HBO unveils banality under the big top

The new series "Carnivale" (8:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO) is a major departure for the premium cable channel. And that's not a good thing. While HBO's successful shows -- "Six Feet Under," "The Sopranos," and even the overpraised and annoying "Sex and the City" -- feature strong, identifiable characters and memorable dialogue, "Carnivale" offers a nonstop onslaught of mythical hogwash, hackneyed lines, and contrived and derivative characters.

  • The better-than-average "Biography" special "All the Presidents' Kids" (7 p.m. Sunday, A&E;) takes an informative hopscotch through history, profiling the children of presidents from John Adams to George W. Bush. On the whole, they've not been a happy lot, suffering higher-than-normal rates of depression and early death.
  • Turner Classic Movies honors the late movie tough-guy Charles Bronson with a four-film tribute, featuring "The Magnificent Seven" (1960, 7 p.m. today), "The Great Escape" (1963, 9:15 p.m. today), "The Dirty Dozen" (1967, 12:15 a.m. Sunday), and "From Noon Till Three" (1976, 3 a.m. Sunday), co-starring Jill Ireland.

Today's highlights

  • "Cops" (Fox) enters its 16th season of chase scenes (7 p.m.), and pixilated mayhem (7:30 p.m.).
  • "Mad TV" (10 p.m., Fox) enters its ninth season.

Sunday's highlights

  • Megan Mullally is host of "Great Women of Television Comedy" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Late-night host Conan O'Brien celebrates his first decade on television (8:30 p.m., NBC).


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.