Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, April 8. All times are Eastern.
The Borgias (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Showtime’s latest nudity-delivery-device-disguised-as-historical-drama makes frequent attempts to break out of its self-imposed ghetto—most born on the back of Jeremy Irons’ strong performance as corrupt pope Rodrigo Borgias. The fact that the heart of a better show beats within The Borgias is enough to get The A.V. Club’s attention, so we’re bringing it into our regular review rotation, along with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed AVC contributor Les Chappell. He’s the new guy, so treat him nicely—let’s keep the floggings on the small screen, shall we?
The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m.): The next step of the race brings the contestants within spitting distance of Mount Killimanjaro, but they don’t have to climb Africa’s highest mountain? Scott Von Doviak considers downgrading the show to The Surprising, But Not As Amazing As If They Had To Climb Killimanjaro Race.
The Killing (AMC, 9 p.m.): Nearly every other site on the Internet has written off Veena Sud’s frustrating murder mystery—but not The A.V. Club. Brandon Nowalk will see the investigation into Rosie Larsen’s death to the bitter end—which could be closer than previously assumed, considering the rating’s for last week’s second-season première.
Game Of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m.): Tyrion eases into his role as the Hand of the King—and while we’d all rather watch him use his own hand to leave red marks all over Joffrey’s face, it’s still exciting to see Peter Dinklage’s character ascend to a position of power. Todd VanDerWerff knows what comes next, but he’s keeping the spoilers away from David Sims’ newbies review.
Celebrity Apprentice (NBC, 9 p.m.): In what sounds like a more tragic scenario than what probably plays out onscreen, one of the celebrities goes missing during this week’s challenge. Margaret Eby keeps a candlelight vigil until the day when all B- to C-List celebrities are free to have their tantrums in full view of the Apprentice cameras.
Nurse Jackie (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Tonight, Showtime’s “Casual Misogyny Hour” (Californication plus House Of Lies) gives way to the network’s bread-and-butter “Strong-But-Troubled Female Power Pack.” The programming bloc is down one show due to the loss of The United States Of Tara, but Phil Dyess-Nugent is watching to make sure Edie Falco’s self-medicating Nurse Jackie protagonist picks up the slack.
The Big C (Showtime, 9:30 p.m.): The cancer that was The Big C’s ostensible inciting incident could be in remission, leaving Laura Linney to seek the cancer-survivor “joyologist” services of guest star Susan Sarandon. Phil Dyess-Nugent stops by to give a check-up to the third-season première.
Mad Men (AMC, 10 p.m.): Peggy and Roger appear to be forming a stronger bond—one which may backfire on Peggy when Roger starts piling more work on to her already full plate. Full-Plate Club member Todd VanDerWerff feels Peggy’s pain.
Eastbound & Down (HBO, 10 p.m.): Benched in favor of an encore Game Of Thrones presentation last week, Kenny Powers roars back into action in an attempt to return to the Mermen’s pitching staff. Where you find Kenny Powers roaring, you’ll find Nathan Rabin picking up the awkward results and quotable quotes.
Life’s Too Short (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Warwick’s final chance to prove his celebrity bona fides leads him to run afoul with Sting. Erik Adams ran afoul with Sting in his attempt to replace the tantric bassist in The Police—a project which, unlike Life’s Too Short, did not receive a second-season renewal.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
The Simpsons (Classic) (3 p.m.): The animated series’ streak of stone-cold classics continues with “A Streetcar Named Marge,” the episode where Ned Flanders possesses the steely physique and affects the white-emotions of a young Marlon Brando, while Homer mixes the loutishness of Brando’s A Streetcar Named Desire character with the actor’s Island Of Dr. Moreau-era girth.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron (National Geographic, 8 p.m.): If James Cameron insists on regularly upgrading Titanic, it’s arguable that the filmmaker otherwise known as “National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron” will never offer the final final word on the “unsinkable” ocean liner. But Rowan Kaiser and a panel of Titanic experts are willing to entertain Cameron’s whims for a couple of hours on a Sunday.
Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On (TV Guide, 9 p.m.): The rock-icon spawn of Wilson Phillips may have been one of the many beneficiaries of the “Bridesmaids bump,” but the debut of the “Hold On” vocalists’ reality series still requires Carnie Wilson’s yo-yo weight loss for a dramatic peg. What, Kristen Wiig is too busy with her probably-not-confirmed-but-almost-definitely final season of Saturday Night Live to put in a cameo?
The Client List (Lifetime, 10 p.m.): Jennifer Love Hewitt’s career as the shared masturbatory fantasy of an entire generation comes full circle, as the actress takes on the role she was born to play (in the minds of Maxim subscribers): an employee at a Texas spa that doubles as a brothel. Will Harris only watches the show for the articles.
The Pitch (AMC, 11:04 p.m.): AMC’s new follow-up for Mad Men is essentially Mad Men: The Reality Series—only, instead of all the patiently unfolding human drama that makes that series so fascinating, The Pitch focuses on the part where Don Draper does his job. Which raises the question: Would you watch Jon Hamm throw around Don Draperisms in service of Subway if what he was saying didn’t have any greater thematic resonance?
Fireproof (CMT, 7 p.m.): In a brilliant counter-programming move, the TV week’s biggest night for partial nudity kicks off with Kirk Cameron’s ludicrously overwrought tale of a firefighter in danger of letting his marriage go up in flames due to a fiery addiction to temperature-raising pornography. (This movie loves metaphors, btw.) That, and the fact that terrible spouse Stanley Kowalski would wallop Cameron’s Fireproof character in a World’s Best Husband Contest.
The Blues Brothers (Cinemax, 8 p.m.): Johns Belushi and Landis are all over your premium-cable package this evening; while Cinemax runs The Blues Brothers, the director-actor combo makes a mess of Encore with Animal House. After directing Belushi in that film, Landis loosed him and Dan Aykroyd on 1980s cinema’s finest road-movie musical, an R&B masterclass that doesn’t skimp on the destruction.
MLB Baseball: White Sox at Rangers (ESPN, 8 p.m.): Teams of opposing fortunes meet in Arlington: The back-to-back American League champions close out their first series of the season against a White Sox squad reeling from the loss of its veteran manager (Ozzie Guillen) and star pitcher (Mark Buehrle), as well as a disappointing 2011 performance from power hitter Adam Dunn.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Holy Flying Circus (Saturday): And now for something completely different: The BBC’s dramatization of the controversy surrounding Monty Python’s supposedly blasphemous (but really just plain silly) film farce, The Life Of Brian. Not that you’d expect it, but Phil Dyess-Nugent leads the Spanish Inquisition into the film.