The heart breaks while tempers violently flare in HBO's The Normal Heart (Sunday, 9/8c), Ryan Murphy's emotionally and politically explosive film version of Larry Kramer's provocative stage drama about the early response, within and outside the gay community, to the '80s AIDS crisis.
Teeming with anger, sorrow, passion and purpose, this powerful and harrowing movie is part tragic love story in plague times, part agitprop manifesto and tribute to tireless activism. "We're not yelling loud enough!" bellows Ned Weeks (an engagingly abrasive Mark Ruffalo), the story's pushy moral conscience, a belligerent scold who refuses to play nice when so many lives are at stake.
Is he back? The creepy new Showtime series Penny Dreadful, set in 1891 London, opens with the unbelievably messy dismemberment of a little girl and her pregnant mother. The crime has the Victorians in a panic as they wonder if Jack the Ripper — not heard from in three years — has returned for yet another murder spree. Little do they know, they have so much more to worry about. Such as devils and ghosts and vampires. And ancient Egyptian curses. Oh, and scientifically resurrected dead people, courtesy of one Victor Frankenstein.