“Billions” debut, 10 p.m., Showtime.
For Damian Lewis,
this has become a fine habit: Each year he stars in a sharp, smart
Sunday drama series. Last year was the Golden Globe-winning “Wolf
Hall,” playing King Henry confronting a clever lawyer; now
“Billions” has him as a Wall Street king, facing a clever (and
Bobby Axelrod is a
street-smart, New Jersey native who conquered finance; the district
attorney (Paul Giamatti) is determined to convict him. Try to ignore
the blitz of insider details; this hour (on a night when most cable
systems offer Showtime free) has great actors tackling richly layered
II: “Downton Abbey” and “Mercy Street,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS.
Sure, last week's
“Downton” was an in-betweener, quieter than most. That set up
this strong hour.
As the Carson/Hughes
wedding nears, no one's sure where it will be held. Arguments about
the local hospital heat up, spurring even Cora to have a mean moment.
There's a neat surprise in the final minutes ... and then the debut
of an ambitious period piece: “Mercy Street” begins with a
widowed abolitionist becoming a nurse, in a Virginia mansion that's
been converted to a Civil War hospital.
ALTERNATIVE: “Angie Tribeca” marathon, 9 p.m., TBS.
Here is a brash way
to introduce a show – a 25-hour, commercial-free marathon. The
10-episode season starts at 9 p.m., then re-starts at 1:19 a.m., 9:04
a.m., 1:23 p.m. and 5:42 p.m. Monday.
And this show
clearly needs to be treated brashly; a broad parody of cop shows,
it's in the spirit of “Naked Gun.” Angie (Rashida Jones) is a
tough cop, dealing with an unwanted partner and some daft suspects.
Steve and Nancy Carell created it; he directed the opener and she
plays the mayor's wife. Some scenes (Lisa Kudrow as a maybe-mistress)
are hilarious, some fail, but “Angie” booms ahead.
Football, 1:05 p.m.
ET, Fox and 4:40 p.m. ET, CBS. Superstar quarterbacks collide in the
play-offs. Russell Wilson's Seattle Seahawls visit Cam Newton's
Carolina Panthers; then (if injuries permit) it's Ben Roethlisberger
and Peyton Manning, as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Denver
and 8:30 p.m., ABC. To get in the mood for the loopy “Angie
Tribeca” humor, try this show, which leaps between broad parody and
clever songs. In tonight's first episode, Galavant is wedged between
feuding giants and dwarves; in the second, we meet his father, an old
awards, 8 p.m., A&E, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. The
best-picture winners at the Golden Globes (“The Revenant” and
“The Martian”) collide here, alongside “Spotlight,” “The
Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,”
“Carol,” “Brooklyn,” “Room” and “Sicario.” Then
there are all the subcategories – action, animated, sci-fi, etc. --
plus TV, acting and more.
Guide to Surviving Life,” 8:30, Fox. Heading to her ex-boyfriend's
wedding in Mexico, Kelly wants Cooper to pretend to be her date. He'd
rather be her real date, but he goes along ... soon bumbling
thoroughly. What follows is a slick and funny parody of “24.”
Debate, 9 p.m. ET,
NBC. After getting some awful timeslots for previous debates, the
Democrats get a broadcast-network spot on TV's best night.
Superman,” 9 p.m. ET, CNN; reruns at midnight ET. After losing a
year of his childhood to polio, Carl Boenish roared through life. He
became a pianist, an engineer, then a master of “base jumping” --
parachuting from cliffs and skyscrapers and such. That led to his
fame, his belated romance and his death. The story is told warmly ...
with, of course, some glorious footage.
ALSO: An busy night
has lots of cable non-fiction. At 8 p.m. on Ovation, the fairly
interesting “Tour of Beauty” sends Rachel Hunter to Paris. Also
at 8, “Million Dollar American Princesses” includes the
compelling story of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, John's sister. At 9,
the American Heroes Channel has “The Hunt for James Earl Ray.” At
10, AXS airs David Bowie's “Ziggy Stardust” (1973) concert film.