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2008 Reality TV Winter Preview: Coming soon to a TV near you

By Christopher Rocchio, 12/11/2007 

Reality television viewers of all types will have ample reason to be thankful this holiday season, as unscripted programming is on the verge of experiencing an even-larger-than-normal midseason boom due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.

With the writers strike showing no sign of ending anytime soon, the broadcast networks are expected to air an unprecedented amount of reality and game show programming during the first half of 2008, including the the first winter edition of The Biggest Loser and first in-season editions of traditional summer stalwarts Big Brother and Hell's Kitchen (premiering later in 2008 on April 1).

Not all of this winter's reality shows have formal premiere dates yet, but the following is Reality TV World's 2008 Reality TV Winter Preview, highlighting all of the currently known shows that will be premiering in coming months as well as where and when to tune in.

In addition, some shows that debuted recently -- including The Amazing Race, The Girls Next Door, Intervention, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Nimrod Nation, Paranormal State, Project Runway 4, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Snoop Dogg's Father Hood, and Varsity, Inc. -- and ongoing shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will air new episodes during early 2008. 

Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants (premieres Wednesday, December 12 at 9PM ET/PT on The CW)
The bond between a mother and her daughter is often special, and this new reality series will definitely put it to the test as mother/daughter teams work together to win a beauty pageant that will award one team $100,000 cash award and a pair of tiaras.  With cattiness always just around the corner, viewers may be left to wonder if human mothers eat their young.

Party Mamas (premieres Wednesday, December 12 at 10PM ET/PT on WEtv)
Remember when hiring the local clown and mixing some Kool Aid constituted a kids party?  Nowadays it's not that simple, and this new reality series will follow moms who go to great lengths to organize elaborate and expensive extravaganzas for their (spoiled) children.

Duel (premieres Monday, December 17 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC)
This new game show will air over the course of six consecutive nights, combining Who Wants to be a Millionaire's inane trivia with the World Series of Poker's addictive gambling elements.  ABC also gave each of the show's 24 contestants professions' cool character nicknames from "The Alligator Wrestler" to "The Umpire," and much lamer nicknames like "The Software Engineer" to "The Telemarketer." 

Clash of the Choirs (premieres on Monday, December 17 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC)
This new reality competition series will air live over the course of four consecutive nights, with five celebrity mentors such as Michael Bolton and Nick Lachey assembling an amateur choir from each of their hometowns and then having them face-off for home viewer votes.  While it's billed as a "clash," it will probably be more of a heart-warming holiday sing-off.

The Biggest Loser 5 (premieres Tuesday, January 1 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC)
So much for building anticipation, as NBC will debut the fifth season of this weight-loss reality series exactly two weeks following its fourth-season finale.  Contestants trying to shed the pounds will be competing while paired in teams with somebody they have a pre-existing relationship with -- and they'll have to do so without former Red Team trainer Kim Lyons -- who replaced Jillian Michaels prior to the third season only to be replaced by Michaels prior to the fifth season.

Wife Swap, Season 4 (premieres Wednesday, January 2 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC)
The fourth season of this reality series will continue to follow two families living different lifestyles as they swap matriarchs for two weeks, meaning some dads and kids will no doubt be bummed the vacation from their overbearing wife or mom isn't longer.

Supernanny, Season 4 (premieres Wednesday, January 2 at 9PM ET/PT on ABC)
Twin toddlers won't stop crying?  Does your five-year-old daughter think she's the queen of the family?  Seven-year-old son spoiled rotten?  Never fear, British nanny Jo Frost comes to the rescue once again in the fourth season of this reality series.  While she'll certainly help each household she descends upon, parents better be willing to accept some blame to.

Make Me a Supermodel (premieres Wednesday, January 2 at 11PM ET/PT on Bravo)
This America's Next Top Model knock-off includes a few key differences, including a co-ed group of 14 aspiring runway walkers and home viewer votes determining each week's eliminated contestant.  It will also answer that age-old question if male models are just as catty as their female counterparts

The Celebrity Apprentice (premieres Thursday, January 3 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC)
If you believe Donald Trump, billions of A-list celebrities were interested in participating in the seventh edition of this reality series, however he somehow ended up with a bunch of C- and D-listers.  Regardless, The Donald still took them under his wing to teach them the ins and outs of the business world as they compete for their favorite charitable causes, which should make even Trump rivals Martha Stewart and Rosie O'Donnell smile.

How To Look Good Naked (premieres Friday, January 4 at 9PM ET/PT on Lifetime)
When he's not judging mother/daughter beauty pageant teams for The CW, former Queer Eye fashion expert Carson Kressley is spending his free time educating women of all shapes and sizes on how to flatter their figure without extreme dieting or cosmetic surgery in this new reality series.  Expect there to be a heavy use of trick mirrors.

Matched in Manhattan (premieres Friday, January 4 at 9:30PM ET/PT on Lifetime)
Manhattan-based relationship expert Matt Titus doesn't discriminate, as and and his wife Tamsen help both gay and straight singles make a love connection in this new reality series.  Apparently New York City nightlife wasn't doing a good enough job. (Originally announced as Matt Titus: Matchmaker.)

Top This Party (premieres Friday, January 4 at 10PM ET/PT on Lifetime)
Throwing elaborate events for highfaluting clients is presumably a lot less fun than actually attending the shindigs, however this new reality series will follow two groups of party planners as they create and execute their signature socials.  (Originally announced as It's My Party.)

Miss America: Reality Check (premieres Friday, January 4 at 10PM ET/PT on TLC)
Miss America's annual winner apparently isn't automatically born a beauty queen, and this four-part series will aim to prove that point, following the 52 participants competing in the 2008 pageant as they live together under one roof and prepare for their moment in the spotlight.

Fight Quest (premiere Friday, January 4 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
Be careful what you wish for, as this new reality series will follow mixed martial arts specialist Jimmy Smith and Iraqi War veteran Doug Anderson as they travel the globe in search of a few good fights.  Each episode will end with one of the two going toe-to-toe with a local trained in the fighting style being explored, meaning they'll also presumably learn how to say "emergency room" in a few foreign languages.

American Gladiators (premieres Sunday, January 6 at 9PM ET/PT)
This campy competition series, which first aired on syndication in the U.S. from 1989 to 1996, has been reinvented by NBC, with Hogan Knows Best patriarch Hulk Hogan and former Dancing with the Stars participant Laila Ali replacing original hosts Larry Csonka and Michael Adamle.  However NBC kept some of the great original challenges -- like The Wall and The Eliminator -- and hopefully those hideous spandex jumpsuits.

Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (premieres Monday, January 7 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC)
ABC has decided to bridge the gap between Dancing with the Stars Fall 2007 fifth edition and Spring 2008 sixth installment with this new reality competition series, which will follow Dancing with the Stars judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba as they form singing and dancing groups before pitting them against one another in battle.  Think of it as a cross between Fox's American Idol and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, only on ABC.

Jon & Kate Plus 8, Season 3 (premieres Monday, January 7 at 9PM ET/PT on TLC)
"Just one more baby!" gave Jon and Kate Gosselin enough children to practically field a pint-sized baseball team, and the second season of this docu-reality series will continue to follow the Pennsylvania parents -- as well as their 7-year-old twins and 3-year-old sextuplets -- as they celebrate birthdays, attempt potty training, and attend a family photo shoot.

Some Assembly Required (premieres Tuesday, January 7 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
Just because your tube of toothpaste or toilet didn't come with instructions doesn't mean somebody had the job of putting it together.  In this new reality series, hosts Brian Unger and Louis Bloomfield show viewers the building process of various products while also highlighting how everyday items are improved upon on a regular basis.  Finally, you'll learn how your toothpaste cleans your teeth AND freshens your breath.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Season 4 (premieres Monday, January 7 at 10PM ET/PT on Travel Channel)
Ordering take-out from around the world can be quite expensive, so the fourth season of this reality series is a low-cost alternative to sampling dishes you can't find at your local food court.  Bourdain, an author and chef, reprises his role as the show's well-traveled maitre d' for both cuisine and culture.

Dirty Jobs, Season 4 (premieres Tuesday, January 8 at 9PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
Mike Rowe has made quite a name for himself offering viewers insight into some of the world's most unpleasant and unpopular professions, and the fourth season of this reality series is no different.  Roll up your sleeves and tuck your pants into your socks... this could get messy.

LA Ink, Season 2 (premieres Tuesday, January 8 at 10PM ET/PT on TLC)
Kat Von D's fallout with the boys from Miami Ink seems to be working out just fine for the inked-up bombshell, as Kat and her staff continue to let their creative juices flow for clients from all walks of life. Kat will also try to break the Guinness World Record for most tattoos done in a 24 hour period... not on the same person, of course.

Parking Wars (premieres Tuesday, January 8 at 10PM ET/PT on A&E)
Philadelphia's streets can be a jungle out there -- especially if you're one of the city's parking authority employees responsible for writing tickets, towing vehicles and running the impound lot -- various jobs this new Airline-like reality series will document.  Not surprisingly, they don't like to be called meter maids.

Life of Ryan, Season 2 (premieres Tuesday, January 8 at 10PM ET/PT on MTV)
Ryan Sheckler leads a radical life as a professional skateboarder and teen heartthrob, which the second season of this reality series will continue to chronicle.  However Sheckler's world can also be gnarly as he deals with impending adulthood and being away from his family and friends on a regular basis.  What a bummer...

Rob & Big, Season 3 (premieres Tuesday, January 8 at 10:30PM ET/PT on MTV)
Rob Dyrdek and Christopher "Big Black" Boykin may not be Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, but the professional skateboarder his personal bodyguard are about as odd a couple as there can be.  Throw in their bulldog Meaty and cleverly-named mini-horse Mini for the third season of this reality series and even "odd" doesn't seem to work as an adjective anymore.

Ghost Hunters International (premieres Wednesday, January 9 at 9PM ET/PT on Sci Fi Channel)
The paranormal investigators featured in this Ghost Hunters spin-off may not carry proton packs, ecto-goggles or a PKE-meter, but they'll still try their hardest to sniff out spooks and specters who have taken to living abroad.  How do you say, "I ain't afraid of no ghosts!" in German?

Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (premieres Thursday, January 10 at 10PM ET/PT on VH1)
The Surreal Life meets Intervention,  this new reality series will document the experiences of nine celebrity patients undergoing detoxification and treatment at a Los Angeles-area center as they receive help from Loveline host David Drew "Dr. Drew" Pinsky , counselors, nurses and other addiction experts.  Former American Idol fourth-season finalist Jessica Sierra participated, and is apparently trying to be cast for the show's second season too.

My Big Redneck Wedding (premieres Friday, January 11 at 10PM ET/PT on CMT)
The cheap beer and whiskey will flow like boxed wine in this new Tom Arnold-hosted reality series, which will document some of the strangest weddings that occur below the Mason-Dixon Line.  With all the inbreeding that goes on in the South, expect joint bride and groom sections and tales of first kisses that occurred on family reunions.

Scott Baio is 46... and Pregnant (premieres Sunday, January 13 at 10PM ET/PT on VH1)
Prior to appearing on this reality series, Baio enjoyed romantic relationships with some of Hollywood's most beautiful women and spent the rest of his time partying like a rock star with his friends.  Then he got a life coach, proposed to his long-time girlfriend, got hitched and welcomed his first child into the world.  Not exactly the Arthur Fonzarelli guide to living, but the Cunningham clan would be proud.

Rock of Love with Bret Michaels 2 (premieres Sunday, January 13 at 9PM ET/PT on VH1)
It took the first season of this reality series to teach Michaels that every rose has its thorn.  Following in the footsteps of Flava Flav, this show's second installment will follow the former Poison frontman as he hopes to bring an end to his seemingly never-ending quest for love.  Hey, even glam rockers past their prime need something to believe in.

Bone Detectives (premieres Monday, January 14 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
If you thought mummies were just bones wrapped up in cloth or the least-scary movie monsters ever created -- this new reality series is out to change your perception -- as it will follow archaeologist Scotty Moore and a team of scientists as they explore the burial techniques used by some of the world's most ancient civilizations to reveal portions of the past that have since been forgotten.

American Idol (premieres on Tuesday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 16, with both two-hour broadcasts beginning at 8PM ET/PT on Fox)
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson have gushed that the seventh-season of this Fox mega-hit will include some of the best talent ever to grace the Idol stage -- and no, that doesn't mean Fox has decided to replace Ryan Seacrest -- although if the strike doesn't end by the time the show's semifinals begin, viewers will presumably get to see how charming and funny he really is without the aid of writers. (For the record, Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron seemed to handle it just fine.)

Mythbusters, Season 6 (premieres Wednesday, January 16 at 9PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
Special effects experts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are at it again in the new season of this reality series, debunking urban legends and tall tales that any ordinary person would find too dangerous to even attempt, such as would a dog explode if placed in a microwave.  Hope Michael Vick has some room in his prison cell...

Smash Lab (premieres Wednesday, January 16 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel)
The title doesn't say much, but it does a good job of summing up this new reality series that will feature a team of engineers smashing stuff in a lab to discover new, inventive ways it can be used.

American Choppers, Season 5 (premieres Thursday, January 17 at 9PM ET/PT on TLC)
While it looks like a hell of a lot of fun, building custom-made bikes is also a business, a sentiment that's never been more true for the Teutul clan and their Orange County Chopper crew than in the fifth season of this reality series.  Plus Paul Sr. gets hitched, presumably crushing the dreams of biker babes across the country.

My Fair Brady... Maybe Baby? (premieres Sunday, January 20 at 10:30PM ET/PT on VH1)
Christopher Knight contemplates starting a Brady bunch of his own with wife Adrianne Curry in the third season of this reality series -- which hasn't aired a new episode in over a year -- meaning the local pharmacy was presumably out of Viagra.

The Millionaire Matchmaker (premieres Tuesday, January 22 at 11PM ET/PT on Bravo)
Obscenely rich men apparently need help finding love too, and this new reality series will follow Millionaire's Club founder and CEO Patti Stanger and her staff as they set-up wealthy men on dates with less-wealthy -- but presumably more attractive -- golddiggers single women.

The Moment of Truth (premieres Wednesday, January 23 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox)
The results of lie detector tests may not be permissible in a U.S. court of law -- but they are in this new Columbian import, which will follow contestants as they answer a series of personal questions without fibbing for the chance to win $500,000.  If a national television audience isn't enough to make the contestants rethink their decision to lie, Fox was kind enough to fly friends and family members in as members of the studio audience.

Gone Country (premieres Friday, January 25 at 8PM ET/PT on CMT)
Mama didn't want her baby to grow up to be a cowboy -- but a country crooner is apparently a horse of a different color -- as this new reality competition series will follow seven established musicians as they move to Nashville and immerse themselves in a all things Southern for the chance to record and release a country song. 

Paradise Hotel 2 (premieres Monday, February 4 at 9PM ET/PT on MyNetworkTV, and with a TV-MA version at 1AM ET on Fox Reality Channel)
This sleazy Big Brother-like reality series is back after more than four years off the air, featuring a mix of 11 male and female singles living, playing and hooking-up with one another in a secluded resort for the chance to win a cash prize.  Whether or not the participants' experiences can be considered "paradise" remains to be seen, however home viewers following their exploits should find it entertaining.

Survivor: Micronesia (premieres Thursday, February 7 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS)
After seeing Survivor uber-fan Todd Herzog manipulate his way to an easy win in this fall's Survivor: China, the show's producers apparently decided to see what a whole tribe of "superfans" could do.  And in addition to each other, they'll also have to face a second tribe comprised of "the ultimate competitors -- favorite castaways from the past."

Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew (premieres Thursday, February 7 at 10PM ET/PT on MTV)
Randy Jackson's not just an American Idol judge, he's also a singer, bassist, record producer and radio personality -- none of which qualifies him to find America's best dance crew, which he'll attempt to do in this new reality competition series that originated with NBC before landing with MTV.  Maybe six years of sitting next to Paula Abdul has taught the dawg a thing or two.

Big Brother 9 (premieres Tuesday, February 12 at 9PM ET/PT on CBS)
Thanks to the writers strike, this long-running CBS reality series will -- for the first time ever -- air a non-summer edition.  The show will once again air thrice weekly, and since it's making Big Brother history by being broadcast in the spring, the show's producers are promising it will be different and stand-out from any previous installment.  Also expect a heated swimming pool and any contrived scenario that might maximize bikini use during the "chilly" Los Angeles winter.

The Baby Borrowers (premieres Monday, February 18 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC)
Playing house has never been so real for the five young couples participating in the American adaptation of this British import, which will follow the young lovebirds as they are put on the fast-track to adulthood.  With their baby growing from an infant to elder over the course of three weeks, the couples will either learn that they're ready for parenthood or in need of more birth control.

Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious (premieres Monday, February 18 at 9PM ET/PT on The CW)
While there's still room in the Pussycat Dolls for one more member since this reality show's first-season winner Asia Nitollano instead opted for a solo career (good luck with that, by the way), the all-female dance troupe/singing group's founder Robin Antin still decided to do something different for the second season.  After thinking long and hard, she decided to form another all-female dance troupe/singing group.  Genius!

America's Next Top Model, Season 10 (premieres Wednesday, February 20 at 8PM ET/PT on The CW)
Despite growing up in Cali -- the tenth installment of Tyra Banks' model search will have a decidedly East Coast feel, with the show filming in New York for the first time since Season 4 and four of its contestants hailing from the Big Apple and two each from Massachusetts and Florida. Plus Paulina Porizkova will be replacing Twiggy on the judging panel, although the former supermodel is from the Czech Republic, which is located a little farther east than New York.

Oprah's Big Give (premieres Sunday, March 2 at 9PM ET/PT on ABC)
The first primetime series from the daytime talk-show queen's Harpo Productions, this new reality competition series will give contestants a large sum of money and the means to spend it in order to make a difference in people's lives across the country.  Take that Tyra Banks!

When Women Rule the World (premieres Monday, March 3 at 8PM ET/PT on Fox)
A group of 12 macho, macho men find themselves in a primitive Survivor-like society ruled by -- GASP! -- women.  If that's not bad enough, the chauvinistic dudes will have to answer to every beck and call of their female masters, who treat them like slaves.  One man will be "traded for supplies" -- aka eliminated -- during each episode of the series, with the last man standing receiving $250,000 while presumably losing his self-respect.

The Real Housewives of New York City (premieres Tuesday, March 4 at 11PM ET/PT on Bravo)
Housewives whose lives are fascinating enough to appear in a reality series apparently just don't exist in the O.C., a valuable lesson taught by this The Real Housewives of Orange County spin-off.  This show definitely has the potential to set-up another spin-off, pitting housewives from both sides of the country against one another to see who does the best job of balancing their busy schedules with superficial shenanigans.

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