Much anticipation accompanies the second season return of “Game of Thrones” (HBO, 9 p.m.), which had been building with such rich characterizations and quickening action when the first season ended.
And yet, it’s tougher than expected to immerse oneself back into it – there’s a lot to remember about the end of last season – with the family of the shockingly killed former king now scattered across the land, alongside even more hopefuls organizing to overthrow callow and callous King Joffrey.
But it’s best to roll along with the individual scenes, which nearly always work because of their writing, acting and attention to detail. With the surprise that closed season one, there looks to be more fantasy elements this time around. And even when there isn’t, it’s likely to be full of storytelling magic.
It plays against a series I like nearly as much, the much maligned thriller “The Killing” (AMC, 8 p.m.) . Yes, we did not find out the killer of Rosie Larsen in the season finale, as neat and expected as a “Law & Order” fifth act. In what is known as a twist, the tag was elusive. While this represented an unforgivable breach of faith for some former fans, it was really more in the spirit of “The Wire,” when it took three seasons to collar Stringer Bell, or even “The Sopranos” which ended its own series with a challenging end nobody saw coming.
I for one am looking forward to the endless rain, the terrific performances, the unending gloom of the Northwest as season two begins with a two hour episode.
It accompanies “Mad Men” (AMC, 10 p.m.) in which Peggy is given more responsibility and the former Betty Draper makes an appearance. But no one will sing French pop songs.
Tonight is also the finale for the Showtime roster of shows, led by “Shameless” (Showtime, 10 p.m.), which has been fearless and often very good this season, the brash new “House of Lies” (Showtime, ) and the reliable “Californication” (Showtime, ). They are making way for the return of “The Borgias,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The Big C” next week.
Blake Shelton and Reba (she’s just Reba now) host “The 47th Academy of Country Music Awards” (CBS, 8 p.m.) from Las Vegas. Kenny Chesney leads all artists with nine nominations. Jason Aldean has six; Lady Antebellum, five; Brad Paisley, four.
They will all perform, as will Sara Evans, Carrie Underwood, Keith urban, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Chris Young, the Band Perry and Rascal Flatts.
It’s not the only music event on tonight. The 12th “Celebration of Gospel” ((BET, 8 p.m.) features performances from Johnny Gill, Kelly Price, Jennifer Holliday, Fred Hammond, Ledisi, Shirley Caesar, James Fortune, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Faith Evans and Amber Riley, among others. Steve Harvey hosts.
Kansas and Kentucky won’t play the men’s championship until Monday, so tonight is all about the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four: Connecticut vs. Notre Dame (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.) and Stanford vs. Baylor (ESPN, 9 p.m.).
Because it concerns the largest snake that ever lived on the planet, “The Startling Discovery of Titanoboa” (Smithsonian, 8 p.m.) gets two hours as well. So does tonight’s “River Monsters: American Killers” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.).
Barbara Walters finds out about her past on “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).
Sheryl Crow sings at a church fundraiser on “GCB” (ABC, 10 p.m.).
Unbelievable but tonight’s non-finale run-of-the-mill episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) is three hours long.
Before the “Deadliest Catch” returns for a new season, here’s an East Coast variation. “Wicked Tuna” (Nat Geo, 10 p.m.) follows various fishing boats working out of Gloucester, Mass. Producers wish that they have more of a Boston accent, but to tell the truth, most of them don’t.
Meanwhile, “Frozen Planet” (Doscovery, 8 p.m.) moves into the most frozen time of the year, winter.
April is here, and brings with it the first of what will be many, many specials on the 100th anniversary of a big ship’s sinking, “Saving the Titanic” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).
The party’s over on “Hollywood Girls Night” (TV Guide Network, 9 p.m.).
This late score from Turner Classic Movies: “Call Northside 777” (8 p.m.), “Butterfield 8” (10 p.m.).
In NBA action, it’s Bulls at Thunder (ABC, 1 p.m.) and Heat at Celtics (ABC, 3:30 p.m.). In hockey, Bruins at Rangers (NBC Sports, 7 p.m.).
ABC: Reps. Paul Ryan and Van Hollen. CBS: Vice President Joe Biden, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul. NBC: Rick Santorum, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former governors Haley Barbour and Howard Dean. CNN: Sen. Mitch McConnell, Reps. Ryan, Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. Fox News: Santorum,