By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
"New Year's Rockin' Eve," 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., then 11:35 p.m. to 2 a.m., ABC. For three decades, Dick Clark has owned a small chunk of New Year's Eve. As compensation for taking away Clark's turf during millennium celebrations, ABC gave him this massive chunk of time. That's mostly good news for viewers. At a time when networks have almost forgotten music, we get an avalanche of it.
In the first hour Clark reviews the year in music, introducing concert clips from Britney Spears, Madonna, Dave Matthews, Destiny's Child, Elton John and Aerosmith. The rest of the night follows the formula. A party in Los Angeles coincides with Clark's reports from Times Square. Wayne Brady ("Who's Line Is It Anyway") is host, with an emphasis on youthful guests. The music is from Busta Rhymes, Jessica Simpson, Pink, Blu Cantrell, Blink-182, LFO and the O'Jays.
Football all day, various networks. There are five bowl games today before the real rush begins. ESPN has the Humanitarian Bowl (Clemson and Louisiana Tech) at 7:30 a.m., Liberty Bowl (Louisville and Brigham Young) at11 a.m. and Peach Bowl (Auburn and North Carolina) at 2:30 p.m. There's also the Sun Bowl (Purdue and Washington State) at 9 a.m. on CBS and the Silicon Valley Classic (Fresno State and Michigan State) at 10 a.m. on FOX Sports.
"Boston Public," 7 p.m., FOX. Here is a rerun of the season-opener, a good (and busy) episode. A big-time lawyer (Jeri Ryan) visits the school just as her friend, a teacher, stirs controversy.
"The Familiar Stranger," 8 p.m., Lifetime. Here's another chance to see a fascinating real-life story. Years after mourning her husband's death, a mom (Margaret Colin) gets a surprise.
"Ally McBeal," 8 p.m., FOX. This season-opener was sparked by the terrific work of Julianne Nicholson, starring as a young assistant who is a lot like Ally.
"Everybody Loves Raymond," 8 p.m., CBS. Robert finds it's a mistake to lose Ray's wedding ring.
"Third Watch," 8 p.m., NBC. Here is a rerun of a terrific and unusual episode. After watching a horrific auto accident, the Third Watch folks meander through the rest of the night. Susan May Pratt, a star of teen movies, is especially good as a sweetly enigmatic youth.
"New Year's Eve 2002," 8 p.m., MTV; repeats at 10:30 p.m. With its studio right at Times Square, MTV has an ideal setup. Carson Daly introduces music from Ja Rule, O-Town, City High and more.