TV Remote: Best bets for the weekend

The grande dames of Downton Abbey: Maggie Smith, left, and Shirley MacLaine
The grande dames of Downton Abbey: Maggie Smith, left, and Shirley MacLaine

Friday: The fifth and final season of Merlin opens with Colin Morgan returning in the role of the geeky but brave young wizard who had awesome magical powers way before that Harry Potter kid did. 10 p.m., Syfy.

Saturday and Sunday: The NFL playoffs get started with the Wild Card Weekend. NBC has a doubleheader Saturday with the Cincinnati Bengals playing the Houston Texans at 4:30 p.m. and a rematch of last weekend's thriller between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings at 8 p.m. — watch everyone freezing at Lambeau Field from the comfort of your man cave. Sunday brings phenomenal rookie quarterbacks to the party, with Andrew Luck leading the Indianapolis Colts against the Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m., CBS) and Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins taking on the Seattle Seahawks (4:30 p.m., Fox).

Sunday: Isn't that cute of NBC to broadcast the season premiere of The Biggest Loser just five days after New Year's Day? Lest your resolutions be wavering, you might want to tune if for some inspiration and cautionary tales. 8 p.m., NBC.

Sunday: Resistance is futile. More and more of your friends are watching Downton Abbey and becoming addicted, so the third season premiere is a good time to succumb. Plus this season, we'll have Lexingtonian Lucy Sharp playing Shirley MacLaine's maid. 9 p.m., PBS.

Sunday: In Season 2 of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, Team Ray and Team Fieri welcome Hines Ward, Carnie Wilson, Johnny Weir, Kathy Najimy, Dean McDermott and Gilbert Gottfried to their culinary throw-down. 9 p.m., Food Network.

Herald-Leader Staff, Contra Costa Times