Downton Abbey

PBS, Jan. 8 (check local listings for time) |

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DRAMA

What's that new building next to Downton Abbey? The proportions are off, the materials look cheap-is it prefab? Oh: It's season 2. The first season of this Masterpiece import was 2011's happiest surprise, a sumptuous period melodrama soaked in scandal and stoked by sharp, vivid performances. Now the rich, titled Crawleys and their servants are in the thick of World War I. That historic cataclysm proves too dire-at least in the first six episodes-to mesh with the series' old-fashioned love story: the star-crossed romance of gorgeous Lady Mary and Downton's presumptive heir, her distant relation Matthew. Outrageous twists were one of the first season's great pleasures (one word: soap), but when they reflect the horrors of modern warfare, things become exasperatingly dopey. I don't know how else to describe a segment that plays like The English Patient remade with Mike Myers. Luckily the characters are so fully formed, and so fully inhabited by the cast, that the whole mess staggers up out of the trenches and keeps going. Michelle Dockery's Lady Mary remains the show's beating heart: Graceful, steely yet also remorseful, she's learning how useless aristocratic pride will be in the 20th century.

Jane by Design

ABC Family, Jan. 3, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher), a teen fashionista desperately in need of money, applies for a design-house internship but is mistakenly hired as an assistant. This means she has to keep up school attendance while running all over town satisfying the whims and demands of her dictatorial but killer-chic boss (Andie MacDowell). Dasher is an attractive young actress, and just oddball enough, but the chief emotion she conveys is escalating panic at Jane's bifurcated life. A show like this needs to be able to indulge in the occasional swoon over style and fashion. Instead it's just a plainer Ugly Betty.

YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...

OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER

For her new weekly series, the ever-questing Oprah Winfrey roams the country. She starts by visiting Steven Tyler at his rural retreat. OWN, Jan. 1.

IT'S A BRAD, BRAD WORLD

In his post-Rachel Zoe career, stylist Brad Goreski hustles to land celeb clients. Chatty, cheerful, self-promotional. Bravo, Jan. 2.

JERSEY SHORE

Back to Seaside Heights for season 5. Snooki is so happy to be home from Italy she drinks the juice from a pickle jar. Oh, Snooks! MTV, Jan. 5.

On the new ABC sitcom Work It (premiering Jan. 3), two friends find it impossible to land jobs in a workforce increasingly made up of women, so they disguise themselves in wigs and heels. As premises go, this is not exactly fresh. It's a hair-sprayed cobweb. And not funny, let alone believable: Stuffed into female business attire, stars Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco look like Chewbacca and an Ewok after a session with RuPaul.

ROSE-ING TO THE OCCASION

SO WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH YOUR HAIR?

I've had long hair for 11 years. It fits my lifestyle. Friends say I look like Fez from That '70s Show, which is hilarious.

FESS UP: SHERYL THE GRANDMA MAKES IT TO THE FINALE.

She is in the final two, actually!

WE SAW THAT RACY PROMO. NICE BUTT!

You have an opportunity to go skinny-dipping with a gorgeous woman, you take it, whether you're on national television or not.

WHAT'S THE WORST THING ABOUT THE BACHELOR MANSION?

The dishwasher. It never works. When I was on The Bachelorette, we got tired of dishes piling up, so we did 'em ourselves.

WOULD YOU CUT YOUR HAIR IF A WOMAN ASKED YOU?

No way. My mother has been trying to get me to do it forever.