Sunday TV: Wall Street Drama ‘Billions’

BillionsYour latest Sunday night appointment TV comes in the form of “Billions” (Showtime, 10 p.m.), a timely and well-cast battle between Wall Street titans — one a bold trader with some questionable methods played by Damian Lewis at his most charming, the other Paul Giamatti in a seething, credible role as federal prosecutor. This would all work well on its own, but the woman playing the wife of Giamatti’s character — the usually welcome Maggie Siff — also happens to be a shrink at Lewis’ company and an S&M dominatrix as well. It’s a troublesome character in what seems to be an otherwise solid series.

A reminder that this is a free Showtime weekend, so anybody with any kind of cable can tune in to “Billions” as well as  a second, even more timely show it is premiering tonight,  the weekly docu-series “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth” (Showtime, 8 p.m.), in part from the authors John Halperin and John Heinemann along with media advisor Mark McKinnon. First up, looking at a pair of outsiders — Ted Cruz but also Bernie Sanders.

Political junkies will go straight to see Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley spar in just their fourth Democratic Primary Debate (NBC, 9 p.m.) Lester Holt moderates, with Andrea Mitchell contributing questions. MSNBC has a pre-debate coverage at 8 p.m. and reruns the debate at 11.

PBS’ first new original dramatic series in more than a decade “Mercy Street” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) is set at a Union hospital struggling to keep up with Civil War casualties in occupied Alexandria, Va. The cast is enlivened by Josh Radnor and especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It’s not too bad, though it’s more on par with “Call the Midwife” than “Downton Abbey,” still going in its final season on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). Here’s a little thing I wrote about “Mercy Street” last summer, mostly about its facial hair.

Not since “Police Squad” has there been a go-for-broke cop spoof as “Angie Tribeca” (TBS, 9 p.m.), where the gags come so fast, the groaners are easily forgiven. There’s a certain quality to the constant nuttiness as well (they don’t swoop to the usual sophomoric levels others demand on). Steve and Nancy Carrel are producers but don’t appear; Rashida Jones is given the chance to further hone her considerable comedic skills. How much of this can you take? Test it. They’re playing the entire first season in a 25-hour marathon.

The 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards (A&E, Lifetime, 8 p.m.) combines awards for movies and TV, as last week’s Golden Globes do, but involves far fewer critics than you may imagine (certainly not this one). T.J. Miller as host guarantees shambles, but that suits the proceedings.

Years after the failure of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” comes one from one of its suburbs, “The Real Housewives of Potomac” (Bravo, 9 p.m.) introduces a half dozen glammed-up women in the Maryland locale (though some live elsewhere in the metropolitan area). At a party the other night, they seemed chatty and ready for the challenge. They join the ranks of, say, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (Bravo, 8 p.m.) on which Phaedra hosts a trip to D.C. as well.

Sean Penn regrets his El Chapo interview in his own chat with Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Playoff weekend continues with two afternoon games: Seattle at Carolina (Fox, 1:05 p.m.) and Pittsburgh at Denver (CBS, 4:40 p.m.).

A Donovan hit provides the title for the latest documentary on CNN, “Sunshine Superman” (CNN, 9 p.m.) about the development of base jumping by Carl and Jean Boenish.

Elizabeth travels to Myanmar to sign a Pacific Rim trade agreement on “Madam Secretary” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

There are changes at the Kwok-E-Mart on “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Debbie adjusts to pregnancy on a new “Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

Working at home isn’t easy for Alicia on “The Good Wife” (CBS, 10 p.m.).

It may be the weirdest Sunday night on HBO in a decade: “The Godfather: The Complete Epic” (HBO, 5 p.m.) boasts all three movies in a row, running just past midnight.

Turner Classic Movies looks at threesomes in the double bill of “Design for Living” (8 p.m.) and “Jules and Jim” (9:45 p.m.). Later comes the 1918 silent film of “The Blue Bird” (midnight).

Hockey has Philadelphia at Detroit (NBC Sports, 7:30 p.m.).

Basketball has Indiana at Denver (NBA, 8 p.m.).

Men’s college basketball includes American at Army (CBS Sports, noon), Creighton at DePaul (Fox Sports 1, 1 p.m.), Michigan State at Wisconsin (CBS, 1:30 p.m.), Connecticut at Houston (CBS Sports, 2 p.m.), George Mason at Saint Louis (NBC Sports, 3 p.m.), Southern Illinois at Drake (ESPNU, 4 p.m.), Virginia at Florida State (ESPNU, 6:30 p.m.) and Oregon State at Utah (ESPNU, 8:30 p.m.).

Women’s games include George Washington at Duquesne (ESPNU, noon), Seton Hall at Georgetown (Fox Sports 2, 1 p.m.), Texas A&M at South Carolina (ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.), East Carolina at South Florida (ESPNU, 2 p.m.), Baylor at Texas (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.), Saint Joseph’s at Fordham (CBS Sports, 4 p.m.) and Davidson at Virginia Commonwealth (CBS Sports, 6 p.m.).

Sunday Talk

ABC: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders. CBS: Sanders, Clinton, Rubio, Kasich. NBC: Sanders, Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Amal Clooney. CNN: Sanders, Clinton, Trump. Fox News: Ted Cruz, Rep. Paul Ryan.

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