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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Project Runway

Lifetime, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Runway has lost buzz since its 2009 move from Bravo to Lifetime, although this could just be the result of the gaping disconnect between winning a TV design competition and actually succeeding as a label. Either way, even in season 9, Runway remains one of the best reality shows on the air. The challenges are ludicrous, but the results can be dazzling. (I refer to Anthony Ryan Auld’s dress of-whoa!-birdseed.) Host Heidi Klum’s blonde gorgeousness is undimmed, and Tim Gunn still consoles and inspires. He’s like a well-tailored angel out of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Karaoke Battle USA

ABC, Fridays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Unlike American Idol, this singing competition doesn’t require contestants to memorize lyrics: The words scroll on the traditional karaoke screen. Apart from that-and the fact that the winners are crowned King and Queen of Karaoke-Battle doesn’t have much to offer that’s original. The exception is celebrity judge Carnie Wilson. Her odd, open-mouthed reactions are meant to register awe and delight at the singers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if an unseen cat were biting her toe.

Big Sexy

TLC, Aug. 30, 10 p.m. ET/PT


At 6’3″ and 335 lbs., Audrey Curry dominates this mildly enjoyable show about plus-size women trying to succeed as stylists and models in New York City’s thin-centric fashion world. The daughter of models, she’s fearlessly over-the-top. She has a penchant for goth makeup and on one occasion sails forth in a mountainous coat of bright lavender.

The women are charming, vulnerable and fundamentally humorous-they discuss the wonders of rotisserie chicken while watching a runway parade of skinny models-but this three-week series feels undercooked. When Audrey and her costars create a runway presentation for themselves, it’s meant to be a fabulous statement but comes across only as feeble, desperate self-promotion. Big Sexy could have used less glamour and more of Mike & Molly star Melissa McCarthy’s salt-of-the-earth power.