Sunday TV: ‘Homeland,’ ‘Affair,’ ‘Leftovers’

homeland-season-5-review-20150930-001Network shows have largely begun for the season. Now it’s time for premium cable to shine and they roll out some of their biggest titles.

“Homeland” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) hasn’t diminished as much as some have claimed; I’ve always thought it’s retained its tension and story telling ability even as it continues to be one of the few dramas to reflect some of the most pressing issues of the day.

Set two years after last season’s action, Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison is living in Berlin, actually raising her child, out of the CIA but working as security chief for a private investor.

She has a way of falling into the action, though, and this time it involves refugee crisis, Hamas bombs and righteous hacking of the CIA mainframe by Berlin slackers. The new season gets off to a fast start and doesn’t slow down.

“The Affair” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) picks up where it left off in its first season by doubling the points of view. Once, the action was seen through the eyes of the two lovers; now the narrative thickens with the points of view of the partners they left behind. It’s still slickly done and thoughtfully put together, stringing along a crime story that may be a confusing add on at first.

On “The Leftovers” (HBO, 9 p.m.) with the storytelling now surpassing Tom Perrotta’s original novel, the action moves wholesale to Texas. The actual reason is cost of production, but xx makes it work, as the bast characters from upstate New York suddenly find themselves in a Texas town that is considered a miracle in that nobody there disappeared. It has its own set of problems though, and “The Leftovers” remains one of the more brutal viewing experiences of cable.

Public television threatens Sunday night overkill, with the number of dramas it’s piling on each week. Added to last week’s “Indian Summer” on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) is the new “Home Fires,” also listed as being on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings). It’s a pitch-perfect portrait of women trying to keep things going as World War II threatens to roll over its charming small British village. Samantha heads an especially accomplished cast, whose intertwining stories are quickly and efficiently introduced. And wait, there’s a third public TV series starting tonight with further British origins, the three part “The Widower” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) starring Reece Shearsmith.

Networks have their own quality projects to present, with the season premieres of “Madam Secretary” (CBS, 8 p.m.) and “The Good Wife” (CBS, 9 p.m.). Madeline Albright guest stars as herself in the former; Chris Noth’s character begins to run for President in the latter.

There’s probably an interesting story to be told about art advisors but the new “Art Breakers” (Ovation, 8 p.m.) featuring a couple of former sorority sisters who’re hired to buy art for Mario Lopez, among others, is more like a by-the-numbers reality show about matchmakers. That they flit between art commissions and Hollywood memorabilia while worrying about their outfits makes this much more brittle and lightweight than it needs to be.

With “C.S.I” gone, Ted Danson needs a place to go (at least before “Fargo” starts) so his character moves to “CSI: Cyber” (CBS, 10 p.m.).

A double feature of William Wyler western has “The Big Country” (TCM, 8 p.m.) and “The Westerner” (TCM, 11 p.m.).

It’s followed by Lon Chaney in the 1925 silent “The Phantom of the Opera” (TCM, 12:45 a.m.) and G.W. Papst’s mining rescue saga “Kameradschaft” (TCM, 2:30 a.m.).

Sunday Night Football has Dallas at New Orleans (NBC, 8:30 p.m.). Earlier, much earlier, it’s Jets at Miami (CBS, 9:30 a.m.), Philadelphia at Washington (Fox, 1 p.m.), Green Bay at San Francisco (Fox, 4 p.m.) and Cleveland at San Diego (CBS, 4 p.m.).

Sunday night baseball has Angels at Texas (3 p.m.).

In the WNBA finals it’s Indiana at Minnesota (ABC, 3 p.m.) in game one.

Sunday Talk

ABC: Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Reps. Tom Cole and Keith Ellison. NBC: Trump. CNN: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and John McCain, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Mark Kelly of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Fox News: Rep. Jason Chaffetz.


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