Dancing with the Stars

ABC, Mondays & Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


My enthusiasm for this ballroom competition waned two years ago, after that wild old clown Cloris Leachman was sent home. This season, though, has been a happy comeback, thanks to a perfect cast of reality stars, B-level actresses and aging heroes: If I hadn’t seen them together on-camera, you couldn’t have convinced me that Pamela Anderson and astronaut Buzz Aldrin (voted off April 6) existed in the same solar system. And poor Kate Gosselin, who can’t be expected to last much longer, has been rivetingly miserable. Her angry dance protesting the invasion of her privacy-yes, that was the theme-was some kind of TV classic. Her movements suggested a cross between Swan Lake and road rage.


HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Co-created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, the team behind The Wire, this is a lovingly textured, slowly unfolding series set in post-Katrina New Orleans. (Treme, pronounced trem-AY, is one of the city’s neighborhoods.) The first two episodes sketch out a wide-ranging story of displacement and return, lost relatives and money woes. At this point, savoring the tone-a sort of dazed coming-to in bright sunlight-is probably more important than grasping all the strands. The music, not surprisingly, is excellent.

Party Down

Starz, April 23, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Back for a second season, the sitcom about L.A. caterers has lost Jane Lynch to Glee and replaced her with Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), who brings her own high-pitched fizz to the party (she always sounds like something sprayed from a can). Mullally plays a stupidly cheerful woman who dreams of stardom for her daughter, who is named Escapade. The comedy never quite lifts into giddiness, but there are lots of solid, unexpected laughs. And isn’t that cause for celebration?

Beauty & the Briefcase

ABC Family, April 18, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


Hilary Duff is Lane Daniels, a writer on assignment for Cosmopolitan. She infiltrates an investment firm as an executive assistant and checks out the dating scene. It’s all light twinkles, even if Lane blithely tells enough lies to launch a Ponzi scheme.

You Don’t Know Jack

HBO, April 24, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


In a striking bit of casting, Al Pacino plays Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian, the notorious champion of assisted suicide. Pacino, sometimes looking like Woody Allen in need of a good meal, makes him a holy fool, a deadpan eccentric driven to help mankind. A vein of messianic righteousness can be detected below the surface, but mostly this Kevorkian is delightful-which doesn’t seem quite right. It’s an ingenious performance, though, and the supporting cast-John Goodman, a de-glammed Susan Sarandon-provide their own grim humor.

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