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Big Brother’s finale, Halloween specials, and non-terrifying reality TV coming this week

Big Brother’s finale, Halloween specials, and non-terrifying reality TV coming this week
The Osbourne family members—Sharon, Jack, Kelly, and Ozzy—are back together on reality TV for The Osbournes: Night of Terror (Photo by Travel Channel)

Good morning! This week will bring us the end of October, and the end of what people now call “Spooky Season” (I think I switched timelines at some point, because I’d never heard that and all of a sudden, it’s everywhere.)

It’s now overlapping with not just the holidays but Christmas, because both Hallmark and Lifetime are airing multiple Christmas movies this week. But before the holidays—and all of the holiday reality TV—arrive, there are several Halloween-themed shows premiering, along with more than 10 other shows.

Mid-week, Big Brother will have a rare two-hour finale to end its latest garbage season (CBS, Wednesday at 9), which has definitively proven that the show and its format are broken beyond repair. I have no doubt it’ll be back next summer, having changed not a single thing.

All five hours of a new documentary reality show will air in one night this week. City So Real (National Geographic, Thursday, Oct. 29, at 7, and Hulu, Friday) is a “portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election,” according to NatGeo.

Two new animal-focused shows: That Animal Rescue Show (CBS All Access, Thursday) follows Austin-area animal rescue operations, while the zookeepers and animals of The North Carolina Zoo are the stars of Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina (NatGeo WILD, Saturdays at 10).

Also this week, Australian Bushfire Rescue (PBS, Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 8) follows “the people rescuing and caring for the animal survivors of Australia’s devastating bushfires,” according to Nature.

Returning for new seasons are these seven shows:

  • Southern Charm (Bravo, Thursdays at 9), with returning cast members Craig Conover,  Kathryn Dennis, Austen Kroll, and Shep Rose and new cast members Leva Bonaparte, Madison LeCroy and John Pringle.
  • Twisted Sisters (ID, Mondays at 9)
  • The Holzer Files (Travel Channel, Thursdays at 11)
  • Fixer to Fabulous (HGTV, Tuesdays at 9)
  • Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN, Saturdays at 9).
  • Martha Knows Best (HGTV, Wednesdays at 8)
  • Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix, Friday)

On Sunday, Netflix is adding Forged in Fire season 6 and Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Halloween and election specials

Survivor Ghost Island cast revealed
(Photo illustration by Alexandra)

Travel Channel abandoned anything to do with actual travel long ago, but its focus on the paranormal means this month is its peak season.

This week, Travel will premiere a new special every night through Halloween:

  • Amityville Horror House (Travel Channel, Monday, Oct. 26, at 9) uses “archival footage and re-creations” to tell (once again) the “harrowing true story of Ronald DeFeo, who murdering his entire family in the Amityville house, and the 28 days the Lutz family lived there.”
  • The Exorcism of Roland Doe (Travel Channel, Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 9), which Travel says is about “the cultural impact of the horror movie and explore the story of Roland Doe, the chilling true story behind The Exorcist” 
  • This is Halloween (Travel Channel, Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 9) has “Travel Channel’s paranormal experts share their best Halloween stories in a nostalgic look back at everyone’s favorite haunted holiday.”
  • Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo (Travel Channel, Thursday, Oct. 29, at 9) has Zak Bagans and his team look for ghosts inside Joe Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Animal Park.
  • The Osbournes: Night of Terror (Travel Channel, Friday, Oct. 30, at 9) follows the family as they embark on “on their first-ever paranormal investigation together … a ghost hunt inside Los Angeles’ historical Heritage Square.”
  • Ghost Nation: Reunion in Hell (Travel Channel, Saturday, Oct. 31, at 8) on which the Ghost Nation and Kindred Spirits teams investigate “the 40,000-square-foot Rhode Island mansion famous for being featured on the TV show Dark Shadows.”

After the horror of Halloween comes the presidential election—which is likely to be a season this year. There are several documentaries and specials that look at our present and past:

  • Not Done: Women Remaking America (PBS, Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 8) is about “the last 5 years of the women’s movement and its intersectional fight for equality,” according to PBS, which says it “is told collectively through the firsthand experiences and narratives of frontline activists, writers, celebrities, artists, and politicians who are remaking culture, policy, and most radically, our notions about gender.”
  • Represent (PBS, Monday, Oct. 26, at 10) follows candidates running for less-visible offices during the 2018 mid-term elections as “three women take on entrenched local political networks in their fight to reshape politics on their own terms,” according to Independent Lens.
  • The Campaigns that Made History (History Channel, Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 9) looks back at 50 years of campaigns, as host Carlos Watson “dives into the unexpected twists and turns that have highlighted presidential politics and campaigns over the last half-century,” according to History.
  • Historian and presidential biographer Jon Meacham’s best-selling book becomes a documentary as he “illuminates our current fraught political reality by exploring historical challenges of the past.” It’s called The Soul of America (HBO and HBO Max, Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 9).
  • Race in America: Our Vote Counts (Bravo and E!, Sunday, Nov. 1, at 10) has 10 Bravo reality stars “coming together to talk about the issues America faces today and to put it all in the context of Black history,” according to Bravo.

In other documentary premieres, Generation Nation (PBS, Friday, Oct. 26, at 9:30) uses submissions to the American Portrait website to “[explore] how people in different age groups, from adolescents to seniors, see themselves and their place in America,” according to PBS.

Vilas: Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada / Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score (Netflix, Tuesday) follows a journalist trying “to prove that his countryman, tennis star Guillermo Vilas, was wrongly denied the No. 1 world ranking in the 1970s,” according to Netflix’s description.

The Dakota Entrapment Tapes (Sundance Now, Tuesday) tells the story of “20-year-old North Dakota State College of Science student Andrew Sadek” who was found dead two months after disappearing—when his friends and family learned “he had been coerced into becoming an informant for an aggressive police task force that had been secretly operating for years.”

Can We Cool the Planet? (PBS, Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 9) follows scientists who are exploring “geoengineering to pull carbon from the atmosphere and cool the planet,” according to NOVA.

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb (Netflix, Wednesday) follows archaeologists in Egypt as they “excavate never before explored passageways, shafts and tombs.”

Citizen Bio (Showtime, Friday, Oct. 30, at 9) “explores in depth the nascent biohacking movement and the unconventional scientists and researchers developing alternative medicines to prolong human life and eradicate incurable viruses and diseases,” according to Showtime.

Virus Hunters (National Geographic, Sunday, Nov. 1, at 9) profiles “the brave scientists that are connecting the dots on culture, disease and the environment to discover the patterns that cause global health crises,” according to NatGeo.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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