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Charlie Toft

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Charlie Toft used to win awards for book criticism, but decided that reading was too much work. As a TV writer, his specialty is an encyclopedic and possibly unhealthy knowledge of American Idol.

WHAT2WATCH: The Bachelor Pins Its Hopes On Ben

A new year is a time for hope and possibility. Despite this, I’m going to go out on a very thick limb and predict that Ben Flajnik will not meet his forever sweetheart on The Bachelor, which begins its 16th season on Monday (ABC, 8 p.m.). The track record speaks for itself: no one in the history of the franchise has ever married the woman he picked at the end of the season (though Jason Mesnick famously married his runner-up). And if anything, they’ve been getting worse: Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi ended up as mortal enemies, and Brad Womack and Emily Maynard couldn’t even make a believable show of true love as far as “After the Final Rose.”

The problem with Ben, other than his age (he’s one of younger Bachelors ever) and a personality that doesn’t pop off the screen, is the same one shared by many of the recent protagonists: he hasn’t come across as someone who really wants to be married, at least not now. He’s a man with a business to promote, and we’ve already seen in the promos for the new season that he isn’t averse to a little skinny-dipping in the ocean. So let’s assume Ben is a guy who mostly wants to have a good time with lots of attractive women, and to see the world on ABC’s dime. And if true love results, well, consider it a bonus.

Also this week:

Tuesday: Teen Mom 2 (MTV, 10 p.m.): Could anything be more heartwarming than holiday time on Teen Mom 2? Pity the mall Santa who had to deal with any of them. This week, Leah pulls out all the stops for Christmas, Chelsea gets back with Adam, Jenelle regrets filing charges against Kieffer, and Kailyn faces the season alone.

Wednesday: Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): The other networks are still mostly in repeats this week, but ABC has primarily new programming. This week, Manny’s father takes the boy to the racetrack, Mitchell’s award serves to spark a little rivalry, and Phil drives himself crazy with worry after a medical test.

Thursday: Project Runway All-Stars (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): I am a major skeptic this show will work in an all-star format, because while the contestants could have been considered “up-and-comers” when they first appeared, now they’re just going to look like design wannabes who aren’t good enough. Besides, there’s a completely different team in charge (Angela Lindvall hosting, Joanna Cole mentoring, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi judging). Let’s be honest: this season is all about arranging a win for Mondo Guerra, and making up for Runway’s most controversial result ever.

Friday: CSI: NY (CBS, 9 p.m.): The charred body of a cage fighter is found, which just goes to show that Mom was wise in warning me away from cage fighting as an occupation. But the CSIs discover that the victim may have been targeted by a stalker.

Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Note: this starting time is likely to be delayed because of NFL playoff football in primetime. Charles Barkley seems like a strange choice for first host of the new year, as he’s quite a bit past his period of greatest fame, but I suppose the same could be said for SNL. Kelly Clarkson is the musical guest.

Sunday: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.): The second season of the biggest Masterpiece hit in quite a while begins with two of our characters off to war, while others contemplate the prospect of eventually going to France themselves. Back at home, Mary tries to move on emotionally, while sister Edith learns how to drive.


Categories: TV

Tags: Ben flajnik, Brad womack, Charles barkley, Csi: ny, Downton abbey, Downton abbey season 2, Jake pavelka, Jason mesnick, Kelly clarkson, Masterpiece classic, Modern family, Project runway, Project runway all stars, Saturday night live, Teen mom 2, The bachelor