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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Kirstie Alley’s Big Life

A&E, March 21, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Stop the insanity, Kirstie! The Emmy-winning Cheers actress has been eclipsed by a dieting woman of a certain age. Her career revolves around whether she’s losing or gaining. She even has her own line of weight-loss products. A few years ago she starred in Fat Actress, a Showtime comedy in the Larry David mold-Curb Your Appetite. Big Life, her new show, is like a single-serving Celebrity Fit Club. Alley, so unhappy with her weight she prefers to hear it expressed in the British unit “stone,” slims down at home, along with her obese handyman. In the first episodes, her moans are just as often caused by paparazzi shots as by exercise. Oh, and she likes to feed her pet lemurs. I’m not exactly feeling the burn of creativity here.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

ABC, March 26, 9 p.m. ET/PT


Famed British chef Jamie Oliver brings his gospel of nutritious cooking to Huntington, W.Va., which the Associated Press labeled the unhealthiest community in America. Even though Oliver is generally as genial as a Mike Myers character, he’s sobbing with frustration by the end of the first episode. We don’t feel much sympathy for him. He’s right, sure: The women in the school cafeteria probably shouldn’t serve pizza for breakfast. But they can’t seriously be expected to just fall in, as if this were The Day the Earth Stood Still and he were Klaatu with recipes.


Discovery, March 21, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


Eat, Breed, Prey could be the title of this gorgeous natural history documentary series, a companion to Planet Earth (only with less geology). Narrated by Oprah Winfrey, Life glories in some wonderfully weird species. Not only does the male Japanese mudskipper (a fish) crawl on land, but he knows how to build tunnels and carry oxygen to buried eggs. I’m surprised he doesn’t install storm windows. This same biological drive for life unites all life, ants to lions. Informative and fun.