'Becker' defies expectations with longevity

"Becker" (8:30 p.m., CBS) returns after a near-death experience for Chris (Nancy Travis), and for the show itself. "Becker" was originally dropped from the network's schedule, but now returns for a sixth season. Chris is delighted to hear about Becker's (Ted Danson) compassionate bedside vigil during her illness. But her effusive praise for his soft side inspires the crusty doctor to new heights of crankiness. Has this forgettable series really been around for five years?

  • Am I the only one who thinks this season of "The Bachelor" (8 p.m., ABC) has gotten off to a miserable start? Folks had high hopes for returning "Bachelorette" castoff Bob Guiney. While he quickly got the heave-ho from Trista, the hefty contestant won a reputation as the world's nicest guy.

And that's precisely what's wrong with "The Bachelor." Unlike the previous "Bachelor" shows, all of the girls seemed to know and love Bob before their limos even arrived at the mansion. Pre-smitten, the girls spend every waking moment praising Bob, loving Bob, imagining themselves married to Bob and having Bob's babies. It's creepy, and dull.

And what's so nice about a guy who makes out with one woman while his harem waits in an adjoining suite? Perhaps Bob wanted to channel his inner cad when he took his dates to a burlesque show last week. Isn't that what Dustin Hoffman did to Katharine Ross in "The Graduate" when he wanted to ditch her?

  • Viewers searching for a "cheat sheet" to understand the forthcoming Bryant trial should takes notes during the one-hour special "The Kobe Case" (9 p.m., A&E;), hosted by the indefatigable Bill Kurtis. For those who don't follow such stories, NBA star Kobe Bryant has been accused of raping a 19-year-old concierge in a Colorado hotel.

"The Kobe Case" will examine the charges against the Los Angeles Lakers star as well as the possible disposition of a Colorado jury. The state has one of toughest sex-offense statutes in the country. Experts from the fields of sports, media, law, forensics and gossip will be interviewed.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Ed joins the equestrian set on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Baseball playoffs (7 p.m., Fox).
  • A table-tennis smackdown on "King of Queens" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Bartlet mulls various candidates for the vice presidency on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • Producer Danny DeVito guest stars as an angry mob boss on "Karen Sisco" (9 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Anthony Hamilton appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes George Carlin, Chris Matthews and music by Dido on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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