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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Red Widow

ABC, March 3, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Red Widow, with Radha Mitchell as a woman under the delusion that she can turn a blind eye to her Russian family’s Mob life, is the sort of female-dominated melodrama that does pantingly well on ABC. But Widow is no Scandal. It’s a tempest in a samovar. The title is full of luscious dread, and Mitchell (Finding Neverland) has a wonderful look as heroine Marta Walraven, grief- and panic-stricken after her husband, who married into the family’s black-market activities, is killed-presumably by rival drug lord Nicholae Schiller (Goran Visnjic). As Marta tries to repay Schiller for the missing shipment that sparked the murder—and may spark more-Mitchell is fine-boned yet unflinching, like an Olsen twin fortified by many scraps of meat. But only Visnjic, immaculately groomed and vaguely Continental, seems to understand that this over-the-top story requires not only a constant flame to boil the plot but a flirtatious sense of fun. He and Mitchell should already be seducing each other, mixing thoughts of revenge and sex into a loopy cocktail. Hurry up.

The Bible

History, March 3, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


Executive-produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor) and his wife, actress Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel), The Bible covers both Old and New Testaments in 10 hours and five parts. This requires unusual tricks of compression. I don’t think anyone ever thought to have the fall of Adam and Eve told as a flashback by Noah in the company of two giraffes on the ark. The plagues visit Egypt in a snappy montage. Overall, though, the tone is dutiful, reverent and circumspect, neither historical nor religious-“This program,” as we are told, “is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world.” This is like dramatizing War and Peace without commenting on war or peace. There are a few strong performances, notably Greg Hicks as Pontius Pilate and Gary Oliver as Abraham. (Downey appears briefly as Jesus’ mother, Mary.) The rest is togas, breastplates and beards.

L.A. Shrinks

Bravo, March 4, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


The first few moments of LA Shrinks will create goosebumps of anticipation for Bravo fans. As we meet Venus Nicolino, Gregory Cason and Eris Huemer, the stylish, let-it-all-hang-out counselors of the title, the show promises to be some great trash mix of Freud, Jung and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, apart from one female patient whose terrifying rage issues seem to have been triggered simply by having to live in L.A., these people are all much more ordinary and much less fabulously neurotic than you might have hoped.

Cason, a cognitive therapist who describes his long-term gay relationship as “monogamish,” is still working out issues with his father. Huemer, a relationship coach, is frustrated with a sex life gone dead and a husband who isn’t ready for kids. She tries to arouse him with a specially prepared menu of libido-tripping foods. Seriously, doctor? And yet you do come away with the occasional pearl of wisdom: “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” Doesn’t this show prove it?