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National Geographic is leaning on the pillars of its brand — exploration, science and adventure — for a 2020-21 slate that includes nine new shows across its two TV channels.
Among the new programming for the Disney-owned cabler are a docuseries marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a travel/adventure show starring American Idol mentor Bobby Bones and a revamp of its long-running Explorer series, with an assist from corporate sibling ABC News. Nat Geo is also targeting fall premiere dates for Genius: Aretha, the third season of its scripted anthology — which was initially set for a May debut but was delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic — and the competition series Race to the Center of the Earth.
“People’s understanding of the world around them has been shaken. And they are coming to National Geographic in record numbers, I believe, because particularly in times of uncertainty, people flock to brands that they trust,” Courteney Monroe, president of National Geographic Global Television Networks, said Thursday in a statement. “And National Geographic is one of the most trusted and beloved brands in the world. When it comes to our television programming, we are doubling down on what we do best, which is to deliver premium, creatively ambitious programming that connects audiences to the world around them, satisfies their curiosity and transports them to places they may otherwise never go.”
National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild will also feature new seasons of Brain Games, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Running Wild With Bear Grylls, The Incredible Dr. Pol and Secrets of the Zoo, among others. Nat Geo Wild will also welcome back “Dog Whisperer” César Millán in a new series, Cesar’s Way. The feature documentaries Blood on the Wall, Rebuilding Paradise, Saudi Runaway and Torn also will make their TV debuts on Nat Geo in the coming year.
A rundown of the new series is below.
9/11: In production for more than two years, the six-part series will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the attacks. From 72 Films (Inside North Korea’s Dynasty) and executive producers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (LA 92, Undefeated), the series will offer a comprehensive account of the day using only archival footage (some of it previously unseen) and new interviews with eyewitnesses.
Breaking Bobby Bones: The Idol mentor and radio personality will travel across the country to meet up with people who have unique jobs, hobbies and skills, who challenge him to conquer (or at least try) the tricks of their trades. The show comes from Nat Geo’s frequent partner BBC Studios, which is also working on three shows under the Life Below Zero banner.
Explorer: A new iteration of the long-running series that debuted in 1985 will be produced in conjunction with National Geographic magazine and ABC News. Each single-topic hour will focus on a groundbreaking scientific, technological or historical discovery, with ABC News talent serving as guides.
Race to the Center of the Earth: Amazing Race executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are behind this competition (ordered to series a year ago) in which four teams of adventurers start from different corners of the earth and race to be the first to reach a buoy in the middle of the ocean. The winners get $1 million. Premieres in the fall.
Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller: Ordered to series in 2019, the show is now set for a January premiere. Award-winning journalist van Zeller will explore a specific black market in each episode and profile the people who run and profit from it.
Planet of the Whales: A four-part nature series from National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry and Red Rock Films is the result of three years of filming whales in 24 locations around the world. The series, due in April 2021, will use new science and technology to explore whale behavior, from friendship to grief.
National Geographic’s Best Pictures of the Year: The multiplatform series will use the best image from National Geographic’s renowned photographers to tell the story of 2020.
Nat Geo Wild
Cesar’s Way: “Dog Whisperer” César Millán returns in a new series that helps the increasing number of “pet parents” (dog adoptions are up by as much as 90 percent in some cities) deal with canine behavioral problems in his trademark upbeat style. Premieres in spring 2021.
Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina: The second show in the Secrets of the Zoo franchise goes behind the scenes of the North Carolina Zoo, the world’s largest (2,600 acres) natural-habitat zoo. It will feature stories of animal husbandry, emergency and routine medicine, and rehab and release of native wildlife.
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