Cable channels love to fill up New Year’s Eve with marathon broadcasts of shows recent and not so recent. Syfy, for instance, has been doing this since back when it was called the Sci-Fi Channel, serving up episodes of what the scholar Victor L. Cahn has called “the most influential program in the history of television,” “The Twilight Zone.” It’s the 20th year of this particular custom, and more than 40 episodes will be shown, beginning early Wednesday with “The Old Man in the Cave,” a classic post-apocalyptic tale, and ending New Year’s morning.
Some great episodes are on the list: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” with William Shatner as an airplane passenger who sees odd things out the window; “To Serve Man,” about the friendly giants from outer space who turn out to be hungry. The show, in addition to being full of early appearances by future stars, is a snapshot of the anxieties of the scientific age as envisioned in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which somehow seems perfect for a night on which many are contemplating the future with equal parts dread and hope.
If that’s too abstract for you, there is real science over on the Science Channel, which has already begun its marathon of all 220 episodes of “MythBusters,” a series that tests and debunks various popular notions. Does turning off your engine at a red light really save gas? Can hitting a channel marker really split a boat in two? Bring a pad and pencil; you may want to take notes.
The apparently endless appetite for “The Simpsons” is being fed once again by FXX, which is showing the premiere and finale from each of that show’s first 25 seasons. Does that make you want to hit yourself in the head and say “D'oh”? Then perhaps the marathon for you is the one on the El Rey Network, which is being labeled “Season’s Beatings.” It’s eight episodes of “Lucha Underground,” a professional-wrestling show. Toggle between that and AMC’s marathon of “The Walking Dead” for maximum brain-jarring effect.
The BBC America “Doctor Who” marathon, 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31 to 4 a.m. New Year’s Day; includes the 50th anniversary specials “Time of the Doctor” and “Day of the Doctor” – homages to sci-fi’s greatest TV hero.
Let your brain turn to mush one last time in 2014 in the E! “Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons,” marathon 7 a.m.-midnight Wednesday.
Watch as Americans are shocked(!) that kitchens are smaller in Europe during the “House Hunters International” marathon, 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday on HGTV.
Put a bird on it during 24 hours of “Portlandia” beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday on IFC.
Take comfort in the relative function of your family while you watch Wacka Flocka and his family fight in the “Love and Hip-Hop and Atlanta,” marathon, 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31-1 a.m. Thursday on VH1.
Re-live all that is the “Duck Dynasty” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31-4:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 1, on A&E.
Contributing: The New York Times