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Settle into the couch; TV marathons, specials are here

Sarah Beckham
'Mythbusters' hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage can fill your Monday and your Friday with a feast of useless knowledge.

Sure, you could spend the next week watching nothing but college football games, but there also plenty of ways to unleash your inner couch potato even if you don't care one whit for first downs and field goals. There's nothing like a good cable TV marathon to make sure you don't accomplish anything at all constructive during your holiday time off. Whether it's edifying fare like science shows and classic films or the shallowest, silliest reality shows, anything is better when watched four hours at a time. But it's not all reruns out there. Away from the bowl games, you'll also find a good slate of specials and even series premieres. Here are some of the highlights.

Marathons

Sunday: Enjoy some British-accented debauchery with BBC America's "Absolutely Fabulous" marathon (7 p.m. to 4 a.m.). USA starts "Law & Order: SVU" at 8 a.m. and keeps it going all day. TNT screens its trio of "Librarian" adventure movies from 1 to 7 p.m.

Also: Seven hours of "Real Housewives of New York" starting at 10 a.m., Bravo; four hours of "For the Love of Ray J 2," starting at 4 p.m., VH1; five hours of "LA Ink," starting at noon, TLC; four hours of "True Life," starting at 9 a.m., MTV; "Married With Children," TV Land, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; "Unearthing Ancient Secrets," 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Science Channel; "Deadliest Catch," 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Discovery.

Monday: Pull an all-nighter of Frank Capra films starting at 7 p.m., TCM. "Mythbusters" starts at 8 a.m. and runs the rest of the day on Discovery. Also: four hours of "Black to the Future," starting at 5 a.m., VH1; four hours of "Millionaire Matchmaker" starting at 3 p.m., Bravo; four hours of "Million Dollar Listing," starting at 7 p.m., Bravo; 13 hours of "Prototype This," starting at 5 a.m., Science Channel; "The Sarah Jane Adventures," 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Syfy.

Tuesday: A full day of films selected to be preserved by the National Film Registry, from "42nd Street" to "High Noon," starts at 6 a.m. on TCM. "Tabatha's Salon Takeover" starts at noon and runs the rest of the day on Bravo. Also: "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions," 5 a.m. to noon, Science Channel; "Dirty Jobs," 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Discovery; "Joan of Arcadia," 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Syfy; "Ghost Hunters Academy," 3 to 9 p.m., Syfy.

Wednesday: USA is at it again with the "Law & Order" marathons. Today, "L&O: Criminal Intent" goes from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starting at 5 a.m., TCM celebrates Humphrey Bogart with a day of his movies. Also: "Really Big Things," 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Science Channel; "Overhaulin' " 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Discovery; "Everest: Beyond the Limit," 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Discovery; "Ghost Hunters," 6 p.m. to midnight, Syfy.

Thursday: After a day of Bogart, TCM has a pair of marathons today. Alfred Hitchcock movies (including "Psycho" and "Vertigo") air from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starting at 7 p.m. and continuing the rest of the night, ring in 2010 in sophisticated style with the "Thin Man" movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. USA's original series "Burn Notice" starts at 5 a.m. and goes the rest of the day.

It's a Syfy New Year's tradition: From 7 a.m. New Year's Eve to 5 a.m. Jan. 2, the network unleashes its annual "Twilight Zone" marathon.

Spend the day with the Three Stooges in a marathon on AMC, 6 a.m. New Year's Eve through 5 a.m. New Year's Day.

"Ghost Lab" starts at 8 a.m. and runs the rest of the day on Discovery Channel. "How Do They Do It" takes over the Science Channel from 5 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Four and a half hours of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," including "lost footage," start at noon, Bravo.

Friday: Need more "Law & Order"? USA has another "SVU" marathon. It starts at 5 a.m. but takes a break for the Holiday Bowl parade from 8 to 9 a.m. Is Bravo trying to tell us to start a New Year's diet? Ten hours of "The Biggest Loser" start at 7 a.m. "Mythbusters" starts at 8 a.m. and runs the rest of the day, Discovery. From 1 to 8 p.m., CMT asks "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

Saturday: OK, Bravo is definitely trying to tell us something: Four hours of "Work Out" starting at 7 a.m. It's followed by six hours of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" starting at 11 a.m. It's "NCIS" day on USA. Episodes start at 8 a.m. and run the rest of the day. "Married With Children" runs from 1 to 9 p.m. on TV Land.

Specials

Sunday: Sing along with "The Sound of Music" (6 p.m., ABC).

Monday: Nothing says holiday season like pirates. ABC screens "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" at 7 p.m.

Tuesday: The red-nosed one is back with "Rudolph's Shiny New Year," 7 p.m., ABC.

At 8 p.m., CBS airs "The Kennedy Center Honors." Taped Dec. 6, the event features a formidable lineup of honorees: Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro, Mel Brooks, opera singer Grace Bumbry and Dave Brubeck.

Wednesday: ABC celebrates 2010's arrival with "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown" (7 p.m.).

Thursday: Your New Year's Eve viewing options include "NBC's New Year's Eve With Carson Daly" (9-10 p.m., then picking up after local programming at 11:30 p.m.), broadcasting from Times Square with musical guests including Jay-Z, Rihanna and Green Day. For "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2010" (9-10 p.m., then picking up after local programming at 11:30, ABC), Clark and Seacrest broadcast from Times Square, while Fergie broadcasts from Las Vegas. Musical guests include Jennifer Lopez and Daughtry. At 11 p.m. on Fox, "Billboard's New Year's Eve Live" broadcasts from the Las Vegas strip with live music and a look back at the year in entertainment. Carmen Electra hosts; musical guests include Kris Allen.

Friday: Even non-football fans will be charmed by the "121st Rose Parade" (10 a.m.). The parade airs on ABC, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, HGTV, the Travel Channel and Univision.

"The Antonio Treatment," the new HGTV series featuring "Design Star" winner Antonio Ballatore, doesn't join the network's regular lineup until this spring, but there's a sneak preview at noon after the Rose Parade.

You can enter to win the "HGTV Dream Home 2010," a stylish New Mexico house that will be showcased at 8 p.m.

Premieres

Monday: Discovery launches "Motor City Motors" at 9 p.m. The show features Detroit autoworkers creating one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Tuesday: TLC's "One Big Happy Family" (8 p.m.) follows a morbidly obese family of four as they try to lose weight.

Wednesday: The 23rd installment of MTV's "The Real World "debuts at 9 p.m. (We know. Twenty-three!) This time, the proverbial "seven strangers" are in Washington, D.C. Cast members include "small-town girl" Callie, who's from Texas.

In "The Imploders" (9 p.m., TLC), we meet a family of demolition experts.

Friday: HGTV unveils "The Outdoor Room With Jamie Durie." The Australian designer will help homeowners with, you guessed it, outdoor living spaces. (9 p.m.)

Saturday: Animal Planet debuts new seasons of "Underdog to Wonderdog" (7 p.m.) and "It's Me or the Dog" (8 p.m.).

sbeckham@statesman.com; 445-3826