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Rocket Around the Xmas Tree, Great British Baking Show: Holidays, and other reality show debuts

Rocket Around the Xmas Tree, Great British Baking Show: Holidays, and other reality show debuts

We’ve made it to the end of the month: one more day and one more month to go in 2020. And now that December is (almost) here, so are even more Christmas and holiday-themed shows. Another half-dozen of them premiere this week alone.

So do a lot of other shows. I’ll be publishing my latest quarterly guide to reality TV premieres tomorrow, but here are the wide range of reality shows, nonfiction specials, and televised documentaries premiering this week, from Christmas trees attached to rockets to murder to nighttime nature to RHOA.

First, it’s been a decade since “a wretched documentary: visually and narratively sloppy; coy about its motives; slipshod in its adherence to basic ethical norms” was released. What New York Times critic A.O. Scott described in the preceding sentence was Catfish, the movie, which later inspired Catfish: The TV Show.

MTV will broadcast that “wretched documentary” during the day Tuesday, followed by a marathon of episodes (MTV, Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 11 a.m.). That night, Catfish: The TV Show is returning with more virtual episodes (MTV, Tuesdays at 9) follow Nev’s second-place finish on Dancing with the Stars.

Also returning for new seasons:

  • The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo, Sundays at 8), without NeNe Leakes but with new cast member Drew Sidora.
  • 90 Day Fiance (TLC, Sundays at 8)
  • Battlebots (Discovery, Thursdays at 8)
  • Court Cam (A&E, Wednesdays at 9) followed by new spin-off Rescue Cam (A&E, Wednesdays at 10)

Holiday reality TV

Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding on The Great New Year's Bake Off
Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding on The Great New Year’s Bake Off (Photo by Channel 4)

Rocket Around the Xmas Tree (Discovery, Thursdays at 10) is a holiday-themed competition between teams of rocket builders. Discovery says they will “compete in a series of explosive contests to determine who can take their holiday cheer to new heights.”

Former Big Brother contestant Nick Uhas, who hosted Netflix’s Blown Away, is hosting the series, while the teams of teams of two have names like “The Snow It Alls” and “Rocket with the Fletchers.”

The Great British Baking Show: Holidays (Netflix, Friday) are last year’s holiday specials—”The Great Christmas Bake Off 2019″ and “The Great New Year’s Bake Off 2019/20″—which is why Sandi is back co-hosting.

The Voice Holiday Celebration (NBC, Thursday, Dec. 3, at 8, and repeating Dec. 16 and 22) includes coaches and contestants from the show’s history who “perform holiday classics and popular modern favorites,” according to NBC, while “Blake, Kelly, John and Gwen share some of their favorite holiday traditions and memories.”

The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix, Tuesday) goes behind the scenes with Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Disney Holiday Magic Quest (Disney Channel, Friday, Dec. 4, at 8) has Zombies 2 cast members “navigate a series of challenges and obstacles through iconic Disney attractions, including the Haunted Mansion and Cinderella Castle,” according to the network. Raven-Symoné hosts.

The Great Gift Exchange (YouTube, Tuesday) follows YouTube creators who “participate in a giving chain benefiting a charity of their choosing, then paying that kindness forward to the next creator in the chain,” according to YouTube.

Not holiday reality TV

J. Crew’s former president is starting a new business—and a reality show that’s following her. It’s called Stylish with Jenna Lyons (HBO Max, Thursday).

A couple have rescued and rehabilitate 21 chimps on Baby Chimp Rescue (BBC America, Saturdays at 8).

If you haven’t had enough cult reality TV this fall, there’s Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults (HBO Max, Thursday), which looks into the cult whose members thought they’d be taken to heaven by aliens.

A journalist looks into human smuggling operations on Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (National Geographic, Wednesdays at 9), while an author travels to “cursed places” (enough already!) on Atlas of Cursed Places (National Geographic, Tuesdays at 9).

In crime documentaries:

  • The Case Died with Her (Oxygen, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7) is a documentary based on this story: “A Coach Admitted To A Sex Crime On Tape. But When The Victim Died, He Walked Free.”
  • The Witmans (Investigation Discovery, Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 9) is about the 15-year-old who stabbed his 13-year-old brother to death—and about “the intricacies and evolution of juvenile incarceration in America” and “two parents on a 20-year odyssey to free their last surviving child,” according to ID.
  • Baby God (HBO, Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 9) follows the biological children of the doctor who inseminated women with his own sperm without their consent “as they grapple with the scope of his misdeeds and the impact that his genes may have on their own identities,” according to HBO.

Earth At Night In Color (Apple TV+, Friday) has a pretty self-explanatory title, and is hosted by Tom Hiddleston, while Alien Worlds (Netflix, Wednesday) “blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets,” Netflix says.

Macho: The Hector Camacho Story (Showtime, Friday, Dec. 4, at 9) “celebrates Camacho’s sublime boxing skills and the unbridled charisma that brought Spanish Harlem and Puerto Rican culture to the center of the sports world,” according to Showtime.

President in Waiting (CNN, Saturday, Dec. 5, at 9) profiles and includes interviews with all living former Vice Presidents of the United States: Mike Pence, Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle, and Walter Mondale, plus interviews with presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—and of course, one of the former VPs is now the president-elect, Joe Biden.

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About the author

  • 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. Learn more about Andy.

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