Who needs "American Idol" when you can watch the 131st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (7 p.m., USA, concluding Tuesday), the second-longest-running continually held sporting event in the United States.
Only the Kentucky Derby has a longer tradition. When the Westminster began in 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was president, the automobile was still decades into the future and most Americans considered a dog to be a hunting companion or help around the farm. The notion of a purebred dog as a mere pet was out of reach for most Americans.
Tonight, more than 2,600 dogs will make their way to New York's Madison Square Garden to represent 165 recognized breeds.
Lester Holt ("Weekend Today") returns as host, joined by expert David Frei, who presides over his 18th consecutive Westminster. They will be joined by Dr. Debbye Turner ("The Early Show"), a veterinarian and Miss America 1990.
¢ "American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) takes an informed and affectionate look at the city of New Orleans and its unique place in American history and culture. Using period art, photographs and interviews with poets, artists and historians, the piece puts great emphasis on the city's unique public culture, its French heritage, its penchant for parades and a long history of racial and ethnic cross-cultural pollination that put it at odds with American culture. As one native resident recalls, tourists were still called "Americans" when he was a boy.
Much like a history class that simply runs out of time, "New Orleans" covers the past 40 years of the city's history in a hurry. And it offers little discussion of the city's reputation for crime and violence, a problem that long preceded the Katrina catastrophe and now seems to be hindering its recovery. Last week, CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper hosted a special on New Orleans. It was called "Murder City USA."
¢ Joely Richardson ("Nip/Tuck") and Stephen Campbell Moore ("The History Boys") star as Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII in the TV movie "Wallis & Edward" (8 p.m., BBC America), the true tale of a monarch who relinquished his crown for the woman he loved.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ The vice president (Powers Boothe) schemes on a two-hour helping of "24" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ A substitute (Orlando Jones) holds Chris to a higher standard on "Everybody Hates Chris" (7 p.m., CW).
¢ "Antiques Roadshow" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) arrives in Tucson, Ariz.
¢ Marshall trains for the marathon on "How I Met Your Mother" (7 p.m., CBS).
¢ Opposites clash on "Wife Swap" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ Stranded on a dateless night on "The Class" (7:30 p.m., CBS)
¢ The truth about Claire's father emerges on "Heroes" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ A young woman (Shannen Doherty) matriculates at a spooky academy run by a sinister figure (Kate Jackson) in the 2000 made-for-TV shocker "Satan's School for Girls" (8 p.m., Family).
¢ A team member is struck down on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Matt recalls his first meeting with Hariet on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ "REAL Spots with Bryant Gumbel" (9 p.m., HBO) profiles Phillies hitting sensation Ryan Howard. Spring training is only days away!
¢ Drew Barrymore, Kevin Johnson and Rickie Lee Jones appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS)
¢ Jay Leno hosts Nicolas Cage, D.J. Sampson, Sam Ballerini and The Fray on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC)