Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Leftovers is a living reminder that TV’s still here

Here’s what’s up in the world of television for Sunday, June 29. All times are Eastern.


The Leftovers (HBO, 10 p.m.): After the mysterious disappearance of roughly 2 percent of the television’s population, one of its favorite sons will rise to deliver us from boredom. And so Lost creator Damon Lindelof brings Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel The Leftovers to HBO, telling the story of a world perpetually on the verge of a total breakdown, where a Rapture-like event leaves the survivors asking questions that aren’t “What’s up with the smoke monster?” Though the cover art for Perrotta’s novel does feature smoke billowing out of a pair of shoes, which leads Sonia Saraiya to predict that everyone has just gone back to the Island. She’d propose this to Todd VanDerWerff, but he vanished without a trace after turning in his pre-air review of The Leftovers.



Californication (Showtime, 9:30 p.m.): In news of explainable disappearances, it’s finale night on Showtime, as the network’s spring shows clear out for the second seasons of Ray Donovan and Masters Of SexCalifornication is clearing out completely: Tonight’s the series finale, so TV Club has called on its old friend Kenny Herzog to offer thoughts on one last half-hour with Hank Moody.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Scott Von Doviak, meanwhile, hangs up one last picture of Dorian Gray and the rest of the Penny Dreadful gang, putting one of the most pleasant surprises of the TV season into the ground. (Don’t despair—like many of its characters and pretty much every other series on Showtime, Penny Dreadful will not go peacefully and is set to rise from the hiatus grave sometime next year.)

Vicious (PBS, 10:30 p.m.): This multi-cam Britcom—headlined, inconceivably, by Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, and TV’s Ramsay Bolton—gets the Brandon Nowalk seal of approval thanks to its bitter wit and fantastic production design. It’s plenty funny, but falls short of receiving the What’s On Tonight seal of approval because its theme song isn’t Lou Reed’s “Vicious,” a song practically written to play in front of a comedy in which Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi play aging, embittered lovers.



True Blood (HBO, 9 p.m.)
Halt And Catch Fire (AMC, 10 p.m.)


Farscape (11 a.m.): We’re a full month past Mother’s Day, but there are no calendars in space, so Alasdair Wilkins is only now sending out his belated gift to all of those moms out there, in the form of a review in which Aeryn faces off with her Peacekeeper-assassin mother.


The Simpsons (Classic) (3 p.m.): It’s a Sunday of assassination and familial inconvenience, apparently, as Erik Adams takes a look back at “Raging Abe Simpson And His Grumbling Grandson In ‘The Curse Of The Flying Hellfish’.” No, he’s not Superman: He just writes reviews of old Simpsons episodes on a biweekly basis.


Insane Coaster Wars (Travel, 7 p.m.): “Dearest Martha: These damnable Insane Coaster Wars have entered a third, interminable season. It feels like an eternity since I last felt the silken caress of your gentle hand—now the only touch I know is the unyieldingly rough rubber of the roller coaster lap bar. And now I’m afraid I must be going—the sergeant has informed us that all arms, legs, and writing utensils must be kept inside the ride vehicle at all times.


BET Awards (BET, 8 p.m.): The award show that poses the burning question “Will Chris Brown attend this award show?” Still, it’s a better question than 99.9 percent of the queries posed on the Daytime Emmys red carpet last weekend.

Last Tango In Halifax (PBS, 8 p.m.): In an apparent effort to create the next generation of John Slatterys, PBS is handing over the rest of its Sunday night to this other Derek Jacobi vehicle, in which the esteemed actor and theatrical director plays a septuagenarian  widow reunited with his childhood sweetheart, played by fellow British acting titan Anne Reid.


Reckless (CBS, 9 p.m.): Reckless. Vicious. Based on title alone, Sunday night TV sounds like it’s turning into a real jerk—and the only thing it can make for dinner is reheated Leftovers.

Transformers (TNT, 6 p.m.)/Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (FX, 7 p.m.): In a battle of Autobots-versus-Decepticons proportions, two cable networks will battle to capitalize on opening-weekend enthusiasm for Transformers: Age Of Extinction. Nobody bothered to pick up Revenge Of The Fallen, of course, because that one’s just straight-up awful.


Space Jam (VH1, 8 p.m.): If you have to watch an intergalactic competition between visual effects and the humans that stare at them, well: Here’s your chance, do your dance, to watch Space Jam—all right.

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: Costa Rica vs. Greece (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.): Costa Rica surged past the competition to seize first place in Group D, earning the chance to go up against Greece, which barely squeaked out of group play with its win against Côte d’Ivoire on Tuesday.



With the Tournament Of Episodes having officially, objectively, and unequivocally determined the best episode of the 2013-14 season (and there’ll be no more argument about that, no siree), it’s time for a two-part Inventory on the season’s worst episodes, a determination that was made on no less objective terms. And while we have no idea where Todd VanDerWerff has gotten off to, he did leave behind a For Our Consideration piece on how we talk about spoilers, and how it affects how we talk about entertainment in general. Surely, that too will inspire nothing but courteous, thoughtful discussion.



The Legend Of Korra (Friday): In a reversal of recent trends, The Legend Of Korra re-appeared with little warning, emerging from the off-season mists and dropping three episodes on a Friday night. And then it’s going away for the Fourth Of July holiday, because Oliver Sava needs to see some pyrotechnics that aren’t produced by animated hands.


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