It's Emmy time! The television industry throws its annual party Sunday (ABC, 8 PM), following a mostly negative year dominated by the writers' strike, the subsequent refusal of many viewers to return to the major networks, and a lack of very much new to get excited about. A problem the Emmys have that isn't shared by the other major awards shows is that the same programs and actors tend to get nominated every year, leading to dullness at the very least and the obscene prominence of Boston Legal at the worst. But these quibbles are for folks like me; those in attendance are mostly deserving of some recognition.
The five people nominated as best reality show host -- Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst, and Ryan Seacrest -- will host the Emmys, which will have to be a bit painful for those actors who blame reality for a relative decline in their own status. Key things to watch for: can the biggest new phenomenon, Mad Men, hold off cable rival Dexter, a revitalized Lost, the reliable House, and the inexplicable Boston Legal to win best drama? Which veteran female (all the nominees are over 40) will win for lead actress in a drama? Will Howie Mandel finally win the Emmy he was so cruelly denied for St. Elsewhere? And will Kanye West show up and complain, just because? It should be fun.
America's Toughest Jobs (NBC, tonight 8 PM): The final nine head to Midland, Tex., hometown of one George W. Bush. But it's not his tough job they're trying (though that might actually be fun to watch) -- they're getting acquainted with oil drilling, which is hot, strenuous, and potentially dangerous.
The Dog Whisperer (National Geographic, tonight 9 PM): The 100th episode of the series reunites Cesar Millan with many of the dogs and owners he's helped to this point. Lassie also shows up to offer congratulations and pee on stuff.
Stargate Atlantis (SciFi, tonight 10 PM): Keller's trip abroad -- "abroad" on this show means to a neighboring planet -- results in her kidnapping, forcing Ronon to draw on his life experience and come to her aid.
20/20 (ABC, tonight 10 PM): Diane Sawyer interviews Alec Baldwin, who is not only up for an Emmy, but has a new book to promote in his role as self-appointed spokesman for all non-custodial divorced fathers. Baldwin is someone whose efforts to appear likable just seem to make him more unlikable, so this might be entertaining. Also, an investigation into the possible role of a 911 operator in the death of a young woman.
MADtv (Fox, Saturday 11 PM): Audrina Patridge puts in another non-Hills appearance. Can we all agree to stop this before it spreads any further? Call in the CDC! Also, the show pokes fun at "I Kissed a Girl" (get in line) and the Ellen/Portia wedding.
Saturday Night Live (NBC, Saturday 11:30 PM): I don't know that James Franco has been on NBC on a Saturday since the network was burning off the last few episodes of Freaks and Geeks. He has to be a better host than Michael Phelps, right? Kings of Leon is the musical guest.
Ryder Cup (NBC, Sunday noon): The previous two Ryder Cups have been foregone conclusions by the time the Sunday singles matches have been played, but perhaps underdog Team USA can make a better showing this time around, even without Tiger Woods. Valhalla in Louisville, Ky. plays host to the biennial beat-down.
Food Network Challenge (Food Network, Sunday 8 PM): It's a trip to Kool and the Gang's favorite town, Celebration, Fla., for the Great American Pie Festival. Did somebody say pie? How can I watch the Emmys when there's flaky crust just a few channels over?
I Love Money (VH1, Sunday 9 PM): I'm amused at how Megan, who certainly didn't come across as any sort of mastermind during her Rock of Love tenure, seems to be basically controlling every outcome here -- that is, assuming the entire show isn't scripted. This week, it's back to the vault following Brandi walking off the show, and God help us, there's a marriage proposal.
True Blood (HBO, Sunday 9 PM): Bill attempts to protect Sookie from the wandering eyes of his vampire colleagues. Yes, the friends of your SO can be a problem, especially when they want to drain your blood. Also, Tara's problems at home continue, and Jason's romantic life hits a major roadblock.
Army Wives (Lifetime, Sunday 10 PM): Denise takes Frank's deployment as an opportunity to reflect on her marriage; Trevor receives a medal, but appears increasingly troubled; Pamela resolves to deal with her stalker.
Entourage (HBO, Sunday 10 PM): Ari takes his rivalry with agent Adam Davies to new lengths; with no money coming in and bankruptcy a real possibility, Vince decides to make a personal appearance at a Sweet Sixteen party.