The write stuff
David Simon is a great TV writer, but such series as “The Wire,” “Treme” and “The Corner” wouldn’t have crackled with so much authenticity without partners he could count on. Such is the case with “The Deuce,” a terrific new series about the porn industry in the early ’70s with crime novelist George Pelecanos again serving as Simon’s right-hand man. The first episode introduces us to the characters, played by an all-star team that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco. What keeps you engaged is the dialogue, notably a hilarious yet insightful conversation about the Vietnam War between two pimps in a bus station.
8 p.m. Sun., HBO
“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane tries to atone for Peter Griffin’s sins with “The Orville,” an overly earnest attempt at sincerity by way of “Star Trek.” MacFarlane plays a slightly less pompous version of Capt. James T. Kirk, navigating social issues as he leads his ship in space. There are dashes of humor, but this goodwill tour is more saccharine than silly.
Preview 7 p.m. Sun., KMSP, Ch. 9
“Better Things,” once a placeholder for “Louie,” comes into its own in this second season with star Pamela Adlon directing every episode. Good thing her character, a single mother with serious challenges, isn’t nearly as in control, sabotaging nearly every relationship. Louis C.K. continues to contribute as a writer, but this is clearly Adlon’s show, in every sense.
9 p.m. Thu., FX