Most of TV land still has the week off (though there are a couple of new episodes of network shows here and there), plus the usual New Year’s Eve specials and New Year’s Day marathons; and of course the start of a new year means Downton Abbey is back, right on schedule (read that as “shedule” to get yourself in the mood).
Monday, December 29
The Omen (8-9:55 pm, Encore)
I always thought this movie was somewhat overshadowed by The Exorcist, which came out two years earlier, but it’s pretty creepy in its own right, with some campiness tossed into the mix. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick star as a US ambassador and his wife whose child Damien, born under suspicious circumstances, may be the incarnation of evil.
Tuesday, December 30
Kennedy Center Honors (9-11 pm, CBS)
Sort of a mutual admiration society among performers in artistic endeavors, but receiving the award is still considered a significant honor. This year’s recipients are Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting, and Lily Tomlin. Stephen Colbert hosts; others appearing to perform or present: Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Garrison Keillor, David Letterman, Reba McEntire, Martin Short, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Meryl Streep, and Usher.
Wednesday, December 31
It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve
(Yeah, it’s a Barry Manilow reference. You got a problem with that?) There’s nothing wrong with staying home tonight, though in past years when I’ve done so I’ve had movies lined up to watch; everyone’s different. Your TV options include Ryan Seacrest hosting from New York on ABC (8-11 pm, then returning at 11:30 until 1 am-ish); Pitbull and friends from Miami on Fox (8-10 pm, returning from 11 pm-12:30 am); Carson Daly on NBC, also from New York (10-11 pm, 11:30 pm-12:30 am); and for something a little different, the New York Philharmonic performs Gershwin songs on Live from Lincoln Center (8-10 pm, PBS).
Fox News wants you to know that they too have a New Year’s Eve special, All-American New Year (because what else would it be called?), from 9 pm-12:30 am; but as I said last year, my choice is still New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin (9 pm-12:30 am, CNN).
Thursday, January 1
NHL Winter Classic (1-4 pm, NBC)
Tired of the dozens of college football bowl games that don’t really mean anything? How about pro hockey played outdoors? The Chicago Blackhawks meet the Washington Capitals from Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
Friday, January 2
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (8-9:50 pm, Encore)
Gentle, silly Will Ferrell-led NASCAR spoof that has its moments, mainly when Sacha Baron Cohen is on screen as rival driver Jean Girard.
Saturday, January 3
NFL Wild Card Playoff Games
The matchups are set: today the Arizona Cardinals meet the Carolina Panthers at 4:30 pm on ESPN; later, the Baltimore Ravens go to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers at 8:15 pm on NBC. Tomorrow, the Cincinnati Bengals challenge the Indianapolis Colts (1 pm, CBS) followed by the Detroit Lions traveling to Dallas to play the Cowboys (4:40 pm, Fox).
Sunday, January 4
Back to Business
ABC launches its medieval comedy-musical Galavant with two episodes (8-9 pm); while PBS has a packed night with the first two episodes of The Great British Baking Show (7-9 pm), followed by the season five premiere of Downton Abbey (9-10:30 pm); followed by The Manners of Downton Abbey: A Masterpiece Special (10:30-11:30 pm), a bit of fluff that amounts to a clip show with a theme.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
I looked over the list of movies that will no longer be available to stream after the end of the month, and this was one of the few that stood out to me. You have until the ball drops Wednesday night to watch this twisty crime caper starring Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, and of course Kevin Spacey.
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)