ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. TV connoisseurs may have noticed some complications on Sunday nights: so many quality shows all at the same time. TV critic Eric Deggans says the scene is about to get even more crowded.
ERIC DEGGANS: It's official. I have a new favorite character on television: 20-something underachiever Hannah Horvath on HBO's newest dramatic comedy, "Girls."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GIRLS")
LENA DUNHAM: (as Hannah Horvath) My entire life has been one ridiculous mistake after another. I am unfit for any and all paint jobs. I've been dating someone who treats my heart like it's monkey meat.
DEGGANS: But I have a real problem with "Girls." It airs on Sunday nights, a time when my TV dance card is already packed. Over on CBS, for example, Robert De Niro and "Clockers" author Richard Price have cooked up a new show on rookie cops in Harlem called "NYC 22."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NYC 22")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as character) Police, open up.
DEGGANS: But "NYC 22's" first episode airs at the same time as "Girls." This, ladies and gentlemen, is why every hard-core fan of TV has a digital video recorder handy. Hard as it may be for some anti-TV snobs to believe, there are so many quality television shows airing on Sunday nights, one DVR can't catch them all. Check out this list: On HBO, sword and sorcery geeks get a healthy dose of both in the fantasy series "Game of Thrones."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES ")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) Enjoy your name day, your grace.
DEGGANS: On CBS, there's the cheated-on political wife reinventing herself as a high-powered lawyer on "The Good Wife."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")
JULIANNA MARGULIES: (as Alicia Florrick) And thank you for that damaging testimony.
DEGGANS: On AMC, the moody drama "The Killing" savors a murder investigation like fine wine.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE KILLING")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (as character) The photo putting Richmond on the bridge the same night Rosie was killed was fake?
DEGGANS: And after "The Killing" comes AMC's grand dame of quality TV, "Mad Men."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAD MEN")
JON HAMM: (as Don Draper) All you had to do was tell them everything was fine.
VINCENT KARTHEISER: (as Pete Campbell) You think that call is easy to make.
HAMM: (as Don Draper) I think you're distracted.
DEGGANS: But wait, there's more. Because Showtime has also stepped up on Sundays, with Laura Linney as a cancer survivor on "The Big C" and my personal fave, "Sopranos" alum Edie Falco as a drug addicted, philandering nurse hitting rock bottom on "Nurse Jackie."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NURSE JACKIE")
EDIE FALCO: (as Jackie Peyton) I need to go to rehab.
DEGGANS: Years ago, this logjam would have been on Thursdays. That's the night broadcast networks wanted to charge big bucks for ads promoting all the major films opening that weekend. So that's when they scheduled their biggest shows. Old-timers will remember NBC's Must See TV lineups from back in the '90s. But with cable's rise, Sundays now become TV's big showcase. Here, fan buzz can build and sustain a quality program's success. So it's time to prioritize.
And I'm ranking shows by their next-day water cooler buzz. Since I work in an office with a bunch of wonky, semi-literate types - otherwise known as journalists - I know we'll be all over the latest "Mad Men" twist by 9 a.m. Monday. Ditto with "The Good Wife" and "Game of Thrones." Save everything else for the DVR or video on demand. Except, HBO has another great series coming a week from Sunday, featuring "Seinfeld" alum Julia Louis Dreyfus as a dysfunctional vice president, called "Veep."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (as character) How are you feeling?
JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS: (as Vice President Selina Meyer) Well, I'm a political leper, and I'm an emotional time bomb. So here's an idea: Let's put me on stage.
DEGGANS: Wonder if there's any good two-for-one deals on DVRs.
SIEGEL: That's Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times.
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