Dawson, Joey and Pacey sorted out their sordid affairs. Its downfall? That annoying Paula Cole theme song still -- a year after the show went off the air -- is stuck in our heads.