'Ballers'

Dwayne Johnson (left) and John David Washington star in “Ballers,” beginning its fourth season at 9 p.m. on HBO.

“Ballers” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA) enters a fourth season. While hardly the worst show on TV, “Ballers” has never been able to answer why on earth anyone should care about these people.

Dwayne Johnson plays Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL star who’s a financial manager to professional athletes. He’s first seen in a prolonged tracking shot, entering a hotel restaurant through the kitchen and greeting every employee, who clearly worship him. He has a brief, prickly exchange with an agent-type who jokes about him possibly running for president and then informs him he’s been nominated for the NFL Hall of Fame. Then he has a meal with colleagues and “forces” them to sample rare and expensive wines while trying to decide where they can buy a $10 million mansion. Later, his goofy assistant, Joe (Rob Corddry), takes him to Los Angeles to look into investing $50 million in an extreme sports venture owned by an eccentric (guest star Russell Brand).

Reaching for some gravity, “Ballers” has Spencer take Joe to Long Beach, the site of a great personal tragedy. But even while discussing this moment of loss, Spencer sounds like he’s reciting the batting averages of the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson’s extremely limited dramatic range isn’t what makes “Ballers” so spectacularly dull. No actor could breathe life into privileged and uncomplicated characters so thinly drawn.

  • When somebody writes the history of great TV female friendships, Issa and Molly may rank right up there with Mary and Rhoda. Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji enter a third season of “Insecure” (9:30 p.m., HBO, TV-MA), following the exploits of two marginally employed and technically unattached African-American women in an age defined by the gig economy and near-constant smartphone interruptions.

In tonight’s season opener, Issa invites Molly to join her on her job as a Lyft driver. Together, they create a party vibe, turning Issa’s drudgery into an expedition that might take them anywhere. To their surprise (and ours) the excursion ends with unexpected, sudden violence.

  • Ray Romano continues his string of strong, funny, nuanced, post-
  • Everybody Loves Raymond” performances in the second season of the dark comedy “Get Shorty” (8 p.m., Epix, TV-MA).

He’s Rick Moreweather, a D-list Hollywood producer caught up in the orbit of hitman-turned-movie maker Miles Daly (Chris O’Dowd). Not to give too much away, but Rick has been forced by the feds to wear a wire as he interacts with some of Miles’ shadier “financiers.” Nobody does “beleaguered” better than Ray Romano, particularly when sporting a hairdo that’s best described as “just got out of bed.”

This season introduces Felicity Huffman as an FBI agent whose attempts to coach Rick’s “performances” are a sight to behold. Raymond Cruz (“Breaking Bad”) joins the cast as “Swayze,” a prison gang leader who styles himself after the “Dirty Dancing” star. A loose adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name, “Get Shorty” has no dearth of colorful characters and memorable performances.

Other highlights

  • Repeat segments scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): hacking democracy; remembering lynching’s legacy; the toll of caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Nick Cannon hosts the 2018 Teen Choice Awards (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
  • A murder plot proceeds on “Power” (7 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
  • Japan surrenders on “The Pacific War in Color” (7 p.m., Smithsonian).
  • An outsider dominates the 2008 presidential election on “The 2000s” (8 p.m., CNN).
  • Storm warnings sound on “Fear the Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).
  • Richard learns of Camille’s dark history on “Sharp Objects” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
  • Ben comes clean on “The Affair” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
  • “The History of Comedy” (9 p.m., CNN) looks at the tradition of comic duos and teams.
  • A professor’s links to the occult figure in his murder on “Elementary” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
  • Harlee learns of a backstabber on “Shades of Blue” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

Series notes

Julie Chen hosts “Big Brother” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Acts compete on “America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) ... NFL legends play “Celebrity Family Feud” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

A weapons bazaar on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Comedians play “The $100,000 Pyramid” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) ... Anthony Anderson hosts “To Tell the Truth” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

© 2018 United Feature Synd.