The Oprah Winfrey Network

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NEW CHANNEL

There's no reason Oprah shouldn't have her own network-her entertainment brand is as clearly defined as Walt Disney's, and her message of self-improvement finds a perfect match in the reality format. But Rome, even when envisioned by mighty Oprah, is not built in a day. The launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Jan. 1 was bland and soft. It tasted like something meant to coddle a New Year's hangover. The titles she personally introduced include conventional if well-done shows like Searching for..., about a genealogist who helps forge reunions, and a documentary series on the making of Oprah. Forthcoming programs look more promising and capitalize on Winfrey's genius for celebrity confessional. How can you miss with a show about the royal disaster area known as Fergie, Duchess of York?

Episodes

Showtime, Jan. 9, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

This broadly written showbiz satire at least does right by Matt LeBlanc. Absent from TV since his Friends spinoff Joey ended in 2006, he plays a grayer, slightly desperate version of himself. This LeBlanc, preoccupied with raising money for a restaurant, is recruited to star in the U.S. version of a British sitcom about an acerbic headmaster. To the shock of the show's married writers (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig), the role becomes a lovable hockey coach. LeBlanc plays "LeBlanc" as vain, manipulative and essentially charming. It's a light, clever performance. But Episodes never convinces us this is really Hollywood: I haven't seen so few cell phones since Mad Men.

1 DOWNTON ABBEY

SUN. JAN. 9 CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS PBS

Masterpiece kicks off an addictive manor-house soap.

2 THE GOOD WIFE

TUES. JAN. 11 10 P.M. CBS

Julianna Margulies must pick a side as the firm heads for a split.

3 LIGHTS OUT

TUES. JAN. 11 10 P.M. FX

New drama with Holt McCallany as a retired boxer slugging through life.

4 OFF THE MAP

WED. JAN. 12 10 P.M. ABC

Mamie Gummer costars in a new medical drama set in the tropics.

5 PRIVATE PRACTICE

THURS. JAN. 13 10:01 P.M. ABC

Kate Walsh tries to avoid being drawn into a flirtation.

With season 15 of ABC's reality dating show in full swing, the Austin bar owner, 38, talks about trying to find love on TV-again.

SO CHANTAL, THE FIRST WOMAN YOU MET, SLAPPED YOU ACROSS THE FACE?

She got me good! I thought, "Here we go. Is this going to be one of 30 slaps?" In a strange way, it helped me relax.

HOW DID THIS COMPARE TO YOUR FIRST BACHELOR EXPERIENCE IN 2007?

It was night-and-day different. I promised myself to do things I normally wouldn't.

SUCH AS?

I rappelled off a 35-story building in downtown Los Angeles. That's the most terrified I've ever been in my life.

YOU TOOK A LEAP AND FOUND LOVE?

Yes, I am very much in love. I give you my word on that.

The Cape, NBC's new superhero adventure premiering Jan. 9 and starring David Lyons, has the colorful, grotesque mayhem of a good comic book. But the Cape himself, a framed cop who creates a new identity as a masked avenger with a formidably versatile cloak, is a constant letdown. Every time he flaps into view in his baggy hoodedness, he looks like Batman in need of a tailor.

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