NEW YORK -- Chris Harrison has seen a lot of roses. As host of ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," the 40-year-old has a front-row seat as an eligible man or woman looking for "the one" is wooed by 25 suitors (often with the help of alcohol, over-the-top dates, a hot tub or occasional sleepover).
In a recent interview, Harrison said his favorite romances in the 16-season history of "The Bachelor" and eight seasons of "The Bachelorette" are Trista and Ryan Sutter and Emily Maynard and Brad Womack.
"Trista and Ryan were just lightning in a bottle. I don't know if we'll ever capture anything like that again. That one will always stand out," he said. (They were married in 2003 in a live TV special and now have two children.)
Maynard and Womack weren't so lucky. Despite their engagement at the end of season 15 of "The Bachelor," they only lasted a few months as a couple.
"I felt like the two of them were meant to be and it was gonna work. When they broke up, I was really sad," Harrison said.
Maynard, meanwhile, is giving the chance for love another try. ABC named her its newest "Bachelorette," and her season is now airing on Monday nights.
"Everybody's had this appetite for her," Harrison said. "She's so contagious. You just want to care for her, you want to root for her, you want her to do well, and that really makes for a perfect Bachelorette. When her name came up, we started bantering about and it was a unanimous home run. It's very rare that it's unanimous."
Despite Maynard's popularity, the franchise has made a habit of recycling past contestants. The past four Bachelors came from previous seasons. None of the Bachelorettes has been plucked from obscurity.
Harrison would like to see more variety.
"That's something I've been fighting for years. I get when you have someone like Emily, it's a no-brainer you bring her back. If (someone) is not a unanimous choice, let's go outside of the family. Let's start over," he said. "I would love to see us start fresh. ... I want to get back to that and go back to our roots. Then if you find someone from our show that you can't deny, it's OK (to bring him or her back)."
Harrison, who started out as a sportscaster in Oklahoma City, had no inkling he would go on to play a TV cupid on a successful franchise that now includes a third all-star version, "Bachelor Pad," where former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" contestants live together and compete for a cash prize.
"I still feel like someone's gonna tap me on the shoulder and say, `Mr. Harrison, what are you doing here? You've been found out, it's time to go.' Then I'll pick up my stuff and be like, `You know what? It was a hell of a ride.'"