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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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The Dust Bowl

PBS, check local listings |


Director Ken Burns, whose calm, slightly wistful approach to history was practically robust in last year’s Prohibition, now bows his head and trudges into the woeful desolation of America’s Dust Bowl. What began as a rush to uproot the Great Plains’ deep-rooted grasses and create farms-an agricultural boom-turned into a disaster in the 1930s as crops died beneath rainless skies. Winds churned the landscape into towering dirt clouds, some of which left deposits even in the East. The heartbreak here—especially the cases of poor children who died of “dust pneumonia”-is tremendous.

The Good Wife

CBS, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Now in its fourth season, Julianna Margulies’s law-firm drama is like Caesar’s wife: Because it so scrupulously observes the highest standards, to find fault with it is very serious business. There have been small but justified grumbles, for instance, about the British thug married to cunningly self-protective investigator Kalinda (Archie Panjabi). You just don’t expect to find some Clockwork Orange creep defiantly slumped down in the expensive office furniture. But the show this season is full of brilliantly cast guest stars, including Maura Tierney as a gazillionaire who’s too principled for her own good, and a buttoned-down Nathan Lane as a financial overseer with something up his cuff-linked sleeves. They’re delightful.