December 20, 2010 12:00 PM

Grey’s Anatomy & Private Practice

ABC, Thursdays, 9 and 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Grey’s has been on long enough now that it has lost much of its erotic sizzle-McDreamy is edging toward McNappy-but the satisfyingly steady seventh season is a model of a hit that keeps fitting new characters into the blueprint. It took me by surprise to realize that, as the story has reaccelerated after a climactic shooting, Drs. Hunt and Altman (Kevin McKidd and Kim Raver) seem to have been scrubbing in at Seattle Grace forever. These aren’t breakout characters or even performances, but they have a matter-of-fact utility that keeps the machine running. Meanwhile, season 4 of Private Practice, the Grey’s spinoff, has been a showcase for KaDee Strickland as that tough nut Dr. King. After being raped and beaten-her broken eye socket was a visual shocker-King has tried to rely on her ferocious intelligence, unwilling to let her crisis go from private to public. Powerful performance.

Shake It Up

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


Shake It Up doesn’t shake up the kidcom formula one bit, but it has something more than the usual shiny-sparkly cuteness. Newcomers Bella Thorne and Zendaya, as friends who perform on a teen dance show in Chicago, race through their scenes with a frenetic enthusiasm that occasionally spills over into genuine girlishness. The best performances are from Caroline Sunshine and Kenton Duty as an overbearing brother-and-sister act from abroad named Tinka and Gunther. They’re like High School Musical’s Sharpay split in two and speaking in a ludicrous, unplaceable accent.

Men of a Certain Age

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


Back for season 2, Ray Romano’s fine series about men at midlife could easily be reconfigured to be more like its TNT brethren-maybe a slick caper about three guys breaking out of routine by pulling off robberies. Instead, they continue as before, treading water while hoping for a fresh current to carry them to new shores. Romano, as a party-supply-store owner, is focusing on his pro-golf dreams, while Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula sell cars. It’s very entertaining in its low-key, waist-widening way.

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