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Cop drama

6/17/2015

“True Detective”TrueTV TrueDetective

Sunday, June 21 (HBO)

How do you top Matthew McConaughy and Woody Harrelson from “True Detective”’s killer debut season? Double-down on the star power: Besides Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn, Season 2 also features Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch as co-leads, and the supporting-cast bench isn’t lacking, either. Vaughn is a mob boss looking to go legit, Farrell is a troubled — to put it mildly; he makes McConaughy’s Rust Cohle look like a Walmart greeter — detective who owes him, Kitsch is a highway patrolman with a past, and McAdams is a hard-as-nails cop written to singlehandedly obliterate Season 1’s Weak Female Problem. Likewise, Season 2 ditches its predecessor’s supernatural hoodoo and time-jumping plot in favor of a linear, hard-boiled California crime story that doesn’t seem to be leading to Season 1’s “happy” ending.

 

“The Brink”

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Sunday, June 21 (HBO)

After “True Detective,” some comic relief is needed — so how about the threat of World War III? “The Brink” stars Jack Black as a low-level State Department hack in Pakistan out to score weed with his driver (Aasif Mandvi) when protests break out and a none-too-stable general (Iqbal Theba) threatens to go nuclear. Back at the White House, the womanizing boozehound Secretary of State (Tim Robbins, stealing the show) attempts to talk the Secretary of Defense (Geoff Pierson) and the President (Esai Morales) out of striking preemptively as a bomber pilot (Pablo Schreiber, better known as Pornstache from “Orange Is the New Black”) is already en route. As a “Veep”-meets-“Dr. Strangelove” geopolitical comedy, “The Brink” smartly keeps Black’s we’ve-seen-it idiot from dominating the show, but your faith in government… well, probably won’t change at all.

 

“Ballers”

Sunday, June 21 (HBO)

Dwayne Johnson has become such a larger-than-life action star that “The Rock” qualifier is irrelevant; casting him as a painkiller-popping ex-NFL star trying to scrape together a post-football life almost feels like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Sure, he’s as charming as ever as Spencer Strasmore, a retired Miami Dolphin transitioning into becoming a financial manager for his fellow money-burning retirees and clueless rookies (or “monetizing friendships,” as his boss, played by Rob Corddry, says), but a sympathetic underdog? Not happening. “Ballers” critiques the chew-’em-up-spit-’em-out culture of pro sports almost as much as it revels in the glamour, but Johnson is just too big — in every sense — for his role.

 

“Another Period”

Tuesday, June 23 (Comedy Central)

The Bellacourt sisters (Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindholme) were the Kardashians of the early 1900s, concerned only with being rich, famous and relatively disease-free. Leggero and Lindholme are two of the funniest comic actors around, and the rest of the cast (including Michael Ian Black, Paget Brewster, Brett Gelman, Christina Hendricks, David Koechner, Jason Ritter and David Wain) is equally impressive. But “Another Period” is more silly than stellar, like a leftover episode of “Drunk History” (same director, coincidentally) that wasn’t done cooking yet — nice summer filler behind “Inside Amy Schumer,” but it likely won’t last any longer than that. CV

 

Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.

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