The Bachelor, a series with the alleged purpose of bringing a man together with the woman of his dreams, has produced fewer long-term relationships than Survivor, a series that's all about deception and the crushing of dreams. But ABC is probably willing to ignore this potentially embarrassing fact, because recent seasons of The Bachelor have still delivered the goods dramatically, topped by Jason Mesnick's indecision issues last winter. And to be fair to poor Jason, he and Molly are still together ... at least as of this week.
The latest Bachelor season kicks off Monday (ABC, 8 p.m.) with the subtitle On the Wings of Love, in honor of Jake Pavelka, the airline pilot from Texas who all the ladies will be fighting over. Jillian Harris, the Bachelorette who ended up not picking Jake, and Ed, the man she did pick, both pop in during the premiere to help Jake make his initial cuts from 25 to 15. One of the little interludes leading up to the initial culling: a touch football game. No Texan is going to put up with a woman who can't handle the pigskin.
Also this week:
Tuesday: The Biggest Loser (NBC, 8 p.m.): The between-seasons gap for this series is less than a month. I suppose when your health is at stake, there's no time to waste ... on your waist. Pairs of family members will be competing again, with the big twist in the premiere coming at weigh-in, which will take place in front of friends and family. Ouch.
Wednesday: 36th Annual People's Choice Awards (CBS, 9 p.m.): I must admit that I have never understood the reasoning behind these awards. Aren't "the people" voting for their favorites every time they buy a movie ticket or a CD? But this has become one of the longest running made-for-TV award shows, so it must have struck some chord. Queen Latifah hosts.
Thursday: BCS National Championship Game (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): The other networks are sticking with reruns on this night as the college football season comes to an end in Pasadena, with favored Alabama matching up with the Texas Longhorns. I predict that the winners will give 110 percent, thus defeating the lame slackers who give only 100.
Friday: Numb3rs (CBS, 10 p.m.): Don and his team investigate the theft of scratch-and-win lottery tickets, which takes a weird turn when it is discovered that someone killed in the robbery was a past lottery winner. I got a lottery ticket for Christmas and didn't win a thing. Santa is slipping.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Charles Barkley is the host? Really? He's a very funny guy when he's just being himself, but he's no actor and has been out of the public eye for a while, unless you watch NBA telecasts. Not really the way you expect to see SNL roaring out of the holiday break. Alicia Keys is the musical guest, and will assuredly do that annoying New York ditty.
Sunday: Big Love (HBO 9 p.m.): A fourth season of polygamous fun begins as Bill (Bill Paxton) prepares to open the casino at last, even as an investigation continues into the business ties of Roman Grant. Also, Lois tries to cut a deal with onetime mortal enemy Frank, and Nicki wonders if she should put her daughter in school.