Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, May 1. All times are Eastern.
Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 10 p.m.): John Logan’s Grand Guignol of heroes and villains plucked from classic literature returns for its third season tonight. Once again a great and nameless evil is on the rise, and it happens at at exactly the worst moment with our league of misfits and rejects scattered to the winds: Ethan to America, Sir Malcolm to Africa, the Creature to the Arctic, and Frankenstein to his needle, leaving Vanessa alone with only the familiar whispers of her demons. This leaves Scott Von Doviak to stand against forces that include Dorian Grey, the Bride of Frankenstein, Hecate the witch, a vampire heavily implied to be Dracula, and even Lucifer himself (no, not that one). According to Alex McCown, while the fragmented nature of the narrative has some problems, it remains an absolutely bizarre, baroque, over-the-top mix of stories and monsters—and we wouldn’t have it any other way:
The show’s strengths remain, even as it tests the boundaries of our patience with the “everyone in their own world” strategy. It’s as visually striking as ever … and when it gets to the meat of the dark source material that gives the show its name, the action is kinetic and satisfying in a manner previous seasons occasionally struggled to provide. … Throats will be slit; bodices will indeed be ripped; the dead will rise again. And assuming the payoff for all these tantalizing but occasionally frustrating early separations arrives in time, Penny Dreadful should remain bloody good fun.
The Good Wife (CBS, 8 p.m.): The penultimate episode of The Good Wife sees Alicia working to keep Peter out of prison and Diane working to expand the firm. Will they be expanding their empire by some form of witchcraft, unleashing the Verbis Diablo on Louis Canning, David Lee, and anyone else who stands in their way? Will Eli Gold be revealed to be hundreds of years old, maintaining his rakish good looks by way of feeding off the energy that goes into running political campaigns? And could Will Gardner return to the show as a reanimated corpse, opening up his own law firm as John Clare, Esquire? Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya keeps telling us not every show needs to be Penny Dreadful, and we keep choosing not to listen to her.
Game Of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m.): Speaking of reanimated corpses, characters who are secretly hundreds of years old, and people who turn into wolves: Game Of Thrones! Tonight’s episode sees the return of some long-absent characters, as Isaac Hempstead Wright’s Bran Stark makes his first appearance since the season four finale and we travel once again to the intrigue of the Greyjoy-ruled Iron Islands. Neither Brandon Nowalk or Myles McNutt are terrifically interested in that though, because if we’re heading far beyond the Wall again that means we’ll see Hodor! Or at least we better. A season without Hodor has left worse scars upon the land than anything the Night King can perpetuate, and it’s time to begin the healing process. Hodor.
Premieres and finales
Grantchester (PBS, 9 p.m.): The second series of this 1950s detective story draws to a close tonight, and the friendship between Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers and Detective Inspector Geordie Keating is at its most frayed with their divergent views on crime and punishment finally pushing them apart. We’re worried for Sidney in this case, given that Geordie is played by Robson Green of Strike Back and his ability to flip from cultured Brit to unstoppable badass is a well-established tendency. (Hey, at least we’re not suggesting that there’s going to be vampires showing up.)
American Country Countdown Awards (Fox, 9 p.m.): Because there cannot be one month without a celebration of country music, Fox is yielding its air time tonight to this ceremony featuring performances by Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood. The ACCA is advertised as the awards based on “country music’s longest-running radio countdown show.” Coming up next, awards based on country music’s longest-running podcast, YouTube channel, and Vine.
Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (CMT, 9 p.m.): In the third season finale, the final round of competitors go up against each other for the chance to break everyone else’s skulls. Or to break their own skulls first. Or to take a sledgehammer to a pile of skulls and see how many they can break in a designated time period. We’re still honestly not clear on the rules here, but we hope it ends with all competitors sitting down with Austin and enjoying a lot of cold beers.
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.)
The Girlfriend Experience (Starz, 8 p.m.)
The Family (ABC, 9 p.m.)
Fear The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.)
The Carmichael Show (NBC, 9 p.m.)
Elementary (CBS, 10 p.m.)
Silicon Valley (HBO, 10 p.m.)
Veep (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)
Justice League, “The Terror Beyond” (Netflix): We really wanted to pick the film Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein for this as it’s the original monster mash-up, but sadly it’s not streaming anywhere. However, this excellent Justice League two-parter has all the right elements to go along with today’s theme: a joining of unlikely heroes, a grand and otherworldly evil, and a walking corpse that has more humanity within it than one would ever guess.