Even those who aren't interested in the actual game usually end up watching the Super Bowl at least in part, as it is a cultural event that few want to miss. There's the halftime entertainment, which is typically provided by someone glitzy but which will feature Bruce Springsteen this time around. There are the commercials, postgame dissection of which has become a sport all its own. There is Jennifer Hudson's return to the public eye, as she performs the national anthem. And yes, there is a football game hidden amidst all of the trappings. The Arizona Cardinals, before now known as the most hopeless organization in pro sports, will battle the Pittsburgh Steelers, favorites of front-running towel-wavers everywhere. Pregame festivities begin Sunday on NBC at the ridiculously early hour of 1 PM, with the kickoff in Tampa set for sometime around 6:25.
Also this week:
Monday: Trust Me (TNT, 10 PM): This new series stars Tom Cavanagh (Ed) and Eric McCormack (the one cast member from Will & Grace who always got ignored by the Emmys) as creative partners in a Chicago ad agency. If the show can channel some of our current economic anxiety and just a little bit of the Mad Men vibe, TNT may have itself another winner. The pilot finds one of the partners being promoted over the other, and the arrival of a new copywriter with an inflated self-opinion.
Tuesday: Fringe (Fox, 9 PM): One of the few new series that seems to be in decent shape heading into the new year, Fringe chose an especially strong episode for its first post-American Idol effort last week, featuring huge slugs and a surprisingly lively performance from the previously pallid Anna Torv. This week, slugs give way to a mysterious malady that appears to be liquefying peoples' brains, and no, it's not the Twilight sequel.
Wednesday: Lost (ABC, 9 PM): Are we having fun yet? After receiving--or remembering--the message from Faraday last week, Desmond goes in search of a woman who has a connection to the jumpy physicist. Also, Locke's time traveling slows long enough for him to figure out who has been attacking the Losties.
Thursday: Hell's Kitchen (Fox, 9 PM): A fifth season of creative cooking and even more creative cursing begins, with a position as chef at an Atlantic City hotel casino awaiting the person who survives the Gordon Ramsay gauntlet. The premiere finds the wannabes making their signature dishes, with predictably erratic results.
Friday: Psych (USA, 10 PM): After a foot once belonging to a placekicker is found (someone must have had a ton of money riding on that missed field goal), Shawn and Gus report to a football team's training camp to investigate. If it's the Detroit Lions, they might actually come away with new jobs.
Saturday: Lisa Lampanelli: Long Live the Queen (HBO, 10 PM): It's the first HBO special for the X-rated comic, taped in Santa Rosa, California. Lampanelli curses constantly, insults people, and talks a lot about sex. You'd never guess she used to be a writer.