Upfronts ’13: The Discovery Communications round-up

Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Military Channel and Destination America revealed their 2103/14 slates in New York City last week. Here, realscreen rounds-up the highlights of the new programming unveiled. (Pictured: The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius)
April 11, 2013

Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Military Channel and Destination America revealed their 2103/14 slates in New York City last week. Here, realscreen rounds-up the highlights of the new programming unveiled.

Naked survivalists, 4K-shot natural history and reality series about oil were among the new programming announcements for flagship U.S. net Discovery Channel at Discovery Communication’s Upfront presentation in New York City last week.

In addition to previously announced scripted series Klondike and the Grand Canyon tightrope walking event Wallenda Live, the U.S. cable net’s 2013/14 slate also includes three blue chip wildlife docs, seven new non-fiction series and Fast N’ Live, a live-to-air automotive build-off competition starring Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman.

A pair of 4K-shot wildlife series’ coproduced with the BBC’s Natural History Unit lead Discovery’s list of specials. Hidden Kingdom takes a microscopic look at the lives of smaller animals, while Survival is billed a “landmark” natural history series that follows an array of animals as they struggle to stay alive.

The third, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, is a year-in-the-making special shot with 50 cameras disguised as rocks, eggs and penguins to capture an intimate portrait of the perennially popular birds.

New series include Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius (pictured above), a reality engineering competition hosted by actor Kal Penn; Backyard Oil, a reality series about wildcat oil drilling in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains; Cutter Oil (working title), a series about the struggles of small, family-run oil company in Ohio; and The Huntsmen, about a group of modern-day mountain men working extreme jobs.

Also on the way is Naked and Afraid, a survival series in which a new pair of strangers are stranded in a harsh environment in each episode; Naked Castaway, a nude survival set on the desert island of Olorua near Fiji and starring Ed Stafford; and Rock Raiders, which follows  ‘gem king’ Don Kogen as he searches for rare and expensive stones.

Returning series include Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, Fast N’ Loud, Amish Mafia, Moonshiners, Jungle Gold, Bering Sea Gold, MythBusters, Dual Survival, Curiosity and Alaska: The Last Frontier.

Meanwhile, lifestyle network TLC has ordered 52 new and returning series for 2013-2014.

Among the new programs are Alaskan Women Looking For Love, in which five women from the northern U.S. state head to Miami in search of a mate; Ballroom Blitz, a series about amateur ballroom dancing competitors; and Best Funeral Ever, a series based on the one-hour special on extreme funerals that aired last year.

Also upcoming is Breaking Amish: Brave New World, in which the cast from Breaking Amish relocate to Florida; Cajun Paranormal, a reality series about a Louisiana paranormal investigation company; Family S.O.S. with Jo Frost, a series starring the nanny-turned-family guru; Husband Hunters, about single women intent on finding a groom; and My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I, a series based on the special that aired last year about mothers and daughters that are pregnant at the same time.

In addition, the net is also lining up The Good Buy Girls, about a pair of former pageant queens that run a home shopping network; and Women of Homicide, a series about elite female homicide detectives.

The Upfront also saw crime and suspense network Investigation Discovery announced that it would be launching its largest slate yet, emphasizing over-the-top true crime series designed to appeal to the channel’s primarily female viewership.

In addition to the Jerry Springer-starring Tabloid, two personality-driven crime programs will join ID’s line-up: Surviving Evil, a show about women that have survived violent situations hosted by Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Charisma Carpenter; and Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, a news magazine produced by NBC’s Peacock Productions.

New crime programs on ID’s slate include Southern Fried Homicide, about murders in the southern United States; Elder Skelter, about murder cases involving seniors; Darkness Outside of Town (working title), about murders in solitary and desolate places; The First Kill (working title), about initial murders that later inspire killing sprees; and The Bad Old Days, about juicy murder cases from the 1950s and 1960s.

Also slated is Imposters, a series about con artists and fraud; A Stranger in My Home, a suspense series about strangers that move in together and forge new relationships; Obsession: Dark Desires, a show about stalkers; Beauty Queen Murders, a series about ill-fated pageant queens; I’d Kill For You, about premeditated crimes of passion; Evil In-Law, a series about maniacal mother-in-laws; and Fear Thy Neighbor, a show about psychotic neighbor situations.

Elsewhere, Animal Planet continues to push personality-led programs, including Off The Hook, a series starring pro-wrestler-turned-fishing daredevil Erick Young.

Other new programs set to debut on the animal-centric cable net over the next year include Alaska Bush Family (working title), about a couple and their seven kids who live off the grid; Animal BFFs, a series about odd couples in the animal kingdom; Catch and Release (working title), a survival series in which five elite survivalists are dropped into harsh environments and given 100 hours to find their way back to civilization; and Clipped (working title), a series starring Arkansas animal groomer Angela Kumpe.

Also on the horizon is Eel of Fortune, about New England fishermen that search for the elusive (and lucrative) elver eel; Ice Cold Gold, a six-part series about eight miners attempting to strike it rich in Greenland; My Tiny Terror (working title), about a small dog trainer and problem pups; and Polar Bear Crossing (working title), a series about the residents of a Manitoba town that are outnumbered two-to-one by polar bears.

The net is also prepping Top Hooker, an extreme fishing competition series; Treehouse Masters, a series about elaborately designed tree houses; and Underworld (working title), a cave diving series starring explorer Curt Bowen; and adding three new specials in addition to returning specials ‘Monster Week’ strand and the eighth annual Puppy Bowl.

Primate Planet will introduce viewers to an array of monkeys including black-eyed lemurs, patas monkeys, olive baboons, slow lorises, red-shanked doucs and orangutans; Swarm Chasers (working title), which follows scientist George McGavin as he examines large animal gatherings; and Wild Alaska (working title), a natural history special set in The Last Frontier.

The Upfront also saw Military Channel greenlight five new series: Against The Odds, about a group of outnumbered soldiers that must fight their way out of a sticky situation; Gunslingers, which looks the lives of famous figures from the wild west such as Billy the Kid and Jesse James; and Die Hard History, a show about the unsung heroes of war and average Joes that risked their lives in extraordinary circumstances.

Also new is CIA: Declassified, a show about covert CIA operations; and Apocalypse World War 1, a French acquisition that probes the lasting legacy of the First World War using more than 300 hours of archival footage.

Finally, Destination America will mark its one year anniversary with the strand ‘Meat Week,’ a week of meat-centric programming that will culminate in the season premiere of BBQ Pitmasters on June 2.

The cable net has also ordered six new shows: King o Thrones, a series about tricked-out bathrooms; Last Call Food Brawl, a competition show about late night comfort good hosted by chef Adam Gertler; Mountain Monsters (working title), a series about mysterious creature sightings in the Appalachian Mountains; Buying the Bayou, about unique swampland real estate properties; Buying Hawaii, a series about unique properties in the Pacific Island state; and Railroad Alaska, a series about workers braving harry conditions on Alaska’s 500-mile long railroad.

  • Check out realscreen‘s previous report on Science’s Upfront slate here, and our earlier report from Discovery Communications’ New York Upfront here.
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