Here’s your look ahead at this week in reality TV and unscripted programming, starting with…
7 new reality shows debuting this week
- Doug Benson gets high and adjudicates cases on The High Court (Comedy Central, Feb. 27, Mondays to Thursdays at midnight).
- TIME: The Kalief Browder Story (Spike, March 1, Wednesdays at 10) is a documentary series about the effects of solitary confinement on one young man.
- Bringing Up Ballers (Lifetime, March 1, Wednesdays at 10) follows women in Chicago who are both entrepreneurs and the mothers of kids who are star basketball players.
- CNBC’s latest version of The Profit is The Deed (CNBC, March 1, Wednesdays at 10), on which Sidney Torres invests in properties and helps turn them around.
- A&E takes its absolutely ridiculous but popular prison series to a new city with 60 Days In: Atlanta (A&E, March 2, Thursdays at 9)
- Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation (NatGeo WILD, March 3, Fridays at 9) is Cesar Millan’s latest reality show: a road trip with his son to look at dogs across the country.
- Believer (CNN, March 5) looks at religions around the world through Reza Aslan’s eyes. I’ll have an interview with him later this week.
The Voice returns
The Voice returns for its 12th season tonight (NBC, Monday and Tuesday at 8), and its usual coach shuffle means that Miley Cyrus is out and Gwen Stefani is back, along with last season’s coaches Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton.
The four recorded a cover of TLC’s Waterfalls to promote this season.
Six hours, 200,000 years
Starting tonight, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. looks at Africa’s Great Civilizations, which covers 200,000 years of history in six hours. In the trailer, Gates says it is “the untold story of how, for thousands of years, Africans helped shape our modern world.”
All three episodes air this week (PBS, Monday to Wednesday, Feb. 27 to March 1 at 9).
Eight years, 3,500 speeches
Barack Obama’s presidency included more than 3,500 speeches, and they are the subject of tonight’s special The Obama Years: The Power of Words (Smithsonian Channel, Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.).
It focuses on six speeches and “gives viewers behind-the-scenes stories of the President and his process, how he and his core group worked to develop the messages, expert commentary comparing the speeches to those of other presidents, and analysis of the power—and limits—of the bully pulpit to shape events,” according to the network.
In the film, historian Douglas Brinkley says Obama’s speeches will “tell us more about our hopes, dreams, aspirations and dark realities than any other document to represent that era.”
NBC’s Saturday mornings, from a Big Brother producer and Carnival Cruise Line
Last fall, NBC replaced Saturday morning cartoons with unscripted shows, and one of those shows is The Voyager With Josh Garcia is a travel reality series that focuses on seaside places. Each episode, NBC says, follows “Josh on a personal journey to discover, understand and immerse in the hidden beauty, diverse traditions and unique cuisine each port has to offer. As we meet local cultural experts, learn authentic regional stories and taste indigenous dishes, Josh inspires us to celebrate and explore the people, places and cultures of our world.”
The show debuted late last fall and previously aired episodes are online, free. There will be a total of 22 episodes plus four best-of bonus episodes. Ahead this spring are episodes that focus on places such as Florence (March 11), Singapore (April 1), Phuket (May 13), and Sydney (May 20).
The show is c0-executive produced by former Big Brother producer, Jerry D’Alessandro, who worked on BB5 through BB17, and also worked on other shows, including American Idol and Bar Rescue, and is produced by Carnival—yes, the cruise line.
In a press release, Carnival’s CEO, Arnold Donald, said, “We have taken great care to develop TV shows that we believe families and people of all ages will truly enjoy watching, with interesting stories, charismatic hosts and spectacular video, showing how much fun people have traveling the world by ocean on our fleet of more than 100 cruise ships. The shows will also help dispel outdated myths about cruising and expose a much broader consumer audience to why cruising is the fastest growing segment of the vacation industry.”
Also this week
- HBO broadcasts this amazing, terrifying, Catfish-like documentary, Tickled, tonight (Feb. 27 at 10).
- Before WGN’s Underground returns next week, the network will air a documentary, Breaking Free (Sunday, March 5), that focuses on both the making-of the series and on the history of the Underground Railroad itself.
- ID debuts its two-night true-crime series Killing Richard Glossip (March 5 and 6 at 9), which is directed by Joe Berlinger and tells the story of a man sentenced to die despite the fact that another man “admitted to killing the victim and whose fingerprints were found in the room, cut a deal for a life sentence instead of risking the death penalty by telling the police that Glossip hired him to do it,” according to ID.