July 05, 2010 12:00 PM

America’s Got Talent

NBC, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


With the departure of judge David Hasselhoff, NBC’s summer staple has done what American Idol did when it lost Paula Abdul: air out all the residual hazy strangeness and bring in a crisp comic presence. For Idol, that was Ellen DeGeneres, who proved less mesmerizing but expert at unspooling excellent one-liners. I don’t find Howie “Deal or No Deal” Mandel terribly funny, but during auditions he’s been sunny and welcoming. He’s an effective counterweight to Piers Morgan, who has the expression of a dairy inspector sniffing milk that’s past its sell date. And he encourages acts whose chief talent is the pathetic charm of those who have none. That goes for the old lady yodeler and the man from India who does impressions.


ABC Family, June 28, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


A few weeks after rolling out the morally frivolous Pretty Little Liars, ABC Family seems to have returned to its senses. This is a carefully assembled, emotionally attuned drama about obese teens stuck in a summer weight-loss camp. Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray) stars as Will, the show’s prickly heroine: Sarcastic and fundamentally angry, she runs a black market in contraband snacks while the other girls hunger for “thinspiration.” She’s the rebel gladiator in an arena of dieters.

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