Check your local listings: The Christie Runs for President show returns this spring for a second season.

Like the Jersey Shore spin-off now being filmed, this one will feel familiar to any longtime viewer as it picks up where it left off, with cable-news graphics that say things like: "Will he or won't he?"

Last season ended in the fall, when Gov. Christie told a packed news conference that he decided not to run. This season begins with a twist that, like any reality show, is borderline preposterous.

Christie's name is being thrown around anew - not as a candidate on primary ballots but as someone who would be chosen on the floor of the Republican convention in August after the party deadlocks on the four actual candidates. Right now, none of the four has anywhere near the 1,144 delegates needed to run against President Obama.

Yet there hasn't been a "brokered" GOP convention, in which power brokers make deals to mass delegates for a candidate, since 1948. And even then, nominee Thomas Dewey had actually won primaries, unlike Christie.

Plus, Christie is the most vocal surrogate for Mitt Romney, who would presumably have to step away from a quest he's pursued for the better part of a decade in order to make way for the first-term New Jersey governor.

Despite all of this, over the last week Christie's name has repeatedly surfaced on cable news and political sites as the white knight to save the GOP at the convention. Others mentioned: former Florida Gov./presidential son/presidential brother Jeb Bush, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Christie's media omnipresence helps spur this along. He did five national network interviews last week, and was to appear on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday.

His state's proximity to New York studios, his skill as an off-the-cuff speaker, and his relative popularity as a Republican in a blue state allows him to command the attention of national outlets. This isn't purely about national political ambitions; it also allows him to reach more New Jersey voters at once than through the state's fractured media market.

In the past, these interviews told a simplified story of a tough-talking governor who fixed finances with bipartisan support and had ideas about how to do the same in Washington. Now, as a surrogate for a national candidate, Christie is plunging into more specific national issues, being asked to defend Romney and attack the rest of the field. His recent veto of a same-sex-marriage bill also puts him squarely in the center of the culture wars playing out between the national parties.

In a sense, the governor is already playing the role of a candidate.

During Christie's hour-long appearance on CNN last week, host Piers Morgan asked him to react to two remarks Romney had made. He also asked for the governor's view of the auto bailout - which Romney opposed. Christie didn't bite, uncharacteristically skipping the chance to express opinions.

When he does say something - as when he told MSNBC's Morning Joe that Santorum had had "an awful night" in Wednesday's debate - it matters. The quote got play, helping to influence the post-debate "Who won?" debate while proving Christie's loyalty as a Romney supporter.

No matter. A couple of hours later, MSNBC host Chuck Todd mused that Christie's Romney endorsement rings hollow. An hour after that, a former Republican presidential candidate from New Jersey, Steve Forbes, mentioned Christie as - you guessed it - a possible winner at a brokered convention.

As if he knows his protestations won't quell the chatter, Christie looks amused as he tells interviewer after interviewer that he won't run.

But he also sends hints that he'll be ready and willing in 2016. He told Don Imus on Fox Business Network that he can't stay governor forever: "I'm going to need work. I have four kids between 8 and 18."

Christie says there's a 10 percent chance of a brokered convention, and no chance that someone other than the four candidates rides to the rescue.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato puts the chance at 5 percent. "Think about it: 30,000 reporters covering every delegate as they blow up, saying outrageous things as they go nuts that their candidate is not getting the nomination." GOP leaders, he said in an interview, won't allow the embarrassment.

There's still enough chatter, though, that Quinnipiac University did a poll - and found that Christie is Republican voters' top choice if the current guys fall through. Maybe that's why GOP power brokers, according to Christie, still call to ask him to run.

Not Karl Rove, the man known as George W. Bush's "brain." Rove wrote last week that a brokered convention is less likely than life being found on Pluto.

There's only one problem: In December, the Hubble Space Telescope found evidence of life on Pluto.

Contact staff writer Matt Katz at 609-217-8355, mkatz@phillynews.com, or @mattkatz00 on Twitter. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles," at philly.com/christiechronicles.