New cable series include NASCAR Wives, Candy Girls, Harlem Heights, Dallas DNA, T.I.’s Road To Redemption

Several cable networks announced new series late last week.

Besides bringing back The Alaska Experiment for a second season (more on that later today), the Discovery Channel will also air an unscripted series starring infomercial stars Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan. Discovery’s press release says that But Wait … There’s More, promises that it “introduces viewers to the dreamers, tinkerers and inventors who believe they have created the next must-have product” who try to “enlist the help of Sully and Mays to sell their goods,” and the show follows them “[f]rom the initial boardroom pitch to product reactions on the streets to filming the actual infomercial.” The tentatively titled show debuts in the spring, and is produced by Thom Beers’ Original Productions.

The Investigation Discovery channel will air a docudrama about “the nation’s first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit run through a DA’s office, tasked with re-examining hundreds of petitions submitted by inmates seeking DNA testing and a reinvestigation of their cases,” according to a press release. Dallas DNA debuts April 28, and is the result of “exclusive and unprecedented access to the groundbreaking work of the CIUfrom the DA’s office and the court system to the prisoners and their families.” Based on a preview, the show looks like it’ll be fascinating but also depressing; exoneration is great, but makes the time the person spent in jail all the more tragic. One man is freed after being imprisoned for 25 years, and meets his 24-year-old Iraq veteran son for the first time.

TLC will air a docudrama about the wives of NASCAR drivers called, well, NASCAR Wives. It starts as a one-hour special that airs Jan. 24, and then continues as a series later this spring, and follows Kelley Earnhardt (Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s sister), Delana Harvick (Kevin Harvick’s wife), Shana Mayfield (Jeremy Mayfield’s wife), and Angie Skinner (Mike Skinner’s wife), among others. TLC exec Eileen O’Neill said in the announcement that the series “will give an unprecedented look at what happens on and off the track.”

TLC also plans Heli-Loggers, which follows loggers who “use an enormous Boeing Chinook helicopter” while “battling perilous terrain and extreme weather” and “maintaining an eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable mission,” according to TLC. The network will also bring back Street Customs, which follows “car-customizing star Ryan Friedlinghaus and his unorthodox approach to managing his West Coast Customs family of artisans and technicians,” for a second season.

Besides bringing back both College Hill (March 24) and Baldwin Hills (Jan. 27), BET will air a new reality series that follows working men and women living in Harlem. BET says Harlem Heights “features a diverse cast of eight young adults from different backgrounds who share common goals — making the post-college leap into adulthood and finding love and success in the big city on their own terms.” The cast includes Brooke Crittendon, who once dated Kanye West, and the show debuts March 2.

Elsewhere, WeTV will air I Want To Save Your Life starting April 25. On the series, “nutrition and public health advocate Charles Stuart Platkin helps both women and men become more aware of unhealthy lifestyle choices that are leading them down a negative path,” according to WeTV’s press release. The clips WeTV showed to TV critics Thursday included Platikin buying a piece of cake for a woman, and then explaining that it takes 2.5 hours of walking to burn off those calories; he and the woman then walked for two and a half hours while she was holding the cake (Platkin’s book, The Diet Detective’s Count Down, gives exercise equivalents for 7,500 foods).

MTV will air T.I.’s Road To Redemption: 45 Days To Go, which follows Grammy-winning rapper T.I. before he gets sentenced this March for weapons-related charges. While he could get 30 years, MTV notes that “as part of a deal worked out between his lawyers and the federal government, if he completes an amazing 1000 hours of community service during the year ending this March, that sentence may be reduced.” The network says the series will include footage “as T.I. attempts to help change the lives of desperate teenagers across the country” and include “a behind-the-scenes peek at the most private and personal moments.” It debuts Feb. 10.

Spike is planning Jesse James Is A Dead Man, which debuts in late May and “follows James as he readies himself for a different death-defying challenge he has always wanted to face and beat,” according to the network. Those stunts will include “hitting over 200 mph on a Nitro bike supercharged by ultra-combustible nitro-methane fuel and braving harsh Artic weather conditions by riding a motorcycle in minus-60 degree temperature across the infamous Ice Highway that connects the small towns of Inuvik and Aklavik.”

Finally, E! will air a workplace docudrama called Candy Girls; the workplace is an agency that places hot women in music videos and events that need hot women as a backdrop. It debuts March 8.

Discovery Channel’s Original Series “Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment”… and All-New Discovery Series Celebrates the Ingenuity of Inventors and the Art of Selling Their Products [Discovery Channel press release]
Investigation Discovery’s “DALLAS DNA” Profiles… [Discovery ID press release]
TLC Shares the Fast-Paced Lives of “NASCAR WIVES” and TLC Launches New Thursday Night Block [TLC press release]
The Diet Detective, Charles Stuart Platkin, Helps… [WeTV press release]
MTV Chronicles T.I.’s Year on Probation Before Serving Jail Time… [MTV]
Jesse James Takes on Death-Defying Events Each Week in Spike TV’s ‘Jesse James Is A Dead Man’ [Spike]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.