Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan renewed for Season 3

From a media release:

Giant spitting cobras, charging elephants and deadly scorpions may intimidate the average person, but Dominic Monaghan (Lost, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is eager to get up close with some of the world’s biggest, weirdest and most intense creatures alive as OLN renews Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan for a third season. The Cream Productions flagship show has found a new home in the U.S. with Travel Channel sweeping up the rights to the series. The series is currently nominated for a 2015 Rockie Award for its second season.

Production has started on the Emmy Award and Canadian Screen Award-Nominated OLN Original wildlife adventure series, produced by Cream Productions and Wildfire. Broadcast details to be announced at a later date.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan follows daring host Monaghan and his courageous cameraman Frank to far-flung countries around the globe in an exciting pursuit of rare and often deadly animals. Season 3 will take Monaghan to hidden corners in countries such as Ethiopia, Madagascar and Palau as he adds even creepier and more unusual creatures to his roster of animal encounters.

A true nature lover, Monaghan’s knowledge and appreciation for insects and reptiles developed during his childhood and remains to this day. During his adventures, he enlists the help of locals who conserve and protect these creatures, all while learning the unique traditions and cultural aspects of his destinations.

Home Factory reveals how household products are made

From a media release:

Cineflix and HGTV Canada are taking viewers on a whirlwind nuts-and-bolts tour of the North American factories that produce our favourite creature comforts in the brand new series Home Factory, premiering with back-to-back episodes Friday, April 24 starting at 10pm ET/PT on HGTV Canada.

In 14 action-packed episodes, Home Factory zips down conveyor belts and assembly lines, meets some incredible factory workers, and along the way reveals the intricate manufacturing processes that transform raw materials into the everyday household products we all use and love.

In the series premiere of Home Factory, find out how 8,000,000 Crayola crayons roll off the assembly line every day; discover the mighty power behind a tiny, hand-held vacuum; tour a state-of-the-art Canadian knitting facility that produces half a million toques per year; and get the low-down on how a classic newsboy bicycle goes from a pile of raw steel parts to a road warrior. Other products featured in the first season of Home Factory include plastic, pink flamingos; rubber ducks; a barbecue; Wilson® Footballs; and LUSH’s Ocean Salt scrub.

Home Factoryis a Cineflix (Home Factory) Inc. production, in association with HGTV Canada. Philip Whelan is among the Executive Producers for Cineflix. Home Factory builds on the successful Food Factory franchise, a format created by Shaw Media for Food Network Canada, and is distributed internationally by Cineflix Rights.

He Said/She Said: Are reality shows the scourge of TV?

Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week: Are reality shows the scourge of TV?

He said:

My feelings for competition reality television shows, particularly in Canada, is two-fold. It’s easy to rip on this type of programming as trashy, invasive and stupid, but it’s here to stay. Ever since a little show called Survivor was launched in May of 2000, the television landscape was changed forever.

(Just to be clear, when I refer to reality television, I’m talking about competition shows, not programs like Survivorman, Mantracker, Emergency and programs of that ilk.)

Cheap to produce when compared to scripted series, reality television does appeal to a certain segment of the population that enjoys seeing others at their most vulnerable. For many, the chance to sit down and watch people struggle through their daily lives in a show like U8TV: The Lofters, seek out love on The Bachelor Canada or traverse this country and the world on The Amazing Race Canada is a guilty pleasure. And who am I to judge? I’ve covered countless seasons of reality series and there are a few that I genuinely love to watch and review. TAR Canada, Top Chef Canada, MasterChef Canada, Canadian Idol and Eco-Challenge are competition programs that I’ve enjoyed over the last several years, mainly because they appeal to the adventurer, chef and wannbe singer (if I wasn’t tone deaf) in me. I’m not alone; these shows are consistently at the top of the ratings charts.

I do, however, have a bit of an issue with the recent move of adding “Canada” to the end of an established U.S. product. It’s understandable to do this—the familiarity to the brand means a built-in audience will tune in—but it’s stripping some of the uniqueness away. I fear it will only get worse. The recent CRTC decision affecting independent production companies could mean an abrupt drop-off in new reality series that aren’t homegrown versions of international reality shows.

She Said:

I proposed this topic as “reality TV is the devil” and figured I’d go moderate and reasonable by explaining no, they’re just Satan’s minions.

But of course that’s an exaggeration. Except for that spate of morally questionable shows like Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.

I remember watching Survivor with a roommate and thinking: does anyone buy that this isn’t shaped and edited into a ridiculous story? Never mind how disgusting I find the cynical anti-romantic mysogyny of “romantic” reality series like  The Bachelor (Canada), but does anyone not roll their eyes at the absolute cheesiness of the repetitively scripted and ridiculous rose ceremony?

The answer of course is mostly no. People enjoy the shows for a variety of reasons ranging from buying into them and loving them to hate-watching them, but many simply find them entertaining and also realize there is some kind of overlord shaping the story we’re seeing, just like any other television show. When the Writers Guild of American started vocally unionizing reality TV writers, it began to be hard to deny there was a story being scripted, and the reality being presented bore no resemblance to reality. Canada’s Smartest Person is not Canada’s smartest person. Canada’s Worst Driver shouldn’t get 15 minutes of fame.

I’ve gotten sucked into some reality competition series (current addiction: The Voice, and I watched a season of Battle of the Blades avidly). I’ve defended some like Dragons’ Den against podcast cohost Anthony Marco’s accusation that they are all based in schadenfruede — wanting to see others fail.

Some reality series are good natured, some are mean spirited, some are ethically dubious. My main objection is I like my fiction to know it’s fictional. But I’d go even further than competition reality shows being the scourge of TV and say it’s been the scourge of the Internet. In the early days of that kind of television, discussion forums struggled with how to enforce “no personal attacks” with free discussion of the characters in a show. When the line between human being and ridiculous TV character blurs, where does our humanity toward the person go? Out the window of course.

That occupies only a small part of my hatred though. For the most part my hatred for reality shows is based on them taking up space on my dial, taking up space in Canadian broadcasters’ CanCon allotment where a good scripted series could be, and the fact that my taste doesn’t rule the airwaves, because reality shows often beat the ratings pants off of a good scripted series.

Preview: Bringing the dead to life in Mummies Alive

“Mummies: time travellers from the past. Who were they and how did they die?” That’s the goal of History’s latest documentary series, Mummies Alive.

Narrated by Jason Priestley—he utters the above quote off the top of the show—Mummies Alive, produced by Canada’s Saloon Media and UK’s Impossible Factual, is pretty entertaining. Rather than focus on the mummies we’re used to, like Egyptian pharaohs, this six-parter explores discoveries from different parts of the world and a wide range of time periods.

Sunday’s first episode, “The Gunslinger Mummy,” delves into the back story of a mummy on display at a Seattle curiosity shop since the 1950s. According to stories passed down, “Sylvester” was an American Wild West cowboy killed 120 years ago in a saloon shootout. But is that hole in his leathery stomach really from a bullet? Using state-of-the-art science, professors Ron Beckett and Jerry Conlogue investigate the truth behind the surprisingly well-preserved corpse. As Beckett exclaims, Sylvester looks more like a wooden carving than a mummy, complete with a full moustache and mouth full of broad, crooked white teeth.

Rather than perform an autopsy—which would destroy the body—they turn to forensic pathologist Dr. Richard Shepherd and his super-cool computer scanner, which removes layers of skin to reveal the skeleton underneath. Experts embark on some stunning tests, including using a Colt .45 and a beef brisket to prove whether or not Sylvester was shot in the stomach and if the Arizona desert really was hot and dry enough to turn Sylvester into a mummy.

Rather than just stick with the science of the investigation, Sunday’s debut uses newspaper articles, word-of-mouth and CGI to tell the alleged tale of Sylvester, a rough-and-tumble man who may have been on the wrong end of a poker game. Gunfights in the Wild West were commonplace, but is that what happened to Sylvester? A history of the time period and other facts are revealed until the true story of Sylvester, his life—and circumstances surrounding his death—are brought to light. It’s a fun and informative ride.

Upcoming episodes include spotlighting two Iron Age bog people and a Neolithic murder victim.

Mummies Alive airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on History.

Link: TV’s Mummies Alive Decodes The Dead

From Jim Bawden:

TV’s Mummies Alive Decodes The Dead
Boy was I surprised –I got a three episode preview of the new TV series Mummies Alive and figured it would all be set in ancient Egypt.

But the opener, The Gunslinger Mummy, premiering Sunday April 19 on History at 10 p.m. looks at the mummified remains of a n old west American gunfighter with a bullet hole through his chest. And the episode on April 26, Buried In A Bog, solves the mystery of two Iron Age mummies retrieved from an Irish bog. Continue reading.