Picks and Pans Main: TV

updated 02/28/2011 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/28/2011 AT 01:00 AM EST

What Happened to Housewives?


Help me, Andy Cohen-help me understand. Days before the fourth-season premiere of The Real Housewives of New York City, Bravo pulled the show until sometime in the spring and replaced it with the new Housewives of Miami (Feb. 22, 10 p.m. ET/PT). This installment adheres to the three Gs of the Housewives template-glamour! grooming! gossip!-but the first episode is a stiff. The women, wonderfully rich and named Larsa and Cristy and so on, float through jewel-colored Miami like exotic fish in an aquarium, bubbles of empty air escaping from their lacquered lips. Glurp glurp glurp-but those are the wrong three Gs.

Bravo's challenge is to make its expanding stable of wives deliver the electricity that turned the just-concluded Beverly Hills into such an unexpected live wire: Kim's limo meltdown tipped the whole campy thing into psychodrama. The D.C. edition failed because the show never established the women's much-hyped proximity to power. Here, with no force of personality, the format is just a congress of the faux-fabulous.


Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy

Lifetime, Feb. 21, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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Not surprisingly, Lifetime's dramatization of this fascinating case has upset Amanda Knox and her family. The former Seattle student, now jailed in Italy, is appealing her 2009 conviction in the murder of her roommate in Perugia. But the movie isn't anti-Amanda. If anything, it moves so tentatively through the baffling investigation and trial that Hayden Panettiere seems to play a dozen Amandas: cheerful, furtive, erratic-and at times literally clueless.

Mr. Sunshine

ABC, Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

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This sitcom is dominated by two wildly different performances: Matthew Perry, dry, sharp and darting as a sports-arena manager, and Allison Janney, exuberantly over-the-top as his loopy boss. I wish they'd marry and try to establish their own special equilibrium while honeymooning in a gondola-once the show figures out how to get these two talents in sync, it should click. For now, Sunshine is a bit busy and unfocused.

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