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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Here and abroad, Jersey Shore and Russian Dolls are cheese without borders


Americans are traditionally unengaged in foreign affairs, so thank goodness reality TV is willing to expose us to other cultures. The fourth season of MTV’s Jersey Shore (Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT) has sent them off to Florence. On the premiere, they arrived in a vast house decorated to look like a Renaissance redo of their Seaside Heights home and said many enjoyably ignorant things. Snooki, whom I have come to love as a sort of slightly more articulate koala, described Europe as “that big country.” No one seemed to understand why their hair dryers kept shorting. “I know this is an old city,” said J-WOWW, “but c’mon now, we need more outlets.” The arbitrary leap overseas moves the show that much closer to pure sitcom-an improvement. Back on these shores, Lifetime’s new Russian Dolls (Thursdays, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT) is an indulgent, rather mild look at Russian-Americans in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. The women are harshly glamorous, but the only drama in the premiere came when a grandmother won a talent pageant and her bored relations walked out before she got her prize. It’s tacky, da-or should we say duh?-but likable.


Most Eligible Dallas

Bravo, Aug. 15, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


The posh Dallas singletons in this new reality series toy with romance while moving from swank clubs to beautiful apartments to moneyed parties. The experience is like having the velvet rope lifted, then wishing you could use it to hogtie the charmed circle behind it. This might have worked better with a stronger unifying theme-housewives, chefs, plumbers. Instead you get hung up on ludicrous isolated details: Why would anyone phone room service and order fries for their dog?