Prime viewing is not in prime time


Today's most enticing television is available before prime time (thanks to the football playoffs on NBC and CBS), after prime time (thanks to "Saturday Night Live"), or on cable -- thanks to HBO's "Comic Relief VI."

* "AFC playoffs" (12:30 p.m.-conclusion, WMAR, Channel 2) -- The weather forecast up in Buffalo, where the Bills play the Los Angeles Raiders, calls for snow flurries, high wind and bitter cold -- the perfect kind of game to watch on TV. Marv Albert and Paul Maguire have booth duties. NBC.

* "NFC playoffs" (4 p.m.-conclusion, WBAL, Channel 11) -- In the booth, this is the penultimate pairing for announcers Pat Summerall and John Madden, whose last game as a broadcast duo for CBS will be the NFC championship next Sunday. Also attending will be the winner of today's game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. CBS.

* "Walker, Texas Ranger" (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Part 1 of 2. Jeff Kober of "China Beach" guest stars on this two-parter, which in no way can be considered a career step up. CBS.

* "Saturday Night Live" (11:30 p.m.-1 a.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Sara Gilbert, doing only partial duty on "Roseanne" this season, does full duty tonight as the guest host of "Saturday Night Live," with Counting Crows as the musical guest. NBC.


* "Comic Relief VI" (9 p.m.-1 a.m., HBO) -- When HBO joined Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal for the original "Comic Relief," it was teaming a trio of high-profile, stand-up comics. Now all three are major movie stars, and "Comic Relief" provides them just about their only regular opportunity to flex their ad lib muscles. Even though the &L; supporting cast is large and talented (including, this year, a reunion of the original cast of "Your Show of Shows"), the interaction of the starring trio is the major reason to watch. Will Mr. Crystal poke fun at Mr. Williams' drag turn in "Mrs. Doubtfire"? Will Ms. Goldberg get teased for her Ted Danson "blackface" episode? In this live show, there's no way to know unless you tune in.

* "Lawrence of Arabia" (10:35 p.m.-3:15 a.m., TNT) -- This 1962 David Lean movie is a masterpiece, and it's shown tonight in the letter-box format, which presents more of the visual images Lean took such pains to capture. That's the good news. The bad news is that you have to stay up past 3 a.m. to see it.

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