reality TV reviews and news

Survivor, The Voice, and MasterChef Junior return, plus more reality TV this week

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is the newest coach on The Voice. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Now that Celebrity Big Brother, The Bachelor Winter Games, and the winter Olympics are over, it’s time for a big week of premieres.

Kelly Clarkson, the original American Idol winner, becomes a coach on The Voice (NBC, Mondays and Tuesdays at 8) starting tonight—just a few weeks before Idol returns.

The Voice is also adding two new powers: a block button, which a coach can press to prevent another coach from turning around for a specific singer, and a save button that will be used during the knockout rounds. Executive producer Audrey Morrissey told Variety that the block button was devised because “We haven’t ever really had a defensive move or an offensive-defensive move, so we came up with the block.”

Survivor Ghost Island (CBS, Wednesdays at 8) brings back past poorly played twists to let the new cast—which Jeff Probst says consists of superfans—see if they can play them correctly.

At the end of the week, MasterChef Junior returns for its sixth season (Fox, Fridays at 8), and so does judge Joe Bastianich, who re-joins Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi.

Also back tonight is the reality TV parody UnReal (Lifetime, Mondays at 10), which takes on The Bachelorette. While I loved season one, season two was such a mess that I’ve basically given up on the show. But perhaps it’ll rebound.

Also returning:

  1. American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs. Ninja (USA Network, March 1, Thursdays at 9), which is an updated version of Team Ninja Warrior.
  2. Bridezillas (WE tv, March 2, Fridays at 10), which is being off the air after being cancelled less than five years ago.
  3. Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN, March 3, Saturdays at 9), on which Iyanla Vanzant tries to help people, including, this season, Philando Castile’s fiancée Diamond Reynolds.
  4. Top Gear (BBC America, March 3 at 10:30, then Sundays at 8) returns with hosts Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid.
  5. Bring It! (Lifetime, March 2, Fridays at 9), which follows the latest adventures of Miss D’s Dancing Dolls team.

Finally, Netflix is debuting two new documentary series on Friday:

Specials and docs

A few one-off specials and feature documentaries air this week:

  1. Oprah Winfrey interviews guests, from Jordan Peele, Salma Hayek Pinault, Lin Manuel Miranda, and others about “how we can live a life filled with values, character, purpose and meaning during the turbulent times we live in.” The first part of Oprah at the Apollo airs this week (OWN, Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 10).
  2. The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X (Smithsonian, Monday, Feb. 26, at 8) “relives the pivotal years of this trailblazing activist using rarely seen footage and audio tapes, including never-before-seen footage of Nation of Islam rallies and recordings made at the Audubon Ballroom on the day of his assassination,” according to the Smithsonian Channel.
  3. Rat Film (PBS, Monday, Feb. 26, at 10) is director Theo Anthony’s film that “uses the rat to burrow into the dark, complicated history of Baltimore,” according to PBS. It “explores how racial segregation, discriminatory lending practices known as ‘redlining,’ and environmental racism built the Baltimore that exists today.”

Like Shark Week, but for cars

Discovery now has enough car-themed reality programming that it can have an entire stunt week, which includes three series premieres and two finales. Motor Mega Week starts today.

Here’s the full schedule, via Discovery:

“MOTOR MEGA WEEK revs up with KICK-OFF TO MEGA RACE at 8pm ET/PT on Monday, February 26, followed by STREET OUTLAWS VS. FAST N’ LOUD: BUILD TO MEGA RACE PART 1 at 9pm ET/PT. This is the first installment of the four-part BUILD TO MEGA RACE series, which takes viewers inside the garages of some of the network’s top motor talent as they prep for the epic showdown MEGA RACE.  Meanwhile, the impressive finale of STREET OUTLAWS: MEMPHIS premieres at 10pm ET/PT.

BUILD TO MEGA RACE continues with PART 2 on Tuesday, February 27 at 9pm ET/PT, before the 10pm ET/PT premiere of STREET OUTLAWS: NO PREP KINGS. In this all new series, Outlaw veteran Chuck serves as race master in a new city on a new “no prep” track every week, with racers duking it out to become the ultimate no prep winner. The stakes are high and the excitement is higher as local crowds flood in to see which all-star STREET OUTLAW will show up to win it all.

Wednesday, February 28 gets going with the third part of BUILD TO MEGA RACE airing at 9pm ET/PT. Then at 10pm ET/PT, catch the premiere of the all-new series, TWIN TURBOS, which follows father-son duo Doug and Brad DeBerti as they push the boundaries on custom builds, creating outrageous, state-of-the-art vehicles like a truck modeled after a fighter jet, and developing the first ever drift racing truck.

On Thursday, March 1, the crews from Gas Monkey Garage, the 405 and Fired Up Garage wrap up their builds for the final BUILD TO MEGA RACE episode at 9pm ET/PT.  The long-awaited AMERICAN CHOPPER then debuts an exclusive sneak peek of its upcoming season at 10pm ET/PT, with world-class motorcycle builders Paul Teutul, Sr. and Paul Teutul, Jr. returning to reclaim their place atop the high-pressure world of customized bike building.  With clients including A-list celebrities, world famous athletes, and Forbes 100 businesses, millions of dollars and their brands’ reputations are on the line with each signature build.

Monday, March 5 brings The COUNTDOWN TO MEGA RACE at 8pm ET/PT, immediately followed by MEGA RACE at 9pm ET/PT. Then, on the heels of MEGA RACE, the brand-new series SHIFTING GEARS WITH AARON KAUFMAN premieres at 10pm ET/PT. In the new show, FAST N’ LOUD star Aaron Kaufman is back and, this time, he’s the boss. Redefining the custom car building space, Aaron pushes his design abilities to the limit and focuses on custom vehicle builds propelled by passion, even risking the vehicles’ destruction in the process.”

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