Super Bowl XLVI sucks everything but pay-cable and Downton Abbey into its orbit
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Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, February 8. All times are Eastern.
Super Bowl XLVI: Patriots vs. Giants (NBC, 6 p.m.): The Super Bowl is an event whose import is decided long before the NFL’s season even begins. And while it ought to be thrilling to watch the Patriots seek revenge on the Giants for ruining a perfect 2007 season in Super Bowl XLII, this Super Bowl has a red carpet as well as a mega-hyped appearance by Madonna, so… The A.V. Club’s going to treat it like we treat the Oscars and the Emmys, hosting a live chat which we swear will feature some legit football insight.
Luck (HBO, 9 p.m.): While the warriors of the gridiron clash on NBC, nothing can stop the HBO grip on Sunday night. Todd VanDerWerff sinks deeper into the underbelly of Luck, regretful that the Broncos didn’t make it far enough to slip a Tim Tebow joke into this week’s review.
Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.): As World War I winds down, the residents of Downton Abbey respectfully request that you curb all analogies equating combat with professional sports. Meredith Blake is skipping the big game to Photoshop eye black on images of the Dowager Countess.
Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Unscientific (and totally imaginary) surveys suggest that the Bears are responsible for 25 percent of Chicago’s yearly binge-drinking levels. Joshua Alston is glad Shameless currently takes place while the White Sox and Cubs (who collectively account for the other 75 percent) are playing, thus explaining why Frank is drunk enough to try to claim a dead man’s insurance benefits.
Angry Boys (HBO, 10 p.m.): Aussie lads channel their anger through either Australian rules football or, as seen in the first of tonight’s episodes, Internet missives which threaten their endorsement deals with soft-drink manufacturers by revealing their true sexuality. Super Bowl XLVI will feature the debut of a new Pepsi ad starring a CGI Claire Zulkey.
House Of Lies (Showtime, 10 p.m.): A new client’s racism requires Jeannine to temporarily replace Marty as the Pod’s “quarterback.” Little known fact: Rowan Kaiser stepped in for Joe Thiesmann after the latter’s career-ending leg injury in 1985.
Californication (Showtime, 10:30 p.m.): The football theme is starting stretch a little thin, no? Surely there’s no way to link the Super Bowl to an episode where Hank and Charlie go on a police ride-along with Not The RZA. Actually, that all depends on how Giants superfan Kenny Herzog feels at the end of the game.
The Voice (NBC, whenever the Super Bowl ends): NBC’s entire 2012 is resting on the size of the audience that sticks around after the game for the second-season première of its “blind” singing competition. Network-saving ratings or no, Emily Yoshida will be there to comment on those wacky, spinning chairs.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Doctor Who (Classic) (11 a.m.): Hey, it could be much worse than watching Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera “mentor” amateur singers in between plotting a follow-up to “Moves Like Jagger”—this serial from the Sixth Doctor era features a reality show where the contestants are physically tortured. Christopher Bahn thinks the whistling from “Moves Like Jagger” is torture enough.
The Critic (3 p.m.): Remember when the notion of a second Ghostbusters sequel was laughable enough to be satirized in an episode of an animated sitcom? The Critic does, and Nathan Rabin can’t help but wonder how he can make himself the next big name attached to the illusory Ghostbusters III.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Fabulous Bowl I (BBC America, 10 a.m.): The Beeb’s American cousin wins the award for most imaginative piece of Super Bowl counterprogramming: A day-long marathon of Absolutely Fabulous. There’s enough boozing and smoking here to keep you from even thinking about athletic activity until Super Bowl XLVII.
Puppy Bowl VIII (Animal Planet, 3 p.m.): Then again, there’s always the Puppy Bowl, which this year stacks adorable on top of cute by incorporating a bird who “tweets” from the sidelines. NBC could make the Yachter Otter ride Lil’ Sebastian at half time and it wouldn’t find anything half as cute.
60 Minutes Presents: Three Remarkable Women (CBS, 8 p.m.): The Eye throws up a screen pass in the form of profiles on Meryl Streep, Anna Wintour, and Dolly Parton. Unless one of them reveals they’re actually an alien that eats precious metals (in which case, money’s on award-hoarder Streep), it’ll be crushed by the Super Bowl.
Jimmy Fallon’s Super Bowl Special (NBC, 11:35 p.m.): If Jimmy Fallon’s ever going to succeed whatever joke-telling robot NBC builds to replace Jay Leno, it could hinge on the success of this post-game special. Don’t expect LenoTron 5000 to go down without a fight, though.
The Entertainer (TCM, 8 p.m.): Laurence Olivier stars as a struggling music-hall act in this 1960 film that deals with general malaise and loss of identity in post-World War II England. Depending on the outcome of the Super Bowl, the citizens of New York/New Jersey and Boston/the New England region feel his pain.
Bloodsport (NBC Sports, 8 p.m.): Every employee of NBC’s sports division is otherwise busy tonight. Comcast hired a sitter to watch over its newly rebranded sports network, leaving her with $20 for pizza and a battered VHS copy of this Jean-Claude Van Damme martial-arts flick. Even the sitter will be watching the Super Bowl.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Portlandia (Friday): St. Vincent’s Annie Clark visited Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s bizzaro Portland, and Christian Williams only fainted twice, you guys. He’ll deny it, but he did.