There are few events that can be said to be among television's dependable heavyweights, shows that are practically guaranteed to draw in tens of millions of eyeballs. The Academy Awards. The Grammys. The latest episode of Fox's WHEN HOUSEHOLD PETS GO BAD. Another one of these events of TV royalty are the broadcast of the Olympic Games. This Friday marks the opening of the Summer Games and for the next two weeks the world's greatest display of amateur sports will dominate the airwaves.
As was the case with the last Games, NBC has paid the billions to be able to broadcast the spectacle, and so the schedule of all the networks will be topsy-turvy until the closing ceremonies come near the end of the month. The next two weeks will see some crazy counter-programming by the competition hoping to somehow steal some of NBC's audience that's now enthralled in watching track and field events; for instance, ABC will have four hours of EXTREME MAKEOVER (that's both the plastic surgery and home editions) spread out over the next seven days, and the week after this one will see a two-hour block of FAMILY GUY on Fox.
If you're looking for fresh programming in these dog days of summer, you'll have to look hard indeed but it's out there and I'll tell you where you can see it right now.
MONDAY, AUGUST 9
CSI: MIAMI (10 PM, CBS) "Grand Prix" A fuel man for a racing team is burned alive in what appears to be a horrible accident. Of course, it's not an accident. (Repeat)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO (11:30 PM, NBC) Tom Cruise is on to talk about his number one movie in America, COLLATERAL, and avoid any questions to do with who's the new director for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 10
NIP/TUCK (10 PM, FX) An unusual female patient comes to ask the help of the docs this week: can they remove her stigmata? Plus Christian helps Matt with some girl advice and Julia spills a dark secret to Sean (who doesn't take it very well.)
LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN (12:35 AM, NBC) Ex-BUFFY regular Seth Green and PRINCESS DIARIES star Anne Hathaway drop by to chat about their new movies.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11
2004 TEEN CHOICE AWARDS (8 PM, FOX) The sixth annual presentation of what's hip, happening and hot for young people. Will anyone from NORTH SHORE show up wearing a shirt?
SMALLVILLE (8 PM, WB) "Asylum". Three former freaks of the week team up to take Clark out of the picture. (Repeat)
THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG KILBORN (12:35 AM, CBS) Jet Li is one of tonight's guests. Look for Craig to lose a few teeth when he mocks him over taking too much time answering five questions.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 12
ALIEN VS PREDATOR (8 PM, FOX) Star Lance Henriksen hypes his upcoming movie the day before its release by hosting this 30-minute special which take a look at the two sci-fi franchises. The really crazy thing is that right after this program FOX is repeating its second CELEBRITY BOXING special. Why couldn't there be an Alien vs. Predator match-up there, or at least a Pred going up against Joey Buttafuoco?
CSI (9 PM, CBS) "Fur and Loathing" A man in a raccoon suit is found dead on the side of the road, but upon closer investigation the CSIers find he's been shot. It's the show that brought the concept of furries to the public mainstream! If only this episode aired the week of Comic-Con... (Repeat)
LAST COMIC STANDING (9 PM, NBC) Season finale. Three comics are left and one will be crowned the winner tonight. The losers are forced to watch all the episodes of the American version of COUPLING.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 13
OLYMPIC SUMMER GAMES 2004 (8 PM, NBC) The coverage of Athens Olympic Games kicks off in full starting with the opening ceremonies...and it goes on for the next 16 days. Couch potato channel surfing is an Olympic trial sport at this year's games, with Britain, Iceland and Portugal heavily favored to win medals.
STARGATE SG-1 (9 PM, SCIFI) "Avatar". Teal'c is trapped inside a virtual reality simulation where the original STAR TREK series lasted for 11 seasons on TV. Or was that a Goa'uld super-soldier invasion around the corner?
ENTERPRISE (8 PM, UPN) "Damage". Archer rushes to complete repairs on a badly damaged Enterprise, then face off against an alien ship that has vital information on how to stop the Xindi threat. (Repeat)
STARGATE ATLANTIS (10 PM, SCI FI) "Childhood's End". The team visit a world where no one is over the age of 24. Hey, do they live in domes, dress in bright colorful costumes and go watch something called Carousel?
SATURDAY, AUGUST 14
DISNEY'S THE KID (8 PM, ABC) ABC counter-programs against the Olympic onslaught with a tacky and sappy Bruce Willis comedy. Tonight is the night your DVD player is your friend.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 15
THE SIMPSONS (8 PM, FOX). After being on the run for years, Homer's Mom returns to Springfield to face the law in "My Mother the Carjacker". I can relate. (Repeat)
THE DEAD ZONE (10 PM, USA) "Instinct" Something is causing animals in the woods around Cleaves Mills to go crazy and attack humans. Is the strange force connected to Reverend Purdy's odd behavior?
TV Wasteland is our weekly Television column.