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Picks and Pans Main: Tv

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NBC, March 2, 10 p.m. ET/PT | []


This adaptation of the hit 1989 movie is emotionally ample, as any decent family drama should be, but the premiere feels like a dowdier cousin of shows already out there. It could be Brothers & Sisters in a lower tax bracket, or a Modern Family whose house has begun to subside. (There was even an earlier, short-lived network version in 1990 that briefly featured Leonardo DiCaprio.) Lauren Graham (replacing Maura Tierney, who left because of cancer treatment) is a single, money-strapped mom who moves her kids back in with the folks. Peter Krause plays her brother Adam, who needs the family to confront a crisis: His son suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. The acting and atmosphere are warm—but maybe warmed over. That’s the problem.

The Late Late Show

CBS, weeknights, 12:37 a.m. ET/PT | []


During this lull in the talk show wars, let’s pay attention to a true original in the moonlit hours. Scotland native Craig Ferguson, whose set is so spare and dark it might more properly be called a chamber, has transformed the standard opening monologue into a genuinely theatrical one. Ferguson works daringly close to the camera, frantically racing through topics and gags. This intimacy can be more disorienting than funny, as he leans forward and lets little glints of madness flash in his eyes. There’s a sense of risk, adventure, even folly. As he recently told his audience, “You wouldn’t fork out for cable, and I’m an immigrant doing a job an American doesn’t want.”

Who Do You Think You Are?

NBC, March 5, 8 p.m. ET/PT | []


This gently intriguing show traces the genealogy of seven celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Kudrow (who’s also executive producer), Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee. Parker, incredibly engaging out of her glam Carrie Bradshaw getups, is linked both to the California gold rush and the Salem witch trials.

None of these results will rock a viewer’s world, but it’s unexpectedly satisfying to see stars in a reality project that’s more relatable than ballroom dancing or a temporary work detail for Donald Trump.