According to Nielsen (via the AV Club), Americans watched 34 hours of television per person, per week last year. Apparently, this is a record.
Nielsen Ratings aren't necessarily trustworthy. Most people I know love television, and watch it frequently, but there's no way they're spending 30 percent of waking life in front of a TV. I know my in-laws big screen features an unending, ear-bleeding loop of Fox News, Seabiscuit and The Blind Side, but they're outliers. And even they aren't watching all the time.
There may not be 34 hours of quality watching per week, but there is some great stuff out there. We're in the Golden Age of television. Even Ira Glass says so. All you have to do is boil out all the impurities. This column intends to help.
Unfortunately, we're going to be sports-heavy with the debut. Hey, all I do is report.
The NFL Wild Card Game (Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles)—Sunday, Jan. 9. 2:30 PM on NBC
Nothing against the Baltimore/Kansas City game earlier in the day, but this game has Michael Vick. This means your wife will be onboard for some pro-animal invective spewing, and you can quietly ooh and aah when he does something superhuman, which is likely. There's nothing quite like the first two
weekends of the NFL Playoffs, though, and this should be the best of the week. Plus, the game is in Philly, which adds a key intangible: the potential for hurled batteries.
The Tostitos BCS National Championship Game (#1 Auburn v. #2 Oregon)—Monday, Jan. 10. 6:30 PM on ESPN and ESPN3
Look, I know many of you cheered when Dennis Dixon's college career ended. I know a few of you pelted Ducks cheerleaders with water bottles after your premature attempt at field rushing backfired. I'm a diehard Oregon Ducks fan, but I can understand the hatred to some degree. I'm even willing to admit we might have the most insufferable fan base in the Pac-10.
But you know who's a billion times worse? Any fan base in the SEC outside Vanderbilt. Oh, man, they're awful. FACT: 95 percent of Southerners care more about football than even their own children. Did you know Alabama is the second-fattest state in the union? Or that it's ranked No. 43 in education? Er ... maybe we shouldn't cast stones with that second one. The point is, these people don't need another reason to celebrate.
So come on, Tucson ... cheer on your Pac-10 brethren, at least this once. Then you can go back to attempting assault on our precious cheer corps. Please go easy, though ... Oregon doesn't really have beautiful women to spare.
Lights Out (Series Premiere)—Tuesday, January 11 at 10:00 PM on FX
With Justified and Terriers, FX has been on a tear, as those two shows were nearly on par with AMC and HBO offerings. So maybe Lights Out will be good. But then FX went and canceled Terriers because they couldn't market it worth a shit, even though it was probably the best new drama airing this year. So maybe Lights Out will be awesome and they'll cancel it immediately. Who knows? Here's one thing you should know: it's about boxing, and it is not about dogs.
The Onion SportsDome (Series Premiere) - Thursday, Jan. 11, at 10:30 PM on Comedy Central
It's from The Onion, and it's not called The Onion Movie, so that bodes well. It's also a satire of ESPN. If that doesn't sell you, here's a column by Mark Shepard, one of the show's fake anchors. It was the funniest thing I read all week.
Again, apologies for the sport-centric listings this week. I don't want anyone to think this is column is some refuge for rampant misogyny. That's why next week, we'll talk about polygamy!