Picks and Pans Review: Gossip Girl

updated 09/08/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/08/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CW, Sept. 1, 8 p.m ET

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The new season of the gorgeously silly melodrama about jaded young Manhattanites opens in late-summer Hamptons. Everyone dresses up in creamy white, maybe channeling The Great Gatsby, and heads off to a society event where romantic intentions misfire. The episode ends with an audacious twist for Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester, who has a nice sense of camp and a dazzling flair for headbands). One potential problem: The crusty, oppressive grown-ups are largely absent in the first few weeks, and without them the plots can seem a little mushy. But the dialogue is irresistible (shouts one girl: "I didn't sign up for some creepy love triangle with you and someone's mom!"), and Blake Lively hasn't lost that floating air of mystery as Serena van der Woodsen. Let's put it this way: Gossip Girl is superior to the arid, retro-chic Mad Men.

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