Stay up late to watch Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live? Did you celebrate New Year’s Eve early with 41 of your closest onscreen celebrity friends? That is all so eight hours ago. PopWatch is already looking ahead to the coming week of must-see water-cooler events, starting with tonight’s season finale of Boardwalk Empire and culminating with Saturday’s much-anticipated SNL homecoming of the season.
Boardwalk Empire finale, 9 p.m., HBO
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put my psyche back together after last week’s episode, which only explained everything about Jimmy (Michael Pitt). (I always suspected something was off between him and his mom, but for the show to go all Grifters was still a shock.) Tonight, season 2 concludes with Jimmy seeking a rapprochement with Nucky, whose legal complications might hinge on his own lady’s heavy Irish conscience.
Fear Factor returns, 8 p.m., NBC
This is what qualifies as good news at NBC these days: Fear Factor is back! Hot young things eat live scorpions, get thrown through glass windows, and — gasp — have their luscious locks shaved off in a ruthless competition for 10 meeeeeeeellion dollars… Wait, what’s that? It’s not for $10 million? They’re subjecting themselves to this torture for a mere $50,000? Oh… Yeah, I’m definitely watching then.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray released
Leap on the Andy Serkis Oscar bandwagon! If you haven’t yet seen this slick reboot, in which a scientist (James Franco) clears the path for ape rule with an experimental cure for Alzheimer’s, you missed an unparalleled performance from the reigning Olivier of motion-capture acting. Serkis might not receive Academy recognition, but his Caesar is an evolutionary leap forward in cinematic realism. Plenty of Blu-ray extras show you how he did it.
Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011, 9:30 p.m., ABC
You’ve got to admire Barbara Walters. One week after grilling Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, she’ll be on the sofa tossing softballs to the Kardashians. Also deemed “fascinating” enough for Barbara in 2011: Donald Trump, Simon Cowell, Katy Perry, Derek Jeter, Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, and Pippa Middleton. But she’s yet to reveal the No. 1 Most Fascinating Person. The late Steve Jobs? Ryan Gosling? Charlie Sheen?
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol opens in select theaters
Ethan Hunt & Co. slip back into select IMAX theaters today (before going wide on Dec. 21), and if watching Incredibles director Brad Bird put Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner in the middle of some amazing stunt sequences isn’t enough for you, there’s also the matter of seeing the much-anticipated prologue to next July’s The Dark Knight Rises. A seven-minute clip screens before MIGP, and you know you don’t want to be the last of your friends to see how Bane looks on screen.
THURSDAY BONUS: Lindsay Lohan on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, syndication
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens in theaters
Were you a little surprised when surveys indicated that A Game of Shadows was the most-anticipated movie of the holiday season? Not me. It’s elementary: Robert Downey Jr. can do no wrong as the ingenious but neurotic sleuth-turned-action hero, and his bromance with Jude Law’s Dr. Watson is as true and quick-witted as His Girl Friday. Throw in the first major Hollywood role for the original Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace, and the introduction of legendary Holmes nemesis Moriarty (Mad Men’s Jared Harris) and you have one gloriously stuffed stocking.
Jimmy Fallon hosts Saturday Night Live, 11:30 p.m., NBC
Has it really been seven years since Fallon left Saturday Night Live for the movies? It’s a credit to how good he’s become as late-night host that you might forget — or at least forgive — those movies. (Taxi and Fever Pitch, for the record.) He’s returned a few times since to guest star in “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” and his musical imitations (Neil Young) and duets — the freakin’ Boss! — on Late Night demonstrate he hasn’t lost anything on his fastball. So which SNL characters will he resurrect? Will he sit in on “Weekend Update”? Will Justin Timberlake make an appearance? Most importantly, how many times will he laugh uncontrollably in the middle of a skit? If he doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed.