TOM HANKS HOSTS “Celebrating America” (8:30 p.m., CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS (8 p.m.), CNN (8 p.m.) MSNBC, YouTube, Twitch, Amazon Prime and Fox’s NewsNow. As with many celebrations, public aspects of the inauguration have taken a back seat to COVID. Gone are the parades, crowds and balls.
That’s too bad. Inaugural balls are often big parties for the incoming team and a kind of high school prom for those who worked tirelessly on campaigns and plan (or hope) to work for the new administration. I recall the inaugural coverage in 1993, when C-SPAN simply parked cameras at the top of an escalator leading to a ball. You got to take in the glamour and gowns as well as the mundane aspects of it all.
“Celebrating America” is the culmination of five days of celebration. Tonight’s “show” will feature appearances and performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen, among others. Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce acts and pretaped segments during the spectacle. President Biden and Vice President Harris will offer remarks.
The arrival of a new president offers a bookmark of sorts in both history and pop culture. Glancing back at old columns, it’s interesting to note that on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2001, most networks were following inauguration events, but ABC aired figure skating championships featuring Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen.
The television schedule for Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, included listings for “Fringe,” “The Mentalist” and the big enchilada of programming in the first decade of this century, “American Idol.” It’s no surprise to see “NCIS” on that schedule as well.
Jan. 20, 2017, was well into the streaming era. Netflix was introducing a Canadian historical epic, “Frontier” starring Jason Momoa. The schedule contained “Grimm,” “Rosewood,” “Emerald City,” “Sleepy Hollow,” and, it being a Friday, “Blue Bloods.”
• TCM salutes the new president with a daylong thematic marathon of movies linked by a single name. The list includes “Ode to Billy Joe” (6 a.m., TV-PG), “Polo Joe” (8 a.m., TV-G), “The Fabulous Joe” (9:30 a.m., TV-G), “The Story of G.I. Joe” (10:45 a.m., TV-14), “Joe Smith, American” (12:45 p.m., TV-PG), “A Guy Named Joe” (2 p.m., TV-G), “Pal Joey” (4:15 p.m., TV-14) and “Mighty Joe Young” (6:15 p.m., TV-G). You might need a cup of joe to sit through them all!
• Columns compiled on future inauguration days may note today’s fifth season premiere of “Riverdale” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) and the return of “Nancy Drew” (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) for a second season. Apparently, Jughead and Betty have been busy.
• The three-part documentary miniseries “When Disaster Strikes” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) concludes with “Paradise Lost: Bahamas,” recalling Hurricane Dorian, which struck in August 2019. The strongest storm in the history of the island nation, it killed hundreds and left thousands homeless, leading to a monumental international rescue and rebuilding effort.
• News specials covering the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden (8 p.m., CBS, ABC, NBC).
• Las Vegas hosts a new helping of “BattleBots” (8 p.m., Science, TV-PG), followed by “BattleBots: Mega Fights” (9 p.m., r, TV-PG).
• Liam Neeson takes his turn starring as Zeus in the 2012 mythical epic “Wrath of the Titans” (8:20 p.m., HBO).
If Tom Hanks (see above) ever wants to relinquish his role as America’s all-around beloved nice guy, there’s a possible replacement waiting in the wings. Keanu Reeves stars as a nuclear physicist in the 1996 thriller “Chain Reaction” (9:30 p.m., TMCX) and as a quarterback in the 2000 sports comedy “The Replacements” (10 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
“The Masked Dancer” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... Jane Krakowski hosts “Name That Tune” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... A missing sibling on “Magnum P.I.” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Atwater goes undercover on “Chicago P.D.” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14) ... Home renovations cause friction on “The Conners” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Jean didn’t count on her kids’ busy schedules on “Call Your Mother” (10:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
Max Greenfield appears on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS) ... Jon Lovett, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Peter CottonTale, Chance the Rapper, Cynthia Erivo, the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Kofi Lost are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Martin Scorsese, Fran Lebowitz, Hunter Schafer and Playboi Carti on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Dakota Johnson and AJR appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS).