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Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal

TV PICKS: Billy Crystal to host Oscars

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It's Billy Crystal to the rescue for "The 84th Annual Academy Awards" tonight on ABC.

The genial comedian returns to host the Oscar telecast, stepping in for Eddie Murphy, who flaked out back in November.

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It will be Crystal's ninth time as emcee (second only to Bob Hope's 19), but his first in nearly a decade. So expect a return of his popular opening monologue, where he inserts himself into scenes of the nominated movies.

As for the films themselves, it's shaping up to be a big night for "The Artist," a delightful production that proved you don't have to talk a lot to make a good impression. Now, if only the winners would keep that in mind when they make their acceptance speeches.

• Also Sunday: On "Cupcake Wars," the bakers whip up scary treats for the Screamfest horror film festival in Los Angeles, which confounds us because the only scary thing about cupcakes is the calorie count. (Food Network) ... The tension between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) continues to escalate on "The Walking Dead." Meanwhile, the show continues to explore new and icky ways to kill off zombies. (AMC)

• Monday: On "The Bachelor," an eerie surprise awaits Ben and his three remaining women when they get to Switzerland. (ABC) ... The captivating backstage drama "Smash" continues with a guest appearance by Nick Jonas as a hot, wealthy young star. (NBC)

• Tuesday: "The Amish: American Experience" is a compelling installment of the documentary series that offers unprecedented access to the insular religious community. (PBS) ... In the Season 3 finale of "Parenthood," Julia and Joel (Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger) try to recover from the stress of adoption, and Sarah makes a big decision about her future. (NBC)

• Wednesday: When a reality show grows old, it gets desperate for new angles. Hence, "America's Next Top Model: The British Invasion." (The CW) ... In "Psych," Shawn and Gus (James Roday, Dule Hill) are reunited with Canadian felon Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes) to recover a mythical dagger rumored to be the key to unlocking a dead billionaire's treasure. (USA)

• Thursday: Will "Awake" arouse audiences or put them to sleep? It's a surreal, complex new drama in which a detective (Jason Isaacs) awakens from a family car crash to find himself experiencing parallel lives. (NBC)

• Friday: The nutty nuptials continue on "Four Weddings," where a Chicago police officer has an offbeat idea for memorable wedding favors: edible chocolate handcuffs. (TLC)

• Saturday: In the new reality series "Q'Viva! The Chosen," Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony and concert director Jamie King launch an international search to find and showcase the best Latin singers, dancers and musicians. It's an English-language version of a show that recently debuted on Univision. (Fox)

© 2012 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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