Duo takes SNL stage; lesbian soap debuts

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey play host to "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m. today, NBC), featuring musical guest G-Unit with 50 Cent. They are the first married couple to be host since Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger in 1994. I wonder if the "Newlyweds" stars will revive the popularity of those "Stupid" and "I'm With Stupid" T-shirts that were so popular some time back.

  • To trap a murderer, Monk takes a job as a substitute teacher on "Monk" (9 p.m. today, ABC). Naturally, standing before a roomful of fighting students presents a challenge for the orderly, germ-phobic detective (Tony Shalhoub). This episode, from the series' second season, originally aired on USA, which is currently airing original episodes of the third season on Friday nights. Got that?
  • Art imitates life -- or, rather, the reality television version of life -- in the clever and entertaining television film "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks" (7 p.m. Sunday, ABC). Former "90210" heartthrob Jason Priestley stars in the title role as a once-hot actor in a career spiral (what did I say about art imitating life?) because of his reputation as a cad. His friend and manager Todd (Bradley Cooper, "Alias") decides to cast Banks in his very own "Bachelor"-like reality show so America will fall in love with him all over again.
  • Is America ready for a sapphic soap opera? "The L Word" (9 p.m. Sunday, Showtime) follows a circle of gay women and their friends in a pleasant Los Angeles neighborhood. This being television, almost all of the ladies are very attractive and model thin. In fact, some seem in need of a good meal. While the dialogue is frequently intelligent, "L" offers no shortage of stereotyping and less-than-casual sex. In one commendable scene, two women actually discuss their love of literature, a shared passion that eventually leads to other things. I have to applaud any adult program that acknowledges the intellect as an active erogenous zone.
  • Jennifer Aniston and her husband, Brad Pitt, appear on the nature special "Growing Up Grizzly 2" (7 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet). But neither of these two media-certified hotties are as cute as Bart and Honey Bump, the orphaned bear cubs raised by professional animal trainers Doug and Lynne Seus.

Today's highlights

  • TV Land offers a 48-hour marathon of "Carol Burnett and Friends" beginning at 5 a.m.
  • Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson won Oscars for their roles in director James L. Brooks' 1997 comedy "As Good As it Gets" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Arsenio Hall plays host to "Star Search" (7 p.m., CBS), featuring performances by new talent and past champions.
  • A slippery lawyer (Jim Carrey) has a problem with the truth in the 1997 comedy "Liar, Liar" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels star in the 2004 remake of Neil Simon's comedy "The Goodbye Girl" (7 p.m., TNT). The film repeats at the same time on Sunday night.

Sunday's highlights

  • The Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game (5:30 p.m., Fox). "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard will sing the national anthem.
  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): a retrospective of the TV newsmagazine's first 35 years.
  • Macy Gray guest stars on "American Dreams" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep star in the 2002 drama "The Hours" (7 p.m., Showtime).

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