Picks and Pans Main: TV

UPDATED 04/18/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/18/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

Law and Order: LA

NBC, April 11, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA

Absent since December, this extension of the Law & Order brand is back with its title city abbreviated and some unusual tweaking: Skeet Ulrich's Detective Winters exits, and Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) demotes himself from deputy district attorney to replace him. The switch isn't too plausible, but it allows more face time for Molina, a powerful, patient actor who looks something like a bull waiting out a thunderstorm. Terrence Howard remains as a prosecuting attorney, meaning more opportunities to hear his distinctive voice, husky yet paper-thin-he makes words slither. This all gives the first-season series more of the slam it needed.

Human Planet

Discovery, April 10, 8 p.m. ET/PT

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NATURE

The successor to Planet Earth and Life, two exquisitely shot documentary series, Human Planet examines how our own species has adapted to the most challenging conditions. And no, I don't mean those kids on American Idol. We see a boy in mountainous Mongolia training an eagle to hunt over the barren rock, a West Papua tribe building one of the soaring tree houses they call home and Ethiopian cliff farmers fending off foraging baboon armies. The photography is sweepingly gorgeous-this must be the best of all possible planets.

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