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HBO's New Sunday Lineup is Three for Three
June 17, 2015  | By David Bianculli
 

HBO rolls out its three new summer Sunday series this weekend, including Season 2 of the anthology series True Detective. I’ve seen them all – and, surprisingly, I really liked them all…

I say “surprisingly,” because I didn’t know how a rebooted True Detective, with an all-new cast and story line, would compare to last year. I didn’t know how The Brink, a modern war comedy starring Tim Robbins and Jack Black, could live up to its obvious inspiration, Dr. Strangelove. And I couldn’t imagine that Ballers, a pro football comedy series starring Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestler now starring in such big-budget action films as Hercules and San Andreas, could be watchable, much less entertaining.

But True Detective, with a new cast headed by Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch, ensnared me this season as quickly and thoroughly as it did last year.

Ballers works nicely, and Johnson’s deadpan, often downbeat performance is a big reason why.

And The Brink, which I worried would be a diluted attempt to copy the spirit of Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant anti-war comedy, turns out to be a riotous, clever, giddily unpredictable political satire. Tim Robbins, as Secretary of State, is hilariously freewheeling here, and the unexpected teaming of Jack Black and Aasif Mandvi, as a low-level State department functionary in Pakistan and his occasional assigned driver, pays off brilliant dividends almost instantly.

With shows such as these, HBO doesn’t give you any time, much less the inclination, to mourn the seasonal passing of Game of Thrones and Veep, which ended last Sunday. Next Sunday, and these three very entertaining HBO series, are just around the corner.

To read or hear my reviews of True Detective, Ballers and The Brink on Wednesday’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, visit the Fresh Air website, beginning Wednesday afternoon.

 
 
 
 
 
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