Showtime's competitive juices aren't limited to the arena of scripted entertainment. Now the pay cable network is challenging HBO's Real Sports franchise by turning to masters of long-form narrative with the launch of 60 Minutes Sports (10/9c). Among the segments in Wednesday's premiere: a closer-up profile by Bob Simon of FC Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi, whose prowess at 25 was demonstrated in last Sunday's 60 Minutes piece on the Barcelona team. And Scott Pelley leads an investigation into the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, which reveals that the disgraced cyclist tried to "donate" large gifts of money to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whose CEO rightfully saw the gesture as a "totally inappropriate" conflict of interest.
BELLY FLOP: One "sport" unlikely to be on the radar on 60 Minutes Sports, if we're lucky, is the silly new TV trend of celebrity diving competitions. ABC has a Celebrity Diving series on the (diving) boards in March, riding the tattered coattails of a new season of Dancing With the Stars. But first, Fox hopes to make a quicker splash with a one-time, two-hour special, Stars in Danger: The High Dive (8/7c), in which professional narcissists like Jersey Shore's JWoww and a few of the Real Housewives harpies take the plunge alongside various other Z-listers in attempting Olympic-style solo and synchronized dives. I never though I'd say it, but American Idol can't return quickly enough. (X Factor, not so much.)
Want more TV news and reviews? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
THE POPULAR KIDS: The 2013 awards season kicks into gear with CBS' People's Choice Awards 2013 (9/8c), hosted by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco and featuring performances by Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Jason Aldean. Sandra Bullock gets the first "Favorite Humanitarian" prize, and everyone else lines up to accept trophies in what really is a popularity contest.
MOMMY DARKEST: Having dispatched some of its most colorful characters last week — and I'm still dancing along to the season's most twisted production number, "The Name Game" — FX's American Horror Story: Asylum (10/9c) staggers toward the end by turning into a perverted version of Parenthood as various characters deal with their mommy, daddy, bringing up (or possibly aborting) baby issues, in typically incoherent but garish style. And if you thought Dylan McDermott couldn't possibly stoop lower than last season's weeping-during-self-abuse scene, you haven't seen him bring new meaning to the notion of "attachment parenting" (look it up from the infamous Time cover). American Horror Story is an old hand at milking shock value to excess, but this is ridiculous.
WHAT ELSE IS ON: Few megastars enoyed being a celebrity more than the beloved Larry Hagman, as seen by his participation in a new edition of CBS' prank show I Get That a Lot (8/7c), which involves stars interacting with fans in everyday settings to see if they get recognized. In a segment shot last September, the late Dallas icon hands out food samples at a shopping warehouse. There's no disguising those majestic eyebrows. ... Billy Dee Williams guests as himself on ABC's Modern Family (9/8c), brightening up Jay's New Year's. ... On NBC's Law & Order: SVU (9/8c), it's a clash of the prosecutors, as DA Barba (Raul Esparza) goes up against guest star Jane Kaczmarek as a Suffolk County prosecutor, each trying separate cases with different suspects accused of the same murder. ... A&E's Barter Kings (10/9c) trades up by expanding to hour-long episodes as it starts a second season of cashless swaps. ... Having thoroughly bored us with last week's rowdy but empty-headed Jersey Shore-Honey Boo Boo-Jackass hybrid Buckwild, MTV now trains its docu-reality sights back on urban ground, profiling a group of young, racially diverse wannabes in New York's Washington Heights (10/9c).
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!