No getting around it – Super Bowl XLVIII (Sunday, Fox, CTV, 6 p.m.) eats up all the attention, and a lot of airtime, this weekend. But the event, called "the tight-pants man clash," by Stephen Colbert the other night, is not actually required viewing. It can be skipped. Don't give in to peer pressure.
Besides, you won't see many of the highly touted Super Bowl commercials in Canada anyway. And there's no use in complaining. Such is the annual fuss about the ads that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently issued a don't-blame-us statement: "The reason for this is that Canadian TV stations pay for the right to broadcast the Super Bowl in Canada. To finance that expense, those stations sell separate advertising during the game. In Canada, most of the advertising time is sold to Canadian advertisers who want to reach Canadian audiences. As a result, Super Bowl viewers in Canada see the Canadian ads instead of the ones that U.S. viewers see. Canada and the United States are separate markets for television rights." So there.
Instead of those ads, which you can find on the Internet soon after, you'll probably get ceaseless promos for CTV's current and upcoming shows. You might, in fact, begin to loathe Masterchef Canada without ever seeing it.
There are other TV events this weekend. Herewith, five shows that aren't the Super Bowl.
Flowers in the Attic (Sunday, Lifetime, 3 p.m.) was recently aired in prime time on Lifetime, to big ratings. If you missed it, it's a doozy. A vaguely deranged adaptation of a bestselling, creepy 1979 novel (there was an awful movie version in 1987), it's essentially about kids being locked up in the attic. Young mom Corrine (Heather Graham) is left penniless when her husband dies, so she and the kids live in their grandparents' mansion. Grandma hates them all. Grandpa doesn't know they're there. After years of isolation and mom's increasingly strange behaviour, everyone goes a bit insane. There are suggestions of incest. This is lurid material, but not chronically so. Graham stays utterly restrained, even as her character turns hideous. Ellen Burstyn does the evil grandma with relish. Best of all, you'll find Kiernan Shipka, instantly recognizable as Sally Draper on Mad Men, playing the older daughter, Cathy. No masterpiece, this, but you might discover why the book has sold 40 million copies and is still adored by some young female readers.
Puppy Bowl X (Sunday, Animal Planet, 3 p.m.) is what it is – puppies goofing around with a toy football and the event being delivered with all the pomposity of the other Bowl. Hilarious and cute, in the best way.
Sherlock (Sunday, most PBS stations, 10 p.m.) reaches, too soon, its season finale. Holmes is drug-addled but back in Baker Street, where he and Watson are hired by one Lady Smallwood (the always wonderful Lindsay Duncan) to investigate a blackmailer and enemy of the British government, Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen). Mycroft Holmes has a fit about this and Magnussen proves to be a very clever enemy to Sherlock. Suggestions of treason arise and, meanwhile, Watson makes disturbing discoveries about his new wife's past. All done with splendid wit, of course.
New Girl (Sunday, Fox, 10:30 p.m.) gets the post-Super Bowl slot this year. And there's like, a huge guest star. It's Prince. Why Prince? Well, according to the show's producer, it was the musician's idea: "He said, 'I want to be involved in the show in a real way and I want to help Nick and Jess with their relationship.'" He's referring to the laboured romance between Zooey Deschanel's character and the slacker played by Jake Johnson. The producers further explained, "[Prince's] thing was all about getting to Jess and trying to bring out this inner part of her that hadn't been brought to the forefront." In the promos, somebody faints on the show, and it ain't Prince.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sunday, Fox, 11 p.m.) gets the post-post Super Bowl slot. The recent and surprising Golden Globes winner doesn't have Prince but it has NFL legend Joe Theismann as guest star. And Adam Sandler appears as himself. What's it about? Well, creator Mike Schur says, "There's some Super Bowl-specific stuff but we really just tried to create a really big, bright, funny, juicy, comedy story." There you go. You can spend your time figuring out why this show won two Golden Globes. Enjoy.