NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAKES A BIG SPLASH ON ITS TV CHANNEL
A Special Article by Tim Riley
National Geographic is not just a magazine anymore. It’s a growing cable channel with a presence on television that goes beyond travelogues and stories about animals, either the wild or domestic kind. For the first time ever, come February, National Geographic Channel will present its first original scripted drama, ,” based on Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling novel.
At the winter press tour gathering of the nation’s TV critics, Howard T. Owens, president of the Channel, announced the “next foray into factual drama” comes with the purchase of O’Reilly’s “Killing Kennedy.” No announcement was made about who will play JFK. Bill Pullman stars as a fictional president in NBC’s new comedy “1600 Penn.” He was also commander in chief in the film “Independence Day.” Maybe he’s a candidate; we just don’t know.
Now back to the Lincoln film, writer and executive producer Erik Jendresen told critics that the recent Steven Spielberg film is a “prequel” to his “Killing Lincoln,” which is focused exclusively on the events leading up to the assassination. Jendresen delivered his assessment after being asked by a critic about what was being covered that was not addressed in the Spielberg film or in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Critics sometimes can’t distinguish fact from fiction, which is why the make lousy historians.
For National Geographic’s film, Billy Campbell plays the role of Great Emancipator, and he is certain to endure inevitable comparisons with Daniel Day-Lewis, especially with the Academy Awards season upon us. Yet, it is important to note that Spielberg’s film celebrated the victory of Lincoln on the passage of the 13th Amendment, while “Killing Lincoln” is really the story of the tragedy that came so quickly after the end of the Civil War.
Documentaries about the military are not new to the Channel, but “Inside Combat Rescue” will take viewers within the harrowing world of the brave airmen who risk their own lives to rescue fallen warriors.
For the first time in history, the United States Air Force is allowing cameras to follow the elite unit of rescue warriors during a four-month deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan As we all know, the world did not end in December according to the Mayan calendar. Nevertheless, the Channel’s big hit series “Doomsday Preppers” continues to follow those awaiting a catastrophic event.
New episodes of “Doomsday Preppers” will include a Florida businessman fearing an electromagnetic pulse will make the world go dark; a Native American convinced economic collapse will result in social chaos; and a family hiding away in the mountains waiting for a comet to hit the Earth.
A different test of survival skills will be found in “Ultimate Survival Alaska,” where eight tough Alaskans are dropped into the harshest wilderness for fifty days with nothing more than a backpack and their own endurance capabilities.The Alaskan adventure will probably make the new series “Mudcats” look easy in comparison. The Okie Hand Fishing Invitational is a fierce competition as teams hunt for colossal flathead catfish using only their bare hands.
Bragging rights and a $10,000 grand prize are on the line for the 10 week contest, as mudcatters dive into river caves and dangerous deep waters to wrestle the big fish out of the water. Rod and reel enthusiasts may want to tune into the second season of “Wicked Tuna,” which follows a group of spirited fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts, as they make their living searching for the elusive bluefin tuna in the turbulent waters of the North Atlantic.
Dog lovers already know about renowned dog behaviorist Cesar Millan, who gained wider fame and success as the result of the long-running and aptly named series “Dog Whisperer.” In his new Nat Geo WILD series “Leader of the Pack,” Cesar Millan is combating the global issue of canine abandonment and giving “unadoptable” dogs a second chance at life. Millan’s new show takes place in the beautiful country of Spain, where each week he transfers extreme canine cases to his new Dog Psychology Center in Miraflores, just outside of Madrid.
In each episode, three candidates from the U.K., Italy or the Netherlands compete for the chance to adopt one special pup, with their dog skills put to the test in a series of special challenges.The potential owners all share one passion – they want to become the “Leader of the Pack.” But first, Millan evaluates each prospective adoptee to assess their canine compatibility.
Given that some people go to extremes to pamper their domestic pets, it’s probably not surprising that Nat Geo WILD’s new series “Spoiled Rotten Pets” spotlights some of the most outrageous and hilarious examples of pet owners being excessive and extravagant.Frankly, I found it hard to believe that there is a spa for pet pigs where domesticated swine are pampered by having their skin exfoliated. Hey, we never saw this type of treatment for Arnold on “Green Acres.”