By Tom Gliatto Monica Rizzo Liza Hamm
April 12, 2010 12:00 PM

Paula, Come Back!

REALITY

New American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres continues to charm, dropping sweet little jokes as if they were sprinkles on a doughnut. But join her to Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell? Not very appetizing. If I could turn back time (oh, Cher!), Paula Abdul would still sit on the panel, weeping, smiling, acting as inexplicably unprepared as if she were Bambi at the Pentagon.

We realize now that Paula was Idol’s dysfunctional poster child. Her neediness could suck the air out of the theater, but it also vacuum-packed the judges into a unit. Now she’s gone and everyone else, given breathing room, is acting out, unsure of their roles: Kara clings to Simon, all buddy-buddy. Simon and Ryan Seacrest made a weird attempt at going mano a mano. And they put through the worst top 12 ever! Paula is apparently fielding offers. She’s no fool, even if we thought she was.

Good Luck Charlie

Disney, April 4, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT |

COMEDY

This family sitcom is based on a simple but relevant concept: In a household dependent on two incomes, siblings have to help raise the newest addition when mom returns to work. Bridgit Mendler plays a teenager who, in the premiere, wants to nudge a study date in a more romantic direction while babysitting infant sister Charlie. Meanwhile, her younger brother wanders around, wondering if he’ll ever be fed supper. It’s pretty standard but engagingly dopey and silly: The episode ends with an unexpected bit of hospital farce.

Jerseylicious

Style, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET/PT

REALITY

The salon-set Jerseylicious, which follows in the high-heeled shoes of Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, celebrates girls who wear animal prints over fake tans and spray their hair to the hardness of tortoiseshell. Funny in bits, but disposably derivative. When they made Snooki they must’ve broke the mold, you know?

The Diary of Anne Frank

PBS, April 11, check local listings |

DRAMA

This two-hour British production gives us the famous young diarist as a very real teenage girl: brash, flirty, moody. Ellie Kendrick plays the part with complete naturalness, including a lot of humor and pique, and as a result, Anne’s emerging sense of herself as a writer (with the expected ego) feels both like a spontaneous blossoming and an act of will. Anne’s most-quoted line-about still believing in people’s goodness-is especially touching here: We suspect she thinks this is just the sort of beautiful thought a writer should preserve for posterity. Then the Nazis arrive.

Gator 911

CMT, April 9, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

REALITY

Texan Gary Saurage is an alligator rescuer, not hunter: He and his team lasso, tie up and remove gators that have dragged their long, heavy bodies too close to farms and golf courses. The animals are surprisingly passive and inert, like giant cigars that have been thrown down into mud, but that doesn’t lessen their unsettling fright potential. Even the baby ones creep me out.

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