Sunday TV: New ‘Political Animals’ vs. Returning ‘Breaking Bad’

Greg Berlanti, executive producer of “Everwood” and “Dirty Sexy Money” has always had a special interest in politics. But just as his “Jack & Bobby” was no “West Wing”; his new “Political Animals” (USA, 10 p.m.) isn’t quite “The Newsroom” (HBO, 9 p.m.) either.

It doesn’t have the sheer ambition or high aspirations. The names Jack and Bobby are used again, but as names of housepets. “Political Animals” is a lot of frothy fun, though, as it pretty much hones in on the story of the Clintons and plays it broadly.

Sigourney Weaver has the magnetism and intelligence to fill her role as a former first lady of a philandering president, who runs for office herself only to become secretary of state.

As such, she seems to wield more power than the President who beat her in the primaries and may be looking to run again. But there are problems, from a trouble son whose secrets could topple the campaign, a pesky reporter played by Carla Gugino.

It may be the casting that’s most fun and includes Ellyn Bursten is her tart and outspoken mother but Ciaran Hinds is way over the top as the ex-president, channeling more Foghorn Leghorn than Bill Clinton. There’s some well paced action in the series, which is slated to only last six episodes.

It’s tough for anything to pull you away from the season premiere of “Breaking Bad” (AMC, 10 p.m.), the first rate series that retains its great writing, acting, desert cinematography and sound design as it is still reacting to the fallout from the spectacular death of the former local drug kingpin.

Walter White, whose misdeeds are beginning to define him, has some loose ends to consider, and their plot to destroy evidence is epic.  His brother in law Hank is vindicated in his suspicious of Gus. White’s wife Skyler still has to straighten out the issues at her former place of employment.

Just 16 episodes are left of the series – eight now and eight more next year.

It’s accompanied by a new reality series “Small Town Security” (AMC, 11 p.m.) about an amusing family operation.

On “The Newsroom” (HBO, 9 p.m.), Hope Davis plays a gossip columnist seeking to trap Will, while news of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords  raises issues of whether a news organization should be first or being right.

There’s another new Inspector Lewis caper on “Masterpiece Mystery” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), this one involving the death of an Oxford English professor who had posted on an internet dating site.

A fifth season premiere comes for “Leverage” (TNT, 8 p.m.), in which they entrap a cost cutting shipping magnate.

A brutal assault rattles the west (or at least the sheriff) in “Longmire” (A&E, 10 p.m.).

The Authority comes calling, looking for Bill on a new “True Blood” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

Here’s the first prime time Sunday night episode of “Big Brother” (CBS, 8 p.m.) – but the fourth night of “Big Brother After Hours” (Showtime 2, midnight).

Another funny “Episodes” (Showtime, 10:30 p.m.) concerns the death and funeral of the network executive, which seems to bring the worst out of everybody.

A two hour “Dateline” (NBC, 7 p.m.) goes head to head with back to back episodes of “60 Minutes” (ABC, 7 and 8 p.m.).

Also two hours: a new episode of “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” (ABC, 9 p.m.) and a rerun of “America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

A double bill about genies in bottles is on Turner Classic Movies tonight, with “The Thief of Bagdad” (8 p.m.) and “The Boy and the Pirates” (10 p.m.).

Fans of the film “Hugo” may be interested in seeing “The Films of Georges Meiles” (TCM, midnight, check local listings), a silent compilation of 17 short films.

Baseball tonight has Cardinals at Reds (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

The Tour de France (NBC Sports, 8 a.m.) is up to Stage 14.

Sunday Talk

ABC: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Kelly Ayotte. CBS: Rep. Paul Ryan, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden. NBC: Romney adviser Ed Gillespie, Sens. Dick Durbin and Jon Kyl, Grover Norquist, NAACP President Ben Jealous. CNN: Gillespie, Govs. Bob McDonnell and Deval Patrick, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Fox News: Karl Rove, Joe Trippi, Govs. Terry Branstad and Rick Scott.

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