After a wildly successful debut season, the second iteration of crime-drama anthology True Detective (Season Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, HBO) is under a microscope. How can — or perhaps just can — the first season be topped?
While a cop drama featuring Surfer, Dude stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson seemed forgettable on paper, True Detective rose to become one of the best programs of 2014. The occult mystery had everyone talking — who was the Yellow King? Director Cary Fukunaga nabbed an Emmy for his outstanding work on the show (he won’t direct this turn but stays on as executive producer), and McConaughey capped off his recent meteoric rise from rom-com eye candy to top dramatic star with a host of accolades for his role as Detective Rust Cohle (Harrelson and the rest of the cast were also exemplary).
So where do we go from here?
Season Two brings us a new setting, crime and cast: the disappearance of a California city manager leads to an investigation involving a dirty cop (Colin Farrell), a career criminal trying to go legit (Vince Vaughn), an uncompromising sheriff (Rachel McAdams), a damaged war-veteran officer (Taylor Kitsch) and the U.S. transportation system. Expect a more linear narrative set in the present day around various California locales, with more complicated characters to delve into. Writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto returns with rotating directors.
While it’s counter-productive to harp on comparisons to Season One, it’s hard not to speculate if this season will be as strong without Fukunaga’s direction, or if it could be the Midas touch for the diverse cast — particularly Vaughn and Farrell.
Skin Wars (9 p.m., GSN) – The artists compete in a blend challenge, in which they must use paint to camouflage their models in a foodie scene. Newport, Ky., native Aryn Fox is still in the running!
The Astronaut Wives Club (Series Premiere, 8 p.m., ABC) – When seven military test pilots are selected in 1959 to be the first Americans in space, their wives are catapulted into the public eye. Basically, The Real Housewives of NASA (based on Lily Koppel’s book of the same name).
Guys Choice 2015 (9 p.m., Spike) – Empire’s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard host this very necessary tribute to things men like, which includes women, dead animals and jokes about balls.
The Comedians (10 p.m., FX) – A last-minute sketch cut forces the crew into working over Fourth of July weekend.
Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) – Will’s hunt for Hannibal leads him to Dr. Lecter’s hometown in Lithuania; Bedelia tries to get Hannibal to chill out on all the showy murdering; we get an update on Jack Crawford’s status.
Bar Rescue (9 p.m., Spike) – Jon visits a bar that’s been a backdrop for a porn video.
Halt and Catch Fire (10 p.m., AMC) – Stress at Mutiny mounts as Cameron and Donna deal with the fallout from Sonaris in addition to money troubles. Elsewhere, Joe calls in Gordon’s help to get West Group’s computer systems running during off-hours.
Ballers (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., HBO) – Entourage: Sportz (alternate title) stars Dwayne Johnson as a retired football-star-turned-athlete-manager in Miami.
The Brink (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., HBO) – Three disconnected, unlikely men in U.S. government/military (Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Pablo Schreiber) are tasked with preventing World War III when a geopolitical crisis arises.
Inside Amy Schumer (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Amy falls for her barista, talks mommy issues with her therapist and loses her head.
Another Period (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Downton Abbey meets Keeping Up with the Kardashians in this new comedy starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome. The show centers on the affluent Bellacourt family and their servants in Victorian-era Rhode Island. Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Christina Hendricks and many other recognizable faces stop by for the fun.
CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected] or @jackern