1) “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” 8-11 p.m. Thursday and 11:30 p.m. to 2:13 a.m., ABC. Back in 1973, Dick Clark launched his clever hybrid: He was in Times Square live, cutting to music that was taped in California. Later, competition forced him to add live music in New York. This year, that includes Jennifer Lopez and Jimmie Allen. Ryan Seacrest (shown here) hosts with Lucy Hale and Billy Porter, who duets with Cyndi Lauper. Ciara hosts the California part, with Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, Nelly and more.
2) More Eve parties, Thursday. On a night when we should stay home, the networks try to keep us happy. NBC (10-11 p.m., 11:30 to 12:30) has Carson Daly hosting with Amber Ruffin and tWitch; performers include Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Sting, Busta Rhymes, Goo Goo Dolls, Jason DeRulo and Doja Cat. Fox (10-11 p.m., 11:30 to 12:30) has Ken Jeong and Joel McHale introduce “Masked Singer” winner Leann Rimes, plus Gloria Estefan, “singing surgeon” Dr. Elvis Francois and more.
3) Rose Parade, Friday morning. Sturdy Pasadena traditions are being shattered. The parade has been around since 1890, the Rose Bowl game since 1916 (plus a 1902 experiment), the Rose Bowl stadium since 1923. And now? The stadium will be empty, the game will be in Texas and the parade will be replaced by memories. Three networks plan to combine new music and old clips from past parades. That’s 10-11 a.m. on ABC, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Hallmark and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on NBC..
4) Bowl games, all week. The big games are packed into Friday on ESPN – Peach (Cincinnati-Georgia) at noon ET, Rose (Alabama-Notre Dame) at 4 p.m., Sugar (Clemson-Ohio State) at 8:45. Also, ABC has the Citrus Bowl (Auburn-Northwestern) at 1 a.m. There’s more: Barring late changes, ESPN has two games Tuesday, three Wednesday and four Thursday. On Saturday, ABC has a 12:30 p.m. ET game; ESPN has games at noon, 4 p.m. and then the Fiesta Bowl (North Carolina-Texas A&M) at 8.
5) “Call Me Kat” debut, 8 p.m. Sunday, Fox. Kat (Mayim Bialik) quit her science job and started a cat cafe. A goofy cat-lover (Leslie Jordan) works there and a handsome hunk (Cheyenne Jackson) visits a lot; also, Kat’s mom (Swoosie Kurtz) stops by to explain what she’s doing wrong. There’s a throwback appeal to this show, right down to the cheery closing credits. It’s all light and loose, but done by smart people – Jim Parsons, Bialik’s “Big Bang” husband, is a producer – who can give us a fairly fun time.
6) “Last Man Standing” season-opener, 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox. This starts with some funny COVID scenes – a botched Zoom call, etc. – and then fast-forwards to a post-pandemic era. It’s a clever way for this show to start its ninth and final season. “Last Man” has been a mixed blessing; this season’s second episode has two stories, one clever and one awful. That will be on Thursdays, the new spot for this show and “Kat.” First, boosted by a football lead-in, both shows get a pleasant-enough Sunday start.
7) “American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder,” 8-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, PBS. People feel they know Wilder; her eight novels (and the “Little House” TV series) fictionalized her frontier childhood. But the real story is even more interesting. She had 14 or 15 girlhood homes; her family left one in the middle of the night, to escape debts. She began writing for farm magazines in her 40s and started her novels at 63 – with her daughter doing major rewrites. This warm portrait also views the biases of her era.
8) “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” debut, 9-11 p.m. Sunday (barring breaking news), CNN, rerunning at midnight. Carter seemed to elude presidential expectations. He was a soft-spoken poet and peanut farmer who studied nuclear physics in the Navy. Most unusual was his passion for music. Long-haired, bad-boy types (Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson) did fundraisers for him. This joyous film spends a little time with Carter, 96, and a lot with musicians – Bono, Buffett, Brooks – who praise him.
9) “Masterpiece: Elizabeth is Missing,” 9-11 p.m. Sunday, PBS. In the Sundays ahead, “Masterpiece” has broadly popular series. An “All Creatures Great and Small” reboot starts Jan. 10, with dandy “Miss Scarlet & The Duke” mysteries a week later. First is this 2019 TV movie that has brought Glenda Jackson, 84, four best-actress awards. She plays someone bothered by the departure of her friend recently and her sister long ago. It’s a painful story, but has surprises – and brilliant work from Jackson.
10) ALSO: Two networks say farewell to 2020 this week – ABC from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, NBC from 8-10 p.m. Thursday. Also on Tuesday, CW wraps up the nasty “Tell Me a Story,” from 9-10 p.m. PBS lets music close this year (“United in Song,” 8-9:30 p.m. Thursday, with Audra McDonald, Josh Groban, Renee Fleming, more) and start the next one (Vienna Philharmonic, 9-10:30 p.m. Friday). And at 10 p.m. Sunday, ABC’s “The Rookie” has its belated season-opener, with Nolan framed and arrested.