Pop Culture

Best bets: ‘Bachelor,’ ‘Biggest Losers’ return

TVIt's a new year, and with it, a slew of new reality shows. First, "The Bachelor" is back, and with a twist — this year's single guy looking for love is a Seattle single dad. Jason Mesnick was rejected by "Bachelorette" DeAnna Pappas in July, but he won the hearts of many viewers, so now he'll be the one handing out the roses. Some viewers are uncomfortable with Mesnick in this role since he has a three-year-old son, Ty, from his first marriage. But Mesnick claims he found the woman of his dreams on the show, so now you can watch it all unfold. (Premieres Jan. 5, ABC, 8 p.m.)

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to lose weight? You might draw inspiration from "Biggest Loser: Couples," which features the series' oldest-ever contestants (63-year-old grandparents), its youngest male contestant (he's 18), and both the heaviest woman (379 pounds) and heaviest man (454 pounds) ever to compete. (Premieres Jan. 6, NBC, 8 p.m.)

Halloween's been over for months, but apparently the folks at the CW don't know that. Their new show, "13 — Fear is Real" pits contestants against their deepest fears in situations "straight from horror movies." The winner gets $66,666, but since two people get buried alive on the premiere, that doesn't seem like nearly enough money. (Premieres Jan. 7, CW, 8 p.m.)DVDYes, it's a comedy about stoners. But this isn't your father's Cheech and Chong, "Pineapple Express" actually earned raves for its humor. The Onion's A.V. Club called it "as loose and playful as major studio movies get." Seth Rogen plays the poor stoner who witnesses a murder and must go into hiding with his dealer Saul (James Franco). Get out the munchies and invite your college pals over for a viewing. (Out on DVD Jan. 6)

There's a bit of a pot theme in this week's DVDs. Also worth checking out: "The Wackness," in which a teenage dealer (Josh Peck) barters weed for therapy with a shrink (played by Ben Kingsley) and sets up an unlikely friendship. Msnbc.com's movie critic, Alonso Duralde, says "I’m more than willing to forgive Kingsley for ‘The Love Guru’ after his compelling work in 'The Wackness.' " (Out on DVD Jan. 6)

Movies How do you tell the story of a legendary revolutionary who's considered a hero by some and a murderer by others? Well, if you’re Steven Soderbergh, you make two full-length films. In Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro), a doctor from Argentina, helps Fidel Castro and an army of men to topple Batista’s regime in Cuba. Look for the second part of Che's story to be released soon. (Opens Jan. 9 limited, wider as the month rolls on)

is an animated documentary that tells the story of a former Israeli soldier (Ari Folman, who wrote and directed the film) who doesn’t remember participating in a massacre during the Lebanon war in 1982. He begins interviewing his former fellow soldiers trying to piece together the events. It may take a while for this film to get to your town, but this film may give “WALL-E” some competition for the best animated film Oscar. (Opened in limited release Dec. 25, rolling out wide)

Music
Austin, Texas, alt-country, honky-tonk band The Gourds are back with a new CD, the Cajun-influenced “Haymaker!,” which Paste magazine’s Andy Whitman calls “their best album in a long career of good and very good albums… They do what they've always done, only better.” (On sale Jan. 6)

The title track to Erin McCarley’s new album, “Love Save the Empty” will appear on the soundtrack of the ultimate chick flick, “He’s Just Not That Into You.” But don’t hold that against this pop singer, who sounds a bit like Fiona Apple’s happier younger sister. (On sale Jan. 6)

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