2009 Reality TV Winter Preview: Coming soon to a TV near you
By John Bracchitta, 12/26/2008
With the holiday season coming to a close and the days getting cold and the economy in the dumps, it's easy to dwell on the negative. However with a full slate of reality series -- including the return of several longtime favorites and the debut of several much-buzzed about new shows -- how bad can it really be?
Whether you're looking for the new spinoff of The Hills, a makeover show for stray dogs, a single father as a Bachelor, or the return of American Idol, the winter season has more than enough shows to keep everyone busy until the days start warming up in the spring.
Not all of this winter's reality shows have formal premiere dates yet, but the following is Reality TV World's 2009 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 Contender, A Double Shot at Love, Intervention, Manhunters, Momma's Boys, Party Monsters: Cabo, and Top Chef: New York will air new episodes during early 2009.
The City (premieres Monday, December 29 10PM ET/PT on MTV) First there was Laguna Beach. Then MTV took a drive over to The Hills. Now it's time to hop on a plane, because it's time for The City. MTV's new reality series will feature former The Hills star Whitney Port as she packs her things and heads to New York City as she attempts to make her name in the fashion industry and create a new life for herself. Start the countdown for the series' first fake elopement.
Bromance (premieres Monday, December 29 at 9PM ET/PT on MTV) MTV is really going out of their way to find new friends for "hard up" celebrities. After recently finding Paris Hilton her "new BFF," the network is now giving The Hills hanger-on Brody Jenner an opportunity to find a new dude to hang out with. After moving to Hollywood and having their trust tested in challenges from skydiving to handling the paparrazi, contestants will vye for alone time with Jenner before he eliminates someone in a "Hot Tub elimination ceremony" at the end of each episode. Okay, this is officially getting weird...
Underdog to Wonderdog (premieres Saturday, January 3 at 8PM ET/PT on Animal Planet) With numerous makeover shows on TV providing fresh starts for men, women, children, houses, and even cars, isn't it about time that someone decided to turn Droopy into Snoopy? On each episode Underdog to Wonderdog, one down on their luck mutt at a shelter is taken in by the show's "Wonder Team" and rescued, groomed and rehabilitated before being placed in a loving home and given a custom-built dog house as well. As long as that house doesn't come with a mortgage, those dogs should be all set.
Superstars of Dance (premieres Sunday January 4 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC) American Idol creator Simon Fuller and former Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe already have Fox's So You Think You Can Dance for the amateurs, so why not give the pros a shot as well. Superstars of Dance will feature professional dancers from eight countries as they compete against each other to determine the world's best dancers. The show's champion will go on to battle the Klingons for interstellar dominance.
Rock of Love Bus With Bret Michaels (premieres Sunday, January 4 at 9PM ET/PT on VH1) Former Poison frontman Bret Michaels takes his search for love on the road for the third season of his popular Rock of Love series. Flanked by two buses -- a pink one filled with blondes and a blue one containing brunettes -- the girls will take part in challenges based on Michaels' experiences on the road throughout his rock and roll life as they seek to win over the rocker.
Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Season 2 (premieres Sunday, January 4 at 9PM ET/PT on Food Network) Who said cooking shows had to only focus on the fancy foods? Guy Fieri is back for a second season of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, which will once again feature four amateur cooks each week as they create a dish in one of six delicious categories -- comfort food, burgers, cakes, hot and spicy, desserts, or hometown favorites. The winner of each show will win $25,000 and a chance to have their dish featured nationwide on T.G.I. Fridays menus -- because any chef will tell you they've made it big when they finally have a dish on a menu next to fried macaroni and cheese balls.
Confessions of a Teen Idol (premieres Sunday, January 4 at 8PM ET/PT on VH1) Looking to exploit the careers of a new group of 1980's has-beens, VH1's new docu-reality show will feature such former "teen idols" as The Real World first-season star and MTV's The Grind host Eric Nies, former Beverly Hills 90210 actress Jamie Walters, former Baywatch actor Jeremy Jackson, and The Blue Lagoon star Christopher Atkins as they look to reclaim their fame in the new millennium. Good luck with that guys...
The Bachelor, Season 13 (premieres Monday, January 5 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC) It's divorce, The Bachelor style. Season thirteen star Jason Mesnick will make The Bachelor history as he becomes the first single father bachelor the show has ever had. The show will also feature four bachelorettes who are single mothers as well. Maybe ABC should skip plans to have a live wedding special for the Mesnick and his mate and move forward with plans for an "awkward first family holiday plans together" special instead.
True Beauty (premieres Monday, January 5 at 10PM ET/PT on ABC) Model-turned-Oprah-wannabe Tyra Banks and Punk'd prankster Ashton Kutcher have joined forces to turn the traditional beauty pageant concept on its head. After telling six women and four men that they are competing in a competition based solely on their physical appearance, contestants will secretly be judged on their "inner beauty" as well as they are put through scenarios to reveal hidden aspects of their character.
DietTribe (premieres Monday, January 5 at 10PM ET/PT on Lifetime) No, it's not a misguided attempt at a weight-loss plan by Survivor. DietTribe will document five women who have made a commitment to lose weight together over the course of 90 days as they prepare for a wedding, and learn about the bad habits that can be caused by friendships and the proper ways to rectify them. Ironically enough, the weight-loss show to being produced by Pie Town Productions. Go figure...
Homeland Security USA (premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC) Homeland Security USA will feature such government agencies as the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, and the Secret Service as they work to secure America's borders, intercept illegal immigrants, and stop potential terrorists throughout the country. The show will have surely have at least one household tuning in every week, as George W. Bush's Tuesday nights will have much less on his plate come January 20.
The Biggest Loser: Couples, Season 2 (premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC) NBC has clearly never heard of the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder." A mere three weeks after the finale of The Biggest Loser: Families, NBC will roll out the seventh edition of its successful weight loss reality show, which will feature an eclectic cast including the two oldest contestants, the youngest male contestant, the heaviest female contestant, and the heaviest contestant ever in the show's history.
Dirty Jobs,Season 5 (premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 9PM ET/PT on Discovery) The world may never know exactly why Mike Rowe keeps coming back for more abuse every season as he delves into the most unsavory jobs imaginable. However, he's back for the show's fifth season, which will feature Rowe as he visits a bologna factory, plugs abandoned mines, makes glass, bands birds, and reports on the happenings of Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, among other tasks. OK, we're just kidding about that last one.
The Real World: Brooklyn (premieres Wednesday, January 7 at 10PM ET/PT on MTV) After beginning the show in "The Big Apple" nearly 17 years ago (and returning there nine years later), The Real World is coming back to its roots yet again, albeit across the East River this time. With eight housemates exploring New York City and volunteering in the community as they live together in a posh pad, expect the usual cocktail of shouting matches, hot tub romances, and drunken shenanigans that have led to the show's longer shelf life than the concept of playing music videos on former music video channel.
13: Fear is Real (premieres Wednesday, January 7 at 8PM on The CW) This CW horror-theme reality series will feature, you guessed it, 13 contestants as they are pitted against each other in challenges based on situations from various horror movies. Contestants will be eliminated one-by-one until a winner is crowned and wins a -- yeah you guessed it again -- $66,666 grand prize.
The Exterminators (premieres Wednesday, January 7 at 10:30 PM ET/PT on A&E) In an attempt to prove that even the most mundane jobs warrant a docu-reality series, A&E will roll out The Exterminators, which will focus on a Los Angeles pest removal company operated by Billy Bretherton, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant. A 15-year pest management industry veteran, Bretherton runs the business with his wife, brother Rick, and parents, who will all be featured on the show as well as they balance their business and personal lives. Highlights of the show will include each family member running into the nearest wall whenever someone turns the lights on too suddenly.
Howie Do It (premieres Friday, January 9 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC) Prior to his career resurrection with Deal or No Deal, Howie Mandel may have been best known for his ability to blow up a surgical balloon on his head. So, given the circumstances, a network show featuring the comedian as he pulls hidden camera pranks on unsuspecting victims is something of an accomplishment for the funnyman.
Man vs. Wild, Season 3 (premieres Monday, January 12 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery) Bear Grylls, vampire hunter? Among the destinations that the adventure expert will embark into for Man Vs. Wild's third season include Transylvania, as well as Belize, Turkey, the Yukon Peninsula, the Dominican Republic, and the Badlands of Oregon. Along the way, he will also come face-to-face with an array of dangers, including a killer bear, a deadly scorpion and a nine-foot boa constrictor.
American Idol, Season 8 (premieres Tuesday, January 13 at 8PM ET/PT on Fox) Changes are the name of the game for the eighth season of the Fox reality juggernaut. Along with the inclusion of new fourth judge Kara DioGuardi, the show will also increase its number of semifinalists from 24 to 36 and utilize a "Wild Card" semifinals round for the first time since 2004. In another significant break from the show's tradition, Paula Abdul has also moved her traditional mid-season freak out to the pre-season.
Chopped (premieres Tuesday, January 13 10PM ET/PT on Food Network) Former Queer Eye For the Straight Guy food and wine expert and Top Chef judge Ted Allen is back, and he's bringing the ingredients. For Chopped, Allen will provide four up-and-coming chefs with everyday ingredients, have them make a three course meal out of them, and eliminate them one by one until the final chef takes home the $10,000 grand prize. Isn't another way to decribe the act of taking everyday ingredients and making meals out of them just called "real life?"
Tool Academy (premieres Sunday, January 11 at 10PM ET/PT on VH1) Keep on hammering Bob Vila, this show's not for you. Tool Academy will feature nine unsuspecting boyfriends who are led by their girlfriends into a competition that they think is searching for "Mr. Awesome." However, the boyfriends will quickly learn that they are actually entering "Tool Academy" where they will be schooled on honesty, fidelity, maturity and communication as they learn how to be better boyfriends. Ouch.
Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew, Season 3 (premieres Thursday, January 15 at 10PM ET/PT on MTV) Randy Jackson's name and host Mario Lopez return for a third season of the quickly fading MTV reality dance show, which will feature nine new dance crews will take to the stage and face brand new challenges designed to test their choreography and teamwork as they attempt to make it to the show's live season finale showdown.
Sober House (premieres Thursday, January 15 at 10PM ET/PT on VH1) Following their stints on either of the first two seasons of Celebrity Rehabwith Dr. Drew, Sober House will feature six former Rehab participants -- Seth "Shifty" Binzer, Mary Carey, Nikki McKibbon, Rodney King, Steven Adler, and model/actress Amber Smith -- as they seek to transition out of a rehab facility and into the real world by spending three months living together in a supervised, sober environment with structure and rules. Also joining the show following its premiere will be Andy Dick, who never appeared on CelebrityRehab but probably should have.
Treasure Quest (premieres Thursday, January 15 at 10PM ET/PT on Discovery) After their first show chronicling the above water exploits of crab fishermen on Deadliest Catch, Discovery goes underwater with Treasure Quest, which will follow the Odyssey Marine Exploration, the world's only publicly-traded company dedicated to deep ocean shipwreck exploration. Members of OME will search for valuable treasures using cutting edge technology while telling stories of the historic ships that account for some of the estimated 3 million shipwrecks around the world. Whether or not Bill Paxton's Titanic character will make a cameo appearance on the show remains unknown.
Will Work for Food (premieres Monday, January 19 at 8:30OM ET/PT on Food Network) Watch out Mike Rowe, Adam Gertler's adding his name to the shows-featuring-someone-working-in-unsavory-jobs game -- and he's hungry. Will Work For Food will feature Gertler, a former fourth season The Next Food Network Star contestant, as he explores the little-known jobs in the culinary world and gives them a try. Some jobs that Gertler will undertake include taking honey from three million bees, sculpting ice with a chain saw, foraging for truffles, and digging a wine cave.
I Love Money, Season 2 (premieres Monday, January 26 at 9PM ET/PT on VH1) VH1's aptly titled reality competition series featuring former contestants from Rock of Love, I Love New York, Flavor of Love, and Real Chance of Love returns for a second season, with 17 new contestants who will compete for a chance to win $250,000. With returning contestants such as Buckwild, Heat and Angelique, the show will undoubtedly exude a high class of behavior that is not seen elsewhere on television these days.
Hell's Kitchen, Season 5 (premieres Thursday, January 29 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox) Universally known as being overly soft spoken and nice, Chef Gordan Ramsey returns to the kitchen with a new batch of chefs for the fifth season of Hell's Kitchen where he will calmly guide them through the ins and outs of working in a professional kitchen while maintaining a charming attitude at all times. In other news, the sky is green and the Detroit Lions are the best team in the NFL.
Toughest Cowboy (premieres Thursday, January 29 at 11PM ET/PT on Spike TV) Reality mastermind Mark Burnett has tackled almost every concept imaginable, from stranding people on an island to stranding people with Donald Trump to standing them in the Caribbean in pirate garb. Burnett's newest venture with Spike TV will have a group of cowboys seeking to become the next U.S. rodeo superstar. The winner will be determined after each contestant dukes it out each week by riding in three separate styles: bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding. Suddenly hanging with The Donald is seeming a bit easier in comparison.
Jockeys (premieres Friday, February 6 at 9PM ET/PT on Animal Planet) As part of their plan to focus more on animal-themed reality shows in which animals aren't the actual stars, Animal Planet will turn the camera on race horses and the 112-pound jockeys who ride them. Jockeys will follow seven jockeys and their unique training schedules as they prepare for the Oak Tree Meet, a prestigious horse race that hosted Seabiscuit's final victory and has $35 million in purse money.
The Millionaire Matchmaker, Season 2 (premieres Thursday, February 12 at 10PM ET/PT on Bravo) The second season of Bravo's reality matchmaking show continues to prove that money can in fact buy you love, as long as you give it to the right person. After focusing on matching up successful men with their ideal women for the show's first season, millionaire matchmaker Patti Stanger and her crew will switch it up a little and put some of Season 2's focus and finding compatible men for to her wealthy female and gay male clients.
Survivor: Tocantins -- The Brazilian Highlands (premieres February 12 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS) The eighteenth edition of CBS' long running reality series will travel back to Brazil for the first time since Survivor: Amazon, the show's sixth edition back in 2003. Expect the same usual dance of alliances and betrayals as castaways survive the hot Brazilian temperatures and torrential downpours.
The Amazing Race 14 (premieres Sunday, February 15 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS) The fourteenth edition of the CBS reality travel competition will mark the first time that the show has aired consecutive fall and spring editions since the tenth and eleventh seasons aired in 2006-2007. While not much is known about the upcoming season's cast or Pit Stop locations, one can only hope for the return of the wooden bikes on the Bolivian cobblestone roads to soften up a few more contestants like they did in the thirteenth season.
The Celebrity Apprentice, Season 2 (premieres Sunday, March 1 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC) The Donald is back, complete with longer two hour episodes and another set of D-list celebrities to berate in the second celebrity edition of the Mark Burnett reality business competition. While the show's cast has yet to be confirmed by NBC, it reportedly includes Andrew Dice Clay, Kloe Kardashian, Joan and Melissa Rivers, and Dennis Rodman. At least Trump was able to pull in the same caliber of celebrity that he got for the show's first celebrity edition.
Dancing with the Stars, Season 8 (premieres Monday, March 9 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC) Will the so-called Dancing with the Stars curse continue to rear its ugly head? Is Julianne Hough really never coming back to the show? Will someone finally slip some triptophan into Bruno Tonioli's coffee so he makes a little more sense? With the show's eighth season premiere consisting of three broadcasts spread over the course of two weeks it may take a while for everything to get started, but let's all sit back and find out together, shall we?