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PEOPLE TV Critic Picks 3 Shows to Watch on Oprah's New Network

01/03/2011 at 08:45 AM EST

OWN - Oprah Winfrey Network Debuts
Oprah Winfrey
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Having watched Snooki safely descend in her New Year's Eve bubble, I was ready to start 2011 with a more edifying spectacle: the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, the talk-show titan's new venture with the Discovery Channel.

The shows that aired over OWN's premiere weekend all conformed to Winfrey's admirable philosophy of emotional validation, empowerment and living one's best life. This would probably be so even if she created The Walking Dead. The shows were all well produced, fully realized and not especially adventuresome.

Kidnapped by the Kids is a reality show in which children instruct parents on what it takes to make a happy family. Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes documents how Winfrey's flagship show, entering its final season, is put together. (Winfrey understands the strange visceral excitement she generates by letting herself be seen without makeup.) But the slate of upcoming shows includes some that look very promising – and have some genuine Oprah oomph.





Finding Sarah
Conceptually, this one is irresistible: A docu-reality series that follows Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, as she tries to regain her footing after last year's influence-peddling scandal. Oprah, previewing the show in an hour-long guide to OWN programming, described this as Sarah's "personal journey back to herself." Stops along the way apparently include sitting on a rock and pensively staring out to sea, much like Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman, and accepting advice from Oprah stalwarts Dr. Phil and Suze Orman. Wouldn't you rather be ordered to the Tower of London?

Addicted to Food
This reality show is about some very distressed people confronting their eating disorders at a clinic called Shades of Hope – the same place that treated Ruby Gettinger, the poignantly sympathetic Style Network star. This one looks as if it has some of the intensity of A&E classics like Intervention and Hoarders – an intensity lacking in the shows that premiered over the weekend. Enough Already! with Peter Walsh, which resolves cases of both emotional and physical clutter, had a chummy, busy cheerfulness. It was like Hoarders with bright-colored trash.

The Gayle King Show
I probably wouldn't have cared that Oprah's friend was launching her own talk show – but then Oprah went and described her to Barbara Walters as a combination of mother, sister and best friend ever. Who can this magnificent human being possibly be? If Larry King had said the same of Piers Morgan, I'd be much more excited by his upcoming CNN debut.

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