This Sunday marks the 51st annual NFL Super Bowl—branded this year by the unexciting Roman designation of “LI.” This year’s “Super Bowl LI” (or “Lee” as I’m calling it) will hit FOX stations nationwide with all the attendant overhype of an event watched by 115 million Americans. And since the game alone can’t support that level of expectation, many other stations are jumping on board trying to siphon some of that sporting enthusiasm.
You can, for example, start bright and early by watching some of the animal-based programming that has sprung up in the last few years. Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl is the oldest, having provided a cute-based alternative to the game since 2005. This year the network is going all out, starting with a “special “Puppy Bowl” episode of “Too Cute! (Animal Planet 8am) and “Puppy Bowl: Best of Inside the Bowl” (Animal Planet 9:30am). From there, it’s straight to the “Kitty Half-time Dress Rehearsal” (Animal Planet 10am). That’s followed quickly by “We Love Puppies” (Animal Planet 10:01am), and “Where Are They Now” (Animal Planet 11am), which takes a look at some of the pets who got adopted off previous Puppy Bowls. The “Puppy Bowl Pre-Game Show” (Animal Plant 12pm) is next, followed—finally!—by “Puppy Bowl XIII: Team Ruff vs. Team Fluff” (Animal Planet 1pm). The “game” is followed by “Super Pups” (Animal Planet 4:01pm) and “Texas Sized Cuteness” (Animal Planet 6:01pm)—at which point even the most dedicated of puppy-lovers will be good and sick of the fuzzy little bastards.
Over on Hallmark Channel, baby cats are milked for nearly as much time on air with the “Kitten Bowl IV Pregame Show” (Hallmark 10am with reruns at 1pm and 4pm). I kid you not, the “Kitten Bowl IV Playoff Games” (Hallmark 10:30am with reruns at 1:30pm and 4:30pm) are next. No idea who the teams are or what the point spread is supposed to be, but I’m sure they’ll be hard-fought games. That leads directly into the “Kitten Bowl IV Championship Game” (Hallmark 12pm with reruns at 3pm and 6pm), which should contain even more animal-based puns than the Puppy Bowl.
The Johnny-come-lately faux-
If you love sports but want nothing to do with football. NBC Sports Network delivers with an entire afternoon of hot (well, not hot) curling action. We’ve got “Curling: USA vs. China” (NBCSN 3pm), “Mixed Doubles Curling: USA vs China” (NBCSN 5pm) and “Women’s Curling: USA vs. Japan” (NBCSN 7pm). Who knew Asia was so big on curling?
The actual, honest-to-goodness game gets going later in the afternoon. “Super Bowl LI” (KRQE-DT2 4:30pm) will feature the New England Patriots vs. the Atlanta Falcons. This marks New England’s ninth Super Bowl appearance, setting a record and probably giving a pretty good indication of who’s gonna win. If you’re not into football, there will be millions of dollars worth of commercials to ogle and Lady Gaga is doing the halftime show.
FOX, not one to let opportunity slip by, is using the cushy post-Super Bowl spot to air the premiere episode of “24: Legacy” (KRQE-DT2 8:30pm). It could just as well have been called “24: Cheaper Actor” with Corey Hawkins (“The Walking Dead”) replacing Kiefer Sutherland. But at least you get to watch people shooting terrorists.