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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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ABC, June 20, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Scoundrels has got one thing right, anyway: Virginia Madsen. She plays Cheryl West, a middle-aged mother and wife who decides to steer her family of small-time crooks toward a life of legality. Crime doesn’t pay (or doesn’t pay enough) when your husband (David James Elliott) has just been sentenced to five years. Madsen is believably frayed and hard: A look inside Cheryl’s medicine cabinet might reveal a full supply of blood-pressure pills along with tranquilizers. She’s an embattled noir princess-an interesting character. Whether the show can figure out what to do with her semi-reformed brood is the challenge. Right now the show feels less like FX’s recent, underrated The Riches than Brothers & Sisters set among the criminal element.

Memphis Beat

TNT, June 22, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Jason Lee, who generally has the look of a man who’d just as soon be on a skateboard, has combed his hair into a low-rise pompadour and put on a suit to play a Memphis police detective named Dwight Hendricks. The premiere feels sort of like The Closer but doesn’t clinch the deal. I’m just not sure what to make of Jason Lee without his Jason Lee-ishness. But there’s a crackle of eccentric touches, including an abundance of Elvis impersonators and the charmingly off-kilter Celia Weston (Observe and Report) as his mother.

Alfre Woodard, playing Dwight’s challenging new chief, deploys her usual attractive steely cool.

The Gates

ABC, June 20, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


In the premiere of this suburban melodrama with supernatural undercurrents, an unhappy housewife (Rhona Mitra) tells her husband she’s going to start filling up her calendar with activities-perhaps keeping busy will prevent her from succumbing to vampire lust and draining the blood of handymen and contractors who cross her path in the middle of boring afternoons. This will also spare her husband the task of hauling out the bodies after dark as if they were heavy trash cans packed full of recyclables.

If The Gates played this domestic predicament as comedy, the show might show some more promise. Instead the tone is teasingly ominous and way too familiar. This is a gothic fantasy where all the fun has been landscaped clean away.