Oscars counterprogramming: When Call the Heart, True Detective, & more

Tonight, the Oscars are on the air — odds are, you are already more than familiar with this fact! Maybe some of you are planning some watch parties and have your prediction score-cards at the ready.

Or, maybe you’re just looking for something else to watch. That makes some sense, given that not everyone cares about movies, or really cares about the Academy Awards broadcast in general. It’s one of the highest-rated live television events of the year, but it’s not the Super Bowl. If you are smart, you can air programming opposite it and not sweat it out all that much.

Below, we’ve got a handful of viewing suggestions for those of you looking for something different, something that is either dramatic, entertaining, and won’t run well over its originally-set three-hour run time. (Odds are, the Oscars are going to hover close to four since they’re not cutting out any categories from the live broadcast anymore.)

When Calls the Heart (8:00 p.m. Eastern, Hallmark Channel) – The season 6 premiere is coming soon to the network, one that’s meant to give you a happy cry, and ugly cry, and just about anything and everything in between. This is a personal character drama if you haven’t seen it before, and it’s probably one of the best 8:00 p.m. options, especially since most other networks are throwing up the white flag.

For some more details, take a gander at the synopsis for the premiere:

“The town of Hope Valley adjusts to the changing times – while still maintaining the small-town bonds that connect them. After taking time off to care for her new baby, Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) returns to teaching but soon realizes she needs more support than she could have imagined. Abigail (Lori Loughlin) prepares for the arrival of the telephone to Hope Valley. Bill (Jack Wagner) and Gowen (Martin Cummins) enter a bidding war for the town saloon.

“When Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) senses a spark between Faith and Carson, she fans the flames trying to get a romance started.”

True Detective (9:00 p.m. Eastern, HBO) – The third season will come to a close with some twists and hopefully answered questions on both the Purcell case and beyond. We still don’t know how much we should expect absolute closure, though, largely because we’re living in a world where that doesn’t always happen.

Do we think that the recent shared-universe reveal will lead to Martin Hart or Rust Cohle turning up? Sure, that’s fun to think about … but thinking about it is really all you can do here. Unless Nic Pizzolatto is intent on punking most of his fans, it’s not happening.

Shameless (9:00 p.m. Eastern, Showtime) – The latest episode is already online, and without giving too much away, let’s just say that it may be one of the most personal ones of the season for Emmy Rossum’s Fiona. She’s forced to confront some hard, potentially-unfair things about herself. Meanwhile, Carl is going to face some hard truths about his relationship and all of the South Side will be hit by a blackhouse.

Victoria (9:00 p.m. Eastern, PBS) – The Great Exhibition will start to take center stage! It may not manifest completely untill the finale, but you’re going to have a chance to see the foundation laid tonight — plus some of the other typical drama and romance you’ve come to expect from the Jenna Coleman series.

The Walking Dead (9:00 p.m. Eastern, AMC) – There will still be zombies … by hour three, viewers checking out the Oscars may actually start to feel a little bit like zombies.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (11:00 p.m. Eastern, approximately, HBO) – Probably the biggest loser of the Academy deciding to not trim down the Oscars. It’s going from being the perfect post-show viewing to being ignored by people who want to watch the top categories.

Whiskey Cavalier (immediately after the Oscars, ABC) – It’s not so much counter-programming as it is post-programming, but we do still think it is essential to point it out.

What are you planning to watch — the Oscars or something else?

Be sure to share now in the comments! Also, return soon for more coverage of a number of these shows.

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