Softcore goings-on with a sprinkling of redeeming social value.
With Reckless, CBS tries to create a sexy summer series -- and succeeds (Sunday, 8 p.m.). Jamie (Anna Wood), a gorgeous Yankee lawyer in Charleston, S.C., is introduced stiletto heels first, the camera practically drooling as it pans up to her tight miniskirt. You might think that's offensive, and maybe it is. But Jamie's hunky male rival, assistant district attorney Roy (Cam Gigandet), gets equal treatment as a piece of meat, parading around shirtless in low-hanging jeans. These two have a lot of important cases to work on, such as the one that requires them to watch a tape of an orgy -- several times, to make sure they understand it thoroughly -- while struggling to keep their paws off each other.
It's amusing that, amid such softcore goings-on, Reckless bothers to add a sprinkling of redeeming social value. The soundtrack turns to mush whenever Roy gets a call from his adorable daughters, or when Jamie defends an innocent man in court. We're asked to feel moral outrage over corruption in local law enforcement, with the evidence contained in the aforementioned orgy tape.
I am, indeed, morally outraged. But I think I need to see the tape one or two more times to make sure that I myself understand it thoroughly.
Sunday, 8 pm (HBO)
In its last season, True Blood is determined to go out in spectacular fashion. This week, the Louisiana town of Bon Temps reels in the aftermath of an apocalyptic vampire attack.
And it's not just the people who are reeling. The vampires themselves, infected with a virus, despair over their lack of self-control -- i.e., their inhumanity. A group of them hole up in a bar, mouths bloody, with humans chained in the basement as future food. In an unforgettable scene, freaked-out prisoners Holly (Lauren Bowles) and Arlene (Carrie Preston) recognize a local fourth-grade teacher among their vampire captors. They desperately appeal to her conscience, which has somehow survived amid the bloodlust.
What happens next is shocking, and I don't want to give anything away. All I'll say is: Rarely has inhumanity seemed so human.
Sunday, 8 pm (BBC America)
I admit that, as a kid, I played Three Musketeers with a silky cape and toy sword. But those things have been packed in the basement for a long time, and none of the Musketeer movies or TV shows of recent years have made me want to get them back out. So imagine my surprise at The Musketeers, which delivers swashbuckling thrills as if it were the easiest thing in the world. As we know from NBC's leaden pirate drama Crossbones, it isn't.
In 17th-century Paris, three of the king's bodyguards (Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera and Howard Charles) take on rookie D'Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino), who must learn -- be still, my heart -- their various codes of honor. The production pokes fun at Musketeer mythology, but it doesn't let irony get in the way of a ripping good story. Brace yourself for clanging swordfights, forbidden romance, galloping horses, dank dungeons, pointy goatees, black-hearted villains and, of course, enough puffy-sleeve shirts to fill Notre-Dame Cathedral.
I can't tell you how much willpower it's taking not to get my silky cape and toy sword out of the basement.
Sunday, 9 pm (HBO)
Based on Tom Perrotta's novel, The Leftovers poses a what-if scenario: What if 2% of the world's population simply disappeared due to some supernatural cause? What would life be like for the survivors?
The pilot provides a definitive answer to that last question: grim. Three years after "The Sudden Departure," people in the New York suburb of Mapleton still can't deal with their despair. They jump off roofs, join creepy cults and shoot each other's pets. Nobody smiles. Even teenagers lose interest in sex.
Clearly no one would want to live in a world like this, so why would anyone want to watch a TV show about it? The occasional bit of music heard in the background -- for example, Otis Redding's "My Lover's Prayer" -- is the only hint of life. Otherwise it's merely a lot of tense conversations between really bummed-out people.
If you're looking for entertainment value, don't watch The Leftovers. Buying an Otis Redding CD would be a much better bet.
Sunday, 9 pm (TNT)
The alien-invasion series is going strong at the start of season four, with the brave human rebels plotting new ways to resist their monstrous overlords. This week's thrilling episode starts with a bang -- make that a buzz -- as a giant hornet-like creature menaces the desperate human prisoners in a ruined American city. Hero Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), his face grimy but his humanity intact, tries to figure out an escape route, oblivious to his own safety.
"Tell me you're not going to do anything stupid," a fellow prisoner pleads.
Of course he is, because that's what distinguishes people from extraterrestrials in this parable of fascism. They're capable of kindness and altruism, even with Hitler-like lizardy thingies threatening a fate worse than death.
The new season of Falling Skies is making me fall in love with Earthlings all over again.