HBO will be wooing viewers big-time tonight with two series returning and another one premiering.
The big returner is Game of Thrones, which starts its fourth season at 9 p.m. Based on the series of novels by George R.R. Martin, it involves the bloody battles among different families in a fictional, medieval-like world — one laden not only with violence and sex, but also with various forms of magic. And dragons.
The slogan for the new season is “All men must die,” and anyone who has read Martin’s books or watched much of the series knows how achingly true that is. One of the sensational aspects of its first season was the death of a major, admired character. The third season included the mass slaughter of guests at what is now famously known as “the red wedding.”
I offer no spoilers (or even teasers) here. And I have to warn anyone who is thinking about watching the series: find and view the first three seasons first. Game of Thrones has many characters, and it’s up to the viewer to keep track of their history and relationships. Don’t expect passages of explanatory dialogue to catch you up.
Besides, that way you get to fall completely into the Game of Thrones world.
HBO is following Game with a sharp-edged new comedy from Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill). Silicon Valley, premiering at 10 p.m., involves a group of people working for pioneering high-tech companies, spending their newly accumulated wealth — or hoping to find their own path to comparable success.
The main character, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) is stuck, pitching a site that no one seems to want — until it becomes clear that the site’s technology has some seriously lucrative applications. It is funny, especially when it portrays the miseries of a dead-end job and the mysteries of how some people run their businesses.
Following Silicon Valley at 10:30 p.m. is the third season of Veep, the comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a much put-upon vice president of the United States. The new season has her running for president — and will have audiences marveling at Hendrix texting.
While Mad Men will make its return April 13, AMC will debut another sort of period piece with a 90-minute premiere at 9 tonight. That’s Turn, a drama about American spies trying to uncover British secrets during the Revolutionary War. For real. It is based on historian Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring.
Remember Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Dave Clark Five? PBS certainly hopes so, as Great Performances works the 50th anniversary of the British music invasion some more with The Dave Clark Five and Beyond — Glad All Over at 8 p.m. Tuesday and 10 p.m. Friday on WNEO/WEAO (Channels 45/49) and WVIZ (Channel 25). (If you have a different PBS station, it may also air at 8 p.m. Tuesday.)
The two-hour special blends interviews with admirers like Elton John and Paul McCartney, archival DC5 performances and other footage owned by Clark. (Besides being a successful drummer and bandleader, he proved a savvy businessman when he bought the video rights to the British pop-music series Ready Steady Go!)
Also on PBS (including both local stations), In Performance at the White House presents The Women of Soul at 9 p.m. Monday. The concert special includes Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae, Melissa Etheridge, Tessanne Chin and Ariana Grande.
Dancing with the Stars (8 p.m. Monday, ABC) announces the results of its viewer-chosen switch-ups, where the celebrities are temporarily given different professional partners. And Julianne Hough will return — as a guest judge. Remaining contestants: Candace Cameron Bure, Drew Carey, Meryl Davis, NeNe Leakes, James Maslow, Danica McKellar, Amy Purdy, Cody Simpson and Charlie White.
Justified, the series inspired by the writing of Elmore Leonard, wraps up its current season at 10 p.m. Tuesday on FX, with plenty of plot to be sorted out. It has had an up-and-down season, but it remains one of my favorite shows. I’m already distressed that the next season will be Justified’s last.
I have no feelings one way or the other about The Neighbors, the ABC aliens-among-us comedy. But it, too, has a season finale coming — at 8:31 p.m. Friday.
If your favorite shows air on CBS, you’ll be getting a break from some of them this week. The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards airs at 8 tonight on the network, and the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game is at 9 p.m. Monday.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.