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Best bets: Can ‘Harry Potter’ cast a spell?

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" could be the year's biggest blockbuster, even beating out "Transformers." Also new this week: Season two of "Mad Men" on DVD; new Daughtry album.
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Everyone’s favorite boy wizard returns in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” In this installment, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) enlist the help of Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to help them jump through pools of liquid memory and trace Voldemort’s evolution. Plus, spoiler alert, there’s a big death, and Ron (Rupert Grint) grapples with complications in his love life. The biggest mystery: Will Harry Potter beat those “Transformers” robots to become the biggest film of the summer? (Opens July 15)

If there’s one actor who’s escaped being pigeonholed by his early career, it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Who would have thought this former “3rd Rock From the Sun” star would grow up to be an indie movie king? And in “(500) Days of Summer” he meets his indie match in the form of Zooey Deschanel. The duo plays a couple who go out for 500 days before breaking up, leaving Gordon-Levitt looking back on the relationship with longing. (Opens July 17)

Chris Daughtry, who proved that finishing in fourth place on “American Idol” can be more lucrative than finishing first, is back with his band Daughtry and their new album, “Leave This Town.” Billboard called it “another record full of songs that make you want to roll down the car windows and bust a vocal cord or two while trying to match Daughtry's gravelly wail.” (On sale July 14)

Jack White must have boundless amounts of energy. In addition to the White Stripes, he also plays in The Raconteurs. Now he adds band The Dead Weather to his list with the new album, “Horehound.” The band also features Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dan Ferita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, who also plays in The Raconteurs. called the album “dense but not impenetrable; it’s raw but not unhinged; it’s ferocious but not disturbing.”

TVDylan McDermott was last seen as a cosmetics CEO involved with a transsexual hooker on ABC's horrendous “Big Shots,” envisioned by some to be a male version of “Desperate Housewives.” Here's hoping he has better luck with his latest series, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Dark Blue,” in which he plays Carter Shaw, the head of a team of undercover police officers. The word "Dark" in the title isn't an understatement — the pilot opens with a bloody torture scene. (Premieres July 15, 10 p.m., TNT.)

In these tough economic times, pawn shops suddenly are being utilized even by those who never considered visiting them in the past. The new series "Pawn Star$" takes viewers inside a family-run pawnshop in Las Vegas, where three generations of the family analyze and price the items that come their way. Sounds kind of like a downmarket "Antiques Roadshow," and also sounds like it could be addictive. (Premieres July 19, 10 p.m., History Channel)

DVDThe third season of the AMC hit "Mad Men" is set to premiere in August, but if you need to catch up, you'll want to know that the second season comes out on DVD this week. This pitch-perfect series about 1960s ad men and women is more than a period pieces, it's a finely told story that you won't want to miss. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. (Second season out on DVD July 14.)