In this final installment of “What you should be watching in prime-time,” I have included shows that air on Saturday and Sunday, in addition to shows that air nightly. This is but a microcosm of what is on, but these happened to grab my attention and my loyalty as a viewer. Enjoy!
*This is the day you can sit down and watch the shows you’ve DVRed, because, really, what IS on Saturday nights? The only thing I can think of is…
11:30 PM — Saturday Night Live — NBC. Now in its 37th season, it is back on top with some great guest hosts this season, including Alec Baldwin and Anna Farris. Their political sketches and “Weekend Update” are perennial favorites. Just because it is 37 years old, doesn’t mean it’s lost it’s mojo. As always, a fun sketch-comedy show (and virtually the ONLY decent thing on Saturday nights…)
8:00 PM — Once Upon a Time — ABC. This just made its debut this past Sunday, and it was better than I thought it would be. Combining fairy-tale elements as a backdrop to this drama makes for entertaining TV. Elements from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, but set in present-day NYC is an interesting combination. Reviews have been pretty solid, so I think this show will be around for a while. You can catch the pilot on abc.com or hulu.com so you will be all caught up for its second episode tomorrow night.
9:00 PM — Desperate Housewives — ABC (Last Season). This has been a staple of Sunday nights since its inception, and all seasons and devices used have been quite clever. In a way, I hate to “Kiss Them Goodbye,” but I think it may be time. Currently, the core characters are in turmoil over last season’s cliffhanger (Carlos killed Gaby’s stepfather, as he was trying to rape her, during a neighborhood progressive dinner.) Lynette, Bree, and Susan helped them bury the body, and the consequences have been mixed. Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) have been struggling to keep the secret and have enormous guilt. They finally told Susan’s husband Mike (James Denton) what was going on, but the other characters have been a bit blasé about the whole ordeal. Gaby (Eva Longoria) has gone backwards in her character development. We had started to see her develop empathy for others (when Carlos was in jail a few years back and they were poor). But now, she is as self-centered as ever, and doesn’t understand why Carlos has any guilt over taking that monster’s life. Bree is also a bit self-serving, even though she received the same note that Mary Alice received in the pilot, which caused her to commit suicide (“I know what you did. It makes me sick. I’m going to tell.” Lynette (Felicity Huffman) is more concerned about her separation from Tom (Doug Savant) and his dating life, than on how her friends are coping with the secret OR how her children are dealing with the separation of their parents. Vanessa Williams (Reneé) is the real standout this season, maintaining her character’s selfishness and as a sounding board for Lynette’s woes. My hope is that these Housewives clean up their act so when they leave us in May, they go out with a bang instead of a wimper.
10:00 PM — CSI: Miami — CBS. David Caruso learned his lesson the last time he left a cop show (NYPD Blue) and has remained on this incarnation of the CSI franchise since the beginning. His detective Horatio Caine can be a bit comic-strippy, but he is faithful to the role, nonetheless. If you’re looking for some gritty, gruesome action with gleaming Miami colors on Sunday nights, this show is still the one to watch.
10:00 PM — Pan Am — ABC. This freshman drama, set in the 1960s, has everything a good new show needs to have — great looking characters, killer wardrobe, intrigue, romance, and a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. Pan Am centers on the life of four Pan Am stewardesses, hand selected for the brand-new European-based flight circuit. However, it is not just a “pretty to look at” show. The producers did their homework on everything related to the show, down to the undergarments that the stewardesses had to wear. Additionally, Kate Cameron (played by Kelli Garner) has been selected to be a currier for the CIA, shuttling various documents and items between the US and the European cities she travels to working for Pan Am. Christina Ricci is wonderful as the purser Maggie Ryan, a fierce supporter of JFK and women’s rights. Newcomer Margot Robbie is beautiful as the “face” of Pan AM, and as Kate’s younger sister, Laura (who is also a runaway bride). The combination of history and fiction makes for a great Sunday night show to watch. Complete your experience with a dirty martini – you’ll think you’ve traveled back in time, as tunes by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald are played in the background.
10:00 PM — Our America with Lisa Ling — OWN. This docu-series, in its second season on OWN, takes a look at what goes on behind closed doors in America. Lisa Ling is a perfect host who shows us her strong reporting skills, in addition to her empathy for those she is profiling. Nothing is off-limits, from sex-offender tent cities in the woods to people making amateur porn in suburban neighborhoods. Sister wives, meth addicts, faith healers, and prostitutes tell their stories unapologetically, and Ling shows no bias. Or, if she goes in with a preconceived idea, she is always surprised by the candor of her subjects’ stories. A great look into the lives of the people who may live next door…
Shows that air nightly:
7:00 PM — TMZ — FOX. A commentary entertainment show of the celeb gossip of the day. Once thought of as the ugly underbelly of the lives of paparazzi, it is now known for scooping celebrity stories, such as the trials of Lindsay Lohan, celeb pregnancies, and break-ups. They are self-deprecating, and TMZ’s “correspondents” have no problem making fun of their boss, “I’m a lawyer” Harvey Levin, in addition to the celebrities (or celeb wannabe’s) they cover. Truly, a dose of brain candy after a hard day’s work.
7:00 PM or 11:30 PM — E! News —E! Similar to TMZ, E! News takes a look at the celebrity news of the day. Whether it be covering a party, an arrest, clearing up rumors, or giving fashion tips, it is a nice vacation from “real” news. The show also has weekend editions, so if you just want to hear the top celeb news of the week, compiled from each day’s stories, check out the weekend editions on Saturday and Sunday.
11:00 PM — Chelsea Lately — E! The most irreverent talk show on the air! Chelsea Handler is the next big star – she just had her 800th episode of Chelsea Lately, and is producing a sitcom based on one of her New York Times best-selling books, Hello Vodka, It’s Me, Chelsea, which is set to air on NBC as a mid-season replacement. Her openness about her own life is comedy gold, and her panel of comedians is unbeatable. However, be fore-warned: If you are not into some racy language and subject matter, this is NOT the show for you. She is a broad, pure and simple, and her candor on any and every subject is what gives her such an appeal, but it is not for the faint of heart.
11:00 PM — The Daily Show with Jon Stewart — Comedy Central. It’s been said that The Daily Show is where the 20-something to 40-something crowd gets the majority of their news. No wonder, as Jon Stewarts likability combined with his knowledge of current events makes for one well-produced show. His coverage of the presidential debates, his “Indecision 2000” series won him the Peabody award, and he has continued this series in 2004 (which earned him his second Peabody), 2008, and now 2012. His “correspondents” have become stand-out stars in their own right (both Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert have gained success on both the small and big screen.) Additionally, he doesn’t just interview celebrities, like David Letterman and Jay Leno. He has politicians, authors, news anchors, in addition to celebrities sit at his table. His in-depth investigations have covered racial profiling, religious fanaticism, and equal rights, all with a satiric twist. It’s no wonder he has such a following. The only negative I can say about this show is that it only airs Monday through Thursday.
11:30 PM — The Colbert Report — Comedy Central. Stephen Colbert, the host of The Colbert Report (pronounced with a silent ‘t’) is a send off of The O’Reilly Factor. It is much more of a parody of a news/commentary than The Daily Show. He plays his conservative character to the hilt, but not with mockery. His over-the-top performances don’t appeal to all, but since its debut, it has maintained a solid following. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, which paired him with his former boss Jon Stewart, was a huge hit on the mall in Washington, D.C., drawing a bigger crowd than some of the true political rallies held in the same locale. It is a great follow-up show to The Daily Show and will be around for a long time.
On the Horizon: Be on the look out for Alphas (Scyfy), White Collar (USA), Royal Pains (USA), So You Think You Can Dance (FOX), and Rizzoli and Isles (TNT), as they return later this season. All are intriguing and fun to watch!
Well, that’s the end of my suggestions for what to watch in Prime-Time. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my personal favorites, and I would love to hear from you as to what I need to watch next (because obviously, I need more to watch! LOL) Signing off for now, goodnight and good luck, yada, yada, yada, and all that jazz…
Conni Ironmonger-Mann is a professor, wife, and mother, who enjoys nothing more than snuggling with her two favorite people in front of the TV at the end of a busy day’s work…