Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
NBC'S losing game of hide-and-seek
TODAY'S FEATURES SUNDAY'S FEATURES CRITIC'S CHOICE TODAY'S SERIES SUNDAY'S SERIES BY KEVIN McDONOUGH,
I'm worried about NBC. Like a mixed-up teenager who won't come out of his room, the once proud network seems to want to disappear. Or just give up. I'm almost expecting to find the NBC Peacock on the back of milk cartons.
The network had a pretty healthy fall. Much of that was due to "Sunday Night Football" and the popularity of talent contest "The Voice." Now that those shows are over, the pickings on NBC are slim. It did broadcast the finale of critical darling "30 Rock" and brought back the ambitious, if frequently ridiculous, "Smash." But when you take away reality fluff, phony "news" magazines and repeats, NBC is down to about 2½ nights of entertainment broadcasting.
The week has seven nights.
On Friday, the network aired a two-hour "Dateline NBC," followed by "Rock Center With Brian Williams."
Today brings us "American Ninja Warrior" (8 p.m., TV-PG), a sports competition series better suited to cheap syndication, followed by a repeat of "Chicago Fire" (9 p.m., TV-14) and a rare repeat of "Saturday Night Live" (10 p.m., TV-14) in prime time.
Sunday arrives with a repeat of "Betty White's 2nd Annual 90th Birthday Special" (8 p.m., TV-PG), a rehash in itself. It's followed by a repeat of the 2005 special "Saturday Night Live in the '80s: Lost and Found" (9 p.m., TV-14).
Has anybody told NBC that this is February? As in sweeps month -- the period when the Nielsen folks measure ratings? Sweeps used to bring big, ambitious projects: miniseries, specials, movies, cliffhangers, weddings. Seriously, a repeat of a remake of Betty White's birthday party? That would be funny if weren't so sad.
Monday doesn't get much better, with the pathetic and boring spectacle of "The Biggest Loser." OK, there's also an original "Deception." That means that over the course of four nights, NBC will broadcast exactly one hour of original drama or comedy in prime time during sweeps.
On reflection, make that five nights. Tuesday brings us the State of the Union address, preceded on NBC by two helpings of the candid-camera time-waster "Betty White's Off Their Rockers." NBC will then resume broadcasting original series on Wednesday and Thursday.
Not everything on CBS, ABC or Fox is stellar. But you still get the sense that those networks are at least showing up. Not NBC. What would you do with an employee who came to work two days a week?
NBC, I'm worried about you.
n The approach of Valentine's Day brings made-for-TV romances both obvious and unusual. William Baldwin ("Dirty Sexy Money") stars in "Be My Valentine" (9 p.m. today, Hallmark), a film that leaves no cliche unturned. Baldwin plays a nice widowed firefighter whose role in a charity bachelor auction leads him to a lovelorn florist (Natalie Brown), who gets a chance to invest in his beefcake.
n The single widower theme gets a slightly more complicated makeover in the 2013 romance "Twist of Faith" (8 p.m. today, Lifetime), starring Toni Braxton as a devout Christian mother drawn to an Orthodox Jewish man through their shared love of music. David Julian Hirsh and Mykelti Williamson co-star.
n Viewers in search of relief from flowers and chocolates can exult in the ridiculous "Heebie Jeebies" (9 p.m. today, Syfy), starring Robert Belushi and Marion Ross ("Happy Days"). Apparently, miners lost for centuries return as monsters capable of scaring their victims to death. Sounds reasonable.
n The 2013 movie prequel "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome" (8 p.m. Sunday, Syfy, TV-14) goes back to the early stages of the Cylon War, the battle between humans and robots that set this epic series in motion. Luke Pasqualino ("The Borgias"), Ben Cotton ("Stargate Atlantis") and Lili Bordan ("Silent Witness") star.
Gee, an ambitious movie based on a hit series. That's the kind of February sweeps programming that used to show up on networks. Oddly enough, Syfy is a cable cousin of NBC.
n AMC offers new episodes of "The Walking Dead" (9 p.m. Sunday, TV-MA), the gory zombie Western that has emerged as one of the most watched dramas on cable. Tonight, a new arrival at the prison compound sparks concerns. "Talking Dead" (10 p.m. Sunday, AMC, TV-14), the chatty recap show that helps make sense of the brain-splattering action, also returns and expands to one hour. Help yourself.
n The 55th annual Grammy Awards (8 p.m. Sunday, CBS, TV-PG) will have a hard time topping the 54th. Last year, it reached more than 39 million viewers, its second-largest audience ever and the most since Michael Jackson moonwalked away with most of the awards at the 1984 ceremony.
As CBS recalls on "The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family" (9 p.m. today), last year's show was held in the wake of singer Whitney Houston's sudden death, which sparked viewer curiosity. Even without such tragic inspiration, the Grammys telecast promises to be the biggest TV event of the week, attracting the largest audience between the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. LL Cool J hosts.
The kids wax romantic in the 1994 special "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-G).
Hardy and the FBI anticipate the new disciple's next move on "The Following" (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).
Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews and Will Arnett voice the 2010 animated comedy "Despicable Me" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
"Monster Squid: It Lives" (9 p.m., Discovery) sets the record straight about a mysterious sea creature that, like original NBC programming, is rarely seen.
Urban renewal reveals a murder site on "Ripper Street" (9 p.m., BBC America, TV-MA).
Helen Mirren, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Little Mix appear on "The Graham Norton Show" (10:15 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).
Justin Bieber hosts and performs on "Saturday Night Live" (11:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7 p.m., CBS): rating the credit-rating agencies; interviews with the five American survivors of the Algerian terror attack; Daniel Day-Lewis and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Cora hatches plus-sized revenge on "Once Upon a Time" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
Molesley brags about his cricket prowess on "Downton Abbey" on "Masterpiece Classic" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, channels 33 and 12).
Saloon renovation returns on the third season opener of "Bar Rescue" (10 p.m., Spike, TV-PG).
Hannah finds herself attracted to an older man on "Girls" (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
The gang butters up the CEO's assistant (Molly Shannon) on "Enlightened" (9:30 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
"Revenge for Real" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14) recalls a Miami murder.
A Roman tribune (Richard Burton) is transformed by a garment linked to the crucifixion in the 1953 religious epic "The Robe" (10 p.m. today, TCM), co-starring Jean Simmons and Victor Mature.
Nell impersonates a dead researcher on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Two helpings of "Cops" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... "48 Hours" (10 p.m., CBS).
Bart's crush (Zooey Deschanel) returns on "The Simpsons" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... Skipping school for love on "Bob's Burgers" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
Meg meets a date online on "Family Guy" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... Amanda's wedding puts Emily in a reflective mood on "Revenge" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... A rich friend returns on "American Dad" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).