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Best Bets: 'Downton Abbey' goes to war

PBS

War has come to 'Downton Abbey.'

Things are still pretty slow in the entertainment world, but at least a few favorite TV shows are starting to return.

TV
"Downton Abbey" is the show for those of us who want to get addicted to a high-quality, soapy but well-written series, but don't feel like shelling out for HBO or Showtime. The PBS show chronicles the lives of a rich British family and their many fascinating servants, and it's addictive from the moment you tune in. One of the first season's events made our best deaths of 2011 list (spoilers, obviously.) The first season ended with word that World War I had begun, and no one will be untouched by the fighting. (Second season premiere Jan. 8, PBS, check local listings for times.)

"Project Runway" fans will be sure to recognize a number of the faces and personalities who'll be busy sewing up a storm on "Project Runway All Stars." Hey, that's Kara Janx! Look, there's Mondo Guerra! Kenley Collins, how ya been? Can that be ... AUSTIN SCARLETT? You won't see Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, though -- this special season has model Angela Lindvall as host and Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman as judges. We're actually most excited that Miss Piggy is a guest judge. (Jan. 5, 9 p.m., Lifetime.)

The dream of the '90s is alive in "Portlandia." The quirky, funny show returns for a second season this week. Penny Marshall, Jack McBrayer, Tim Robbins and Kristen Wiig are among the guest stars who'll mix it up with the Pac NW crew. (Second season premiere Jan. 6, 10 p.m., IFC.)

There's a grandmother on "The Bachelor"? The Huffington Post posted a video showing the new Bachelor, winemaker Ben Flajnik, being greeted by a gray-haired granny on crutches, who doesn't quite glide out of the limo like the usual Bachelorette bombshells. What's up with that? We presume all will be explained. (Jan. 2, 8 p.m., ABC.)

Contestants on "The Biggest Loser" reportedly will be competing aginst their own loved ones, not working alongside them, as the weight-loss show tries a new twist. (Jan. 3, 8 p.m., NBC.)

Movies
Really quiet movie week, but horror fans have been intrigued for some time by "The Devil Inside." No, it's not a concert film featuring Australian band INXS. Instead, it's a scary documentary-style film about exorcism. A woman whose mother killed three people while priests were trying to expel demons from her in the 1980s has been in a Vatican hospital ever since. When her now-grown daughter tries to visit her, taking along a film crew, the "Exorcist" style frights start coming. (Opens Jan. 6.)

 DVD
If you've ever eyed a sneezing airplane seatmate nervously, you should perhaps not see "Contagion." Gwyneth Paltrow is Patient Zero in this Steven Soderbergh thriller about a worldwide epidemic. You'll never say "it's just a cold" again. Achoo! (Out on DVD Jan. 3.)

Which "Downton Abbey" storyline are you most looking forward to? Tell us on Facebook.

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