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March Madness: What to Watch Instead of Basketball

It's that time of year again, when people who ordinarily seem relatively sane turn into obsessed basketball freaks and start screaming about colleges -- many of which you've never even heard of -- and filling up their Facebook statuses with things like "Duke was totally robbed" and "That ref totally made the wrong call" or "LET'S GO NOVA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (I literally copied that last one, including the all upper cases, from a FB friend just two minutes ago). I don't even know who or what a Nova is. But fine. Go them! Anyway, if you, like me, can't deal with the insanity and the brackets, and your favorite shows getting all preempted here are our recommendations of things you might want to watch instead.

Thursday March 19
A night without Survivor? Count your blessings that you can get a break from people who call themselves Coach! Besides, you can get your Probst fix on Wednesday at 8 instead. Tonight you might want to see how The Office's Michael Scott copes with being low man on the totem pole when a new boss is hired. And if you are missing CSI, get your crime scene investigating fix from Bones (Fox, 8 PM). Tonight's episode is a ripped from the headlines tale about a pregnancy pact. MTV's also debuting a new Fame-like series Taking the Stage (10 PM), there is the insane sounding Heli-loggers (TLC, 10 PM) and Ugly Betty airs its last episode before hiatus (ABC, 10 PM). Just whatever you do, don't watch Smallville. Trust us.

Friday, March 20
If you haven't been watching Battlestar Galactica, you probably aren't going to want to start with the series finale (Sci Fi, 9 PM), but March Madness is as good a time as any to go out and rent the DVDs and start watching them. Also, you could watch Party Down (Starz, 10:30 PM) -- it's a comedy about waiters/caterers and Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is behind it and lots of really funny people are in it.

Saturday, March 21
Cops is airing it's 750th episode. Amazing! This one even has a helicopter car chase to commemorate the landmark occasion. And lots of stupid people dealing drugs. As you'd expect. And if you are still bummed that Life on Mars, the US version, got cancelled, you can settle yourself down to watch Ashes to Ashes (BBCA, 9 PM). It's the BBC's sequel to the UK version of Life on Mars and a chance to relive the '80s, and not in the Miami Vice kind of way.

Thursday, March 26
Miss watching people starving to death on Survivor? Tune in to Hell's Kitchen (Fox, 9 PM), where the diners in this restaurant usually have to sit for four hours before being turned away without any food. Or instead if you miss the castaways acting like squabbling children, you can watch Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 9 PM) since that's all they ever do, or a show about actual children, In the Motherhood (ABC, 8 PM). Or forget everything and tune into Samantha Who's season premiere (ABC, 8:30 PM).

Friday, March 27
No new Numb3rs tonight, instead perhaps you can count the amount of times they put Eliza Dushku in a teeny tiny outfit on Dollhouse (Fox, 9 PM). And since Ghost Whisperer has pretty much spent the whole season trying to pull off a husband swap of sorts, you might be better off watching an actual Wife Swap (ABC, 8 PM) episode instead. At least those people are alive. Or you can watch Friday Night Lights (NBC, 9 PM... don't worry... it isn't really that much about football) for a drama that has actual emotional weight and is grounded in reality.

Saturday, March 28
NBC has the World Figure Skating Championships (it counts as a sport too) going for two hours (starting at 9 PM). Jerry O'Connell and Faye Dunaway are in a Lifetime movie together (Midnight Bayou, 9 PM) based on a Nora Roberts novel which involves a haunted house. Also, there's a Sci Fi movie called Polar Storm (airing 9 PM), which we'd normally probably ignore, but hey, it's got Jack Coleman (aka Heroes's HRG) so we'll be watching. Plus, we love it when movies spell out exactly what they are about right in the title for us.

Saturday, April 4
Instead of tonight's quadruple header (fancy sports talk for the more colloquial final four... we think), might we suggest settling down with either of the predictable films either Lifetime or Hallmark are offering? On Lifetime, Emile de Ravin (she's sometimes on Lost) and Cybil Shepherd are starring in High Noon (9 PM) about a hostage negotiator who finds love until a psychopathic killer tries to hunt her down. And Hallmark has Love Takes Wing (9 PM), a frontier drama with Cloris Leachman, Kevin Richardson (of the Backstreet Boys), Haylie Duff and Patrick Duffy. It's like Sophie's Choice [Editor's note: Pick the second one! Pick the second one! -- Mindy]. Thank goodness for DVRs.

Monday, April 6
All of the CBS comedies will be preempted for the final game, so if you are in need of a laugh, check out Chuck (NBC, 8 PM). It's a funny show, that is really hitting its stride this season. Or Surviving Suburbia, a new show on ABC (9:30 PM). It's got Bob Saget, so it's got to be at least a little amusing. If you are looking instead for a way to get your CSI: Miami fix, well you are also out of luck, but you can tune in to Castle (ABC, 10 PM), the show about a slightly cool writer who helps solve crimes, or Medium (NBC, 10 PM), about a psychic who solves crimes. Either way, your crime solving needs are covered. You'll just have to live without the forensics.

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