It started almost 40 years ago as Dick Clark's answering shot when the Grammy Awards were moved off ABC, and now the American Music Awards (ABC, Sunday 8 p.m.) has evolved into an institution all its own, one that helps kick off awards season while paying homage to the sort of hitmakers that occasionally get ignored by the more staid Grammys. In other words, you're a lot more likely to see Justin Bieber walking off with a trophy than Alison Krauss.
The list of performers is basically a list of the biggest hitmakers of the year: the aforementioned Mr. Bieber, Ke$ha (and she's nominated for stuff too -- go figure), Usher, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus; along with Christina Aguilera, who really doesn't have hits anymore but has a movie to promote. There will also be a "opposite ends of the '90s" lame-off between New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. Lady Gaga is a multiple nominee and will have as many costumes as mentions; and Taylor Swift will look stunned every time she wins something.
Also this week:
Monday: Weeds (Showtime, 10 p.m.): The sixth season is ending, and I hope the producers use the time between seasons to remind themselves what this show is supposed to be about, because it's getting hard to deduce. Nancy is getting ready to board a plane in the latest step of her effort to stay ahead of Esteban, but this time, Silas might not be coming along. Yeah kid, please become the first person on Weeds to ever do something smart.
Tuesday: Glory Daze (TBS, 10 p.m.): I doubt I'm the target audience for this new sitcom about four guys going to college in the '80s, considering I lived the real thing (and the good parts thereof couldn't even get aired on pay-per-view, much less TBS). The premiere finds our heroes becoming accustomed to the mores of the frathouse. It turns out that vomit is one of the major food groups!
Wednesday Criminal Minds (CBS, 9 p.m.): The BAU has its geographical work cut out when the team has to search the Appalachian Trail for a serial killer who appears to be targeting children. I just hope all their profiling, collating, and winnowing doesn't end up leaving them with some bear as the prime suspect.
Thursday: Bones (Fox, 8 p.m.): After all these years, they are still coming up with new and exciting places to find corpses on Bones. A party for a flamboyant candymaker (Wayne Knight) is marred somewhat when human remains are discovered inside the world's largest chocolate bar. This is why you never outsource food production to the Mafia.
Friday: Dennis Miller: The Big Speech (HBO, 10 p.m.): Miller has been associated with HBO for a long time, going back to when he was more of a conventional stand-up instead of a guy who today mostly ... uh ... gives big speeches. His eighth special for the network was taped two weeks ago in Irvine, Cal. -- after the election, for those of you who either fear or look forward to his gloating.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Anne Hathaway's first shot at hosting SNL turned out to be one of its best episodes of the past decade, so she will hopefully bring a spark of life to a show that is having a poor season, to put it mildly. Florence and the Machine (not to be confused with Ashlee Simpson and her machine) are the musical guests.