What's On: 'Bachelor' Begins, Armistead Maupin Tells 'Tales,' New 'Lucifer' and 'Gifted'

Matt Roush
ABC/Paul Hebert)

Happy (and busy) new TV year!

A critical checklist of notable Monday TV:

The Bachelor (8/7c, ABC): Never too soon to start pimping for ratings. Which explains ABC's haste in launching a new season of the guilty-pleasure exercise in faux-romantic voyeurism even before our New Year's Eve hangovers have settled. If your system can handle it, here comes Arie Luyendyk Jr., the racing scion rejected five years ago by Bachelorette Emily Maynard. Roses in hand, he'll choose from among 29 yearning (some might say desperate for attention) singles. Let the Twitter judging begin.

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (10:30/9:30c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): As frank, funny and poignant as his iconic Tales of the City stories, writer Armistead Maupin is the charming focus of filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot's biographical profile, premiering on Independent Lens. The chronicler of San Francisco life in the 1970s through the ravages of AIDS in the ’80s and beyond, Maupin has endured quite the personal journey, which serves as a fascinating cultural and social history. The young Republican from North Carolina, and Vietnam vet who once shook hands with President Nixon, would become famous as an openly gay progressive who took an unpopular stand on outing celebrities after the AIDS diagnosis of Rock Hudson (with whom Maupin briefly dallied). Testimonials include Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, Sir Ian McKellen and stars from TV's Tales From the City miniseries, Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney—who among others is blunt in her criticism of PBS for caving to political pressure after the celebrated first season of Tales in 1993, with two sequels airing on Showtime. So props to PBS for giving a platform to Maupin's own story, which can be summed up with the simple motto: "Love wins."

Lucifer (8/7c, Fox): With the Olympics little more than a month away, the networks are front-loading January with new episodes and premieres, none more aggressively than Fox, which revives its Monday lineup to declare the TV holiday is officially over. The supernatural thriller returns with a flashback episode reliving Lucifer's (Tom Ellis) arrival in L.A., back when Chloe (Lauren German) and Dan (Kevin Alejandro) were still married and investigating a murder which leads them to the perp who mugged Amenadiel (DB Woodside). Followed by the winter premiere of The Gifted (9/8c), with Reed (Stephen Moyer) rethinking the family's future at the compound while turmoil rages among the mutants.

 Inside Monday TV: Johnny Flynn, who made a splash last year as the young Einstein in National Geographic's Genius, returns for a third season as the hapless protagonist of the Netflix rom-com Lovesick (streaming Monday). … In back-to-back episodes of NBC's whimsical celebrity travelogue Better Late Than Never (9/8c), the guys visit Sweden to explore Terry Bradshaw's Viking roots, and then to Lithuania, where William Shatner's parents grew up. Shenanigans ensue. … PBS's Great Performances continues an annual tradition with From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), a scenic and Strauss-heavy concert from the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Riccardo Muti. Taking over as host from Julie Andrews: Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville. … A&E's 60 Days In (9/8c) returns with a two-hour opener, sending nine volunteers to go undercover as inmates of Atlanta's Fulton County Jail. The series resumes in its regular time period, Thursday at 10/9c.