Next week: American Idol, Project Runway return, plus Morgan Spurlock’s Simpsons doc

Just like that, a whole week of 2010 is already gone. Soon, it’ll be 2020. But before then, let’s look back at what happened this week, and what to watch next week.

The Past

The Forward

  • Friday, Jan. 8
    Shark Tank returns tonight [ABC, 9 p.m.] to burn off episodes in the black hole that is a Friday night timeslot, but at least we get more of a pretty great show. It’s worth giving a shot if you haven’t checked it out before. Also tonight, Operation Wild debuts [Planet Green, 10 p.m.] and will follow officers in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as they defend Florida’s wilderness.
  • Saturday, Jan. 9
    The documentary Big River Man airs tonight [Planet Green, 10 p.m.] and follows Guinness World Record holder Martin Strel as he swims the Amazon.
  • Sunday, Jan. 10
    The Simpson’s 450th episode (!) airs at 8 p.m., and it’s followed by a one-hour documentary by Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock called The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice! [Fox, 8:30 p.m.]. It follows Spurlock as he talks to fans, cast members, and the show’s crew in honor of its 20 years on the air. In the middle of that, TLC debuts a documentary about the US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson, Brace for Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger Story [TLC, 9 p.m.]. Also tonight, Ax Men [History, 9 p.m.] returns for a third season while Madhouse [History, 10 p.m.] follows drivers on a Winston-Salem race track who “retool, redesign, rebuild and re-customize their cars for the big race on Saturday night,” according to the network.
  • Monday, Jan. 11
    Two celebrity-focused series debut tonight: Fantasia For Real [VH1, 10 p.m.], which follows the American Idol winner, and Let’s Talk About Pep [VH1, 10:30], which follows Sandra “Pepa” Denton’s search for love. Also tonight, Bravo airs the final two episodes of Chef Academy [Bravo, 10 p.m.] back-to-back, while Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations [Travel Channel, 10 p.m.] returns for its sixth season.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 12
    A little show called American Idol [Fox, 8 p.m.] returns tonight with a two-hour premiere featuring auditions in Boston. Besides that, Little Miss Perfect [WEtv, 10 p.m.] returns for a second creepy season, and Tabatha Coffey stops harassing salon staffs as the second season of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover comes to an end [Bravo, 10 p.m.].
  • Wednesday, Jan. 13
    High School Reunion 6 [TV Land, 8 p.m.] debuts, this time reuniting the class of 1989 from Las Vegas’ Chaparral High School. Elsewhere on cable, Solving History with Olly Steeds [Discovery, 10 p.m] follows the journalist as he tries to solve historical mysteries. And on broadcast TV, American Idol 9 [Fox, 8 p.m.] continues with a 90-minute episode featuring the Atlanta auditions. If you’re looking for Ellen DeGeneres, she won’t be appearing until the Hollywood round.
  • Thursday, Jan. 14
    Project Runway [Lifetime, 10 p.m.] returns for its seventh season and its second on Lifetime, and will try to recover from that pretty awful sixth season. At least it’s in HD this time–oh, and Michael and Nina are back. Also tonight, Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force [A&E, 10 p.m.] returns for a second season with two back-to-back episodes that follow law enforcement officers tracking fugitives. Or manhunting them, if you will. Carnie Wilson: Unstapled [GSN, 8 p.m.] is, I hope, not a literal title for the docudrama following Carnie Wilson.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.