Coming off its highest rated February in history, the National Geographic Channel is unveiling a slate of four new and seven returning series at its upfront presentation. The new series include Die Trying, featuring men and women pushing the limits of endurance; Building Wild, an extreme do-it-yourself-type home building series; Showdown of the Unbeatables, a battle of cutting-edge inventions; and The Legend Of Mick Dodge, described as “Forrest Gump meets the Jungle Man,” about a man who lives on his terms and his band of quirky friends. “We want to keep the momentum, coming off pour best year (2012) and month (February) with a mix of contemporary entertainment styles,” said NGC Chief Executive Officer David Lyle.
Additionally, Nat Geo brass are so high on two of its upcoming series, Brain Games (premiering in April), an interactive series exploring mind’s skills hosted by Jason Silva; and Ultimate Survival Alaska (premiering in May), an extreme adventure series testing a team of explorers, that the network is granting both second-season renewals before their freshman ones had debuted. Lyle stressed that Brain Games‘ take on science is “smart rather than intellectual while NGC president Howard T. Owens noted Survival Alaska‘s breakout potential. Also receiving series renewals are hits Doomsday Preppers, NGC’s highest-rated series, Wicked Tuna and Diggers. And while the slate presented to advertisers is dominated by unscripted fare, Nat Geo also is committed to growing its scripted area following the success of its first scripted offering, the Scott Free-produced factual drama special Killing Lincoln. “The DNA of the channel is to take creative risks and make bold moves and not be afraid to be different,” said Owens. NGC is getting some attention with the gritty docu series Inside Combat Rescue and has also coming up acquired feature documentary Chasing Ice and two-hour special American Blackout. Paired with Doomsday Preppers, the real-life Revolution imagines the first two weeks immediately following a catastrophic blackout and “will be filmed as a full-throttle disaster movie,” Owens said. Sibling Nat Geo Wild’s slate includes a new Cesar Millan series and two specials featuring the dog whisperer. Here are descriptions of NGC and Nat Geo Wild’s newly picked up series.
BUILDING WILD (90 Miles Productions, Inc.)
Wilderness zealots build incredible retreats in America’s last frontiers in NGC’s first do-it-yourself series. With help from Paul DiMeo (of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), these families are each creating a personal paradise thanks to a dash of muscle, a hint of ingenuity and a side of extreme architectural engineering.
DIE TRYING (90 Miles Productions, Inc.)
A white-knuckle free-climb on an unconquerable mountain peak. A heart-stopping kayak expedition, battling rapids with 40-foot waves. Experience amazing, terrifying, never-before-seen (or done) adventures that define the riskiest of everything National Geographic represents. It’s where men and women push the limits of adventure, endurance and possibility — all in the name of science.
SHOWDOWN OF THE UNBEATABLES (GRB Entertainment)
What happens when cutting-edge inventions go head to head in the ultimate battle of the titans? Will the most advanced all-terrain vehicle be able to successfully navigate through a 10-yard field of maximum-strength super glue? Can one of the world’s most powerful vacuums suck an electromagnet off of a metal plate? Will the world’s strongest bomb-proof door be able to withstand the “fire power” of the military’s most powerful cutting torch? Find out as we stage showdowns between unstoppable forces and immovable objects, using science to understand the brains behind the brawn.
THE LEGEND OF MICK DODGE (Screaming Flea Productions, Inc.)
Experience the (literally) wild life of Mick Dodge, a quirky character whose unique brand of Zen comes from living by his own code — off the land and off the grid. For more than 30 years, Mick has been thriving deep in the Pacific Northwest cloud forest, sprinting with elk and grabbing salmon from rivers with his bare hands. Come with us and meet the legend who has become the Jedi master for aspiring survivalists everywhere.
Nat Geo Wild:
JOBS THAT BITE! (Half Yard Productions)
Letting in the WILD in everyday life is host Jeremy Brandt in the new series JOBS THAT BITE! Germophobes and scaredy-cats need not apply. These jobs are for the unsung heroes who take on the beastly challenge of working with all things that slither, grunt, growl and bite. Whether it’s tagging sharks, wrangling ostriches or farming eels, Brandt is rolling up his sleeves to get his wild on — and the fur’s gonna fly!
NEW CESAR MILLAN SERIES (Production Company TBA)
Following the series LEADER OF THE PACK filmed entirely in Europe, Cesar returns home with a new series helping troubled dogs find a new home.
THE INCREDIBLE DR. POL (National Geographic Television)
The lovable, house-call-making Dr. Pol is back in — and up to his elbows. WILD’s number-one series returns for a fourth season as everyone’s favorite veterinarian wields his superpowers to deliver oversized calves and diagnose lethargic llamas. Dr. Pol comes to the rescue for more unstoppable emergencies, taking no bull from anyone … except maybe from an actual bull.
FISH TANK KINGS (Sharp Entertainment)
Returning for a new season, the Fish Tank Kings are back to rule the rough waters. Extreme aquarium building is definitely not a tankless job (zing!). Dive in to witness a new season of complex challenges from demanding clients as these underwater wizards aim to deliver perfection in their uniquely pressure-filled world.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.