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6/02/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Deadwood: Season Three

Home Box Office Sunday, June 11 (9 p.m. ET)

Modern-style horse opera Deadwood started off at a full creative gallop, and the gleaned-from-history tale continues at that pace. As season three begins, the uneasy alliance between saloonkeeper Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) and sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) is forced to become even tighter, as mining magnate George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) continues his efforts to reshape the once-lawless South Dakota mining settlement.

The backdrop of the season premiere is the first-ever contested election in Deadwood history, one which Bullock, his business partner Sol Star (John Hawkes) and Swearengen are trying to manipulate in their favor. The mens’ complex relationship — and the tension in the alliance between former rivals Swearengen and Bullock — promise another riveting season of drama. —Michael Demenchuk

Entourage: Season Three

Home Box Office Sunday, June 11 (10 p.m. ET)

The first three episodes of Entourage’s new season follow the boys in the days before and after Vince’s theatrical Aquaman opens huge. With his movie star fully risen, Vince (Adrian Grenier) finally evinces some charisma, largely missing in the first two seasons, to match his good looks.

Jeremy Piven’s me-centric agent Ari Gold exudes angst and laughs playing against receptionist Lloyd (Rex Lee), as well as wife (Perrey Reeves).

In episode three, a parolee friend from back in Queens, New York, adds a toughness that the entourage — and this viewer — found unwelcome amidst their newly adopted California civilities. As Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) says to Eric (Kevin Connolly): “Five just don’t work E; four is a perfect number.” —Mike Reynolds

Lucky Louie

Home Box Office Sunday, June 11 (10:30 p.m. ET)

Lucky Louie is Home Box Office’s first stab at the family sitcom. The show, featuring standup comic Louis C.K. (The Chris Rock Show), initially conjures up memories of Roseanne-like broadcast TV comedies: In addition to the three-camera setup and studio audience, there’s the blue-collar dad, the too-cute-for-him wife (Pamela Adlon) and their four-year-old daughter Lucy (Kelly Gould).

But Lucky Louie’s hook is how far it pushes the envelope. Scenarios include the fallout from Louie’s getting caught enjoying a girlie magazine in the kitchen closet, and his awkward efforts to make friends with the African-American couple down the hall. Still, given how far ad-supported TV pushes the envelope these days, Louie is essentially just a sitcom that’s only better than average at best. —Michael Demenchuk