TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 1 (all times ET)


TODAY'S MUST-SEE: Rose Bowl parade, 11
a.m. to 1 p.m., five channels.

The new year starts with
hangover-friendly fun, including 42 floats, 21 horse units and 23
bands.

For tradition, there's NBC, which has
been televising the parade since1954 and started radio coverage in
1927. Al Roker hosts for the 16th time, this time with
Alison Sweeney.

For a commercial-free telecast, there's
HGTV . Others choices are RFD, ABC and Hallmark.

TODAY'S MUST-SEE II: Football, all day.

After lots of minor games, ESPN has
three mega-bowls, starting at 1p.m. with the Outback Bowl; South
Carolina (10-2) faces Michigan (8-4). The Rose Bowl, at 5, has
Stanford (11-2) and Wisconsin (8-5); the Orange Bowl, at 8:30, has
Northern Illinois (12-1) and Florida State (11-2).

There's more: At noon, the Gator Bowl,
on ESPN2, has Northwestern (9-3) and Mississippi State (8-4); the
Heart of Dallas Bowl, on ESPNU, has Purdue (6-6) and Oklahoma State
(7-5). At 1 p.m., the Capital One Bowl on ABC has Georgia (11-2) and
Nebraska (10-3).

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Great
Performances,” 9:30-11 p.m., PBS.

During Broadway's golden era, experts
say here, virtually every great composer was Jewish. The exception
was Cole Porter … who floundered until he focused on capturing the
Jewish style.

Their musicals – “Oklahoma” and
“Carousel” and such – were often mid-American, but themes of
bigotry appeared in “Showboat,” “South Pacific” and more.
Finally, the 1964 “Fiddler on the Roof” directly addressed the
Jewish experience. This is a big tale, filled with great clips and
stories.

Other choices include:

– More “Great Performances,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS. Here's the annual New Year's
Day concert from Vienna, with waltzes by the Strausses and dancers
from the Vienna Ballet.

– “Dream Home,” 7 p.m., HGTV. In
it annual tradition, HGTV follows the parade with lots of specials
showing exotic homes, swimming pools and recreational vehicles. That
peaks with the first look at the South Carolina island home that one
viewer will win.

-- More “Great Performances,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS. Here's the annual New Year's
Day concert from Vienna, with waltzes by the Strausses and dancers
from the Vienna Ballet.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last
season ended when Harper Dearing's bomb ripped through the NCIS
headquarters. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, as the search for
Dearing intensifies

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Sam disappears during a dangerous mission to Sudan.

– “Nashville,” 10 p.m., ABC. As
an actress married to a country-music star (Brad Paisley) Kimberly
Williams-Paisley neatly fits this show. Here's a rerun of the episode
that introduced her as someone from the shaky past of Rayna's
husband, the mayoral candidate.

TV column for Monday, Dec. 31 (all timesET)


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “New Year's
Rockin' Eve,” 8-11 p.m., 11:30 to 2:12 a.m., ABC.

The plan that Dick Clark created in
1972 still works: Tape a party in advance in California, then
intercut it neatly with live coverage from Times Square in New York.

Now it's grown to six hours, with live
music from New York, with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees
and Psy. The first two hours celebrate the life of Clark, who died in
April at 82.

Ryan Seacrest hosts and does the
countdown, with Jenny McCarthy working the crowd; Fergie hosts the
California party, with Pitbull, Karmin, Brandy, One Republic, Greyson
Chance and Flo Rida.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “New Year's
Eve,” 10-11 p.m., 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., NBC.

Carson Daly has become an Eve veteran –
first at MTV and now on NBC … where he takes advantage of his
strength as host of “The Voice.”

That show's new winner, Cassadee Pope,
will perform in New York; so will Train. And the “Voice” judges
will comment about the year; so will Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Amy
Poehler and Donald Trump.

Angela Kinsey (“The Office”) will
be on Times Square and Daly will lhave clips of the year in music,
from Madonna at the Super Bowl to the .Spice Girls at the Olympics
and Psy everywhere.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Enchanted”
(2007), 8-10 p.m., NBC.

Life is full of tough transitions, but
few this extreme: A cartoon princess becomes a live-action person.

The brief cartoon portions are a
delight and the rest is fun, with Amy Adams and three Oscar-nominated
songs. Ironically, all three lost to “Falling Slowly,” from
“Once.”

Other choices include:

– Football, noon, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30
p.m., ESPN. The Music City Bowl in Nashville has home-town Vanderbilt
(8-4) and North Carolina Stage (7-5). Then the Liberty Bowl in
Memphis has Tulsa (10-3) and Iowa State (6-6). At night, the
Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta has LSU and Clemson, each 10-2.

– More football, 2 p.m., CBS. In an
odd twist, a team with a losing record has a bowl game. That's
Georgia Tech, 6-7; if faces Southern Cal, 7-5, in the Sun Bowl, in El
Paso.

– “Live From Lincoln Center,” 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Marvin Hamlisch thrived as a
composer for Broadway (“A Chorus Line,” “They're Playing Our
Song”) and movies (“The Sting,” “The Way We Were”) and as a
conductor. Now, after his death in April at 68, his music is done by
the New York Philharmonic, plus Josh Groban, Michael Feinstein, Megan
Hilty, Kelli O'Hara and more.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., CBS. A night of CBS reruns starts with Barney planning to
move in with Quinn (Becki Newton); his friends vow to break them up.
Then Ted finally meets the woman he's obsessed on since seeing her in
a “slutty pumpkin” costume; she's played by Katie Holmes.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Having barely opened their cupcake shop, Max and Caroline already
have trouble paying the rent. They link with some suspicious
customers.

– “The Walking Dead,” 9 p.m. to
5:08 p.m., AMC. There's nothing quite like spending New Year's Eve
with some zombies. Here's the entire, eight-episode portion from this
first half of the season.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Gov. Denning is firing one of the team's members.

– More New Year's Eve. Fox is in Las
Vegas from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with Lifehouse, Phillip Phillips
and Carmen Electra. And in a late addtion, CNN is in New York from 10
p.m. to 1 a.m., with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.

TV column for Sunday, Dec. 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Call the Midwife
Holiday Special,” 7:30-9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Don't expect the light frills of
American holiday shows. Set in a gritty, London neighborhood in the
late 1940s, this has solemn stories about a young girl who's troubled
and an elderly woman who's homeless.

There are cheerier moments; this show,
after all, is populated by deeply caring nuns and midwives. But it's
all done with the realism and the quality we expect from high-class
British drama.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Pro football,
all day.

The final day of the regular season
finds two networks switching their schedules.

Fox has the Packers (11-4) at the
Vikings (9-6). at 4:25 p.m.; NBC has the Redskins (9-6) at the
Cowboys (8-7), at 8:20. The Packers have cinched a play-off spot;
the others scramble for survival..

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “United
States of Bacon,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., Destination America.

OK, let's not list this show in the
“healthy living category.

Its first episode is in Milwaukee,
where one spot has a bacon “happy hour” and another has a peanut
butter bacon cheeseburger. Its second is in Chicago, where a
deep-dish pizza is stuffed with bacon. This is on the channel that
used to be Planet Green; clearly, its earnest days are gone.

Other choices include:

– “Greatest Songs,” 3 p.m. to 1
a.m., VHI. The 10-hour marathon starts with “The 100 Greatest Songs
of the 1990s”; at 8 p.m., it switches to “The 100 Greatest Songs
of the '00s.

– “Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix” (2007), 8-11 p.m., ABC. This one starts with Harry
facing a tribunal for using magic in front of a civilian. Soon, he's
organizing Dumbledore's Army.

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.
After Grandpa flees from the retirement home, we learn about his
long-ago life at a restaurant. Anika Noni Rose plays a singer; the
late Marvin Hamlisch plays himself.

– “The Lion King” (1994), 8 and
10 p.m., ABC Family. Here are two chances to see a cartoon classic,
overflowing with gorgeous visuals and lush music. It won Academy
Awards for Hans Zimmer's score and the Elton John/Tim Rice song, “Can
You Feel the Love Tonight” and was nominated for two more songs –
“Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata.”

– “NCIS, about 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a
transplanted rerun, the murder of a Navy commander leads the team to
the whereabouts of E.J. Barrett (Sarah Jane Morris), an NCIS special
agent.

– “Masterpiece Classic,” 9 p.m.,
PBS. This reruns a pivotal episode, ranging from romance to Bates'
murder trial. It's a good one, leading to next week's excellent start
to the third season.

– “The Good Wife,” about 9:30
p.m., CBS. In a strong rerun, Will is back from suspension and taking
a risk. Even with the firm desperate for money, he convinces his
clients to reject an offer.

– “The Mentalist,” about 10:30
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Patrick Jane rushing to track a serial
killer. He meets a blogger (David Paymer) who has devoted his life to
finding that same person.

TV column for Saturday, Dec. 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire” (2005),8-11 p.m., ABC.

Actually, this is a can't-miss movie
night everywhere. We'll start here, because it's broadcast (the
others are cable) and leads to another Potter film Sunday.

Like some others Potter films, “Goblet”
has a weak ending. But like most others, it has a top director (Mike
Newell, an arthouse favorite since “Enchanted April” and “Four
Weddings and a Funeral”) and gifted British actors. This time, it's
Ralph Fiennes trying to doom young Harry.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Jersey Girl,”
8 and 9 p.m., CBS.

Ratings failures are allowed to die
with dignity on Saturdays. That's the new night for Fox's “Mob
Doctor” and it's where CBS scheduled two new “Jersey Girl”
hours last week and two more tonight.

This first hour involves a couple whose
daughter left rehab to join a cult led by Eric Stoltz. In the
second, Miranda may have over-inspired a client, who then assaulted
the head of a chemical company.

There are also personal stories – in
the first, rumors about how she got into a high-powered law firm, in
the second, her mom quiting her job and becoming more outspoken.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Football, all
day, ESPN.

Here's bowl-game overload – five
games (one on ESPN2), three days before New Year's Day.

Rice and Air Force (each 6-6) are at
noon ET in the Armed Forces Bowl. At 3:15, Syracuse and West Virginia
(each 7-5) are in the Pinstripe Bowl and Navy (7-4) and Arizona State
(7-5) are in ESPN2's Fight Hunger Bowl. The Alamo Bowl, at 6:45, has
Texas (8-4) and Oregon State(9-3). And the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl,
at 10:15, has Michigan State (6-6) and Texas Christian (7-5).

Other choices include:

– Movies, 7 p.m., cable. Two top
sports films collide, with “A League of Their Own” (1992) on E
and “Raging Bull” (1980) on the NBC Sports Network. Also, “A
Few Good Men” (1992) is on Bravo.

--”Chicago Fire,” 8 and 9 p.m.,
NBC. The first rerun has Jose Vargas trying to adjust to a new life,
after being severely injured in a fire; also, Severide gets an
enticing invitation from a woman he saved. The second has
firefighters accused of theft, after a $50,000 necklace disappears
from a fire site.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. “Gladiator”
(2000), on TNT, is a best-picture Oscar-winner, but others are
worthy, There's a cartoon (“Ratatouille,” 2007, Disney),a
romance (“The Way We Were,” 1973, Turner Classic Movies), and a
drama (“The Help,” 2001, Showtime). And “Star Wars” (1977) is
8:45 on Spike.

– “Mob Doctor,” 9 p.m., Fox.
After floundering on Mondays, “Mob” has been exiled to Saturdays.
Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) is working off a family debt to the
Mob, but complications keep growing. Now her brother wants her to
help a runaway who may have witnessed a murder.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, the head of a military-contractor
firm has been drugged and assaulted, shortly after being confronted
by protesters.

– “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
(2010), 10 p.m., History. Werner Herzog's exploration of an ancient
cave was named the year's best documentary by the National Society of
Film Critic and by critics' groups in New York, Los Angeles and more.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.

TV column for Friday, Dec. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Ice Age: A
Mammoth Christmas,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

OK, we could protest that Christmas was
three days ago. (You can check a calendar for confirmation.)

But that's futile; the Hallmark Channel
has Christmas films at 8 and 10 p.m. toay, This one – which follows
the snimated film“Gift of the Night Fury” at 8 – is quietly
clever.

When Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo)
accidentally breaks a favorite ornament, Manny (Ray Romano) tells him
he's on Santa's naughty list. Sid heads to the North Pole, soon
causing more trouble.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Go On,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., NBC.

After being pre-empted for three
straight Tuesdays, this comedy gets a pair of transplanted reruns.

In the first, Ryan (Matthew Perry)
finally gets to play in a hockey game organized by former pro star
Jeremy Roenick. Also, he accompanies Anne, who's reluctant to attend
a lesbian wedding.

In the second, he' still trying to
adjust to his wife's death, while his boss Steven (John Cho) tries to
adjust to a break-up. Ryan becomes Steven's “wing man” at a bar.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “American
Masters,”9 p.m, PBS (check local listings).

As a kid, Robert Joffrey was mesmerize
by ballet troupes that visited Seattle. At 10, he said some day he
would have his own ballet company.

He did, but not in the way people
expected. Joffrey – with an Afghan father and Italian mother –
shunned many old-country ways. The Joffrey Ballet used modern-dance
skills and topical themes.

This documentary starts slowly, then
becomes compelling. It finds three times when the company almost
folded – when its patron started her own company, taking most of
his dancers … when a big grant expired … and when Joffrey's death
(of AIDS, in 1988, at 57) left a vacuum.

Other choices include:

– Football, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN. It's a bowl
tripleheader. First, the Independence Bowl has Ohio and
Louisiana-Monroe, each with an 8-4 record. At 5:30, the Russell
Athletic Bowl has Rutgers (9-3) and Virginia Tech (6-6). At 8, the
Meineke Car Care Bowl has Texas Tech, 7-5, and Minnesota, 6-6.

– “Undercover Boss,” 8-11 p.m.,
CBS. While others downplay Fridays, CBS has had solid, scripted
dramas. Not tonight. Instead, there are three reruns of this reality
show; chosen by fans.

– “Back to the Beginning With
Christiane Amanpour,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. This is the second half of an
ambitious documentary. With her own background in many religions –
Muslim father, Christian mother, Jewish husband – Amanpour visits
the sites of the key stories and people.

– Movies, 9 p.m., cable. Here's an
odd (and interesting) batch of movie choices. ABC Family has the
beautifully drawn “Mulan” (1998), wrapping up a Disney-cartoon
double-feature that has “Pocahontas” (1995) at 7:05. BBC America
has “District 9” (2009), one of the few science-fiction film to
get a best-picture Oscar nomination. Animal Planet has a fake
documentary – well-made, but bizarre – called “Mermaids: The
Body Found.”

– “Star Trek IV” (1986), 10 p.m.,
Syfy. Nimbly directed by Leonard Nimoy, it's a fun time-travel tale.

– “Fashion Police,” 10 p.m., E.
In a year-end review, this channel's red-carpet squad – from Kelly
Osbourne, 28, to Joan Rivers, 79, will discuss the fashion winners
and losers.