Our weekly look at what happened last week and what’s coming up next week, past forward, is back for the summer, just in time to look at some of the ways in which reality TV will be going back to the past in the future.
Reality TV is getting some repeats this year: First, five years after cancelling the show, NBC is reviving Fear Factor. We also learned which two cast members Survivor South Pacific is bringing back to try a third time for $1 million on the season that started taping on Memorial Day. Many fans have complained about Survivor’s increasing reliance on returning cast members, and host Jeff Probst responded to that criticism on a message board
Also this week, drama between a former American Idol winner and the show’s producer gave way to news from that producer that his other show, So You Think You Can Dance, will not be coming to DVD. The cast of Jersey Shore is still in Italy, thankfully, though they’ll be home soon after getting a “cold shoulder” from Florence, Italy–and that was before Snooki crashed into a police car and faked an injury.
Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendar with the debut dates of reality TV shows that are returning or debuting this summer.
The Past: last week’s most-read stories
- Dustin Zito explains why he lied about gay sex, Fratpad explains why images disappeared
- Coach, Ozzy returning for Survivor South Pacific
- Summer 2011 reality TV debut schedule
- Jeff Probst responds to Survivor fan’s complaints about Redemption Island, more
- Celebrity Rehab’s Jeff Conaway dead at 60
The Forward: what to watch this week
- Friday, June 3
Whale Wars returns tonight [Animal Planet, 9 p.m.] for its fourth (and final?) season. Its preceded by a special at 8 p.m. that recaps the first three seasons, for those of you who’ve missed it. Also tonight, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution [ABC, 8 p.m.] resumes its second season, which was pulled from the schedule after just two episodes, which were rebroadcast last Friday. The consensus seems to be that this season is a misfire creatively. After airing two episodes last Sunday, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding moves to its regular timeslot [TLC, 10 p.m.]. The show follows “the secretive, extravagant and surprising world of gyspies and travelers in Britain today” including “their extraordinary rite-of-passage events.”
- Sunday, June 5
Summer’s best cable competition series, Food Network Star, debuts its seventh season with a two-hour episode [Food Network, 9 p.m.]. It has lost the word “Next” from its title but has added Giada de Laurentiis as a judge. Also tonight, The Real L Word returns with a new cast for its second season [Showtime, 10 p.m.], Ice Road Truckers debuts its fifth season [History, 9 p.m.], and Bigfoot hunters get profiled in their own series Finding Bigfoot [Animal Planet, 10 p.m.]. Tonight also marks the season finales of America’s Best Dance Crew [MTV, 7:30 p.m.], Sister Wives [TLC, 9 p.m.], and The Real Housewives of Orange County [Bravo, 10 p.m.].
- Monday, June 6
Masterchef, the Gordon Ramsay-fronted cooking competition that’s far more interesting and less grating than the now-repetitive Hell’s Kitchen, is back for a second season [Fox, 8 p.m.] At the same time, USA’s revival of WWE Tough Enough, complete with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s bad-ass hosting, ends its season [USA Network, 8 p.m.]. Also worth watching: Bobby Fisher Against the World [HBO, 9 p.m.]. Part of HBO’s summer documentary series, the film profiles the chess player who HBO calls a “troubled genius.”
- Tuesday, June 7
The Voice has concluded its battle rounds, which drained some of the life out of the show, but now it enters its quarter-finals with live performance episodes [NBC, 9 p.m.]. Will it remain as superior to American Idol as its audition episodes were? Earlier, Masterchef moves to its normal Tuesday timeslot [Fox, 8 p.m.] against America’s Got Talent [NBC, 8 p.m.], which started with strong acts last week.
- Wednesday, June 8
After concluding its auditions last week, So You Think You Can Dance [Fox, 8 p.m.] heads to Las Vegas for its callback episode. And after ending its 25th season last week, The Real World Las Vegas concludes with a reunion special [MTV, 10 p.m.], which will probably cover Dustin Zito’s work in gay porn, which gave the show high ratings. Also ending tonight: Extreme Couponing [TLC, 9 p.m.], the oddly addictive series about people who are well-organized hoarders of things they buy with coupons–because what every home really needs is dozens of containers of mustard.
- Thursday, June 9
So You Think You Can Dance [Fox, 8 p.m.] ends its time in Las Vegas by revealing its top 20. Yes, the show is returning to a top 20 format, and won’t bring in the all-stars until it gets down to the top 10. Later, Bravo gives The Real Housewives of New York City 75 minutes to end their drama-filled time in Morocco [Bravo, 10 p.m.].