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New Year’s Eve on Tube-Take It or Leave It : Do’s and Don’ts if You’re Resolved to Ring in ’88 at Home

Times Television Critic

You say you’re spending New Year’s Eve at home.

You refuse to fight the traffic, the drunk drivers, the crowds and the inflated prices for bad food, rotten service and a foaming lush at the next table who wants to pour champagne on your head when the geriatric band plays “Auld Lang Syne.”

You weren’t invited to any parties or you refuse to attend the ones you were invited to. You despise phony frivolity and good cheer on demand. You think noisemakers and party hats make good bonfires. The only toast you like is the kind you can butter.

You’re definitely staying home tonight. But what to do? There is just so much on TV, you can hardly choose.

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All right, get off your knees and stop blubbering. I’m going to walk you through tonight’s TV schedule. Consider this my one-time-only New Year’s Eve gift. Next year, you’re on your own.

Do not watch “Happy New Year U.S.A.!” on PBS. Harry Anderson and Mel Torme are hosting live broadcasts from three Baltimore locations.

Big deal. If you liked Baltimore, you’d live there.

Do not watch “Live From Lincoln Center: New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve Celebration” on PBS. Oh, great. They’re playing high-hat French overtures, American spirituals and Viennese waltzes, and people are getting mugged in Central Park.

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Do not watch the “King Orange Jamboree Parade” from Miami on NBC. Parades are boring. Besides, you’ve seen “Miami Vice” and you know what Miami’s like.

Do not watch “Happy New Year America” on CBS. Who needs Ben Vereen, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Times Square? If you liked crowds, you wouldn’t be staying home.

Do not watch “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 88" on ABC for many reasons, one being that Dick Clark and Rockin’ are a contradiction in terms. Now you add a chair to rockin’ and you’re in business. Dust off those leisure suits.

Now here’s what you do watch.

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If you have cable, start your New Year’s Eve at 8 and you’re in swell shape. Begin with CNN’s “Moneyline” for hints on self-preservation in 1988. Then switch to reruns on Nickelodeon, where 8:30 brings “Mr. Ed,” followed at 9 by “My Three Sons.” This will put 1988 in the proper perspective.

At 10, briefly tune in Leslie Uggams and Joe Garagiola hosting the Orange Bowl parade to make yourself feel good about what you’re missing. At 10:30, you switch to the beginning of “Arthur” on The Movie Channel, spend 30 minutes watching Dudley Moore’s funniest scenes, then turn to the USA Network at 11 for that 1930 Marx Brothers romp, “Animal Crackers.”

By my calculations, Chico and Harpo will be playing bridge about the time that Vereen and Dick Clark are ringing in 1988.

Then go to bed.

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For non-cable viewers, you might watch “Bugs Bunny’s Mad World of Television” at 8 on Channels 2 and 8, although the reality of Bugs Bunny as a network president may be too tough to take. Otherwise. . . .

Well, maybe the traffic won’t be that bad.


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