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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Undercover Boss

CBS, Feb. 7, after Super Bowl XLIV |


Scoring the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, the premiere of this new series follows Larry O’Donnell, president and chief operating officer of Waste Management, as he spends a week “undercover” in various low-level roles at his trash-disposal company. (Each episode will feature a different incognito exec.) In this economy, watching a corporate suit—even one as affable as O’Donnell—suction a Porta Potti carries a certain satisfying pleasure, but the show is so determinedly upbeat that it packs all the sugary artificiality of a break-room vending machine. Nearly every employee O’Donnell meets has a smile and a can-do attitude. Seriously? Not a single disgruntled worker in the bunch? I want to root for a reality series that uplifts, but for this one to work, it either needs to be more fun or more real.

Past Life

FOX, Feb. 11, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


“I never would have believed what just happened if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.” “I quit trying to make sense of people like that a long time ago.” “I saw it on a bumper sticker once.” Yes, that’s what passes for dialogue in this new drama about “past-life specialists”: a psychologist (Kelli Giddish) and an ex-cop (Nicholas Bishop) who solve crimes by unlocking the memories of reincarnated souls. It’s standard murder-of-the-week type stuff with just a hint of pseudo spirituality. Trouble is, characters who speak in clichés don’t deserve to be in your living room. I saw that on a bumper sticker once.

Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp

VH1, Feb. 8, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


If Dancing with the Stars is the holy grail for celebs seeking reality TV rebirth—and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! is fame’s Grim Reaper—then Celebrity Fit Club falls somewhere in between: a C-list series starring D-list has-beens (Baywatch’s Nicole Eggert, Skid Row rocker Sebastian Bach) who used to be pretty hot and kinda famous. Now, not so much. This go-round, a tired-looking Bobby Brown struggles to act like he’s there for anything other than the paycheck, and Britney Spears‘ ex Kevin Federline (who appears alongside his ex Shar Jackson) comes off like a man defeated. Bummer, dude.