As HBO’s gripping period piece Boardwalk Empire (Season Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday) returns for a fourth season, months have passed since last year’s explosive finale. It’s February 1924. Nucky Thompson has been lying low, eventually making peace with mob boss Joe Masseria. This year he’ll have his hands full with Chalky White taking a bigger role in managing the Onyx Club; dealing with a new young federal agent in town; and Eli’s growing son, Willie, turning to Uncle Nucky for career advice.
Boardwalk explores not just the politics and violence of the turbulent twenties, but the full fallout of the gangster lifestyle to the finest detail, as well as cultural issues of the time: from physical and psychological consequences of war to women’s sexuality, access to sexual education and family planning.
And Boardwalk is bigger than Atlantic City. In Chicago, Al Capone and his brothers make their name known in the city and surrounding area. We’ll also see some fresh scenery in Tampa, Fla., where Nuck travels in hopes to make a buck.
It’s a new year and audiences will also meet a slew of new characters. Well-connected Florida speakeasy owner Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette) will cross paths with Nucky while he considers a land investment in Tampa. Harlem philanthropist Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) looks to take over Chalky’s territory. Roy Phillips (Ron Livingston) serves as a potential business partner (and maybe something more) for Gillian as she struggles to keep the Artemis Club in business.
These characters sound exciting and they’ll no doubt come to life with the excellent choice of actors, but we’ll see if anyone can stand up to Bobby Cannavale’s intoxicating performance and last season’s villain, Gyp Rosetti.
WEDNESDAY SEPT. 4
Futurama (Series Finale, 10 p.m., Comedy Central) – In the last episode of Futurama ever (This show is still on?), Fry plans to pop the question to Leela as Professor Farnsworth’s latest invention changes the course of time.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., FXX) – Dee hits rock bottom as the guys realize they may have been too hard on her after all these years. The gang finally helps her achieve her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian, and Dee finds success by highlighting her self-deprecating humor (perhaps a nod to/dig at Lena Dunham?).
The League (Season Premiere, 10:30 p.m., FXX) – Andre and Trixie are tying the knot in a Top Gun-themed wedding in Los Angeles. It wouldn’t be complete without a) the guys competing outside of the league in some over-the-top challenge and b) a new made up term, and this premiere’s got both: a Bachelor spoof-off to select Andre’s best man; “Broposal.”
THURSDAY SEPT. 5
Project Runway (9 p.m., Lifetime) – This week, the designers tackle sportswear. The little part of me that dies seeing Tim Gunn not wearing a suit comes back to life when Michael Kors returns to the judges’ panel! Take a drink every time he says, “It looks like…” during critiques.
Wilfred (Season Finale, 10 p.m., FX) – Jenna forbids Ryan from seeing Wilfred when he needs him more than ever.
SUNDAY SEPT. 8
Breaking Bad (9 p.m., AMC) – Stakes rise even higher for Walt and the others as we catch up with Lydia. The episode takes its name (“To’hajiilee”) from a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, where Walt and Jesse first cooked in the pilot, as well as the site of Walt’s cash stash.
Dexter (9 p.m., Showtime) – Dexter needs Vogel’s help to stop the Brain Surgeon once and for all. But will her loyalties change now that she knows the killer is her long-lost son? Since when is Dexter a soap opera? Later, Dex witnesses the murder of a loved one. Fingers crossed for Hannah — homegirl’s slowing down the plot. It’s the final season! Stupid side stories have got to go.
The Newsroom (10 p.m., HBO) – Amidst the Genoa debacle and Leona’s refusal to accept any resignations, election night coverage kicks off with all hands on deck.
Ray Donovan (10 p.m., Showtime) – It’s Fite Nite at the Donovan Fite Club, a regular family engagement for Ray & Co.! Ray and Sully’s plan comes into action, which mean the countdown is on for Mickey. Bunchy faces the priest from his past. I cannot handle any more dark turns for poor Bunchy!
TUESDAY SEPT. 10
Sons of Anarchy (Season Premiere,10 p.m., FX) – Returning to Charming for the sixth season, Jax is running a severed club while Clay and Tara are both locked up. Panty-Dropper Alert: It was just announced that the show's lead, Charlie Hunnam (Jax) will portray Christian Grey in the upcoming movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.