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Holiday TV isn’t just stale leftovers (david boreanaz mention)

Sunday 10 December 2006, by Webmaster

It’s that time of the year — as the holidays approach — when many die-hard TV watchers tend to get a bit cranky.

They turn on the tube only to discover that their favorite show is in rerun mode, or not there at all. The gnashing of teeth can be heard everywhere.

But take heart. Year-end TV viewing doesn’t have to be a total bummer. Instead of regarding prime time as a lackluster buffet table riddled with leftovers, think of it as an exciting opportunity to sample some new entrees.

And so, with that in mind, we offer this day-to-day rundown of some see-worthy shows that you may have overlooked over the past year or so:

SUNDAY: Based on its scattershot and angst-laden pilot, you had every right to give the cold shoulder to "Brothers & Sisters" (10 p.m., Channels 7 and 10, ABC). But gradually, this family drama with a primo cast (Calista Flockhart, Sally Field, et al.) has gained some traction.

There’s a nice blend of appealing relationships, humor and even some dark intrigue to the show, and the scenes between Flockhart and Field really pop.

MONDAY: "Everybody Hates Chris" (8 p.m., Channels 31 and 44, The CW) debuted last season to thunderous critical praise; and though the clamor (and the ratings) has softened, this family sitcom is still a real treat. And Tichina Arnold is the funniest TV mom around these days.

Aaron Sorkin’s "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (10 p.m., Channels 3 and 11, NBC) also debuted to raves, only to see much of its audience flee as the show struggled to find its creative footing. Time to give it a second chance because things have meshed quite nicely as of late. Last Monday’s holiday episode was an extraordinary piece of writing.

TUESDAY: Now that it’s no longer running up against "Dancing With the Stars," you simply have no excuse to keep ignoring "Friday Night Lights" (8 p.m., Channels 3 and 11, NBC). We picked this gritty, heartfelt drama as our No. 1 new show coming into the season and since then our appreciation has only intensified. We’d sure love some company, though, as ratings for "Lights" continue to flicker. (The show moves to Wednesdays on Jan. 10.)

WEDNESDAY: Clearly, you don’t need any coaxing to check out "Criminal Minds" (8 p.m., Channel 13; 9 p.m., Channel 5, CBS). It’s a solid crime procedural that has gained steam in its sophomore season; and, with "Lost" in hibernation, it has become even more popular.

But if you prefer your crime shows to have a lighter touch — along with witty banter and sexual tension — you just might dig "Bones" (9 p.m., Channels 2 and 40, Fox). It features a likable ensemble led by Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, who exude a great onscreen chemistry.

THURSDAY: Standout shows that need no introduction abound on this night. Our modest proposal is to ease out of your comfort zone. If, for example, you’re committed to the NBC comedy block ("My Name Is Earl," "The Office," "Scrubs" and "30 Rock"), try jumping into the frothy pleasures offered by ABC ("Ugly Betty" and "Grey’s Anatomy").

Meanwhile, two emerging newbies worth sampling are Anne Heche’s "Men in Trees" (10 p.m., Channels 7 and 10, ABC), which just moved to the night, and/or "Shark" (9 p.m., Channel 13; 10 p.m. Channel 5, CBS). The former is a romantic, quirky, sweet-natured diversion that has a way of growing on you. The latter is a legal drama bolstered by the charismatic performance of James Woods.

FRIDAY: This night is pretty threadbare, but you might want to immerse yourself in "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., Channel 13; 10 p.m., Channel 5, CBS) if you haven’t already. It’s a smart whodunit that appeals especially to the math geeks among us.

SATURDAY: There’s really nothing of note here, which makes it a great night to catch up on shows you recorded earlier in the week. And speaking of reruns, CBS and NBC offer encores of some of their prime procedurals.

CHANNEL SURFING: One show not on our list was "The Nine." That’s because the ABC drama has been banished to hiatus. "The Nine," you might recall, debuted with an electrifying pilot. Since then, the serial saga has turned tedious and viewers have fled in droves. ... ABC also announced that "Lost" will move into the 10 p.m. time slot when it returns to Wednesdays in February. The move spares "Lost" from going head-to-head with "American Idol." ... Finally, I want to make a slight alteration to something we had in last Saturday’s column. KGO’s new single-anchor alignment applies only to the station’s half-hour newscasts. Jessica Aguirre shares the anchor desk with Pete Wilson during the hourlong 6 p.m. program.