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Archive for Saturday, December 27, 2008

NBC returns to Birds Nest Arena

December 27, 2008

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At a time when many are mulling 2008 and its best and worst moments, NBC recalls the highlight of its broadcast year, repeating The Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony (7 p.m., today, NBC). Directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the remarkable spectacle held in the Birds Nest Arena was watched by an estimated 2 billion viewers worldwide. The 70 million or so people who watched it in the United States on NBC comprised the largest audience for an Olympics opening ceremony not held in the United States. “The Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony” also takes a look back at the highlights of the Beijing Games, including the record-setting performance from swimmer Michael Phelps. We also get a brief introduction to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

• While many were inspired by Obama’s election-night acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, the night’s most talked-about line had nothing to do with politics. It was then the nation heard that Obama would make good on the puppy he had promised his his two daughters. Suddenly, America was not divided into blue states vs. red state, but mutts versus purebreds and shelter dogs vs. breeders. I’m still pulling for a pug in the White House, but the odds seem stacked against it.

Can a visit from “The Dog Whisperer” (7 p.m., Sunday, National Geographic) be far behind? You don’t have to be a presidential puppy to get your fill of Cesar Millan. “Dog Whisperer” will air for three hours a night, every night, from tomorrow through Friday, Jan. 2.

Tonight’s canine intervention on “Dog Whisperer” involves two — make that three — celebrities. Last autumn, singer Ashlee Simpson and husband Pete Wentz, the bassist and lyricist for Fall Out Boy, were expecting a baby. And one member of the family did not consider this a blessed event. Their Bulldog, Hemingway, was becoming increasingly aggressive. Wentz had owned Hemingway since long before Simpson entered his life. Before the photogenic bulldog participated in his wedding to Simpson, Wentz had made him a canine star of sorts, getting Hemingway on the cover of magazines and featured in music videos. No wonder he has a self-esteem problem. Can Cesar teach the power couple to assert their pack leadership before the arrival of the bundle of joy? Is there any doubt?

Today’s highlights

• “Survivorman” (8 a.m., to 2 a.m., Discovery) escapes every time, for 16 straight hours.

• Not all the colored lights are strung around Christmas trees. “Red-Light Districts” (8 p.m., A&E) explores the differences and similarities in neighborhoods of easy virtue in cities as varied as Moscow, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

Sunday’s highlights

• Spend 10 hours on a frozen trawler on the “Deadliest Catch” (8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Discovery) marathon.

• The wildlife series “Untamed and Uncut” (1 p.m. to 4 a.m., Animal Planet) airs for 16 consecutive hours.

• Discovery invites viewers to spend six hours on “Planet Earth” (6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Discovery).

Cult choice

Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and a host of brat packers from Charlie Sheen to Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey star in the 1984 Cold War hoot “Red Dawn” (7 p.m., today, Encore), directed by John Milius.

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