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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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True Blood

HBO, June 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Like an unhappy vampire who realizes that fangs can be a wonderful accessory once you learn how to display them, the deep-South horror fantasy True Blood keeps growing more ostentatiously, wildly erotic. Eclipsing even last summer’s BBQ bacchanal involving an ancient spirit, the new season feels like one big undead sex party-a kinky alternate lifestyle where vampires and monsters do the nasty (and other violent acts) in roadhouses, backrooms, backwoods and the occasional antebellum mansion. (The third hour jolts to an end with an especially rough act of bloodsucker carnality.) The show is slowly introducing a league of werewolves whose unseen leader had some sort of “in” with the Nazi command. That makes sense: It wouldn’t have been Winston Churchill. Alexander Skarsgard, as vampire Eric, dominates the cast with his chic, decadent pallor. Death becomes him, totally.

Hot in Cleveland

TV Land, June 16, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


When you’re hot, you’re hot-which is why having Betty White in the cast has generated an unusual amount of buzz for this TV Land sitcom. But her costars-ace comic actresses Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves, Valerie Bertinelli-are the ones who add sizzle to a not too promising vehicle. They play friends, in need of a vacation and a midlife bounce, flying from L.A. to Paris. The plane makes an emergency stop in Cleveland, where to their delight the men ogle them like supermodels. Vanity recharged, they stay. White, as the caretaker of Bertinelli’s new house, seems awkwardly shoehorned in. She’ll probably heat up.

Top Chef D.C.

Bravo, June 16, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Season 7 unfolds in the nation’s capital, allowing host Padma Lakshmi to get off one overly cute pun (“Hail to the chef!”) and providing a backdrop of monuments and cherry blossoms for a miserable quick-fire challenge with potatoes, onions and chicken. Chef remains the model for cook-off competitions, balancing casual insight into culinary art with psychological snapshots of the aspiring chefs. This recipe can’t be improved on.