TV: Anything but basketball



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Don't give a damn about March Madness? Can't tell your Billy Packer from your Jay Bilas? Is the phrase play-in game just gibberish to you? Well then you might need some NCAA Tourney alternatives, totally bracket-free. We've got an Elite Eight of antibasketball choices to get you through the first two rounds:

115840_4431_preUgly Betty (Tonight at 8pm on ABC)
Mode does a sex-themed issue, and Marc and Amanda give Betty a makeover. It's about as far from the sports world as you can get, though Hilda does date Ralph "Karate Kid" Macchio. Sweep the leg, Johnny!

Taking the Stage (Tonight at 10pm on MTV)
Fame! They're gonna live forever. The wunderkinder at Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts now have a reality show, and since they're teenagers, drama and histrionics are all part of the hormonal package (what's your excuse, Dickie V?). Pay attention, because in five years these whippersnappers will be charging you $100 per ticket at Lincoln Center, serving your coffee in a midtown diner or both.

picture-20WWE Smackdown (Friday at 8pm on MNT)
It's Smackdown's 500th episode of spandex-clad brawling. We know it's fake and everything, but we've seen The Wrestler; this show will probably still be bloodier than anything the NCAA is dishing out.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Friday at 9pm on Cartoon Network)
Think following all 64 NCAA Tournament games is daunting? Try keeping up with the entire Star Wars saga. The show has been renewed for a second season, so the Lucas faithful will eventually have more animated Anakin to parse after tonight's finale.

picture-17Head Case (Friday 10pm on Starz!)
The doctor is in, and lucky for us (but unlucky for the truly mentally ill), it's the indefatigable Dr. Goode (Alexandra Wentworth). The third season of kooky celebrity therapy kicks off with a little psychic healing; this season will see Jerry Seinfeld, Tori Spelling and Geri Halliwell (a.k.a. Ginger Spice) on the couch.

Nora Roberts' Northern Lights (Saturday at 9pm on Lifetime)
In perhaps the most extreme NCAA counter-programming move ever, Lifetime begins a series of four Nora Roberts--based movies this weekend, this one starring Leann Rimes and Eddie Cibrian. The former is a bush pilot. The latter is a cop with a tortured past. They live in Lunacy, Alaska. Love is in the (frigid) air. Listen, if we wanted reality, we'd watch a 19-year-old get his life-long dream dashed with a last-second buzzer beater. Bring on the cheese.

picture-19The Locator (Saturday at 9pm on We)
What if Unsolved Mysteries had, well, solutions? This soapy reality show follows missing persons finder Troy Dunn, and tears will flow as long-lost siblings, parents and children are reunited with loved ones. It's closure that's more satisfying than seeing your rival fall against a 16 seed. Not that we'd know or anything.

Big Love, Flight of the Conchords, and Eastbound & Down (Sunday at 9pm on HBO)
The finale episodes of HBO's three biggest shows all air on the same night, daring viewers to deal with a religious wingnut coup, a sleepover with a crazed music fan and an actually successful ex-baseball player, all on the same night. After a few hours with Roman Grant's scheming and Murray's stage play about the Conchords, don't be surprised if you end up running back to March Madness for relative sanity.

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