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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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The Wanda Sykes Show

FOX, Saturdays, 11 p.m. ET/PT |

Lopez Tonight

TBS, Mondays-Thursdays, 11 p.m. ET/PT |


Nothing in TV has been quite so volatile in the past year as the talk-show world. Wanda Sykes’ attempt could be the strangest gamble of them all. The debut featured a segment on “green” sex toys (melon was put to perverse use), a bar where guests share drinks and a drag-queen assistant, Porsche. What came through was Sykes’ potent sensibility: blunt, bawdy amusement at the world. Still, you’ve got your work cut out for you, ma’am. On the first few nights of his program, Lopez Tonight, George Lopez was thrilled by his achievement—a Latino star at the helm of his own national talk show. Lopez has proud, brash energy, but the jokes weren’t taking off. Talk is cheap, but talk is hard.

Saturday Night Live

NBC, Saturdays, 11:30 p.m. ET/PT |


In its 35th season, SNL remains relevant—a skit mocking Barack Obama was analyzed at CNN—but with presidential election fever long gone, the series has settled back into old form: a slackly paced professional showcase for talents who deserve better. That includes the entire current ensemble, especially MVPs Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. But there’s no essential electricity jumping from performer to performer. Somehow, Taylor Swift managed to shake things up recently as host. Her comedy skills are, to put it politely, raw, but they also felt vital. The only sketch I’ve really loved this season was about birds attacking an outdoor cooking show, and it was the cheap prop crows that got the laughs.