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Archive for Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday offerings go from classic to cultish

June 10, 2012

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Call me a snob, or an unreconstructed former English major, but some books are better than others. “The Great Gatsby” will be remembered long after the “Twilight” series has been consigned to pulp. And I’d be surprised if the author of the “Twilight” books did not agree.

Few television series have as many literary aspirations as “Mad Men” (9 p.m., AMC), ending its fifth season Sunday. In contrast, few shows seem as shot through with the appeal (and limitations) of the horror genre as “True Blood” (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO), also entering its fifth season.

Like the just concluded “Game of Thrones,” ‘‘True Blood” enjoys the strong support of a fervent cult audience. But like other shows with cult appeal, it’s baffling to outsiders who haven’t followed every season and episode. As things currently stand on “True Blood,” there are legions of supernatural creatures, dead and undead, all with varying, well-defined powers that appear to be known to one another and to viewers equipped with their own secret decoder rings. I guess it’s fun for a dedicated few, but to the rest of us, it’s like a precious comedy set in an abattoir: incomprehensible and pointlessly gruesome.

You don’t need to fight off vampires and zombies to find the specter of death shocking. In the case of “Mad Men,” just one dead body will do. The suicide of central character Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) was a major departure for the series. Not that his grim predicament came as much of a surprise. Nor did his end arrive without a bit of black humor. Before hanging himself in his office, he tried to asphyxiate himself with his brand-new car, but true to form, his British-made Jaguar was more beautiful than reliable. The darned thing didn’t start.

Lane’s desperate act arrived only days after Don Draper (Jon Hamm) assured him that “things would get better as they always do.”

• Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 66th annual Tony Awards (7 p.m. Sunday, CBS), honoring the year’s best work on the Broadway stage.

Sunday’s other highlights

• The ups and downs of Kansas real estate on “The Wizard of Oz” (7 p.m. Sunday, TCM).

• Alexander commemorates the end of his fast on “The Borgias” (9 p.m., Showtime).

• An endorsement scorned on “Veep” (9 p.m., HBO).

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