A curious Alex Pareene over at Gawker plugged a bunch of different TV shows and movies into the Times search engine to see how many times columnist Maureen Dowd referenced them. Unsurprisingly, The Sopranos and Sex and the City topped the list, with over a dozen references each. Desperate Housewives, Survivor, The Godfather, and Law & Order also made strong showings. But the one that really threw us, with a half-dozen references, was Ally McBeal, which ran for less than two years this decade. Could a show about a neurotic, wry, pretty-to-most-but-not-all people, cleverly unorthodox thinker who is pegged as brilliant by some, and shrewish and unstable by others, and who indulged in a rich fantasy life that sometimes subsumed real-world events — could that really be so relevant to an influential political columnist like Maureen Dowd? Hmmm. Never mind.