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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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The witty Jimmy Kimmel Live! makes it a three-way competition at bedtime


After 10 years in the post-midnight spot-a talk show wilderness where coyotes prowl the perimeter-ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! has deservedly moved to 11:35 p.m. ET/PT, lining up against David Letterman’s Late Show on CBS and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show on NBC. Looking like an uncommonly shrewd penguin, the 45-year-old Kimmel is cooler (and younger) than his rivals, more slyly alert for punch lines-in that regard, at least, he’s closer than anyone to the revered Johnny Carson. He isn’t bringing much that’s radically new to the game: A highly touted hour in which he was bound and gagged while Matt Damon took over-the culmination of their long-running “feud”-was mostly awful, one of those occasions when stars (including guests like Nicole Kidman) pretend to be hilarious good sports but reveal they have little flair for comedy. Ungagged, Kimmel is very funny. Out of all the gags about the unearthed bones of Richard III, his was my favorite: Offering to show us a forensic re-creation of the king’s head, he cut to a clay bust of Lionel Ritchie from the famously kitschy “Hello” video. Kimmel won’t have to say goodbye for a long time.

Golden Boy

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


Downton Abbey enthusiasts may recognize Theo James, the star of this so-so cop series, as Kemal Pamuk, the playboy whose heart sputtered out while making love to Lady Mary. Minus the long hair, he looks like Rupert Everett in James Franco’s body. Which is not a complaint. The problem is the show’s concept: James plays New York City’s youngest-ever police commissioner, and Boy (which airs Feb. 26 and March 5 before switching to Fridays) flashes back seven years to explain how ambition and cunning propelled him to the top. Beyond the pilot, though, it appears to be a blandly generic precinct drama, with James on a near-equal footing with his colleagues. It’s Law & Order: Time-Travel Unit.