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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Don’t care to watch millionaire meatbags throw a Stewie-shaped sportball around between 500 pricey commercials during many over-analyzed hours on end this weekend? Or is that just The Only TV Column That Matters™?

If you’re looking for an alternative to Super Bowl 48 (it’s the 21st century—ditch the damned Roman numerals already), options are limited. Even HBO blinked, opting to pull the premium shows you pay extra to see instead of going up against America’s Favorite Timesuck, on Sunday, Feb. 2.

While you’re waiting for the much-hyped post-game new episodes of New Girl (with Prince!) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (with Fred Armisen … really?) on Fox, here are 16 other TV choices for Super Bowl Sunday:

Shameless, House of Lies, Episodes (Showtime): Unlike HBO, Showtime isn’t afraid of The Bowl—fresh episodes (and Episodes) all around!

Downton Abbey, Sherlock (PBS): The Brits don’t care about what ’Mericans refer to as “football,” as PBS is steadfastly presenting a new episode of Downton Abbey, and the Season 3 finale of Sherlock. Or maybe they just assume that you downloaded them months ago.

Puppy Bowl X (Animal Planet): Since the Lingerie Bowl is dead (or has gone legit—same diff), the Puppy Bowl is TV’s most-infamous counter-programming to the Super Bowl. It’s still just a pile of mutts playing in a toy stadium for hours, which has spawned knockoffs like …

The Kitten Bowl (Hallmark): Obviously. What the hell took so long? If you weren’t so preoccupied with wasting airtime on Bigfoots and tree houses, Animal Planet, you wouldn’t have gotten pwned by, of all channels, Hallmark.

The Fish Bowl (Nat Geo Wild): Literally, four hours of a fish bowl. This is the kind of programming that layoff-ridden daily newspapers actually pay to send reporters to cover at the Television Critics Association’s bi-annual press tour. Just sayin’.

The Walking Dead Marathon (AMC): It’s not so much a straight-up marathon as a “Zombie Bowl” (hey, that’s what AMC is calling it) featuring cherry-picked episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 that specifically include “every Humans vs. Walkers moment.” That sounds like the same way I fast-forward through the dull parts of entire TWD seasons.

Crazy Hearts: Nashville Marathon (A&E): Eight hours of A&E’s unofficial answer to “Think we can’t come up with an even more idiotic, contrived ‘reality’ show than Duck Dynasty? With worse music? Game on!”

Top of the Lake Marathon (Sundance): In this acclaimed seven-part mystery miniseries from 2013, Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays a troubled detective investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl. Yes, another feel-good romp from the Sundance Channel!

Swamp People Marathon (History): In a word, swamptastic.

Wives With Knives Marathon (ID): In a word, stabtastic.

Snapped Marathon (Oxygen): Wait for it … snaptastic!

Twilight Marathon (FX): Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse—back-to-back-to-back! After six hours, you’ll have to answer honestly: Is it football you hate … or just yourself?

The Tudors Marathon (BBC America): The sweeping, sexy series tells the tale of King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and the many, many, many women who try to come between him and his reign. And his pantaloons. Minus most of the original Showtime nudity, but still historical-ish.

Cops Marathon (Spike): Don’t most episodes of Cops feature a Super Bowl Sunday domestic violence call? Sooo meta.

Smart Guy Marathon (MTV2): Smart Guy was a 1997-1999 WB network sitcom about a kid (Tahj Mowry) who skipped from fourth grade to 10th grade. Related, MTV2 used to be an edgy, music-centric channel that’s managed to become even more embarrassing than MTV.

Sex Sent Me to the ER Marathon (TLC): Broken boners, two-hour orgasms, headboard traumas, tree-related incidents and more true stories re-en(over)acted. Genius. If this could somehow be combined with the Kitten Bowl, the NFL would be out of business.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR FEB. 4

About Time

After a father (Bill Nighy) informs his son (Domhnall Gleeson) that he can time travel, the son, of course, uses the power to trick a woman (Rachel McAdams) into falling in love with him. And, yeah, enslave the planet, because why not? (Universal)

Android Cop

A future cop (Michael Jai White) and his android partner attempt to stop a mysterious disease from spreading in The Zone, a rundown city that’s nothing like the rundown cities in Robocop, Judge Dredd, Robocop 2, Robocop 3, etc. (Asylum)

Escape Plan

An engineer (Sylvester Stallone) and a con (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must escape a secret, high-tech prison called “The Tomb” in time for Stallone to box Robert De Niro in Grudge Match, and for both of them to hobble through Expendables 3. (Summit/Lionsgate)

The Wedding Pact

BFFs Mitch (Chris Soldevilla) and Elizabeth (Haylie Duff) promise to marry each other if they’re both single 10 years after college. A decade later, he tracks her down and disappointedly learns that she is, in fact, not Hilary Duff. (Phase 4)

The White Queen

The BBC/Starz series that proved women lust for power as much as men; Belgium passes for England; and you can’t rip-off Game of Thrones or The Tudors without a budget. One historical accuracy: The Queen is very white. (AnchorBay)

More New DVD Releases (Feb. 4)

Baggage Claim, Banshee Chapter, A Case of You, Dallas Buyers Club, Dark Tourist, The Divorce, Family Matters: Season 4, Finding Normal, Free Birds, From Above, House of Versace, The Lady Vanishes, Nuit #1, Patterns of Attraction, Romeo and Juliet, Waterwalk, Wings.

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Strike Back (Friday, Aug. 9, Cinemax), season premiere: This series is more macho than Jason Statham crashing a Hummer into an MMA octagon where Ron Swanson and Nickelback are fighting over a rib-eye, but the addition of Rhona Mitra to the cast of military-actioner Strike Back last season brought at least a little feminine balance—too bad it looks as though she’s going down hard in Season 3. When Maj. Dalton (Mitra) sees her terrorist-hunting mission in Beirut compromised, Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) are pulled off a completely-heterosexual joint vacation (?) to track said terrorist’s associates in Columbia; as usual, things go from bad to worse for Team America (actually, MI6). Strike Back may be predictable, but it’s predictable with such visceral style and grit, who cares? Kill ’em all!

The White Queen (Friday, Aug. 9, Starz), series debut: Starz execs: “We need our own Game of Thrones, only waaay cheaper, with watered-down sex and violence, and scripts that were previously rejected by The CW or Drunk History.” BBC One execs: “Have we got a show for you!”

Clear History (Saturday, Aug. 10, HBO), movie: If you’re expecting a huge thespian departure for Larry David, forget it: The Gandalf wig and beard early in the movie are as far removed from Curb Your Enthusiasm’s “Larry David” as he gets in this film; in the end Clear History is really just an extended episode of Curb. On the upside, it’s an extended episode of Curb! David stars as Nathan Flomm, a marketing exec at a startup electric-car company who, after getting into a stupid, Larry-like fight with his boss (Jon Hamm), quits and sells his shares. Five minutes later, the company breaks billions-big, Apple-style, and Nathan is a national joke. A haircut and 10 years on, Nathan is now Rolly, anonymously and happily living Larry-like in Martha’s Vineyard—until his old boss shows up and builds a mansion on the island. Clear History is funny and star-studded enough (watch for an uncredited Liev Schreiber), but Season 9 of Curb Your Enthusiasm would have been pretty, pretty, pretty preferable.

Breaking Bad (Sunday, Aug. 11, AMC), mid-season premiere: The second half of the final Breaking Bad season (The Only TV Column That Matters™ is not going to miss explaining that) cuts right to the meat of The End of Heisenberg/Walter White (Bryan Cranston); returning episode “Blood Money” is a bracing, all-killer, no-filler episode that simultaneously spells out Walt’s post-meth-biz fate and somehow leaves it wide-open at the same time—quite a trick. It’s so jam-packed, nearly every plot point is a spoiler (real spoilers, not your Mad Men bullshit, Matthew Weiner), but it’s at least safe to mention that Jesse (Aaron Paul), Hank (Dean Norris), Saul (Bob Odenkirk), Skyler (Anna Gunn) and, my pick for lone survivor, Marie (Betsy Brandt) all get quality screen time—even Badger and Skinny Pete show up for some much-needed comic relief. You don’t need me to tell you to Be There.

Low Winter Sun (Sunday, Aug. 11, AMC), series debut: Speaking of Breaking Bad, Gale Boetticher is back! Not really, but the actor (David Costabile) who played him is, as a Detroit Police internal-affairs officer investigating a cop’s murder—at the hand of Low Winter Sun’s (anti-)hero, Det. Frank Agnew (Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Strong). Fortunately for AMC, Low Winter Sun is more The Shield than The Killing, and less cop procedural than tension-escalating indie flick. Just in time, eh, Detroit?


DVD-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 13!

Bad Parents

A suburban mom (Janeane Garofalo!) is thrust into the high-stakes world of kiddie soccer, facing off against long sleeves, crazed parents and a driven coach (Christopher Titus!!) in the movie that slams the coffin lid on ’90s alt-comedy. (Gaiam)

A Band Called Death

The SXSW rock-doc is about early ’70s Detroit sibling trio Death, the punk band who predated punk, were initially rejected for being black kids playing “white boy music,” and then rediscovered decades later. Move over, Anvil. (Image)

The Mindy Project: Season One

Successful OB/GYN Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is a hot mess looking for love, but she usually just ends up in even more pathetic situations than that wacky New Girl. The DVDs do not come with subtitles for those who can’t hear her high-pitched voice. (Universal)

Rock Jocks

Misfit gamer-geeks (including Felicia Day) work for a secret government agency, piloting satellite drones to destroy asteroids before they reach Earth, but they mostly just fight bureaucratic meddling. Not based on a true story … or is it? (Cinedigm)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 13)

The Big Wedding, Cat. 8, The Company You Keep, Compulsion, Dave Foley: Relatively Well, Deadly Swarm, Divination, Dog Pound, Dolls of Voodoo, Emperor, Enlightened: Season 2, Girls: Season 2, Hatchet III, The Hot Flashes, Olympus Has Fallen, Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Southland: Season 5

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