Lavishly praised and deservedly so, "Mad Men" (9 p.m. Sunday, AMC) uses its 1962 setting to ask the ultimate question: Would you go to work if you thought there would be no tomorrow?
Yes, the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 casts a pall over the melodrama, but the surprises and revelations don't stop. The impending merger of the ad agency with its British buyer adds to the air of uncertainty. Betty gets some unexpected news and makes several surprising decisions. And Peggy, the sad victim of season 1, continues her fascinating career climb and awkward spiritual renovation.
Anybody who gets out of high school knows there are more C students than A students, so it's always a little risky to praise a show for its intelligence. So let's just use that argument to explain the meager ratings of this superior series.
Virtually alone in its class, "Mad Men" is entertainment for grown-ups who have brains and like to use them. In a medium awash in comic-book narratives, gothic trash and paint-by-numbers procedurals, "Mad Men" offers the nuanced observation and character development of serious fiction. That's why I'm so happy to note that "Mad Men" will be returning for a third season.
¢ "Celebrity Ghost Stories" (8 p.m. today, Biography) allows bold-faced-names to regale us with encounters with spirits.
Ernie Hudson, who starred in "Ghostbusters," talks of a vision of a mysterious woman in a window frame. Musicians Sammy Hagar and Belinda Carlisle recall poltergeists who scared them out of their wits. And "Showgirls" star Gina Gershon claims she has been physically bruised by spirits from the beyond.
Today's other highlights
¢ Philadelphia hosts Tampa Bay in game 3 of the World Series (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ Ed Asner stars as a cantankerous widower and World War II veteran in the melodrama "Generation Gap" (8 p.m. Hallmark).
¢ A yacht goes down with only one survivor (John Rhys-Davies) in the 2007 shocker "The Ferryman" (8 p.m., Sci Fi).
¢ NBC recycles three episodes of "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday" (8:30 p.m., NBC).
¢ Scheduled on "48 Hours Mystery" (9 p.m., CBS): a murder in medical circles.
¢ "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm hosts "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Cold Play.
Sunday's other highlights
¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): The complexities of credit-default swaps; a wildlife park in Mozambique and a profile of T. Boone Pickens.
¢ A store clerk (Steve Carell) looks for love in the raunchy 2005 romance "The 40-Year-old Virgin" (7 p.m., NBC)
¢ Philadelphia hosts Tampa Bay in game 4 of the World Series (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ "Nature" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) enters its 27th season with a trip to Canada's Ellesmere Island. F. Murray Abraham narrates.
¢ A marine's reputation restored on "Cold Case" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ Rita wants more domesticity on "Dexter" (8 p.m., Showtime), recently renewed for its fourth and fifth seasons.
¢ A nuclear scientist drives a hard bargain on "The Unit" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Nora and Holly hash it out on "Brothers & Sisters" (9 p.m., ABC).
¢ Turtle's mouth writes a check he can't cover on "Entourage" (9 p.m., HBO).
¢ Students study in a war zone on "Inside New Orleans High" (9 p.m., National Geographic).