Television is a crucial part of any New Year's Eve celebration. How else are you gonna know when midnight has officially struck? Nobody's watch ever agrees, and you're usually too busy boozing it up to notice anyway. Turning the TV on and watching as the big, lit-up ball drops into Times Square is pretty much the most accurate measuring device mankind has.
So don't dismiss TV this New Year's Eve. Invite it into your home as a valued member of the family. It will keep you updated on important events and, if you search around, you're sure to find the perfect complement to your party, big or small.
For example, there's the granddaddy of them all, “Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2005” (KOAT-7 9-10 p.m., 11:30-1 p.m.). Of course, Dick's laid up after his recent stroke and won't be able to freeze his toupee off in Times Square this year. He's been replaced by Regis Philbin, who will fill in as host at pretty much any public gathering up to and including your cousin's bar mitzvah. This is the perfect party for people who like to pretend they're hip, but aren't really at all. Ashlee Simpson, Billy Idol, Big & Rich, Los Lonely Boys and Earth, Wind and Fire are among the musical guests. ... Wait, who let Billy Idol into the building?
If you and your guests were, at one time, into cocaine, the Hustle and Studio 54, you might want to tune in to “Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion” (KNME-5 9:30 p.m.-12 a.m.). Classic acts like the Bee Gees, Donna Summer and Wild Cherry will be kicking out the dance floor jams for your booty-shaking enjoyment. Break out the disco ball and party like it's 1975.
If you're looking for something a little trendier, there's “New Year's Eve With Carson Daly” (KOB-4 9-10 p.m.). I guess NBC figured they'd better start getting some mileage out of MTV dude Daly, who's nightly talk show is normally relegated to the late-night infomercial slot after Conan O'Brien. Daly is joined by co-hosts Conan O'Brien, Brian Williams and Tina Fey. Musical guests include Duran Duran, Maroon 5 and Avril Lavigne. Of course, Donald Trump has got to stick his fat gob in there as well.
If even Duran Duran is too mature for you, you can always dial up “New Year's Eve: Live from Times Square with Ryan Seacrest” (KASA-2 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m.), in which the “American Idol” host welcomes teen-oriented bands like Evanescence and Hoobastank.
If that's still too grown-up for you and your guests, there's always “New Year's Eve House Party” (Disney, 3 p.m.-1 a.m.). It features a 10-hour kid-hosted marathon of viewer-voted faves of 2004. Toss the kids at your party in one bedroom and let them soak up hours of Disney cartoons and Lindsey Lohan videos. They'll be good and sedated by 2 a.m. when you're ready to stumble home.