Sunday Geek-Off: ‘Game of Thrones’ vs. Bruce Campbell

In a pre-DVR era, viewers would have had a tough choice to make — but we know which show we'll be watching live

Simply scrolling through the TV listings for Sunday night will make any couch potato salivate, even shudder, with anticipation.

Indeed, more than any other night in recent memory, a seeming endless number of big-stakes programs are in the primetime mix this evening.

So, what to watch?

Two programs stand out among the throng of solid choices: HBO's "Game of Thrones," a big-stakes adaptation of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, and USA Network's "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe," a prequel movie entirely focused on B-movie poobah Bruce Campbell's enjoyable character.

Also read: 'Game of Thrones': 5 Things You Need to Know

But viewers have many more options beyond those two can't-miss shows. The big four networks will be loaded with new episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice," "Family Guy," "Amazing Race: Unfinished Business" and "Desperate Housewives," among other fresh offerings.

Great stuff, but if you choose to watch any of those things as they air, you'll be eschewing the second installment of PBS's highly-rated and highly-excellent remake of "Upstairs Downstairs." You'll also be opting to watch episode four of AMC's crackerjack murder mystery "The Killing" live.

Additionally, you'll be saying "Up your nose with a rubber hose!" to the "Welcome Back, Kotter" reunion on the TV Land Awards, at which the casts of Family Ties and The Cosby Show also reconvene to accept various awards. How could you do that to Skippy Handelman and Theo Huxtable!?

Some of us are old enough to remember when this many viewing choices made for a very painful few hours of decision-making and phone calls to friends with pleas to tape — on a primitive VCR — whatever we chose not to watch so that we might be able to watch it later.

With technology working in our favor now, it's easier to manage our preferences when stellar programs overlap, as they will Sunday, April 17, between 9 and 11 p.m. But you can't record everything, and you can only watch one of these shows as it airs.

So what to watch? For us, the choice is clear. At 9 p.m., "Game of Thones" begins on HBO. At the exact same moment, USA Network will fire up "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe" and "The TV Land Awards" begin on TV Land.

The verdict: Record "The TV Land Awards" so that Skippy won't hate you forever. Wait until 11 p.m. to watch "Game of Thrones." And kick back and revel in "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe" as it airs. Bruce Campbell waits for no one.