Sunday TV: Cool Spy Drama ‘Counterpart’

counterpartIf you think you’ve seen too much of J.K. Simmons on insurance commercials for a guy who deservedly won an Oscar, you’ll see twice as many of him in the new spy yarn “Counterpart” (Stars, 8 p.m.). Set in Berlin, he plays a dutiful but career-stymied worker in a spy agency who gets a glimpse of the “Fringe”-like parallel world that is surprisingly nearby — mostly because the guy who is the copy of him has broken through.

What’s surprising about the sharp series is how it defies expectations: They’re not necessarily sworn enemies; instead, the accomplished copy wants to help his mousier counterpart. This may turn out to be a very fun thing to follow.

If all broadcast TV shows are going to be cops, law or medicine, it helps that the new “The Resident” (Fox, 10 p.m.) is, on the basis of its first show, pretty good, with the supporting cast outshining the ostensible star, played by Matt Czuchry. Surrounding him, Emily VanCamp, Manish Dayal, Bruce Greenwood, Melina Kanakaredes and Shaunette Renée Wilson all play pretty credible medical personnel.

It gets a strong lead-in from the NFC Championship Game of Minnesota at Philadelphia (Fox, 6:40 p.m.). Its winner will play the victor of the AFC Championship — Jacksonville at New England (CBS, 3:05 p.m.) — in the Super Bowl.

Kristen Bell hosts The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TBS, 8 p.m.). It’s the awards show that also awards ensembles. In TV that means “The town,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things” and “This is Us” among dramas; “Black-ish,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “GLOW,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Veep.” in comedies. Also, Morgan Freeman gets a lifetime achievement award.

It’s taken two dozen years for Caleb Carr’s bestseller to be adapted into film or TV and the resulting version of “The Alienist” (TNT, 10 p.m.) that officially debuts Monday but whose first episode runs tonight as a “sneak peek, seems like it’s lost something in long, troubled transition.

Set in the turn of the last century, it’s about a man who studies the practices of a serial killer, whose professional name was alienist. There’s nothing about the cast, that includes Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning, to shake it from its brooding, slow-moving old timey haze, with the occasional shock of blood. Other series, particularly “The Knick,” did a similar thing better.

Robert reconnects with Janice on “Divorce” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

Pete spends the day with Leif on “Crashing” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.).

Victoria throws a costume party on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). Last week’s episode reruns at 7.

Officers look for an injured eagle on “North Woods Law: New Hampshire” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.).

The women go to the Italian Derby on “To Rome for Love” (Bravo, 9:15 p.m.).

Chris runs out of building materials on “Building Alaska” (DIY, 9 p.m.).

“Worst Cooks in America” (Food, 9 p.m.) play a game show.

Hurricane Harvey hits “Lone Star Law” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.).

A double feature on investigative reporters on Turner Classic Movies has “Absence of Malice” (8 p.m.) and “The China Syndrome” (10:15 pm.). Then comes the silent “The Viking” (12:30 a.m.) and the Italian “The Tree of Wooden Clogs” (2:15 a.m.).

Men’s college basketball includes Loyola at Valparaiso (ESPNU, 4 p.m.), Virginia at Wake Forest (ESPNU, 6 p.m.) and Washington State at Utah (ESPNU, 8 p.m.).

Women’s games include Marquette at Villanova (Fox Sports 1, noon), South Carolina at Kentucky (ESPNU, noon), George Washington at Dayton (CBS Sports, noon), Connecticut at Temple (ESPN2, 1 p.m.), DePaul at Georgetown (CBS Sports, 2 p.m.), Tulsa at Tulane (ESPNU, 2 p.m.), Mississippi State at Tennessee (EPN2, 3 p.m.), South Florida at Wichita State (CBS Sports, 4 p.m.) and Florida State at Louisville (ESPN2, 5 p.m.).

The Round of 16 continues in the Australian Open (Tennis, 7 p.m.; ESPN2, 9 p.m.).

In women’s soccer, it’s Denmark at U.S. (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) in an international friendly.

It’s Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame (NBC Sports, 3 p.m.) in college hockey.

Sunday Talk

ABC: White House legislative director Marc Short, Sen. Dick Durbin, Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Mark Meadows. CBS: Rep. Paul Ryan, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, Durbin. NBC: Short, Sens. Tom Cotten and Durbin. CNN: Mulvaney, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul. Fox News: Mulvaney, Sen. Chris Coons.


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