TV column for Tuesday, Dec. 31



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve,” 8-10 p.m.,
10-11 p.m., 11:29 p.m. to 2:11 a.m., ABC.

Dick Clark came up with the idea back in 1972: Record a rock
party in advance; then be at Times Square and weave it into one big,
sometimes-live event.


Now, 41 years later, it’s a marathon. The first two hours
views “The 30 Greatest Women in Music,” hosted by Ryan Seacrest, Jenny McCarthy
and Fergie. Then Seacrest and McCarthy take the late Clark’s duties at Times Square,
with Billy Joel performing live in Brooklyn; Fergie hosts the pre-taped party.


That one overflows with stars -- Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus,
Jennifer Hudson, Enrique Iglesias, Daughtry, Florida Georgia Line, Blondie, The
Fray, Fall Out Boy and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: More New Year’s Eve.


For more music, you can switch to NBC (10-11 p.m., 11:30
p.m. to 12:30 a.m.), where Carson Daly is expected to have to “Voice” champions
Cassadee Pope and Tessanne Chin, plus Train. Or to Fox (11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.),
where Mario Lopez has J. Cole, Krewella, New Politics and Panic at the Disco.


And for general commotion, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin
again host on CNN; that’s from 9 p.m. ET to 12:30 a.m.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Walking Dead” marathon, 9 a.m.,
AMC.


It’s always fun to see in the new year with zombies, so
here’s a 43-hour marathon. It starts at 9 a.m. with a cop emerging from a coma
to find the world overrun by the undead.


And for variety? At 8 p.m., switch to HBO for “Warm Bodies”
(2013), a movie about … well, more zombies.


Other choices include:


Football, all day. Warming up for Wednesday’s bowl marathon,
we get one bowl on CBS – Virginia Tech (8-4) and UCLA (9-3) at 2 p.m. ET – and three
on ESPN. ESPN starts with Arizona and Boston (each 7-5) at 12:30 p.m. ET; it
has Rice (9-3) and Mississippi State (6-6) at 4 p.m. and Duke (10-3) and Texas
A&M (8-4) at 8.


“Finding Nemo,” (2003), 7:15 p.m., Starz. It’s a great night
for watching or recording great Pixar animated films. The Disney Channel has more,
with “Up” (2009) at 8:30 p.m. and “Wall-E” (2008) at 10:15.


The “iHeartRadio Music Festival,” 8-10 p.m., CW. Think of
this rerun as a warm-up for the tonight’s specials. It has big-name acts
(Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars, Tim McGraw), one-name acts
(Ke$ha, Drake, Miguel) and groups (Maroon 5, 30 Seconds to Mars).


“Year End News in Review,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The network waits
to the final moments to sum up 2013.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a Marine’s car accident
triggers Abby’s memory of a “case” she worked on when she was a kid.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Kensi faces some fresh
emotions, when monitoring Deeks’ undercover assignment, which brings him close
to a female source.


TV column for Monday, Dec. 30



TONIGHT’S
MIGHT-SEE: “Hollywood Game Night,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

The
splendid past of NBC helps prop up a slow TV night. The first rerun includes
two “Friends” stars, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry; the second is stuffed with
past “Saturday Night Live” people – Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen
and Maya Rudolph.


They play
games and Jane Lynch hosts. The first hour adds Kristen Bell, Martin Short,
Alyson Hannigan and Daniel Dae Kim; the second has Sean Hayes (the show’s
producer) and Dax Shepard.


TONIGHT’S
MUST-RECORD: “Breaking Bad,” noon to about 3 a.m., AMC.


For three
days, AMC has been rerunning “Bad” in order; now come the final hours.


That starts
at noon, with Walt and Jesse getting back into the drug business, this time
partnered with Mike the enforcer.
The series finale starts at 2:03 a.m.,
accomplishing a tough goal – satisfying the people who root for Walt and the
ones who want lawbreakers to be punished.


TONIGHT’S
ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 pm., PBS (check local listings).


Six years
into a global health crisis, AIDS remained a death sentence. Then the ACT UP
activists – many of them HIV-positive – took control.


They
didn’t just protest, this documentary (“How to Survive a Plague”) says; they
became experts in biology, virology and more. They pushed for new tests, new
drugs; they scored a partial victory over a deadly enemy.


Other
choices include:


Football,
6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN. After 16 season and 158 wins, Mack Brown coaches his final
game for Texas. His team finished 8-4 this year, not good enough by Texas
standards. This is the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, facing Oregon, 10-2; if he
wins, Brown will finish his Texas years with an 11-4 bowl record. ESPN also has
bowls at 11:45 a.m. and at 3:15 and 10:15 p.m. ET.


“Happy
New Year, Charlie Brown,” 8 p.m., ABC. In an adequate cartoon from 1986,
Charlie totes “War and Peace” to the party. Rounding out the hour is the 1980
“She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown”; Charles Schulz – a seniors-league hockey
player whose daughter was a professional figure skater – created a tale of
Snoopy coaching Peppermint Patty.


“iHeartRadio
Music Festival,” 8-10 p.m., CW. This two-night rerun concludes Tuesday,
alongside New Year’s Eve music; think of tonight as Eve eve. It has music by
Katy Perry, Robin Thicke, Keith Urban, Elton John, Muse, Tiesto, J. Cole and
Queen, with Adam Lambert as its lead singer.


“High
School Musical 3” (2008), 8-10 p.m., Disney. Here’s another burst of pop music,
alongside “iHeart.” This one wraps up a trilogy, filled with cute kids and
lively songs


“Rudolph’s
Shiny New Year,” 9 p.m., ABC. Rudolph must find the New Year baby before
midnight. And no, this 1976 tale is not considered a classic.


“Castle,”
10 p.m., ABC. This rerun tries “Rear Window” turf. Sidelined by a broken leg,
Castle feels he saw a woman killed in a nearby apartment. 


TV column for Sunday, Dec. 29



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Kennedy Center Honors,” 9-11 p.m., CBS.

 Each year, this mixes talent and intelligence to create TV’s
most soaring moments. Now comes one of its most promising years: Four of the
five honorees are musicians, two of them reaching the top of pop charts.


The night starts and ends with those two. To honor Carlos
Santana, the music ranges from Buddy Guy to Steve Winwood and Sheila E.; to
honor Billy Joel, the finale has Garth Brooks and Rufus Wainwright, plus Don
Henley of the Eagles and Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco.


In between, jazz greats perform for Herbie Hancock and opera
stars for Martina Arroyo. The fifth honoree is Shirley MacLaine, who started
her career doing musical theater. Her Broadway songs are performed by
Tony-winners Sutton Foster, Karen Olivo ad Patina Miller, plus movie star Anna
Kendrick.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox.


Both reruns have people pondering past dreams.


In the first, Homer brings in a long-ago friend to help him
fulfill the to-do list he made when he was 10. In the second, four people
ponder lost opportunities: Burns has a missed love, Kent Brockman failed to
follow his colleague (Rachel Maddow) to the big time and Marge, of course, has
parenting issues. Then there’s Homer, who long ago sold his Apple stock to buy
a bowling ball.


TONIGHT’S FINALE: “Treme” finale, 9-10:20 p.m., HBO.


High in quality and low in ratings, this series has been an enigma.
Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, it has dangled dozens of interesting
characters, often just leaving them there.


Tonight, it tries to resolve a few of them. There’s Colson
(David Morse), the honest cop in a corruption-riddled department. And Toni
(Melissa Leo), the crusading lawyer fighting police abuse. And Delmond (Rob
Brown), a New York trumpeter whose dad died last week, after insisting the son
take over his Mardi Gras position.


And back together are Janette (Kim Dickens), the chef and
restaurant owner, and Davis (Steve Zahn) the struggling DJ. He makes some
bizarre moves tonight, before “Treme” reminds us (in its final minutes) that it
is sometimes an excellent series.


Other choices include:


“Breaking Bad,” noon, AMC. A sweeping rerun of the entire
series continues until 5 a.m.; it returns at noon Monday, concluding at about 3
a.m.


“Cinderella” (1949), 6 p.m., ABC Family. Here’s another
chance to catch a great cartoon. And afterward? For more animation, ABC Family
has “The Little Mermaid” (1989) at 7:45 p.m.; for more music, Disney has the
zesty “High School Musical 2” (2007) at 8.


“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001), 8-11 p.m.,
ABC. Broadcast-network series are skipping new episodes this week, so ABC plugs
in the first “Harry Potter” film. It starts beautifully and ends with a shrug;
in between, it has rich visuals – something we expect from director Chris
Columbus – and a first-rate cast.


Football, 8:30 p.m., NBC. A bizarre Dallas Cowboy season
comes down to this: The regular season ends with hosting the Philadelphia
Eagles; the winner heads to the playoffs and the loser goes home.


More animation, 9:30 and 9:45 p.m., Fox. Here are reruns of pilots
for two series that will get late-Saturday spots, beginning Jan. 11. “Lucas
Bros. Moving Co.” is based on the comedy of twins Keith and Kenny Lucas; “Golan
the Insatiable” finds a fierce godlord trapped in suburbia.


“Getting On” season-finale, 10:20 p.m., HBO. This show’s
strain between comedy and tragedy ends up closest to the latter, as nurses and
the doctor (Laurie Metcalf) debate responsibility for … well, everything.


TV column for Saturday, Dec. 28



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Mom,” 8:30 p.m., CBS.


This first-year success offers what we expect from Chuck
Lorre’s shows – crisply written, well-cast comedy, done before a studio
audience. It lacks the highs of “Big Bang Theory” or the occasional lows of
“Two and a Half Men” or “Mike & Molly”; mostly, it’s fun.


Christy (Anna Faris) and her mom (Allison Janney) are
recovering alcoholics and former teen moms. Now Christy’s daughter is
continuing the latter family tradition. This rerun of the show’s second episode
unfolds with witty dialog and likable (if clueless) characters.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Saturday Night Live” memories, all
night.


NBC throws in two “SNL” reruns tonight – a shortened one at
10 p.m. and a full one at 11:29. Before that, however, catch “’Saturday Night
Live’ in the 2000s,” from 8-10 p.m. on VH1.


“SNL” limped into the millennium with weak material. It soon
found new strength with witty women (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler), an amiable guy
(Jimmy Fallon) and neatly offbeat films by Andy Samberg and friends. Now – as
all of those people find fresh success elsewhere – we get fun clips and
comments.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Football, noon to 1:30 a.m. ET, ESPN.


Here’s a four-bowl marathon, leaving little time to go to
refrigerator or nod to the family. The bowl names are obscure – Belk Bowl?
Russell Athletic Bowl? –but many of the teams are traditional powers.


Notre Dame (8-4) plays Rutgers (6-6) at noon. Then it’s
Cincinnati (9-3) and North Carolina (6-6) at 3:20 p.m., Miami (9-3) and
Louisville (11-1) at 6:45 and Michigan and Kansas State (both 7-5) at 10:15.


Other choices include:


“Just Go With It” (2011), 8-10:30 p.m., ABC. A doctor (Adam
Sandler) says whatever will convince women to sleep with him. Now the lies to a
stunning beauty (Brooklyn Decker) are piling up. His assistant (Jennifer
Aniston) must pose as a wife he’s divorcing; there are also fake kids and more.
The story and characters are hard to believe or like; at times, though, the
Hawaiian settings and random jokes suffice.


“Almost Human,” 8 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Kennex and his
robot partner face an intense hostage situation.


 “Cinderella” (1949),
8 p.m., ABC Family. Here’s one of the all-time classics, with gorgeous
animation and music. It’s followed at 9:45 p.m. by a newer gem, “The Little
Mermaid” (1989).


“The Fast and the Furious” (2001), 8 p.m., Fox. Paul Walker,
who died in a car crash on Nov. 30, saw his career soar with this film. He
plays a cop who goes undercover in the street-racing scene, then develops a
fondness for the people involved.


“Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. This rerun is from the time when Booth
and Brennan were both reconsidering their plans to marry. Meanwhile, a
seemingly minor case becomes big-time when a CIA agent (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is
found clearing evidence from the victim’s condo.


“The Blacklist,” 9 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Robert Sean
Leonard (“House”) plays a mad scientist, being sought after a chemical attack
on a subway.


“Trophy Wife,” 10:30 p.m., ABC. Kate’s life is already complicated
enough, with her new husband, his two ex-wives and his three kids. Now comes
more trouble: Her friend Meg (Natalie Morales) moves in after a break-up; they
fight and Pete has to find a way to settle things.


TV column (out of order) for Wednesday, Dec .25


Here, out of order, is the TV column for Wednesday, Dec. 25. If you scroll down from there, you'll find the Friday and Thursday ones; in retrospect, chronological would be better.


TODAY’S MUST-SEE: “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade,” 10
a.m. to noon, ABC.


If you’re in a cheery, Christmas-morning mood, this will
keep that going. It leaps between parades (at Disneyland and Disney World) and
songs taped at the parks.


That includes two “American Idol” champions, Jordin Sparks
(in a duet with Jason Derulo) and Candice Glover. Also performing are Demi
Lovato, Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige and actress-singer Dove Cameron, plus groups (Il
Volo and The Wanted) and the cast of “Teen Beach Movie.”


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Trophy Wife,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.


On Christmas morning, things are missing – the presents,
someone’s eyebrows and any memory of what happened. Also, Pete shredded his work
papers and (maybe) quit his job. And there’s a wolf in the house.


Clearly, alcohol was involved, but no one remembers drinking
much. There are logical (and funny) explanations; along with other shows –
comedies on ABC, dramas on CBS, movies on cable – this reminds us that there are
plenty of shows today that avoid Christmas themes.


TODAY’S ALTERNATIVE: Cartoons, everywhere.


OK, many kids still need to be entertained. Fortunately, two
broadcast networks have competing specials from 8-9 p.m. Fox has the characters
from “Ice Age” and “How to Tame Your Dragon”; the CW has the ones from “Kung Fu
Panda” and “Madagascar.”


Meanwhile, three of those movies run today on FX; starting and
ending with “Megamind” (2010), the channel has animated movies every two hours,
from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. There’s much more on cable; that starts early, with
Christmas cartoons from 7-9:30 a.m. on ABC Family.


Other choices include:


Oscar-winners, cable. Here are two contrasting movies that
share one thing: Each won the Academy Award for best picture. “Forrest Gump” (“1994),
an offbeat fable about a simple chap  who
keeps colliding with history, is 5:30 and 9 p.m. on Spike; “Crash” (2004), with
entwining looks at race relations, is 7 p.m. on Showtime.


More movies, cable. For sheer fun, go with “Oz the Great and
Powerful” (2013) at 6:45 p.m. on Starz … or “Young Frankenstein” (1974) at 7:45
p.m. on Sundance … or “Bridesmaids” (2011) at 8 p.m. on USA.


“Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale” and
“Michael Buble’s 3
rd annual Christmas Special,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.
Two specials get a second run. Buble included music from Mariah Carey and Mary
J. Blige. Clarkson surrounded her concert with a “Christmas Carol” type of
story and lots of guest stars.


“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a fairly funny rerun, the kids
have holiday woes: Axl negotiates family time, Brick’s sales scheme collapses
and Sue is allergic to the tree.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. In the rerun of a funny
episode from more than a year ago, Haley’s been arrested for underage drinking.


“Hawaii Five-0” and “Blue Bloods,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. The
Friday dramas add reruns here. First, McGarrett and Catherine meet a boy whose
missing father may be in danger in backwoods Oahu. Then Jamie (Will Estes)
deals with the emotions of shooting someone; Annabella Sciorra plays the police
psychologist who studies him.