Sunday, HBO.


* CATASTROPHE. Amazon Prime Video, tomorrow.


9 p.m. Sunday, WHYY12.

* THE CRIMSON FIELD. 10 p.m. Sunday, WHYY12.


10 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO.

WHAT IF we don't overthink "True Detective" this season?

Not only because creator Nic Pizzolatto's already done that for us, but because overthinking feels like the wrong approach to something whose roots are in pulp fiction.

Those roots are showing more in Season 2 of the anthology series, which features new stars - Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch - and takes place not amid the murky magic of Louisiana, but in the more familiar landscape of southern California.

Sunday's premiere, directed by Justin Lin ("Fast & Furious"), unpacks a plane-load full of baggage for its main characters: Farrell's dirty cop, McAdams' driven sheriff's detective, Kitsch's troubled veteran and Vaughn's mobster-reaching-for-more.

It eventually even delivers a murder scene, in its own way as artfully arranged as the one in Season 1, to tie the four together.

Those who thought the first season was tainted by its treatment of women, as either victims or shrews, may be encouraged by McAdams' casting (or critical of the fact that we meet her for the first time in her underwear). I'm more bothered by the dialogue, which doesn't always ring true. (I do love the music. The album will be out Aug. 14.)

Sunny California or not, there's nothing in the first three episodes to approach the sheer joy of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in a car together.

Philly's David Morse does, however, show up where you might least expect him.

"True Detective" isn't all that's new in the coming days:

'Astronaut Wives Club'

Sometimes I wonder if television doesn't love the '60s as much for the sexism as anything.

Because there's nothing like showing women how much worse they had it 50 years ago to distract them from the inequities that still linger, right?

ABC's "The Astronaut Wives Club," like its short-lived "Pan Am," celebrates a period in which everything suddenly seemed possible - for men, anyway - and women were considered lucky to be along for the ride.

Based on a book by Lily Koppel, the 10-episode series premiering tonight focuses on the wives of America's first astronauts, beginning with the packaging of their not-always-pristine family lives for Life magazine.

It's a solid effort, but after three episodes, I'm not convinced that puncturing a carefully crafted image brings us closer to knowing the actual women behind the men.


Like last summer's happy surprise of an FX comedy, "You're the Worst," Amazon's latest show, which goes online tomorrow for Prime customers, is the opposite of its title: It's anything but a "Catastrophe."

The British import stars Rob Delaney ("Key & Peele") and Sharon Horgan as Rob and Sharon, whose fling leads to pregnancy, and then to an effort to make a family together, as Rob moves from Boston to London.

Romantic comedies for adults are rare enough. This one offers a clear-eyed view of modern pregnancy (and trans-Atlantic telecommuting) as well as a supporting cast that includes Carrie Fisher and Ashley Jensen ("Ugly Betty"), and Tobias Menzies ("Outlander") as the most realistic obstetrician ever.

'Masterpiece: Poldark'

Not every remake is a bad idea.

PBS' "Masterpiece," which has been around so long it can afford to repeat itself, does just that this Sunday with "Poldark."

I came to it fresh, never having seen the apparently much-loved 1970s version, and was suitably enchanted by Aidan Turner ("The Hobbit"), as Ross Poldark, title character of a series of novels by Winston Graham, and by Eleanor Tomlinson, as Demelza, whose life undergoes enormous changes at Poldark's hands.

We meet our hero as he returns to his native Cornwall after fighting - on the losing side - in the American Revolution. In his absence, his father has died and the woman he planned to marry has become engaged to his cousin. Deciding to reopen a mine he'd inherited, he sets up house in one of the world's most beautiful places and proceeds to lose his shirt - literally and figuratively - from time to time.

It's all great, escapist fun. And for those curious about the original with Robin Ellis - who has a role as a judge in the remake - the subscription service Acorn TV is streaming it now.

'The Crimson Field'

Fans of PBS' "Call the Midwife" are meant to feel right at home in the network's newest import, "The Crimson Field," a nursing drama set in World War I France.

Sunday's premiere introduces a trio of volunteer nurses - the most interesting played by Oona Chaplin ("Game of Thrones") - who are learning the ropes in a military hospital. It's a similar mix of highstakes drama and old-fashioned soap, but it's too soon to say if it carries the unexpected bite of "Midwife."

In any case, don't get too attached: The BBC canceled it after one season.


Dwayne Johnson plays an ex-football player who's under pressure to "monetize" his friendships in his new career as a financial adviser in HBO's "Ballers."

Shrinking "The Rock" to a small screen may feel like a similar shift, but the show, from the producers of "Entourage," makes good use of Johnson's winning smile, if maybe less of the physical prowess on display in "San Andreas." Overall, though, its view of life after football is more sad than funny.

'The Brink'

With "Veep" away - don't worry, Selina will be back next year - fans of political comedy may look to "The Brink," HBO's take on the wacky, wacky world of American-Pakistani relations.

Tim Robbins stars as the U.S. secretary of state and Jack Black as a minor State Department functionary in Islamabad who's accidentally thrust into an international crisis. Pablo Schreiber ("Orange Is the New Black") plays a drug-dealing U.S. fighter pilot who's about to be caught in the middle.

The humor's not nearly as pointed as it is in "Veep," but if you like Jack Black being Jack Black, you should like him here, too.

Phone: 215-854-5950



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