1) Oscar eve shows, On the night before the Academy Awards, cable offers past gems. Turner Classic Movies’ Oscar marathon is topped by “From Here to Eternity” (1953, shown here with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr) – winner of eight Oscars, including best picture and (in support) Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed – at 5:45 p.m. ET.. FX has back-to-back best-picture nominees – the great “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) at 5:30, had seven nominations, winning for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell; “Hidden Figures” (2016), at 8 p.m., had three nominations.
2) Independent Spirt Awards, 5-7:30 p.m. ET, IFC. Unlike the Oscars, this has a host (Aubrey Plaza) and is likely to be fun. It honors modest-budgeted movies – some of them top-quality. Among nominees, viewers might recognize “The Farewell,” “Marriage Story” and several actors. There’s Renee Zellweger in “Judy” (great performance, disappointing film); others include Jennifer Lopez, Adam Sandler, Robert Pattinson and Alfre Woodard. And at 7:30, IFC gives us Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated work in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006).
3) XFL opener, 2 p.m. ET, ABC and 5 p.m., Fox. The original XFL was brutal, banning fair catches; it only lasted a year. Now – 19 years later – a new version debuts, with wrestling mogul Vince McMahon (a co-founder of the original) as owner. It fiddles with a few rules (especially on extra points), but mostly plays it straight. With eight teams, there will be two games each Saturday and two each Sunday. Today has Seattle at DC at 2 and Los Angeles at Houston at 5 … leaving time to catch basketball (Lakers at Warriors) at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
4) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Four times in a row, RuPaul has won the Emmy for best reality host. Here’s his first time hosting “SNL.” Justin Bieber is the music guest; he’s done it twice before, once while hosting.
5) Also: After opening the season with two topical hours, “Murdoch Mysteries” tries a smart tale that teeters near the supernatural: A murder victim seems to have not aged in a decade. That’s at 7 p.m. ET on Ovation, with another new hour at 8 .Elsewhere, it’s a night for reruns – Fox has the fun “Masked Singer” opener at 8 and the OK “Lego Masters” at 9; Starz continues its “Power” marathon, leading to the series finale at 8 p.m. Sunday.
– Mike Hughes, TV America