Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
You may have heard that the Kansas City Chiefs will battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at their home stadium in Super Bowl LV (that's 55 if you don't know your Roman numerals) this Sunday.
How can you miss the hype?
A ton of preparation goes into any Super Bowl matchup, and I'm not even talking about the game. I'm referring to how to watch the final NFL contest of the year.
COVID took care of any plans to watch with a crew at a Super Bowl party. Fine by me. The crowd often pays more attention to the commercials than the actual game. I care more about what Tony Romo thinks of the Chiefs defensive alignment than the latest way to sell a Skittle.
This year's big game kicks off at 6:30 PM ET on CBS, but the hype machine starts rolling much earlier than that. At this point, no one needs nonstop analysis examining every single angle of the Super Bowl matchup. I know more about Tom Brady than I do some of my closest relatives.
Allow me to plan your Super Sunday on that new big screen television of yours.
Noon ET - Weather Forecast (The Weather Channel)
Determine whether you'll be inside all day or have the option to venture outdoors and throw a football around or even do some errands (wearing a mask). Your local forecast is a key ingredient for a successful Super Sunday. Plus you can laugh at the weather in other parts of the country that is worse than your own.
1:00 PM ET - Food Forecast (Food Network or one of the many Discovery Channels)
Your first lesson in counter programming. I'm sure you've determined what you'll be having for dinner and any Super snacks. Be sure to take the opposite route for lunch. If it's pizza at night, have a burger or hot dogs for lunch and take it easy considering what lies ahead. Watching your favorite food channel can give you some excellent ideas.
2:00 PM ET - Puppy Bowl XVII (Animal Planet) or Kitten Bowl VIII (Hallmark)
Counter programming lesson number two – these housepet battles have been going on for years. If you're a degenerate, it's a great way to get the gambling rolling. Both of these championships are the perfect break from analyzing what Andy Reid will wear and the wind shifts in Tampa, Florida. It raises awareness to great causes, and these animals are really cute.
3:00 PM ET - Super Bowl Highlights (NFL Network, NBC Sports, ESPN)
The NFL Network, soon to be gone NBC Sports Network and at least one of the ESPNs will be showing old Super Bowls. Watch and remember when this Sunday was just about the game. Get that NFL Films special feeling. If it's one of the Steelers six wins, I'll be locked in for sure.
4:00 PM ET - Movie Time
Probably the most controversial move I make on Super Bowl Sunday. I work on one of these sports channels and I respect what they do, but it has been two straight weeks of debating the ins and outs of this game. Time for a break, but not a break from football.
There are many football movies, but this is the Super Bowl, so you should watch one of the best. My go-to is the original version of The Longest Yard starring Burt Reynolds and the Mean Machine. Other options include Friday Night Lights (either the movie or the TV show is acceptable), Brian's Song if you want a good cry, Remember The Titans with Denzel leading the way, or last but not least, Rudy to make you feel like you can play. Any Given Sunday is too heavy, and we'll save Draft Day for the NFL Draft.
Bottom line — you've killed two hours and stayed in football mode.
6:00 PM ET – Actual Pregame Show (CBS)
We're almost at kickoff. Use this time to set up snacks, take a bathroom break, walk the dog, and take out the garbage. Get all of that stuff out of the way so you can focus on the game.
The R&B/Country national anthem will be outshined by H.E.R. performing America the Beautiful. Both teams enter. A coin will be tossed (tails 6 of the last 7 Super Bowls). This is acceptable pregame chatter. Casual conversation is welcome until...
6:30 PM ET – Kickoff
Time to focus on the Chiefs and the Bucs playing for the title. The first half is typically boring, but these offenses have the potential to explode at any time. Ads have been disappointing since they became available before the actual game telecast, so just laugh at the amounts of money wasted by companies all over America.
Approximately 8:00 PM ET – Halftime show (Dinner/Bathroom Break)
Time to take a break from football and get to the entertainment...for some. For me, it's time for the bathroom and to grab some quality food since everyone else is busy watching the spectacle. No offense to The Weeknd, but he's not exactly The Rolling Stones. And, oh yeah, this is a FOOTBALL game.
Approximately 10:00 PM ET – The Trophy Presentation
The game has ended and the Gatorade has been poured. Hopefully it was a battle to the end and one of these great QB's orchestrated a last minute drive for the victory. Confetti is everywhere and I wonder how they clean it all up as the Vince Lombardi trophy is awarded to the Super Bowl LV champ.
Next up, it's Queen Latifah… as The Equalizer! No thanks, I need to go to bed.
February is here. It's a new month, with lots to watch this week. And not just football. Super!
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
The Investigation (HBO)
Monday, February 1st 10:00 PM ET
A Swedish journalist boards a small submarine to interview a Danish entrepreneur. She doesn't make it back, and the world renown submarine case is born.
This six-part Scandinavian drama focuses on the real-life team that investigated the gruesome murder of Kim Wall, gathering evidence from a sunken sub. This one takes true-crime to a new level. (Game of Thrones fans... Euron Greyjoy is the good guy in this!)
HBO has been all over true crime lately, and they've gotten more active with foreign acquisitions. The Investigation reminds me of Bordertown on Netflix, except Kari Sorjonen was a fictional investigator on the Finland/Russian border. This chilling investigative series is based on events that actually occurred, and that's just plain scary.
Fake Famous (HBO MAX)
Tuesday, February 2nd
Three people in L.A. with small social media followings want to be influencers. Fake followers and bots help boost their numbers as this documentary chronicles their journey towards what we call fame these days.
The big question is are they really famous? What does a "like" really mean, and why is it so important to so many of us? Fame can be lucrative, but how you earn it has dramatically changed with the influence of social media. Making money is one thing, but being famous is something else.
There's nothing I respect less than someone who is famous for the sake of being famous. Show some accomplishments or some sacrifice. I don't begrudge anyone their followers, but the price of fame today is downright depressing. Watch trailer.
Firefly Lane (NETFLIX)
Wednesday, February 3rd
Two female best friends have been there for each other for decades and carry an unbreakable bond. Getting older will provide the ultimate test of friendship. Looks like I'll be watching this one with my wife.
Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke star as the unlikely pair of Tully and Kate in this Netflix series. Both actresses have shown great senses of humor in previous roles, and Heigl is an EP, so this one is near and dear to her heart.
Firefly Lane slips right into the sweet spot of one of Netflix's many algorithms. Adapt a bestselling book about friendship, and let the binging begin.
30 For 30: Al Davis vs The NFL (ESPN)
Thursday, February 4th 9:00 PM ET
The late Al Davis was always a fighter. His football team, the Oakland Raiders have always reflected that defining characteristic. The mighty silver and black.
Al's legacy is tailor made for an ESPN 30 for 30. I wonder why it took so long to make considering all the subject matter this Emmy winning series has covered.
The Raiders have a beautiful new stadium in Las Vegas that they now call home. Al would be very proud. It only took 40 years to get it. Watch trailer.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.
TOPICS: Super Bowl LV, CBS, ESPN, Food Network, The Weather Channel, 30 For 30, The Equalizer (2021 series), Fake Famous, Firefly Lane, The Investigation, Kitten Bowl, Puppy Bowl, H.E.R., Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, The Weeknd, NFL Films