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Archive for Monday, January 4, 2010

‘Conveyor Belt’ takes journey to nowhere

January 4, 2010

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The year is young enough to still have that new car smell, but we may already have the worst show of 2010 with “Conveyor Belt of Love” (9 p.m., ABC). This one-hour special combines elements of “The Dating Game” and “The Gong Show” with a meat-market/speed-dating motif.

Three beauties evaluate a parade of eager guys who are transported via conveyor belt to center stage to plead their case. Needless to say, the casting accentuates a certain exhibitionism. Sporadically amusing in a cringe-worthy fashion, “Conveyor” will try the patience of anyone devoted to watching the entire hour.

• Are we to follow our hearts or our heads? The three-part series “This Emotional Life” (8 p.m., PBS) argues that they may be more connected than we thought. Host Daniel Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” examines how hard-wired cognitive and neurological processes affect even the simplest daily interactions.

We also see how the earliest bonding between mother and baby can either nurture or disturb this “wiring” and have dramatic impacts on all our relationships, from the most casual workplace interaction to marriage itself.

• NBC’s decision to eliminate original dramas at the 9 p.m. hour seems to have inspired the cable competition to fill the void. Ambitious series such as “Men of a Certain Age” (9 p.m., TNT) have received the most attention. Now ABC Family has announced a full three-hour slate of original Monday-night programming, featuring “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (7 p.m., Family) and “Make It or Break It” (8 p.m.) returning for new seasons. Beginning Jan. 25, “Greek” will join them at 10 p.m.

• Speaking of cable-network crossovers, Comedy Central will air the first season of “The Goode Family” (9 p.m., Comedy Central). Seen last summer on ABC, “Goode” was created by Mike Judge. Set in a wealthy suburb where keeping up with the Joneses entails an exhausting game of politically correct one-upmanship, “Goode” often seems like a spinoff of Judge’s “King of the Hill,” but often without that series’ generosity and affection toward its characters.

• An American expatriate in Scotland encounters a group of local eccentrics in the British comedy import “The Book Group” (7 p.m., Ovation). Ovation will also broadcast the acclaimed Canadian comedy “Slings & Arrows” beginning Jan. 9.

• “Antiques Roadshow” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) enters its 14th season with three weeks of treasure and appraisals from Raleigh, N.C.

“Roadshow” is perhaps the only program on television where you can hear both participants and appraisals speaking in their own strong regional accents. It has often been said that television has gone a long way toward flattening and homogenizing the sound of the American language.

For me, half the fun of “Roadshow” is listening to a Texas twang or the open vowels of the Chesapeake Bay or the “Oh, gees” of folks who sound like my Minnesotan in-laws. One jewelry appraiser on “Roadshow” sounds like Robert De Niro in “Goodfellas.” A young weapons expert speaks with the gentile accent of the Old South, and others sport Boston accents thick enough to cut with a knife.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Claire has misgivings about the carnival life on a two-hour helping of “Heroes” (7 p.m., NBC).

• “The Bachelor” (7 p.m., ABC) returns with a two-hour helping, featuring past contestant Jake Pavelka.

• TCU and Boise State tangle in the Fiesta Bowl (7 p.m., Fox).

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