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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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The Real Housewives of D.C.

Bravo, Aug. 5, 9 p.m. ET |


At the start of Bravo’s new addition to its great, gossip-generating franchise, one of the Washington, D.C., wives observes, “The currency here is proximity to power.” These five women fall below the poverty line. In the premiere they fulfill the basic Housewives checklist: lots of clothes and catfighting. But they seem only weakly connected to the political movers and shakers who dominate the city’s image-which makes them not only ludicrous, as Housewives enjoyably tend to be, but also rather pathetic. Michaele Salahi, who looks like the Stepford Ann Coulter, caused a scandal last year when she and her husband crashed a White House state dinner. What kind of proximity is that? Are any of the models in Lynda Erkiletian’s local agency hired out to the Obama cabinet? Sorry, this one doesn’t click.


AMC, Aug. 1, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


James Badge Dale (HBO’s The Pacific) stars in this new series, a conspiracy thriller with a tone unlike anything else on TV. Rubicon creeps along with the alert, cautious tread of a spider that’s developed vertigo in its elaborate web. Once you adjust to its pace and the pieces click softly into place, you get caught up. Dale, a top-secret intelligence agent, stumbles on an immense shadow conspiracy when he notices a pattern in crossword puzzles. There’s a second thread: Miranda Richardson as a widow stumped by her husband’s suicide. What will connect them? Probably not a smoke monster. Challenging but engrossing.