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Watch Me: Super Sunday Edition

Some sort of football game is going to throw Fox's schedule into chaos, but just about the time Tom Brady and crew are holding aloft the Vince Lombardi trophy (sorry, Rams fans), stay tuned for an hour-long edition of Malcolm in the Middle with more celebrity cameos than your typical halftime show.

Sunday, Check Local Listings, Fox

While the Super Bowl is usually among the top-rated programs of the year, a surprising number of people don't tune in to watch the game at all. They don't care if the Rams or the Patriots wind up giving their coach a victorious Gatorade bath. They're not drawn in by the halftime show or the pomp and pageantry of game day. They don't even give a whit about the commercials.

We have a word to describe these people -- Canadians. And while we don't understand their strange way of life, we are willing to concede that a three-hour-plus orgy of football, Fox promos and Terry Bradshaw may be too much for any human being to endure.

As a public service, then, for people who can't bring themselves to watch the Super Bowl but couldn't imagine actually spending the day away from the television set, we present this list of actual Super Bowl counter-programming -- shows that you can tune in and watch Sunday afternoon, should the game become a blowout to rival the 1991 Gulf War.

And for the rest of us, after looking at the list of these Super Bowl alternatives, maybe a three-hour-plus orgy of football, Fox promos and Terry Bradshaw doesn't seem so bad after all.

NBC: The Peacock Network begins its Super Bowl counterprogramming early with a special halftime edition of Fear Factor, featuring Playboy Playmates. It's a safe bet that one of the challenges designed to play upon the contestants' greatest fears and coerce them into doing things they otherwise would never consider will not be "Take off your top." It's nothing but Fear Factor in prime time, too, by the way.

ESPN: It's always amusing to tune into any of the ESPN channels -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, Diet ESPN, ESPN After Dark -- whenever there's a major sporting event on another network. ESPN knows that the nacho-chomping zombies who normally turn on the TV to Sports Center as a default will be watching something else, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it. So you get cheerleading competitions and bass fishing marathons and Miss Fitness America pageants. Today, while ESPN2 treats us to gymnastics and drag racing, ESPN Classic breaks out the Winter Olympic highlight footage, and ESPN gives us what figures to be a heavily edited airing of "Raging Bull."

TNT: You have to figure Ted Turner is strutting around the mansion dressed like Stonewall Jackson, as his network airs what can only be described as "The South Shall Rise Again" marathon -- the billion-hour-long "Gettysburg," followed by "Gone with the Wind' and "Andersonville."

TBS: Meanwhile on TBS, it's dreary romantic comedies back-to-back -- "Sleepless in Seattle" and the "American President."

MTV: How predictable is it that the one time MTV actually decides to broadcast music videos is the one time virtually no one will be watching?

VH1: Get ready for a Driven profile of Britney Spears, followed by a cautionary tale of what happens to pop stars who start to fancy themselves as accomplished thespians -- Barbra Streisand's embarrassingly amateurish remake of "A Star is Born."

WB: Meanwhile, it's multiple episodes of Popstars II, a show that chronicles the exploits of would-be chanteuses trying to follow Britney Spears' career path -- hit it big with bubbly, over-produced pop, undergo hilariously obvious breast augmentation surgery, find yourself the object of affection for millions of teenagers and incalculable numbers of sad, older men, and appear in your own VH1 documentary on Super Bowl Sunday, right before your movie crashes and burns.

ABCFamily: Three -- count 'em, three -- Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies, aired one after the other. Do not say that we never warned you.

A&E: Hey, it's a Murder, She Wrote marathon on A&E. Someone try and revive Grandma!

USA: Get a double-dose of Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in "Patriot Games" and "A Clear and Present Danger." Sadly, no broadcast of the disavowed "Hunt for Red October," which for my money was the best of the bunch.

The Weather Channel: I believe they're talking about the weather.

Comedy Central: Who wants to watch a marathon of some of the most tedious big screen comedies of the 1990s -- "Bye, Bye Love," "Kissing a Fool," and "French Kiss?" No, seriously, I'm asking: who wants to watch it? Because they need to be smacked.

Lifetime: You knew that Lifetime was going to air a passel of Women In Danger movies on Super Bowl Sunday, didn't you? First up is "Little Girl Fly Away," in which Mare Winningham is threatened by a killer. Then there's "Cruel Justice" in which A Martinez hunts down his teenaged daughter's rapist. And finally, there's "In Cold Blood" -- not the great original version with Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, but the tepid remake with Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts.

Court TV: All the Women In Danger movies Lifetime passed on apparently wound up here. "Love Kills" is the story of a timber-heiress wife of a criminal psychologist who falls in love with the hit man hired to bump her off. And "Web of Deception" with TV's Pam Dawber recounts the tale of a court stenographer who commits suicide and implicates a forensic psychiatrist in her death. You know -- light fare.

BBC America: A documentary on the 50-year marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip segues into multiple commercial-interrupted showings of "My Fair Lady." Didn't we fight a war specifically so that we didn't have to pay attention to British royalty? I remember reading something about that once.

Food Network: Burned by his recent foray into prime time network TV, Emeril Lagasse recalls happier moments with "Emeril: 1,000 Shows and Counting" and "Emeril: 1,000th Show Celebration."

Sci-Fi: When beloved TV characters become terrible and unnecessary movies... you get "Coneheads" and "The Flintstones."

E!: Anyone not pulled in by NBC's Playmate Fear Factor will likely be glued to E! watching "Women of Cheerleading" and a three-hour block of Vegas Showgirls. It was either that or that Proust documentary E!'s been working on.

TCM: Most channels try to air movies that have some sort of connection with one another. American Movie Classics, for instance, is showing a couple of Robert Redford movies opposite the big game. But I defy you to tell me what's similar between "Rocky," which stars Sylvester Stallone as a loveably stupid boxer, and "You Were Never Lovelier," a 1942 Fred Astaire-Rita Hayworth musical. Apart from the fact that both apparently star carbon-based life forms -- though who can tell with Stallone -- I'm stumped.

TNN: Because geeks need the warm solace of TV on Super Bowl Sunday as well, "Star Trek IV" and "Star Trek V" air back-to-back.

Encore: Among other movies, there's "Dirty Dancing." Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Or makes her watch the Rams-Patriots, apparently.


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