The deliciously dark and irrepressibly funny funeral-home soap opera "Six Feet Under" (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO) returns for a fourth season. Unlike "The Sopranos," which frequently ignores minor and major characters for weeks at a time, "Six" keeps all of the players in the mix.
And every one of them is going though some pretty heavy changes.
Ruth celebrates her marriage to George (James Cromwell) with a night of loud consummation that sets everyone in the house on edge. Bickering lovers David and Keith try to start over, once again. Buried under her own alienated funk, Claire tells her old boyfriend that she made a life-altering choice without consulting him, while Federico hunts down a priest in order to confess his adulterous indiscretion. Brenda finds herself willing to share more than a cup of sugar with her handsome new neighbor (Justin Theroux), and Nate struggles to find a way to dispose of his dead wife's body that remains true to her wishes while not ticking off her controlling parents.
With all of this angst, you wonder how they find time to collect and embalm corpses, run wakes and offer grief counseling. Shot through with wit, bracingly honest dialogue and uncomfortably hilarious moments, "Six Feet Under" remains the gold standard by which all other television dramas are measured.
- Will our primate cousins survive? "Jane Goodall's State of the Great Ape" (7 p.m. today, Animal Planet) offers a sobering assessment of the crises facing chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos. Logging, mining and farming have encroached on their habitats in Africa and Asia. In Africa, the practice of eating "bush meat," or wild animals, claims more than 8,000 great apes per year.
Tonight's other highlights
- The Peanuts gang tosses the ball around in the 2003 special "Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown" (7 p.m., ABC).
- Olympic diving trials (7 p.m., NBC).
- Two men face justice after a drag-racing death on the second-season premiere of the documentary-style drama "Crime & Punishment" (9 p.m., NBC).
Sunday's other highlights
- It takes a full six hours to count down "The 100 Greatest Love Songs" (3 p.m., CMT).
- Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): security lapses at chemical plants; Yale's Skull and Bones society; singer Barbara Cook.
- Detroit meets Los Angeles in Game Four of the NBA Finals (8 p.m., ABC).