McNamara's Picks: 'True Detective,' 'Girls,' 'Downton Abbey' and more

It's a big week for TV. Not only are a lot of shows coming back from their brief midwinter hiatuses — "Sleepy Hollow!" tonight with a two-hour episode! — the midseason replacements have begun.  Here are a few things you won't want to miss this week:

"True Detective." The Very Last Thing the television landscape needs is another show centered on a couple of tortured white males chasing a serial killer. And indeed, the opening crime of "True Detective" is maddeningly reminiscent of something one might see (and has seen) on NBC's "Hannibal" or Fox's "The Following." (One word: Antlers.) But. But, but, but. "True Detective" stars two actors in full-blown, midcareer renaissance, which makes it worth watching if only to test your own personal ability to process another TWM drama. (Please, dear Lord, let this be the genre's swan song.)

Woody Harrelson plays Det. Martin Hart, a self-described steady family man who is telling the tale of this particular investigation in flashback. Joining him is his partner Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey exploring a part with absolutely no lightness. Cohle is the "detective with something extra" of the piece; he is obsessive, well-read and utterly pessimistic about the state of humanity.

TRAILERS: Winter TV 2014

Set in Louisiana, "True Detective" strives for the dusty glare of a small-town noir, in which men battle demons, real and imagined, while women stroke their brows or fall prey to their knives (there are a lot of knives). Not a new story, by any means, but Harrelson and McConaughey, playing men in two different time frames, may be enough to keep things interesting. HBO, Sunday, 9 p.m.

"Girls." Lena Dunham's controversial comedy returns, scrubbed up and seemingly calmed down. Hannah (Dunham) has a cute new haircut, an actual relationship with the enigmatic Adam (Adam Driver) and a life that's beginning to look like, well, a life. (Perhaps because she's taking her medication for her midseason revealed OCD.) Marnie (Alison Williams) is still wailing over her breakup but Soshanna (Zosia Mamet) has finally been granted a personality behind all her verbal affectations — increasingly, she is the sage of "Girls," determined to avoid the slacker life of her friends. Jessa's (Jemima Kirke) back, but even her smoky-eyed impetuousness is wearing on her compatriots. 

Self-awareness is nudging its way into frame, stuttering, stumbling self-awareness still very crowded by self-centeredness but a relief nonetheless. Hannah still gets naked plenty, though, so continuity is preserved. HBO, Sunday, 10 p.m.  

PHOTOS: The 'Downton Abbey' cast without their costumes

"Downton Abbey." Now that the grieving Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) has agreed to rejoin the human race, things can move forward for everyone. A childhood friend returns to Downton to remind Mary that her romantic life need not be over, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) awaits news from Germany, Lady Rose (Lilly MacClare) pushes boundaries, while Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) renew their sparring partnership. "Downton" remains a great and glorious palatte cleanser amid the roaring grit of most other shows. PBS, Sunday, 8 p.m.

—"Intelligence." Josh Holloway stars as Gabriel Vaughn, a super-agent with a computer chip in his head. With the world's information in his own personal memory bank, he may have a panoply of foes to fight, but his biggest enemy is, surprise, surprise, himself. Fortunately, he has the kind and lovely but professionally ruthless Riley Neal (Meghan Ory) there to protect him, from the bad guys and his own fracture psyche. CG'ed within an inch of its life, "Intelligence" is the latest in a long line of man 'n machine thrillers, but pretty fun to watch. Especially for Holloway fans. CBS, Monday, 10 p.m.


'Intelligence' takes aim

'True Detective's' brooding poet

Matthew's death brings life back to Downton

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