Clark & Co. ring in another year

Call me a crab, but I can't imagine a less pleasant place to ring in the new year than Times Square. Cram throngs of amateur drinkers into a city that doesn't believe in public rest rooms. Add freezing temperatures. You do the math.

But there's plenty of New Year's Eve television for those of us too scared, sober, sane or sensible to brave the Big Night out of doors.

  • The ageless, indefatigable and frankly scary one-man TV institution, Dick Clark, is host of his 31st consecutive special. "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve 2003" (9 p.m., ABC) kicks off with Clark's live coverage of the shenanigans in Times Square. I bet Dick negotiated his own rest room.

Steve Doocy and Mario Lopez will scour New York for other holiday festivities. Clark will also introduce performances from some of this past year's most successful tours, including Alabama, Coldplay and John Mayer.

Beginning at 10:35 p.m., Clark counts down the final moments of 2002 on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2003" as midnight descends on Times Square. Ali Landry joins him live from Hollywood to introduce performances by B2K, Missy Elliott, Las Ketchup, Nelly, Rod Stewart, Third Eye Blind and Uncle Kracker.

  • Viewers looking for slightly less traditional New Year's Eve marathons are in luck. Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim's New Year's Eve Bash!" allows viewers to catch up on some of TV's most bizarre and inventive adult cartoons, including "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (10 p.m.), "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" (10:15 p.m.) and a brand-new episode of "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" (11 p.m.).

Hosts for the marathon special are Brak ("Space Ghost") and Carl (the fat guy from New Jersey who looks like Dennis Franz on "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"). They'll be "live" from Times Square. Don't miss it.

  • Brittany Murphy, Carson Daly and Ashton Kutcher are hosts of "MTV's New Year's Eve Pajama Party" (9:30 p.m.), featuring live performances by Foo Fighters, Busta Rhymes, Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne.
  • Ryan Seacrest (my choice for the most annoying and forgettable new celebrity of 2002) is host of "America's Party" (10 p.m., Fox), featuring live updates as the New Year approaches the strip in Las Vegas. Scheduled performers include Ja Rule, Sheryl Crow, Ashanti and Sugar Ray.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Catch 24 straight hours of "Absolutely Fabulous" (11 a.m., BBC America).
  • Emily and Richard encourage Lorelai's interest in a society type on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
  • Farrah Fawcett guest-stars on "The Guardian" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Amy rules on a case involving a family torn apart by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, on "Judging Amy" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on "Dateline" (9 p.m., NBC): a retrospective of interviews from 2002, including Dr. Phil, Apollo Ohno, Reese Witherspoon and Halle Berry.
  • "Sex & the City" (HBO) unspools a seven-hour marathon beginning at 9 p.m.

Series notes

Domestic abuse turns to homicide on "JAG" (7 p.m., CBS) ... The gang gangs up on Jack's new hire (Rena Sofer) on "Just Shoot Me" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Eric finds Donna's love token sort of ugly on "That '70s Show" (7 p.m., Fox) ... Kerry beats Bridget for a spot on the cheerleading squad on "Eight Simple Rules" (7 p.m., ABC) ... On back-to-back episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (UPN), Willow seeks revenge (7 p.m.), as her grief verges on madness (8 p.m.).

Matt wrecks Victor's Caddy on "In-Laws" (7:30 p.m., NBC) ... Andy learns a lesson in tolerance on "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" (7 p.m., Fox) ... Jim kicks back with an old party buddy (Dan Aykroyd) on "According to Jim" (7:30 p.m., ABC).

Dr. Crane bonds with his old Boston bar buddies on "Frasier" (8 p.m., NBC) ... Victims are discovered in a pool of blood on "John Doe" (8 p.m., Fox) ... Competitive stress on "Life with Bonnie" (8 p.m., ABC) ... In need of money, Martha (Annette O'Toole) offers an olive branch to her estranged father (George Coe) on "Smallville" (8 p.m., WB) ... Frisky suburbanites on "Hidden Hills" (8:30 p.m., NBC) ... A lesson in deceit on "Less Than Perfect" (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Robin Williams and Emily Procter appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Jay Mohr and Snoop Dogg on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Darrell Hammond, Paul S. Tompkins and Sarah Vowell are booked on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Andy Garcia, Natasha Henstridge and Nick Carter appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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