It’s Monday, June 12, 2017, and this is your weekly look at what’s ahead in unscripted TV this week, which ranges from big network show debuts to Father’s Day specials.
6 new shows, 3 with new twists
Among the reality shows that debut this week are these big six shows, half of which are introducing significant new twists:
- It’s another season of the insane obstacle course competition show American Ninja Warrior (NBC, June 12, Mondays at 8). While this season was in production, I went behind the scenes at one of the city finals, and talked to some of its biggest stars, so watch for those stories starting later today.
- So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, June 12, Mondays at 8). After a failed kid season last year, SYTYCD tries again, this time by bringing back Mary Murphy and more of a traditional format. Also on the judging panel: Vanessa Hudgens and Nigel Lythgoe.
- Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge (NBC, June 12, Mondays at 10) returns with teams tackling a special version of the mud racing competition course.
- There’s a new twist on Face Off (Syfy, June 13, Tuesdays at 9): contestants will be grouped into two “shops,” competing as teams or tribes. The subtitle: “Divide & Conquer.”
- History’s survival competition Alone (History, June 15, Thursdays at 10) returns with people who know each other stranded together—well, at least after they find one another.
- One of the best reality competitions ever, period, is back on Friday: The Great British Baking Show (PBS, June 16, Fridays at 9). Watch a preview, and get ready for two back-to-back episodes this Friday.
Remembering Pulse’s victims
One year ago today, 49 people were shot to death and 58 were wounded at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, and the deadliest attack ever against gay people. It was Latin night at the gay club, and the victims—read “brief portraits of 49 young lives cut short”—were mostly young and Latino.
Logo is acknowledging the anniversary with a day of “We Remember Orlando” programming, which includes a RuPaul’s Drag Race marathon:
“Starting at 6AM ET/PT, Logo features stories that celebrate the LGBTQ experience and highlight its struggles and triumphs, with the cable television premiere of ‘When We Rise,’ (2PM ET/PT), an encore of MTV’s ‘True Life: We Are Orlando’ (10PM ET/PT), and a commercial-free encore of ‘Stop the Hate,’ (11PM ET/PT) from Ryan Murphy and the HRC, featuring 49 celebrities paying tribute to those who were killed. The special lineup begins at 6AM ET/PT, with an eight-hour marathon of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and will also feature encore documentaries Drag Becomes Him (11:18PM ET/PT) and Strike A Pose (1:27AM ET/PT). Throughout the day, the network will spotlight #HonorThemWithAction, a national campaign created by Equality Florida to commemorate the Pulse massacre.
Last fall, Viceland’s Gaycation aired a special episode with Ellen Page and Ian Daniel, who went to Orlando and talked to survivors and people who knew the victims. It’s a powerful episode of an excellent reality show, and it’s free to watch on Viceland’s site or right here:
Three Father’s Day specials
Father’s Day is Sunday, and there are three reality TV shows airing themed specials:
- A special episode of Chopped (Food Network, Tuesday, June 13 at 10) will have eight contestants: four dads paired with their adult children “to make collaborative dishes and to make their families proud,” according to the network.
- A year after almost dying in an car accident while filming Survivorman, Les Stroud returns there with his 19-year-old son Logan, a cancer survivor, to survive for a week in the wild. The result is Survivorman & Son: Mongolia (Science Channel, Friday, June 16, at 10), on which they will “put themselves to the ultimate test of both their wilderness skill sets and their relationship as they explore what it takes to exist in the deserts of Mongolia,” according to the network.
- Guy’s Grocery Games (Food Network, Sunday, June 18 at 8) has a special “Father Cooks Best” episode that will feature “three dads and their kids pit their family recipes against each other for a shot at $20,000.” The judges are Marc Summers, Rev Run, and Beau MacMillan.
Also this week
- Oliver Stone interviews Russian president Vladimir Putin on the four-night The Putin Interviews (Showtime, June 12 to 15 at 9 p.m.).
- America’s War On Drugs is the subject of an eight-hour documentary series that will air over four nights starting Sunday (History, June 18 to June 21 at 9 p.m.). The network describes it as “an immersive trip through the last five decades, uncovering how the CIA, obsessed with keeping America safe in the fight against communism, allied itself with the mafia and foreign drug traffickers” and says the series “explores the unintended consequences of when gangsters, war lords, spies, outlaw entrepreneurs, street gangs and politicians vie for power and control of the global black market for narcotics—all told through the firsthand accounts of former CIA and DEA officers, major drug traffickers, gang members, noted experts and insiders.”
- It’s been 45 years since Watergate, the scandal that took down Richard Nixon, and ABC News is exploring it with “new interviews, unseen crime evidence photos, and behind the scenes film from inside the White House” on the special Truth and Lies: Watergate (ABC, Friday, June 16, at 9).