Picks and Pans Main: TV

updated 03/24/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/24/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

What's On This Week

BLACK MAGIC

9 P.M. | ESPN
Two-night documentary on the entwined histories of black basketball and civil rights. Narrators include Samuel L. Jackson.

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS

8 P.M. | CW
Chris (Tyler James Williams) gets his first kiss via that time-honored tradition: spin the bottle.

MONDAY, MARCH 17

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30 P.M. | CBS
The sitcom returns with a St. Patrick's Day episode. Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory are back tonight too.

AMERICA'S PROM QUEEN

9 P.M. | ABC FAMILY
Premiere of a six-episode reality show with 10 girls—many of whom have overcome soul-crushing real-life prom experiences—competing for the title.

TUESDAY, MARCH 18

THE BIGGEST LOSER

8 P.M. | NBC
Tim Gunn guides the contestants through hair and wardrobe makeovers. There's a place for you in heaven, Tim Gunn!

ONE TREE HILL

9 P.M. | CW
On the 100th episode, Chad Michael Murray is about to get hitched—but hath he p'raps strayed from love's true path?

THURSDAY, MARCH 20

MARTHA STEWART
CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS | SYNDICATED
Martha celebrates her 500th show. Think the cake'll be store-bought?

Dancing with the Stars

NEW SEASON!

ABC, March 17, 8 p.m. ET

Sure, it's invigoratingly sexy when someone like skater Apolo Anton Ohno triumphs with the sheen of youth—but a lot of Dancing with the Stars's irresistible charm comes from its aging B-listers, who this time include Steve Guttenberg and Priscilla Presley. (Monica Seles and Shannon Elizabeth are two of the younger celebs.) The fact that they're a little weathered—they make the current American Idol crop look like Disney forest creatures—only adds to the suspense. These are people who have seen enough life to acquire wrinkles, maybe love handles, shortness of breath, even frailty. Last season Marie Osmond fainted—just flopped to the ground—but she got back up to dance another day! This is the rare reality show for grown-ups.

John Adams

HBO, March 16, 8 p.m. ET |

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DRAMA

John Adams would have liked Paul Giamatti. Probably. The Sideways star, who plays the famously irascible second President in this seven-part, nine-hour adaptation of David McCullough's Pulitzer-winning biography, is an ace at working himself up into a quivering state of passionate bluster. One thinks of Jell-O violently thwacked by a spoon. The first four parts, which take Adams from his pre-Revolution career as a lawyer to his swearing-in as George Washington's Vice President, are a bit stiff with the starch of narrative history, but the cast is great: Laura Linney's Abigail Adams, strong and wifely; Stephen Dillane's Thomas Jefferson, subdued and silken; and Tom Wilkinson's Benjamin Franklin, jovial, wise, often sly. And there's Giamatti: You might not want him as JFK, but he's a perfect Adams.

Miss Guided

ABC, March 18, 10:30 p.m. ET |

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COMEDY

GUEST STAR!

The concept of a grown woman trying to find fulfillment by returning to high school isn't new—the setup achieved sicko greatness in Strangers with Candy—but Miss Guided has the bright, clean snap of a cartoon. It also happens to star Judy Greer, a terrific comic actress who's brightened scenes in many, many shows, from Love Monkey to Arrested Development.

One could say Guided is about partial development. Becky Freeley, onetime teen geek, has matured into an attractive guidance counselor at her alma mater. But every so often—like when she wants to flirt with the Spanish teacher—Becky succumbs to her vestigial mousiness. This doesn't make her less alluring, just more real. The show is executive-produced by Ashton Kutcher, who's in the second episode (March 20) as a lady-killer substitute teacher. He may or may not be a great actor, but he's a great goof.

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