WELCOME BACK Real Time with Bill Maher returns to HBO tonight just in time for one of the country's most daring political comedians to share his thoughts on the Democratic and Republican conventions. No one on mainstream TV goes where Maher does, and the medium is better for it. Maher's show will air weekly through the November election. No preview available. (11 tonight, HBO)
GET MAD ON SUNDAY Mad Men is on a terrific run. The past two episodes ended in scenes set in the home of Madison Avenue ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm), and they were brilliant. The undercurrents between Draper and his wife, Betty (January Jones), make for what might be the most multilayered look at marriage ever offered on mainstream TV.
The beat continues Sunday with an episode titled "Maidenform." The boys at the Sterling Cooper ad agency are photographing models behind closed doors, and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), who is writing the copy for the ads in which the models will appear, isn't invited. Meanwhile, Betty finds herself at a country club face to face with a young man she has been going out of her way to avoid. As creator Matthew Weiner said in an interview with me this year, one of the key themes of the series involves upward mobility and the cost to a character's sense of identity.
P.S. For a super-smart three-minute discussion of last week's episode with Weiner, Hamm and Moss, go to amctv.com and click on the Mad Men blog. *** 1/2 (10 p.m. Sunday, AMC)