It seems serendipitous that the anniversary of the Beatles’ debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” — 50 years to the day — lands on a Sunday. The timing is certainly ideal for “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” which airs on February 9. On CBS. At 8 p.m.
Of course, there’s no way this taped show can match the excitement of the band’s first U.S. television appearance, a watershed witnessed by 73 million viewers. But the Grammy special does promise more stars and an improved set list. (After all, as fresh as the Fab Four sounded in 1964, their songwriting only got better.) In a nod to the night it commemorates, the two-hour show opens with “All My Loving,” sung by Maroon 5. From there, it taps into the whole Beatles canon, with artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Katy Perry interpreting songs like “We Can Work It Out” and “Fool on the Hill.” Several duos, notably the reunited Eurythmics, also take the stage, all in a buildup to the main event — performances by the two living Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Granted, this Sunday night is unlikely to recapture the advent of Beatlemania. Then again, you’ve probably forgotten its downside — how Ed Sullivan made you sit through an acrobat act called Wells and the Four Fays. —John Birmingham