What's On

TV highlights for the week of Dec. 29-Jan. 3. All times are Eastern; check local listings.

PICK OF THE WEEK

Cronkite Remembers

Thursday, 10 p.m.

(Discovery)

SUNDAY - 12/29

NFL Playoffs (12:30-4 p.m.): First-round action that commenced Saturday continues with Indianpolis facing Pittsburgh in a battle of AFC wild-card teams on NBC, followed by an NFC clash between Philadelphia and San Francisco, beginning at 4 on Fox.

MONDAY - 12/30

The Metropolitan Opera Presents (PBS, 8-11 p.m.): Mezzo Cecilia Bartoli makes her debut at the Met in Mozart's comic opera "Cos Fan Tutte." It's a case of mistaken identities when, to test their fiances' fidelity, two soldiers disguise themselves as foreign noblemen.

TUESDAY - 12/31

Classic TV Countdown (Nickelodeon, 12 noon-12 noon Wednesday): Rock around the clock with 24 hours of vintage TV episodes.

College Bowls: For a complete roundup of the college football lineup, see the Monitor's Dec. 20 centerspread.

The Three Stooges Marathon (Family, 12 noon-4 p.m.): This four-hour stooge marathon provides enough slapstick to keep you giggling through the new year.

New Year's Rockin' Eve '97 (ABC,11:35 ): Join Dick Clark as he celebrates his 25th anniversary emceeing the year-end bash.

The Tonight Show (NBC, 11:35 p.m.): Jay Leno rings in the New Year with help from the ever-gracious Miss Piggy, who's on hand to report the goings-on in Times Square.

WEDNESDAY - 1/1

Tournament of Roses Parade (CBS, 11 a.m.): Everything's coming up roses, and tulips, and cornflowers, and.... Decorated floats take to the streets in the 83rd annual parade.

Politically Incorrect's Greatest Hits (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): Host Bill Maher celebrates the new year (and his move from Comedy Central to network TV) with this hilarious retrospective. Biting sarcasm and slick potshots rule the day, but be warned: Those offended by Al Franken and O.J. Simpson jokes shouldn't tune in. All the political events of the last four years, satirized for your viewing enjoyment. Yasmine Bleeth ("Baywatch") and Jeff Greenfield ("Nightline") co-host.

THURSDAY - 1/2

Cronkite Remembers (Discovery, 10-11 p.m.): Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite provides an eyewitness account of the last century. In the first segment of the eight-part series, Cronkite talks about his 1933 television debut at the World's Fair, an event which he says put him on the air years before any of his colleagues; lunching with a member of Bonnie and Clyde's gang; reporting on a marathon football quarter; and the time "the most trusted man in America" lifted a portrait from someone's home for a story. Unfortunately, his editors had given him the wrong address.

Also featured, the six-year-old Cronkite's first bit of editorializing. When the news of President Harding's death broke, Cronkite ran up to a friend carrying the paper. "Look at this," the tyke exclaimed. "This is the last picture of [President Harding] you'll ever see."

FRIDAY - 1/3

The American President (Showtime, 8-10 p.m.): Annette Bening and Michael Douglas star in this charming 1995 comedy about a widowed president and the lobbyist who loves him. Also worth noting, Michael J. Fox's portrayal of Douglas's youthful political adviser is a precursor to his current role as deputy mayor Mike Flaherty on "Spin City" (ABC).

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