I've stayed home and watched TV for 364 straight days this year. Every time I plan to go outside to see what fresh air feels like, another cool show premieres, and it's right back to the couch. I thought I'd take Dec. 31 off, maybe go out to have some fun for a change.
But that was before I saw the networks' impressive lineup of New Year's Eve specials. ABC gets the party started with Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Ludacris, KT Tunstall and Fergie (9 p.m.). On Fox, Cat Deeley of 'So You Think You Can Dance' hosts a shindig featuring Toni Braxton and Chris Daughtry (10 p.m.). MTV's nonstop revelry includes performances by Gwen Stefani, Nas, Pussycat Dolls, Ciara, AFI, Chamillionaire, Lady Sovereign and Three 6 Mafia (10 p.m.). And on NBC, Carson Daly camps out in Times Square with Panic! at the Disco (10:30 p.m.).
365 straight days.
My Husband's Secret
Saturday, 3 am (A&E)
This documentary profiles homosexual men in heterosexual marriages. It shows what happens when they finally come out of the closet, including fallout from spouses and kids.
Interesting program, but 'My Husband's Secret' will most likely stay a secret given the 3 am airtime.
Saturday, 6 pm (Hallmark Channel)
Watching this Western would be a perfect way to ring in the new year ' that is, if you were watching it in 1935. The movie is so old-fashioned and corny that it's hard to believe a major director (Lawrence Kasdan) and star (Kevin Costner) filmed it only a dozen years ago.
With his overeager performance, Costner seems to be aiming for Jimmy Stewart, but he ends up closer to Jethro Bodine. He's the most aw-shucks, gee-whiz, golly-gosh cowboy who ever rode the range. He stares, wide-eyed, at gamblers in a saloon; he courts his true love on a creaky porch swing; he earnestly lectures desperadoes on the evils of violence.
All the while, the soundtrack pumps out the kind of overheated 'Bonanza' music that would have had 'em guffawing down at the OK Corral. The orchestra never quits with the soaring brass, the tinkling bells, the swelling violins and the galloping percussion. And that's just during the quiet moments. At the first hint of dramatic tension, the French horns get so excited they practically fall out of their chairs.
When the big gunfight started, I fantasized about the cowboys turning away from each other and pointing their guns at the orchestra instead.
15 Films About Madonna
Sunday, 3 am (A&E)
I admit that Madonna's a worthy subject, but is she really worth 15 films? After 'Bare Midfriff,' 'Pointy Bras' and 'The Fake English Accent Years,' what's left to explore?
Sunday, 5 pm (TBS)
Just what everyone's been clamoring for: eight straight hours of Michael Richards. Does TiVo have a Skip Racists button?
Trial by Choir
Sunday, 9 pm (TLC)
In this series, a vocal instructor at Boston's Berklee College of Music tries to help troubled teens via choral music. He rounds up 24 kids and molds them into a traditional choir, trying to turn their lives around in the process.
It's a scheme only a vocal instructor could have dreamed up, and it's no surprise that it yields uneven results. In this week's episode, the choir is beset by internal problems and threatens to implode. One kid gets arrested and another drops out of high school.
Who'd have thought choral music would make for the holiday season's most depressing show?
Monday, 8 pm (BBC America)
TV viewers don't expect subtlety on Jan. 1. They expect marching bands, floral floats and offensive linemen smashing into defensive linemen.
That's why Trust is such a nice surprise. It's a British TV movie making its U.S. premiere, and its quietly absorbing story of murder and betrayal is a perfect alternative to the Tournament of Roses Parade.
In the opening scene, a woman's body is discovered in a garbage dump. The trail leads to a therapist named Michael Mitcham (Mark Strong), whose car keys were found in the dead woman's pocket. Michael's wife, Anne (Caroline Goodall), stands by his side ' that is, until the evidence slowly turns against him.
Trust sounds like a standard crime drama, but the clever British filmmakers keep catching us off guard. Anne is the putative heroine, but she's compromised by her adulterous relationship with Michael's friend Andy (Nathaniel Parker). She lies to Michael, and he lies to her; Andy doesn't look too trustworthy either. With no one to Trust, viewers are pleasingly disoriented, making it easy for the movie's twists and turns to knock us off balance.
Tune in for the plot but stay for the performances. Anyone used to Hollywood productions will be floored by the brilliant acting on display. Even the throbbing vein in Strong's forehead out-acts any American TV star you could name.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Monday, 9 pm (Travel Channel)
In this week's episode, the chef journeys to Ireland to dispel the myth that it serves the worst food on the planet. Things go swimmingly until he encounters his first plate of boiled boxty.