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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Covert Affairs

USA, July 13, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Piper Perabo, who has a special place in my heart thanks to the 2000 movie Coyote Ugly, stars in a fanciful espionage series that feels like a weak descendent of Alias. She’s Annie Walker, a CIA trainee with a facility for languages and a life that seems to have been overshadowed by a quickie island romance that ended in heartbreak-and perhaps involved an element of intrigue that was more than sexual. She’s summoned to headquarters and, despite her junior status, thrown into a glamorously dangerous spy career. First assignment: Pretend to be a call girl! Did you expect food stylist? In the premiere, at least, Perabo seems dwarfed by the gleaming offices, the guns, the high tech and her more august castmates (including Peter Gallagher as the agency chief). Annie calls for some sort of inner steel, but Perabo looks less like an untested agent than an overwhelmed intern.

White Collar

USA, July 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT


The season kicks off with a bank-heist caper that’s reasonably clever-the show’s aim is to amuse, not put the gray cells through an obstacle course. Its two strengths remain. Matt Bomer, as (mostly) reformed con artist Neal Caffrey, is one of TV’s best-looking men (although he wears tiny hats that make him look like a toy Alpine hiker). And Tim DeKay, as the FBI partner who’s never sure Caffrey is working on the right side, is one of the most naturally believable character actors anywhere. Stitch them together, and Collar’s tailoring is just fine.

The Glades

A&E, July 11, 10 p.m. ET/PT


Homicide detective Jim Longworth relocates from Chicago to a sunny, swampy Florida town, where he solves cases without ever dropping a pose of slightly smarmy, self-amused charm. As played by Matt Passmore, he seems to be under the delusion that he’s a talk show host, treating his superior as a sidekick and his suspects as if they were guests with anecdotes to share rather than crimes to confess. The premiere is well-shot, humidly atmospheric, but a little more urgency would be appreciated. Longworth will have to stop behaving as if everything’s just another day in paradise.