Don't miss: 86th Academy Awards
Don't expect any songs about female breasts as Ellen DeGeneres returns to host Hollywood's big bash. She's sure to be more of a soothing presence than last year's naughty-minded emcee, Seth MacFarlane. As for the competition, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are the leading contenders in a tight best picture race. Our hope? To make it through the night without any gasbag acceptance speeches by production-design types and sound-mixing guys. 8:30 p.m. Sunday, ABC.
■ Pre-shows get underway early: Countdown to the Red Carpet (1:30 p.m., E!), TVGN Live With ET at the Oscars (5 p.m., TVGN, formerly TV Guide Channel), Live From the Red Carpet (5:30 p.m., E!) and Oscars Red Carpet Live (7 p.m., ABC).
■ For a full overdose of the Oscars, there are a couple of post-shows: E! After Party (11:30 p.m., E!) and Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars (about 12:05 a.m., ABC).
Sunday: If you haven't been watching True Detective, you're missing some astonishing television. The crime drama nears its conclusion as Hart and Cohle (Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, who is likely to be winning an Oscar as this episode airs) set aside their differences to investigate new leads in the troubling case they worked years ago. 9 p.m., HBO.
Monday: Wipe that smile off your face, Juan Pablo. It's time for The Bachelor: The Women Tell All edition, and we don't expect the conversation to be all that rosy. 8 p.m., ABC.
Monday: Hide the silverware. The Psycho prequel Bates Motel returns for another season of shivery thrills. The opener airs right before the debut of Those Who Kill, a crime drama starring Chloe Sevigny, right, (Big Love) as a Pittsburgh homicide detective. 9 p.m., A&E.
Tuesday: Bill Paxton (also from Big Love) gets a chance to show off his action chops as he joins Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a recurring role. He plays agent John Garrett, who brings some "attitude and cigar-smoking swagger." 8 p.m., ABC.
Wednesday: The new reality series Bring It! takes viewers into the elite world of highly competitive hip-hop dance, where every pump, thrust and high kick apparently are very significant. 10 p.m., Lifetime.
Thursday: Suits is finally back with some fresh episodes and, yes, that's Olympic swim sensation Michael Phelps dropping by in a cameo role. Seems that Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Dana (Abigail Spencer) are determined to sign the star athlete as a client. 9 p.m., USA.
Thursday: Scrubs meets Rescue Me in the new sitcom Sirens. Produced by Denis Leary, it follows three EMTs who are aces when it comes to the job but can't seem to get their personal lives together. 10 p.m., USA.
Friday: On Grimm, a horrible new predator creeps into Portland, and it's targeting a young expectant couple who are close friends with Wu (Reggie Lee). Funny how this stuff never happens on Portlandia. 9 p.m., NBC.
Saturday: Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood star in The Trip to Bountiful. It's a TV adaptation of the hit Broadway revival about an elderly woman (Tyson) who dreams about returning to the town where she was raised and defiantly heads out on a bus trip to make it happen. 8 p.m., Lifetime.
Herald-Leader staff, Contra Costa Times