1. Serious medical emergencies are just one part of a paramedic’s job. As the title of the new four-part TLC series “OMG EMT!” suggests, these rescue professionals are called upon to handle some crazy calls, including a combative old lady and an overaggressive dog in the May 1 premiere (and in a future episide, dealing with the couple locked together during sex.)
2. It’s orcas versus whales in a deadly feeding frenzy in “Attack of the Killer Whales,” which follows the migrations of both species to the Alaskan coast in a Nat Geo Wild special premiering on May 4.
3. On May 11, Discovery Channel had planned to air the special “Everest Jump Live,” featuring mountain climber Joby Ogwyn’s attempt to make the first wing suit jump off the tallest mountain in the world, but that changed after an avalanche killed 13 people at Everest’s Khumbu Icefall on April 18. Instead, on May 4, Discovery will broadcast the 90-minute documentary “Everest Avalanche Tragedy,” featuring eyewitness accounts from the scene and footage from the crew who were preparing for the jump stunt. Discovery will contribute to the American Himalayan Foundation Sherpa Family Fund in support of the sherpas who died in the tragedy and will encourage viewers to do the same.
4. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the famed Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but archaeologists have searched in vain for evidence of their existence. Could they have been searching in the wrong place? The PBS documentary “Secrets of the Dead: Lost Gardens of Babylon” travels to Iraq with Oxford scholar Dr. Stephanie Dalley, following clues — including underground canals visible via satellite imagery — that the gardens were built far from Babylon by a king who preceded Nebuchadnezzar by a century. It premieres on May 6.
5. Feeding the apparently insatiable appetite for programs set in Alaska, Discovery will premiere “Alaskan Bush People” on May 6, following a family who lives as far off the grid as you can get, in a one-room cabin. They speak their own dialect, and rarely see any other humans (camera crew excepted).
6. From Cape Cod to the Australian coast, shark attacks are increasing in frequency. The new “Nova” documentary “Why Sharks Attack” seeks to discover why it’s happening, examining migration patterns and the increased prevalence of seals (sharks’ top food source), while following shark behavior experts as they develop shark repellents ranging from light to electrical fields to specially patterned wetsuits. Premiering on May 7, the PBS special also addresses the importance of sharks to the ocean ecosystem. While shark attacks are still relatively rare, 75-100 million sharks are killed every year for their flesh and fins.
7. The longest dry season in memory puts the wildlife of Zambia’s Luangwa Valley in jeopardy in the Animal Planet special “Surviving the Kill Zone,” airing on May 13. More than 65 remote-controlled cameras follow the confrontations that take place at the Luangwa River as species fight over the only source of water.
Photo: Michael Runtz
8. Could beavers be a solution for the effects of global warming and water shortages? The PBS “Nature” special “Leave it to Beavers” makes the case that the rodents are key to solving an ecological problem. It premieres on May 14.
9., 10., 11., 12., & 13. Animal Planet launches its third annual Monster Week on May 18 with new episodes of “River Monsters” (leading up to the May 26 finale), new specials and a made-for-TV movie from the creators of “Sharknado.” Starring Shannen Doherty and Christopher Lloyd, “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys” has the eel-like fish terrorizing a Michigan town and will air on May 25. Lions, tigers and leopards are attacking humans in greater frequency, and a virus may be the reason, a topic rather luridly explained in the May 20 special “Man Eating Zombie Cats.” An invasive species of python that plagues Florida’s ecosystem is the subject of “Devoured: Man-Eating Super Snake” (airing on May 22), and “Nature’s Most Wanted” follows efforts to find and relocate a man-eating crocodile terrorizing a village (airing on May 23). Extended-cut versions of the channel’s popular “Mermaids: The Body Found” and “The New Evidence” will repeat on May 24.
14. The warm waters of the Caribbean hide deadly dangers — earthquake faults and undersea volcanoes that threaten to erupt and unleash tsunamis, In the Nat Geo Wild special “Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld with Bob Ballard,” the noted ocean explorer leads a three-month expedition to the Puerto Rico Trench to examine the seafloor in search of geological threats, and his crew finds fascinating proof of life flourishing more than a mile down. It premieres on May 18.
Photo: Philip Dalton/John Downer Prods
15. Bats, bees and butterflies do it, and so do many other insects, birds and mammals. What’s behind this propensity for gathering and moving in massive numbers? That’s the subject of the PBS “Nature” special “The Gathering Swarms,” airing on May 21.
16. The Nat Geo Wild special “Deadliest Week Ever: Hippo vs Croc” sets up a gladiator-like battle of the predators between these aggressive creatures, complete with anatomical analyses and CGI animation. It premieres on May 25.
17. History Channel honors Memorial Day with the three-night series “The World Wars,” spanning the years 1914-1945 and focusing on the world leaders who were the major players of the wartime era. Narrated by Jeremy Renner, the series begins on May 26 and uses reenactments, CGI and interviews with Sen. John McCain, Gen. Colin Powell, British Prime Minister John Major and others to tell the story.
18. “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s Tony-winning play about the onset of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s comes to HBO on May 26. The all-star cast includes Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch and Matt Bomer.
A tank sunk during D-Day as it appears in 'D-Day's Sunken Secrets.' The episode, airing on May 28, is a part of PBS's long-running 'Nova' series. (Photo: Pascal LeFloch)
19. & 20. PBS marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with two special programs: “D-Day 360,” premiering on May 27, recreates the scene at Omaha beach on June 6, 1944 with CGI and eyewitness accounts. And on May 28, “Nova’s” “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets” explores the wrecks of thousands of ships that line the sea floor off Normandy, searching for clues about why and how the invasion worked, and spotlighting the scientists and technology pioneers who engineered it. Joining the six-week expedition are several WWII veterans who share their accounts of the fateful day.
21. In another new series about tough men living in tougher environments, the theme of “American River Renegades” is life off the grid along the country’s waterways, from the Alaska’s Yukon River to the Mississippi and the flooded deltas of Louisiana. It premieres on Animal Planet on May 29.
22. Pro wrestler Eric Young (“Off the Hook: Extreme Catches”) seeks adrenaline-fueled thrills outside of the ring in the new Animal Planet series “No Limits,” premiering on May 30. Young tries river-boarding the rapids in Tennessee, sand-boarding the dunes in Arizona, and fishing for marlin from a kayak, among other adventures in the 10-part series.
Photo: National Geographic Channels
23. Thanks to the not-so-smart daredevils who ignore the don’t-try-this-at-home warnings and capture their epic failures on video, there’s no shortage of cringe-worthy fodder for the new Nat Geo series “Science of Stupid.” The twist here is the explanation about why the stunts went wrong, explained with wry wit by comedian Seth Herzog. The planned May premiere has been moved to June 13.
24. The smallest dogs often have the biggest barks and bites. That’s the premise behind the new Animal Planet series “My Tiny Terror,” which follows trainer Jacqueline Wilson in her efforts to rehab misbehaving miniature canines. It premieres on May 31.
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