Sunday TV: Patience for Good ‘Luck,’ SAG Awards

It may be difficult to muster the requisite excitement for the start of the new series “Luck” (HBO, 9 p.m.). After the pilot from David Milch and director Michael Mann already showed late last year as a “sneak peak” following the “Boardwalk Empire” finale.

And tonight’s somewhat confusing, somewhat mumbly first episode doesn’t make that much more sense a second time. The key is the same as it was for Milch’s “Deadwood” – go with it. He’s presenting a whole world with a large array of intersecting characters. It will slowly pay off as the nine-episode season continues.

With a cast led by Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina, it can seem a dense, men-only world. But you’ll be bowled over by Mann’s direction of the thundering, heart-stopping race sequences.

A longer review I wrote for Salon appears here.

The awards shows are starting to pile on. Saturday was the director’s guild awards; tonight it’s the Screen Actors Guild Awards (TNT, TBS, 8 p.m.). It’s interesting for awarding films and TV shows for their ensemble casts, which makes more sense than individual awards sometimes (though there are those too).

Among the ensemble cast nominations for TV dramas are “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Good Wife.” For comedies, it’s “30 Rock, “The Big Band Theory,” “Glee,” “Modern Family” and “The Office.” Mary Tyler Moore wins a lifetime achievement award as well.

How big a deal is it? Well, enough to warrant coverage “Live from the Red Carpet” (E!, 6 p.m.) with Giuliana Rancic and Ross Mathews.

There ‘s a tense battle at the front in tonight’s episode of “Downton Abbey” on “Masterpiece Classic” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). Crave more “Downton”? Last week’s episode replays at 8 p.m., and a special on life during that era, there is the special “Secrets of the Manor House” (PBS, 7 p.m., check local listings).

John Corbett stars as a special ed teacher from Michigan who gets the notion to bring his students to Space Camp in Huntsville, ala.the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “A Smile as Big as the Moon” (ABC, 9 p.m.) based on a true story. Like most of their productions, it’s heart-warming and utterly predictable.

The Hawaiian setting is frequently the best thing about the annual Pro Bowl (NBC, 7 p.m.) the annual stop gap before next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The X Games (ESPN, 9 p.m. ) wind up in Aspen, with the snowboarding superpipe final.

The NHL All Star Game (NBC Sports Network, 4 p.m.) can’t even get on a broadcast network. From Ottawa.

The very real danger of concussion in high school sport is explored in the news special “Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams” (CNN, 8 p.m.).

The one-hour special “Extreme Couponing: Midnight Madness” (TLC, 10 p.m.) follows four shoppers seeking the best savings on Black Friday.

Richard Shiff guest stars on “Once Upon a Time” (ABC, 8 p.m.) as King Leopold, who finds a genie’s lamp that grants him three wishes.

No less than Jeremy Irons voices the tale of Moe’s bar rag and his epic thousand-year journey through time to Springfield on a new episode of “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Kim Kardashian comes to a decision about her 73-day marriage that you might have already heard before tonight’s second season finale of “Kourtney & Kim Take New York” (E!, 10 p.m.).

“Rachael vs. Guy: Clebrity Cook-Off” (Food, 10 p.m.) reaches its first season finale following another episode at 9 p.m.).

Ted Turner is the subject on a new “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (OWN, 9 p.m.).

Craig’s wife visits Fiona on “Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

Amy Sedaris returns as lobbyist Stacie Hall in a new episode of “The Good Wife” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

In a Jack Webb double feature, it’s “The D.I.” (TCM, 8 p.m.) followed by the journalism yarn, “-30-“ (TCM, 10 p.m.).

Nicole Kidman stars in Lars von Trier’s 2003 “Dogville” (Flix, 8 p.m.).

In NBA action, it’s Bulls at Heat (NBC, 3:30 p.m.) and Spurs at Mavericks (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.).

In Figure Skating (NBC, 3 p.m.), the U.S. Championships wind up. It’s also the men’s final in the Australian Open Tennis (ESPN2, 3 a.m., 9 a.m.).

Sunday Talk

ABC: Newt Gingrich, Rep. John Boehner. CBS: Reince Pribus, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Allen West, Mario Diaz-Balart and Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump. NBC: David Axelrod, Sen John McCain and former Sen. Fred Thompson. CNN: Ron Paul, Gov. Rick Scott, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Los Angeles Mayor Antionio Villaraigosa, Sen. Mitch McConnell. Fox News: Gingrich, Rep. Paul Ryan.

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