Review | Bachelor Pad

Credit: Greg Zabilski/ABC

Air Date: Monday 8/8

Us Rating: ***

Sincere charmers Kirk DeWindt and Ames Brown. Off-on-off loves Michael Stagliano and Holly Durst. Two-timing wrestler Justin Rego. All in all, 18 photogenic alums from The Bachelorette and The Bachelor shack up in a mansion, wear minimal clothing and scheme for the elimination battle's $250,000 prize. The big ticket, of course, is the reunion of onetime Bachelor Jake Pavelka and his fiancee turned enemy, Vienna Girardi.

Before the two lock eyes, though, Chris Harrison delivers a padded overview of all the rivalries and love-life developments. (Was a three-hour premiere truly necessary?) Then, finally, the game is on. Girardi and her new guy, Kasey Kahl (from Ali Fedotowsky's season), scheme to oust Pavelka -- who weirdly says he will "always love" Girardi! The triangle reaches a juicy zenith in the first challenge, in which teams of two must hang together from a pulley, entwined, as long as they can. Who has stronger arms: Pavelka (whom Girardi dubs "a phony robot") or Kahl (her "everything")? One thing is certain: It makes for gripping TV! (ABC, 8 P.M.)

--JOHN GRIFFITHS