For the past few months, I’ve been hoarding announcements about reality, unscripted, and documentary series, both new ones and renewals. It’s time to clean out the digital file—and start collecting again!
Here is that list of shows that captured my eye, ones that didn’t get mentioned in their own stories or elsewhere. (In other words, this list is not comprehensive. But always feel free to send me something I may have missed.)
4 resurrected unscripted series
- Discovery is resurrecting Cash Cab, which will return later this year, Variety reported.
- Fox is bringing back Showtime at the Apollo as a weekly series, following two specials last year. Steve Harvey is hosting. The Apollo is where artists from The Jackson Five to Lauryn Hill to James Brown kick-started their careers.
- A&E is dusting off Biography, which was cancelled in 2006 and moved online for a few more years, until being pulled in 2012. It’s becoming, according to A&E, “a re-imagined global, linear and digital non-fiction franchise,” and the TV show version “will focus on meaningful events or personalities and their impact on our culture, will begin to roll out on A&E, History and Lifetime domestically and internationally across all platforms beginning this spring.”
- There will be yet another Top Gear: BBC America has greenlit Top Gear America, which it calls a “reimagined US spin-off of Top Gear, and it “will be hosted by racing enthusiast and veteran film and television actor William Fichtner, world champion drag racer Antron Brown, and premier British automotive journalist Tom ‘Wookie’ Ford.”
- E! renewed Khloe Kardashian’s Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian which “will feature a new group of individuals finding the physical and emotional strength to prove to themselves and those who have been negative forces in their lives that they’re worthy of love and respect.”
- I Am Jazz was renewed for a third season, and will return in June on TLC.
- VH1 renewed Hip Hop Squares, which recently premiered and became “VH1’s highest rated new series in a year,” the network said.
- Close Up with The Hollywood Reporter, the Sundance Channel interview series, has been renewed for a 14-episode third season, with seven roundtables and seven individual interviews with people from the film industry.
- Investigation Discovery renewed People Magazine Investigates for a 10-episode second season that will air later this year. The network said it “has been a strong performer for ID, averaging more than 1.3 million viewers P2+ and becoming a cornerstone of the fall/winter schedule.”
- The Peter Berg-produced documentary series QB1: Beyond the Lights, which followed high school quarterbacks, has been renewed for two more seasons. “We’re looking forward to sharing the stories of the next generation of athletes in the coming seasons,” Berg said in a press release.
- Booze Traveler was renewed for a fourth season. Travel Channel’s announcement said it “has begun shooting 16 new hourlong episodes in locations such as Colorado, Norway, Costa Rica and the Caribbean.” Those episodes will debut later this year.
- Expedition Unknown was renewed by Travel Channel for a 14-episode fourth season. The network said that the show was up 37 percent versus last year, and cited one episode’s performance in particular: “The Ark of the Covenant,” which “attracted over 1.2 million total viewers and propelled Travel Channel to rate 63 percent higher than the prior season average for viewers A25-54 and M25-54.”
- Katie Couric is following her National Geographic documentary Gender Revolution with a six-part documentary series that “will follow Couric as she talks with thought leaders who are shaping the most pivotal, contentious and oftentimes confusing topics across the globe today,” according to the network.
- FYI renewed Tiny House Nation (for 10 more season four episodes), Food Porn (for a 13-episode second season), Zombie House Flipping (for a 13-episode second season), My Floating Home (for a 14-episode second season), and Tiny House Hunting (for a 17-episode second season).
- Food Network ordered 13 more episodes of Ginormous Food, saying in a press release that it “launched to tremendous response from our viewers.”
- WE tv has renewed Million Dollar Matchmaker with awful Patti Stanger for a 10-episode second season on the network. WE tv said the show “greatly improved its timeslot.” But not the world.
- CNBC renewed Jay Leno’s Garage and The Filthy Rich Guide, which will return in summer and spring, respectively.
- GSN ordered a second season of its game show Divided, on which strangers try to work together to answer questions and annoy the audience.
- ID is producing a second season of The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead, which follows coroner Graham Hetrick; 10 new episodes will air this summer.
34 new reality shows
- Five new Flip or Flop shows are coming to HGTV, set in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Nashville, and Chicago. The original, starring now-divorced couple Tarek and Christina El Moussa, just ended its sixth season.
- ABC brought modern reality television to broadcast networks in 2000 with Making the Band, and now the network is returning to that exact same format: The 10 episodes of Boy Band will watch as “talented singers battle it out to become a member of the next great music sensation” and “viewers at home will vote for their favorite five band members, live, creating a group America can truly call its own.” (That sounds too much like X Factor to me.) There are no judges yet; the show is produced by Matador Content.
- Smart kids will compete on NBC’s game show Genius Junior, which will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and feature 12 teams of three kids competing during “five grueling rounds,” according to NBC, which says the kids “have to be brilliant at everything.” No pressure.
- NBC has ordered six episodes of Ellen’s Game of Games, which is hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and is based on games from her talk show. In a press release, she said, “I’m so excited to be hosting a huge primetime game show for NBC. We’re pulling out all the stops—gigantic sets, hilarious games. It’s going to be like a combination of American Ninja Warrior, RuPaul’s Drag Race and a water park. OK, it’s nothing like that, but you should still watch.”
- CBS’s next reality series is not a competition: Ambulance is based on a UK format that will show “what happens inside one of the nation’s most essential health systems, the Emergency Medical Service” and follows “select call center personnel and field crews.”
- In perhaps the most unexpected series to be announced so far this year, Rob Lowe—yes, that Rob Lowe—and his sons will explore legends and mysteries. The Lowe Files, which sounds a lot like Josh Gates’ series Expedition Unknown, “will follow Rob Lowe and his two sons, Matthew and John Owen, as they travel through the country to explore infamous unsolved mysteries, a curiosity that Rob has had since his early childhood days and has now been passed down to his boys,” according to A&E. It debuts this summer.
- Venus Williams is working with 3-Ball Entertainment on Deals in Heels, a Shark Tank-like show on which female entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, get a month of mentoring, and then pitch for an investment. Williams called it a show “that fosters and supports trailblazing women who are actively pursuing their professional aspirations.”
- Bravo’s new show Stripped is off-brand for the Real Housewives network: it will take away its participants possessions, including clothing, for three weeks, though they can add back one item per day. It’s based on a format from Denmark and “aims to discover how people’s lives and values change once everything they own is stripped away,” according to Bravo.
- Lifetime’s new competition will give people the chance to be a Kardashian, sort of: Glam Masters is an eight-episode competition between “some of the most creative and talented beauty bloggers against one another for an opportunity to be part of Kim Kardashian West’s glam empire.”
- VH1 has ordered “a revealing, never been seen account of one of the most private and guarded global superstars of our time” focusing on, uh, Ricky Martin. It’s scheduled to debut in June.
- Weight loss series are coming to pets: My Fat Pet will air on Animal Planet. On the show, “animal expert and trainer Travis Brorsen works with pets and their owners through a four-month long weight-loss journey,” according to the network.
- Later this year, Animal Planet will air Rescue Dog to Super Dog, on which Nate Schoemer and Laura London, both dog trainers, “meet a potential owner in need of a companion dog to help them in their daily lives. Nate and Laura then head to a shelter in search of dogs with the right attitude and aptitude to provide the specific service for the disability. The trainers work with each canine to ready them for their new role and give them time to bond with their new owners at home.”
- GSN ordered a new series, Emogenius, which debuts in June and is all about emojis. The network says the game “features two pairs of contestants who face off to put their emoji-solving skills to the test. First they’ll have to decode a series of pop culture inspired messages. Next they’ll send each other strings of emojis in the hope that their partner can guess a longer message. Only one team will advance to the bonus round, where they’ll trade off sending and guessing rapid fire emoji messages for a chance to win $10,000.”
- Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen will host a new Lifetime game show. The network has ordered 10 episodes what it’s calling a “relationship comedy game show,” My Partner Knows Best, on which “married couples faceoff in a series of hilarious challenges based on real-life relationship obstacles.”
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Amy Earnhardt will star in a new DIY series that has yet to be named. On the show, they will “transform a dilapidated historic home into a gorgeous modern retreat in the Old Town historic district of Key West, Florida.” The show debuts next year.
- Discovery’s next survival series will take away light from its contestants: The network calls Darkness “one of the most advanced and comprehensive tests of mental and physical survival ever captured on television,” on which “three strangers each episode will push themselves to their absolute limits in complete darkness—enduring days buried underground while navigating prehistoric cave systems, ancient subterranean cities and centuries-old abandoned mines.”
- Dick Wolf and Shed Media will produce Criminal Confessions for Oxygen, which is shifting to true crime all the time. The show is a look at, um, criminal confessions.
- CIA case officers will search for Pablo Escobar’s money in Columbia and Central America for the new Discovery Channel series Escobar’s Millions. The network says: “Never has there been a search of this scope or magnitude. If there is a fortune to be found, they’ll uncover it and forever solve this great mystery.”
- Lifetime is in production on Growing Up Super Model, which will debut this summer and “follows a new group of young star models, some just starting out and some already making waves in the industry, risking it all to live up to their famous household names.” Those people aren’t quite household names, though: “Cambrie and Faith Schroder, Atiana De La Hoya (daughter of actress Shanna Moakler and boxer Oscar De La Hoya), Arissa Le Brock (daughter of model Kelly Le Brock and actor Steven Seagal), Cairo Peele (daughter of model Beverly Peele), Jake Moritt (son of actress Krista Allen), and internationally known and acclaimed model Janis Ostojic (son of accomplished models JD & Martine Ostojic).”
- Discovery is adding another car-themed show to its “Motor Mondays”: The new show is called House of Cars, and it follows Nate Boyer, 29, who created a garage called “The Doghouse, a co-op business, where mechanics and hobbyists with varied skill sets (aka “Dawgs”) get to use Nate’s space to modify and restore cars to their full glory.”
- There are two new documentary-style reality shows coming to OWN: Released, which “features intimate, first-person narratives of formerly incarcerated men and women as they walk out of the prison doors for the first time to restart their lives,” and Checking Inn, which “follows former Essence Magazine editor-in-chief Monique Greenwood as she pursues her lifelong dream of running her own bed and breakfast,” according to the network.
- AMC is giving Chris Hardwick a show for when The Walking Dead is not on the air: Talking with Chris Hardwick will feature hour-long interviews “between Hardwick and a single guest or cast,” AMC said in a press release, saying the show “will leverage the host’s gift for deep conversation, on display in his popular podcast.” It will air Sundays at 11 when The Talking Dead is not on the air.
- El Rey Network is shifting to focus on dudes, and announced two series: Man at Arms, on which “a team of expert craftsmen skillfully reproduce famed weapons and armor from scratch, using both the technology that would have been available at the time such weapons and armor were originally created, as well as state-of-the-art technologies beyond the original forgers’ wildest imaginations, to create historical, modern, and mythological works of martial art,” and Rite of Passage, a 12-episode series in which “Australian producer, reporter and cameraman, Tim Noonan, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he tries to unlock what it means to be a man.” Both will air the first half of this year.
- CNBC has ordered a pilot for Back in the Game, on which MLB’s Alex Rodriguez helps retired pro athletes who are “in serious financial distress.” The network also announced it is developing the Hank Azaria-hosted series The Fame Economy, which will “provide an inside look at what it’s like emotionally, psychologically and economically to navigate through an industry that is ultimately all about the bottom line”; Ms. Fortune, which follows a finance expert “help a debt-plagued family step back from the brink by giving the tools and tough love they need to get back on the path to economic independence”; and I Got a Guy, which “follows a group of animated, life-long friends from Staten Island who’ve yet to come up with an idea or product too far-fetched for them to invest in.”
- The digital media company Refinery29, which includes Turner as one of its investors, has ordered Girly, “a docuseries following global change agents — girls who redefine what it means to stand up, speak out, and be trailblazers within their communities.”
9 new documentary series
- Sundance’s Murder in the Heartland: In Cold Blood Revisited will be four episodes and air in the fall. Joe Berlinger directs the series, which Sundance says “will re-examine of the crime and subsequent events” depicted in Truman Capote’s book.
- AMC’s next documentary series will be James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, which is a working title for now. Six episodes will debut in 2017 and focus on “the evolution of sci-fi from its origins as a small genre with a cult following to the blockbuster pop-cultural phenomenon we know today.” The network previously announced Heroes and Villains: The History of Comic Books, produced by Robert Kirkman and David Alpert.
- BuzzFeed and NBCU’s Wilshire Studios are producing a documentary series about the unsolved 2014 burning death of teenager Jessica Chambers, based on BuzzFeed News reporter Katie J.M. Baker’s reporting, called What Happened to…Jessica Chambers?
- National Geographic has ordered Race, the working title for a six-episode series from Shawn Carter and The Weinstein Company, which “will weave together documentary, animation and archival footage to tell a profoundly intimate, highly cinematic and strikingly inventive collection of curated tales,” according to the network. It says “Present-day stories will be captured via vérité footage of a diverse mix of people from all walks of life in cities across America – from immigrants to first-generation Americans and unsuspecting voices that might otherwise go unheard.”
- The History Channel announced that it has ordered “more than 100 hours of original, premium documentary limited series and specials to premiere in 2017”, which its GM, Jana Bennett, said “will take viewers straight to the heart of epic events that shaped where we are and what we are today.” Among the projects: America’s War on Drugs, The Cars that Made America, Superheroes Decoded, and Age of Terror.
- “Jay Z and The Weinstein Co. plan to create both a docuseries and a narrative feature film about Martin’s story and the events surrounding his death,” according to THR. The projects will be based on two books Weinstein acquired: Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It and Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.