Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2004).
'TIS THE SEASON: Seemingly nanoseconds after the last dish from Thanksgiving dinner was cleared from the table, out came the first of the Christmas specials. The jump some folks get on the holiday is crazy, such as my neighbors, who have had a Christmas tree up in their living room for more than a week already.
Nonetheless, by this, the first full week after Turkey Day, it's expected that networks will begin rolling out their holiday wares in earnest. Among this weeks offerings are...
"Christmas In Rockefeller Center," Tuesday on NBC. Chicago will be the house band for this annual affair (an hour long nationally, two hours in the New York market), which will also feature Tony Bennett, Kenny Chesney, Chris Isaak, Vanessa Williams, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Michael Buble, Hilary Duff and Clay Aiken. The whole shindig will be hosted by Al Roker and and Nancy O'Dell.
Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas," Wednesday on ABC. America's favorite (?) couple returns to prime time with their second variety show. This full hour of warm and fuzziness will feature Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey as your hosts. Among the highlights will be an appearance by Brian McKnight and, erm, Jessica's duet with sister Ashlee Simpson and a reunion of Nick's former vocal group 98 Degrees.
For as generally harmless as this pair tends to be, one possible low point of this special could be a promised "magical" duet with the late Bing Crosby. Granted, I haven't seen it yet, but I can only imagine how this travesty of an idea will turn out. It has the potential to inspire a few dozen rollovers inside the legendary crooner's grave.
"Chris Isaak Christmas: A Soundstage Special Event" Thursday on PBS. Brian McKnight also makes an appearance here, as do Stevie Nicks and Michael Buble, all of whom are heard on the crooner's recently released first holiday album, "Chris Isaak Christmas" (Wicked Games/Reprise).
And don't forget that the ABC Family Channel will start its 25 Days of Christmas programming bonanza on Wednesday... Surely every night won't be a treasure, but classics like Thursday's back-to-back offerings of "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or Saturday's "Year Without a Santa Claus" are bound to bring pleasure to kids of all ages.
NON-HOLDIAY TREATS: If you're not yet ready for the holidaze, then plead ignorance with these television gems:
Monday: The Polyphonic Spree and its mastermind leader Tim DeLaughter play a integral role in this week's "Las Vegas" on NBC.
Tuesday: The Killers rip it up on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (NBC).
Wednesday: Face it, you wouldn't plunk down the change to go to Dallas for the greatest gathering of living guitarists. No worries, mate, tune into PBS' "Great Performances" which will feature footage from Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival.
Thursday: You can never go wrong with Lyle Lovett. Letterman knows it, that's why he's booked on "The Late Show" on CBS.
Friday: It's the weekend, so stay up late to catch one of hip-hop's greatest acts, De La Soul, on "Last Call With Carson Daly" (NBC).
Saturday: You may have missed it the first time around. You may just need a good belly laugh. Either way, watch Ashlee Simpson's lip-synch freakout on this week's rerun of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC).
Sunday: Bob Dylan is interviewed on CBS' "60 Minutes." Wait... Did I just type that? Holy crap! Bob hasn't sat down with a television interviewer in something like two decades! Wow... This is surely not one to be missed as he talks about the life he's writing about in a three-part autobiography, "Chronicles."