Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, February 5. All times are Eastern.
Super Bowl LI, Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots (Fox, 6:30 p.m.): After an event last year that was too good for Roman numerals, the NFL returns to its usual scheme with Super Bowl LI. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, fresh from carving up the Packers like a roast (sob), look to overcome the odds against Tom Brady and the Steelers-toppling New England Patriots. Smart money is on the Patriots to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy, a move that may hurt their “passion for self-flagellation” and will definitely hurt anyone who wants to see Atlanta win its first championship. Regardless though, we should prepare to feast on the sorrow of the losers.
For the non-sports-inclined, there’s always the halftime show. After singing the National Anthem last year Lady Gaga gets a promotion to the main event, and her love of spectacle should pair well with the ludicrous speed of these events. She’s also promised her show will stress “inclusion” and “equality,” so expect that our garbage president will be ranting about it in some way the next day. (Also expect that he may roll out an executive order to revive the New Jersey Generals as an NFL franchise.)
24: Legacy (Fox, 10:30 p.m.): In the uncertain days following 9/11, a little show called 24 appeared, personifying the War On Terror and all its attendant moral ambiguities with rugged agent Jack Bauer and the Counter Terrorism Unit. Now more than 15 years later America once again faces terrifying uncertainty, and 24: Legacy is there to answer the call. Kiefer Sutherland’s hung up his ass-kicking boots, so the mantle passes to Corey Hawkins of Straight Outta Compton. Hawkins plays Eric Carter, an ex-Army Ranger who gets pulled into a domestic terrorism plot after his unit takes out one of their leaders. He teams up with CTU, now staffed with a new crop of faces—Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits, Teddy Sears, Dan Bucatinsky—and ready to send him a rabbit hole of exciting action scenes and terrible side plots that may or may not involve cougars. While there’s no Jack or Chloe or other 24 veterans to be seen (save the promise of an eventual Tony Almeida return), The A.V. Club readers will have the consistency of longtime 24 reviewer Zack Handlen for weekly coverage. Zack, your hacksaw is right where you left it.
Kitten Bowl IV (Hallmark, 2 p.m.): As is tradition, the occasion of the Super Bowl is matched with various other events of adorable animals. First up is the Kitten Bowl, wherein such teams as the Last Hope Lions, Boomer’s Bobcats, Northshore Bengals, and Home & Family Felines compete to bat a ball around a field. Normal sarcastic jokes are dropped this week in favor of “D’awwwwww.”
Puppy Bowl XIII (Animal Planet, 3 p.m.): Chase your Kitten Bowl feels with the further feels of the Puppy Bowl, as Team Ruff and Team Fluff go muzzle to muzzle. The player to watch this week is Alexander Hamilpup, whose speed is not to be underestimated. How does he score like he’s running out of time?
Fish Bowl IV, L.A. Clams vs. Buffalo Gills (National Geographic, 4 p.m.): We know that puns are part and parcel of these events, but NatGeo needs to go to the penalty box for the number of puns in the release for this one:
Joe Duck leads our penguin play-by-play reporting team, joined by former Most Valuable Penguin, Koi Aikman, providing slightly confused color commentary. Watch them try their hardest not to eat the players—it’s all part of the fun. Herring Andrews is our side tank reporter, fresh off of Dancing With The Starfish. She’s known for her in-depth and informative “Inside the Puddle” segment. Mike Coral joins the team as rules analyst to provide insight on some of the referees’ calls.
Animal Nation With Anthony Anderson (Animal Planet, 5 p.m.): Anthony Anderson of Black-ish hosts this talk show, where “celebrities, comedians and animal experts to discuss some of the hilarious, shocking, and emotional animal happenings in the world.” Hopefully it’ll be a better talk show than his team-up with Tom Arnold in Exit Wounds, because that was pretty brutal.
Secrets Of The Six Wives (PBS, 10 p.m.): All of the above events bill themselves as counter-programming for the Super Bowl, but it’s hard to think of anything more opposite than this documentary series on the wives of Henry VIII. He did have a few of them beheaded though, so it’s entirely possible their heads were used in an impromptu match. Tonight’s final episode focuses on “the ‘ugly’ one, the young one and the final one.” When did the monarchy turn into Teen Girl Squad?
The Young Pope (HBO, 9 p.m.)
Victoria (PBS, 9 p.m.)
Airwolf, “Shadow Of The Hawke” (Hulu): Tonight’s 24: Legacy series premiere joins the august ranks of Super Bowl lead-out programs, where networks try to use the game’s juggernaut ratings to either launch a new series or jolt some life into one of their existing ones. It’s led to some good episodes of TV—House diagnosing Mira Sorvino in the Antarctic, Prince giving Jess and Nick enough time to freak out, Sydney Bristow kicking ass in her underwear to AC/DC—but none of those episodes featured a cello-playing secret agent teaming up with Ernest Borgnine to fight crime in a state-of-the-art military helicopter. Therefore, those episodes are inferior next to the pilot of Airwolf.