Worth Another Look!

The Mindy Project

FOX, Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

The Mindy Project, as the title suggests, has been a work in progress. It's taken half a season for creator and star Mindy Kaling to align the show—and her performance as an ob-gyn with a nerdy enthusiasm for both pop culture and dating—with the sensibility displayed on her Twitter feed and in her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Girlish, smart, occasionally clueless, lost in a blissful haze over her latest crush, she's the romantic heroine of her own life. Kaling knows this is ridiculous, of course—and so does Mindy Lahiri, her character—but that just makes the comedy all the sweeter. The show has taken shape thanks to sharpened writing and a tweaked supporting cast, but Kaling's gradual embodiment of, well, herself is what's key. There's no one else on the contemporary sitcom scene quite like her: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey both found husbands on Parks and Recreation and the now-concluded 30 Rock, but neither actress surrenders herself to the moment or to emotion the way Kaling does. I used to think her obsession with Nora Ephron movies like Sleepless in Seattle was a gimmick, but the yearning seems genuine. Her show is the real thing too.

Phil Spector

HBO, March 24, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA

Writer-director David Mamet has recruited two thundering talents, Helen Mirren and Al Pacino, for a cerebral meditation on celebrity and the law. Mirren plays Linda Kenney Baden, defense attorney for legendary music producer Phil Spector (Pacino) in his first trial for the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. Can she believe in the innocence of this notorious eccentric? Isolated in his mansion, surrounded by guns, is Spector a monster or simply a tortured artist? (After a mistrial, he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009.) Pacino, with his special talent for suggesting florid rot, makes a wonderful freak. But this is essentially a dialogue between baffled attorney and baffling client, which makes for an arid 95 minutes. It's like Robert Blake: A Ken Burns Film.

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ARROW

Our dashing young hero (Stephen Amell) must stop a dangerously violent vigilante who calls himself—oh, piteous irony!—the Savior. CW, March 27.

THE GOOD WIFE

On TV's savviest drama, Matthew Perry pops in again as the political rival of Julianna Margulies's husband. CBS, March 24.

THE VOICE

The hit singing competition returns with two new judges in those throne-size chairs: Usher and Shakira. NBC, March 25.

With The View's funny, liberal Joy Behar leaving after 16 seasons, Barbara Walters might consider...

ANN COULTER

The anti-Joy. As far to the right as Joy is to the left, the controversial commentator is voluble, quick and oddly madcap.

ZOSIA MAMET

The kid. Going for a younger demo, Barb? The Girls star is only 25, and she can outtalk Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

FRED ARMISEN

The clone. The Saturday Night Live star does a first-rate impersonation, perfectly capturing Joy's exasperation and sass.

You play the infamous Mrs. Bates. Were you a Psycho fan?

The boy-next-door representation of psychopathy was so disturbing to me—and, like everybody else, it ruined the showering experience for me. I never reach for an opaque shower curtain now. I only have clear ones.

Wouldn't that make it even scarier?

No! That way you can [see the intruder] and prepare weapons: shampoo or the spray nozzle and hot water.

Your kids Fynn, 4, and Gytta, 2, can't watch this, but do they know what you do?

There's a billboard with my picture up right now, and my husband [musician Renn Hawkey] said, "Fynn, who's that?" and he said, "Some lady." I look very different at home!

—LESLEY MESSER

Married to Medicine sounds as if it could be a follow-up to one of those thoughtful ABC News documentaries about hospitals. But it's on Bravo, so it's not! A reality show about six Atlanta women–two of whom are doctors–Married conforms to the campy Real Housewives blueprint. Everything boils down to who'll go postal at which McMansion party. (That would be Quad, a psychiatrist's wife.) Quite funny.

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The teen idol left Hollywood at the height of his career. Now he's back on TV—and reunited with Tim Allen

You're guest-starring on Last Man Standing, your first acting role in eight years. Why now?

They asked me, and I said, "Of course!" The great thing about the show is it has a lot of the same crew as Home Improvement, and obviously [former costar and TV dad] Tim Allen. It was nice to come back to familiar faces.

Why did you leave Hollywood?

I wanted to go to school, I wanted a bit of a break and to travel and explore. I'd been working nonstop since I was 8 years old. I'm 31 now. Time flies!

What was the best part of your time off?

To be able to sit in a library and be amongst books and students was a novel experience for me. I'd gone to school before but not on my own. It was cool.

Any regrets?

None at all. [Being in the limelight] was a great period in my life, but it doesn't define me.

How did you deal with the intense fame?

I was lucky that I had friends and a fairly normal life. I tried not to take it too seriously. Now I look back on it with a wink. I think about the experiences I had, not that I was on a lot of magazine covers.

One day will you let your kids see your movies and shows?

Absolutely not. Maybe when they're old. I wouldn't want to confuse them. I'll just be Dad.

—AILI NAHAS