Fox doesn’t get to broadcast the Super Bowl this year, so it’s treating Sunday night’s NFC Championship Game between the Giants and 49ers (5:30 p.m.) as the next best thing.
Last Sunday’s late afternoon game between the Giants and the Packers had an audience of 45 million viewers. Last Saturday’s Patriots-Broncos game (“starring” the pious passer Tim Tebow) was watched by more than 34 million total viewers.
In a curious move, Fox is using its sure-to-be dominant ratings to boost “American Idol” (9 p.m., TV-PG).
And just why it thinks “American Idol” needs boosting is anybody’s guess. You’d think the network would air an episode of “Alcatraz” to give the new show maximum exposure. But nobody asked me.
• To celebrate last Sunday’s Golden Globe win for its star Idris Elba, BBC America will air all four hours of the miniseries “Luther” (10 a.m. Sunday).
If Elba was one of the big winners at the Golden Globes, the biggest loser was the show itself. The Globes used to be fun because the A-list crowd was loose and even slightly tipsy. That’s no longer the case.
Part of the pall on the proceedings came from the fear that host Ricky Gervais would ask the assembled to laugh at one of their own. While actors may be funny and pretty, they’re also thin-skinned and not really into jokes made at their own expense. You could tell the room didn’t like Gervais, and people tune in to watch the room, not him.
Worse still, Gervais never delivered. His jokes about the Kardashians were Leno-level mediocre at best. And his cracks about the name of Jodie Foster’s last movie with Mel Gibson were not only crude, adolescent and obvious, they were old! Jimmy Kimmel was joking about the movie (and its title) back in 2010, months before last year’s Golden Globes. Time for a new host.
• The audience size for “Downton Abbey” on “Masterpiece Classics” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) can’t compare with NFL football, but its fans make up for it with enthusiasm. “Downton” just may be the most addictive and beloved PBS/BBC series of all time.
As on many period melodramas, a premium is not put on action. Events on “Downton” unfold rather slowly, and you can see them coming a mile away at the speed of a horse and buggy. But the languid pace allows more time to ogle the sets and costumes and the characters’ operatic facial gestures.
Tonight: The abbey becomes a recuperation center for wounded officers (naturally). Meanwhile, on the Western Front, Matthew and William become lost behind enemy lines.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): compiling a “dictionary” of elephant sounds, Kenya’s wildebeest migration, Jane Goodall.
• A fairy tale romance thwarted on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Alicia takes a case freighted with religious misunderstandings on “The Good Wife” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Bree and the bottle are a bad mix on “Desperate Housewives” (8 p.m., ABC).
• A Roman holiday on “Pan Am” (9 p.m., ABC).