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What’s on TV Sunday: ‘The Deuce’ and ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’


Pernell Walker, James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal in “The Deuce.”

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

A new series on the sex trade in 1970s New York City presents a lesser-known side of the metropolis. And Elisabeth Moss uncovers a painful truth in “Top of the Lake: China Girl.”

What’s on TV

THE DEUCE 9 p.m. on HBO; also on HBO streaming platforms. David Simon, “The Wire” creator, and the crime novelist George Pelecanos collaborated on this new series about the sex trade set in New York City in the gritty 1970s. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Candy, a sassy, independent prostitute who roams Times Square and rejects the solicitation of money-hungry pimps. Tired of working the dirty streets, she hopes to find her way out in the city’s budding pornography industry. A mustachioed James Franco portrays the identical twins, Frankie, a reckless gambler, and Vincent, a worrisome bar owner who steers clear of the trouble his brother’s hobby inevitably entails. Though the core story line of the pornography business barely builds in the first season, James Poniewozik wrote in The New York Times, “What ‘The Deuce’ has from the get-go is filthy, vibrant, indomitable life.”

THE ORVILLE 8 p.m. on Fox. Seth MacFarlane, the creator and writer behind this new comedy, stars as Ed Mercer, the less-than-confident goofball captain of the U.S.S. Orville, a spaceship that’s staffed with a crew of human and alien misfits 400 years in the future. The team faces a host of challenges as it explores outer space, beginning with the fiery dynamic between Ed and his first officer, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), who happens to be his ex-wife. The series will arrive on Hulu on Sept. 11.


Caitriona Balfe in “Outlander.”

Sony Pictures Television

OUTLANDER 8 p.m. on Starz. Season 3 of this fantasy drama returns with Claire, a time-traveling nurse (Caitriona Balfe), as she settles into life in 1940s Boston to take care of her newborn, Brianna, whom she conceived with her 18th-century lover, Jamie (Sam Heughan). Claire was initially determined to forget Jamie and raise Brianna with her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies), but her passion for Jamie only grows stronger as the years pass. Based on “Voyager,” the third book in the Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, this season follows the lovers as they attempt to rekindle their romance centuries apart.

TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL 9 p.m. on Sundance TV. This six-part mystery drama returns with two back-to-back episodes starring Elisabeth Moss as Detective Robin Griffin. Upon returning to Sydney, Robin sets out to find the killer of an Asian girl whose body washed up on a beach. The investigation leads to a dubious brothel owner who is tied to Robin in more ways than one. Gwendoline Christie and Nicole Kidman round out the cast. The remaining episodes will air Monday and Tuesday at 9 p.m.


Kim Dickens in “Fear the Walking Dead.”

Richard Foreman, Jr./AMC

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD 9 p.m. on AMC. The second half of Season 3 picks up with the Clarks, the Ottos and the Nation putting their differences aside as resources dwindle and the dead draw nearer. This fight for survival at the United States’s border with Mexico reaches a new brutality as Madison (Kim Dickens) does the unthinkable to keep her family alive.

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