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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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NBC, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


The curtain rises on season 2 of NBC’s troubled drama about a Broadway-bound Marilyn Monroe musical titled Bombshell. Oh-we now have a new production that we’ll call Everything but the Kitchen Sink. (Or, if advance sales are slow, Too Many Cooks.) Last year’s Smash took an old-fashioned story and gave it a contemporary spin-42nd Street by way of Glee. But both ratings and critical reaction curdled. So now we have a revamped show that nervously trots out its fixes and tinkerings, unsure that any of them will do the trick. Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson is now on board as a reigning diva whose career is closely controlled by her mother (Sheryl Lee Ralph, softly growling in a big, theatrical turn). Ingenue Katharine McPhee, who landed the breakout role of Marilyn in a furious battle with rival Megan Hilty, wanders off to Brooklyn-that exotic, distant place that Lena Dunham likes-and discovers the greatest new songwriter since Rent’s Jonathan Larson. Finally (addressing a point that obsessed critics), Debra Messing no longer wears accent scarves. The show must go on-but like this? Until, and unless, all the elements fall into place, it’s more smush than Smash.

Monday Mornings

TNT, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


I was unresponsive to all the stimuli offered by this slack medical drama, based on a novel by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta-except for the riveting conferences referred to in the title: Mondays are when the doctors at a Portland, Ore., hospital are summoned by chief of surgery Dr. Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina). Speaking with an even politeness that soothes no one, he rakes them over the coals for their errors. These are such artfully constructed set pieces, with flashes of injured ego and rallying pride, a more innovative show would have built its entire narrative around them. Instead, most of Mornings is stock melodrama and, apart from Molina, not all that well acted. Ving Rhames, as trauma chief, pronounces diagnoses with the deep, rolling certitude of God.

Zero Hour

ABC, Feb. 14, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


Anthony Edwards, in his first series since exiting ER in 2002, is Hank Galliston, a professional skeptic and conspiracy debunker swept up in an improbable mystery involving antique clocks, Nazis, Rosicrucians and a baby with irises the color of milk. It’s a big DaVinci Code glop of plot, all of it heading for something referred to as Zero Hour. This unfortunately will mark the death of civilization and-a point always overlooked in these doomsday scenarios-the end of Powerball. The pilot, rather than teasing us with the tip of this iceberg, throws us headlong into the nutty scenario. It hyperventilates when it means to be breathless.