Picks and Pans Main: TV

UPDATED 10/25/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/25/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT

Modern Family

ABC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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The chief consolation of a blah fall season is that Modern Family, returning with a Best-Comedy Emmy, flows along as seamlessly perfect as it did last year. This remains far and away the best prime-time sitcom: crisp and farcical, but very kind. It makes a show like $#*! My Dad Says feel as mildewed and pathetic as an unmatched sock in a hamper. So far the only significant development was a small but public kiss between gay parents Cameron and Mitchell (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson). The moment was handled with gently realistic psychological humor: Mitchell's awkwardness at showing affection was linked to his bighearted but undemonstrative dad (Ed O'Neill). One other change is that the kids are growing up. Maybe there's some humane way to freeze them?

The Nate Berkus Show

Syndicated, weekdays, check local listings |

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A sure sign that Nate Berkus' transition from Oprah protege to talk show host had flopped would be an ugly set. Luckily the interior designer's TV space is very, very nice, with a rich patch of green foliage as an accenting backdrop and-ooh!-wall sconces. It's welcoming, open and bright. Berkus, who sometimes looks like a more ebullient T.R. Knight, handles the job with an enamel-paint smoothness. I just wish the show would stay tightly focused on the home-decor theme and celebrity guests: Segments on topics like kids' internet hazards don't quite go with those sconces.

Blue Bloods

CBS, Fridays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

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Tom Selleck has acquired a patina of broad-shouldered authority, sort of like Ronald Reagan with a mustache. Which means he's completely right as a Manhattan police commissioner-named Reagan, in fact-whose law-enforcing progeny include Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan. Bloods isn't groundbreaking, but there are hints of a deeper scandal woven into the solid plot. Worth checking out.

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