"The Leftovers." In Alice's famous journey, the rabbit hole led to Wonderland; in "The Leftovers," the rabbit hole is the whole point. In the Tom Perrotta tale, by way of Damon Lindeloff, 2% of the world's population simply vanishes one day, a relatively small tear in the actual demographic but a gaping hole in the consciousness of those left behind.
Post-not-quite-apocalypse, people must cope not just with the tangible loss of their loved ones and the significance of the selection process but with the larger issue of life in a world where literally anything can happen.
Perrotta's focus on a small East Coast town gives "The Leftovers" an immediate Stephen-King vibe, as do the early main characters, which include local police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his family, a troubled minister (Christopher Eccelston) and a mysterious band of silent, chain-smoking white-clad protesters known as the Guilty Remnant. But no Super Flu threatens, no vampires lurk, and no malevolent topiary is evidence. The dread that hangs over "The Left-overs" is seemingly entirely psychological — how will humans react to an event that is not just cataclysmic but literally beyond their understanding?
Tonally ambitious and tantalizingly opaque, "The Leftovers" takes the universal trauma of loss and launches it globally. What is it we mourn, exactly, and where will that mourning lead us? HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m.
"Girl Meets World." In yet another television first, Disney has created a sequel that is also a remake. From 1993 to 2000, ABC's "Boy Meets World offered a devoted audience the coming-of-age story of Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) as they grew from sixth-grade friends to married couple. Now they're back, albeit as B-cast with their 12-year daughter Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and her middle-school chums as the center of the action.
And not only has the child of the title changed but so has the world she is meeting, in which family sitcoms regularly deal with topics once considered deep and daring while children have access to technology and information way beyond their years.
Come for the reunion, stay to see how the experiment plays out. Disney Channel, Fridays, 9:45 p.m.
"24: Live Another Day." If you thought the real antagonist of this 10-episode "special event" was Michelle Fairley's cold-blooded terrorist with some hijacked drones and a grudge, think again. President Heller (William Devane) may still be alive, but Chloe is clearly in danger (Mary Lynn Rajskub), since her fellow super-hacker and squeeze (Michael Wincott) is clearly up to double-dealing no-good, leaving Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his new wingman and possible successor, Agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), just three more hours to make all things right in the world again.
Here's hoping the action, set in London, continues to involves the prime minister, because who doesn't want to envision a world in which Stephen Fry runs the British government? Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m.