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Off the Wall: Bullriding and free NY sports in HD

Off the Wall lasts way longer than eight seconds.


BULL IN MANHATTAN And this doesn't involve politicians or Wall Street. It's the bad-tempered barnyard kind, in the annual "PBR Madison Square Garden Invitational" (Saturday night at 8, Versus; finals Sunday at 2:30 p.m., NBC/4). The professional bull riders pull out all the stops for this New York showcase of quick rides in their "toughest sport on Earth" - and they exhibit the scars, limps and winces to prove it. Get your stomp on at


NY SPORTS ON FREE TV Not just a pipe dream! MSG is partnering with WPIX this month for four freebies. Saturday night, it's Knicks vs. Rockets (8:30, WPIX/11). Next Saturday, it's Rangers vs. Blues. Then, it's Jan. 23's Rangers vs. Canadiens and Jan. 31's Knicks vs. Timberwolves. Sure, it's probably because so many local teams are playing these nights that MSG doesn't have enough cable channels to handle them. But why quibble with free? (And in HD!) More at


WATER, WHEELS AND WINGS Three documentaries on the move: "Big River Man" (Saturday night at 10, Planet Green) trails an endurance swimmer tackling the length of the Amazon; "Superstar Jet Car" (Sunday at 8 p.m, SPEED) traces the design and build of Jay Leno's EcoJet vehicle; and Harrison Ford narrates "Brace for Impact" (Sunday at 9 p.m., TLC), about last year's Hudson River airliner landing. Video, survival tips at



If you'd produced 450 episodes(!) over two decades(!), you'd be celebrating, too. You might even hire "Super Size Me" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to document your amazing reign in "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice!" (Sunday at 8:30 p.m., Fox/5). Super-size the occasion with the basic-cable debut of "The Simpsons Movie" (Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 6 p.m., FX). And/or pick up the series' first-ever Blu-ray Disc release, Season 20, hitting shelves Tuesday alongside the DVD set. Still need more? Read Sunday's Fanfare feature on the yellow tribe, then visit


SCRIPTED PREMIERES More midseason shows hit the air, and fall faves return post-holiday with fresh episodes. Back this week are "Chuck" (Sunday, 9-11 p.m., then Monday at 8 p.m., NBC/4), "Big Love" (Sunday at 9 p.m., HBO) and "Leverage" (Wednesday at 10 p.m., TNT). Also the cop drama "Southland" (Tuesday at 10 p.m., TNT), repeating its series premiere with added footage not shown on NBC, heading toward unaired episodes later this spring. Two new to you: "Blue Mountain State" (Monday at 11p.m., then Tuesday at 10 p.m., Spike), a half-hour college football lampoon (think "Animal House"), and "Archer" (Thursday at 10p.m., FX), an animated spy spoof from the guys behind "Sealab 2021" and "Frisky Dingo." Sneak peeks at and


UNSCRIPTED PREMIERES Another jam-packed week. Brand-newbies include "Border Wars" (Sunday at 9 p.m., NatGeo), chronicling efforts to stop human smuggling and drug traffic; "Madhouse" (Sunday at 10 p.m., History), focused on the fussin' at NASCAR's longest-running short track; "Fantasia for Real" (Monday at 10 p.m., VH1), following the not-fairy-tale career and single motherhood of the "American Idol" winner; and "Solving History With Olly Steeds" (Wednesday at 10 p.m., Discovery), kicking off its investigations with Noah's Ark. Among the returnees: "Ax Men" (Sunday at 9 p.m., History); "Little Miss Perfect" (Tuesday at 10p.m., WE); "Tosh 2.0" (Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central); "Project Runway" (Thursday at 10p.m., Lifetime); and "The Singing Bee" (Friday at 9p.m., CMT), with guest Reba McEntire. Also, there's that little show called "American Idol" (Tuesday 8-10 p.m., Fox/5).

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