Tuesday is not an official national holiday, but with so many viewers eager to witness history in the making, maybe it should be. Jan. 20 is Inauguration Day. Across the nation, attention will turn toward the small screen to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. It's not going to be a regular workday, and some would say it's the beginning of a new day in the United States of America.
Although tens of thousands will descend upon the national capital for the inaugural parade, the swearing-in ceremony, and a cavalcade of balls, many more will remain in their home states, attending local inaugural balls or watching events as they unfold on TV and online. It's no surprise that regular network programming will be pre-empted or that the cable news networks are planning for all-day coverage. What is new is the number of entertainment networks opening their schedules for inaugural time. HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, Current TV, E!, and others are turning their cameras toward some aspect of the day, while CNN.com is joining forces with Facebook.com, the popular social networking site, to show the inauguration with Facebook users' responses (i.e., status updates) streaming live and in real time on the CNN.com screen.
For a fuller description of events, go to Picture in Picture at austinchronicle.com/pip.
Many, Many, Many Happy Returns
Here's the lineup of new and returning TV series:
Thursday, Jan. 15: The Beast (A&E). Patrick Swayze stars as an undercover FBI agent in this new series that may be the talk of the season because of its offscreen drama. Although Swayze was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he signed on and was undergoing chemotherapy during production, he managed to get through shooting of this new series, missing only one day of work. After shooting, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. All representatives (and fans) are hoping for the best.
Jan. 16: Friday Night Lights (NBC). Those with satellite have already seen the third season. Now the rest of the world can catch up. Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi). The cult favorite returns for its swan song in 10 final episodes.
Jan. 18: Big Love (HBO). This is the third season of the drama about a family of polygamists. United States of Tara (Showtime). If the supertalented Diablo Cody (Juno) wasn't one of the creatives behind this series about a woman (played by Toni Collette) with multiple personalities, I might be concerned. At present, I'm exceptionally curious.
Also returning: Flight of the Conchords (HBO), about a folk duo from New Zealand trying to make it in New York, is quite possibly the quirkiest comedy on TV. And The L Word (Showtime) returns for its sixth (and final) season.
Jan. 21: Lost (ABC). They're baaack! Except now, the Oceanic Six are returning to the island because – oh, who the hell knows why they do anything? Lie to Me (Fox). Tim Roth leads a team of deception experts to help solve crimes.
Jan. 22: Burn Notice (USA). This engaging little dramedy – about a spy unceremoniously dumped by his handlers and his efforts to find out why while working as a private investigator – has been flying under the radar for a while now. It returns next Thursday for its third season.
Jan. 25: The Last Templar (NBC). A miniseries starring Mira Sorvino as an archaeologist.
Jan. 26: The Closer (TNT). Blink, and you'll miss it. Only five episodes of the crime drama starring Kyra Sedgwick are airing. Trust Me (TNT). A new series starring Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed) as friends who work in a high-profile advertising firm.
Coming in February: Medium (NBC), Heroes (NBC), and Dollhouse (Fox), the highly anticipated high tech drama from Joss Whedon (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).
And in March: Castle (ABC) stars Nathan Fillion (Waitress) as a crime novelist who helps solve crimes in real life. Breaking Bad (AMC) and Reaper (CW) return for their second seasons. Kings (NBC), another anticipated series, stars Ian McShane (Deadwood) in a drama loosely based on the biblical story of King David. Cupid (ABC), based on Rob Thomas' original cult comedy about the god of love forced to live among humans, stars Bobby Cannavale (Third Watch).
As always, stay tuned.
E-mail Belinda Acosta at email@example.com.