Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”) stars in “Veep” (9 p.m., HBO). She’s Selina Meyer, a rising political star whose fortunes ebb when she becomes vice president. It quickly becomes clear that the unnamed and unseen president has parked her in an impossible and largely irrelevant ceremonial role to sabotage her career. Meyer and the audience discover that nothing is quite what it seems or as easy as it should be.
‘‘Veep” creator Armando Iannucci directed the 2009 film “In the Loop,” a savage satire of the noncommunication between Washington and London during the buildup to the Iraq invasion. That film had many things that are sadly lacking in “Veep,” chief among them a connection to actual events and a sense of real stakes.
Equally disappointing is the decision to play Meyer as a scatterbrain. In many ways it’s as if “Seinfeld’s” Elaine Benes has become vice president. She’s simply unbelievable as a character who could have had any political career or posed a threat to anyone.
The supporting cast, including Tony Hale (“Arrested Development”) is game, but they’re generally engaged in bickering, backbiting and double-dealing without consequence, or political resonance. It struck me as warmed-over “Spin City” without that show’s charms.
Tonight’s other highlights
l Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): more details about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Middle East’s Christian exodus, Florida’s emerald discovery.
l Gold digs to find August’s identity on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC).
l David Attenborough appears on the season finale of “Frozen Planet” (7 p.m., Discovery). Viewers can catch up on earlier episodes (noon to 6 p.m., Discovery).
l A British officer endures the grim reality of World War I’s trench warfare with flashbacks to his affair with a married Frenchwoman in the “Masterpiece Classic” (8 p.m., PBS) production of “Birdsong,” adapted from a best-selling novel by Sebastian Faulks.
l Dany reaches the gates of Qarth on “Game of Thrones” (8 p.m., HBO).
l A cryptic message on “The Killing” (8 p.m., AMC).
l Don may bring in new business on “Mad Men” (9 p.m., AMC).
l Cesare puts art into the art of war on “The Borgias” (9 p.m., Showtime).
l Hannah has a health scare on “Girls” (9:30 p.m., HBO)