1 & 2. Binge-drinking monkeys, elephants on drunken rampages, jaguars high on psychedelics! Humans aren’t the only ones that overdo alcohol and other mood-altering substances. That’s the intoxicating subject of the Nat Geo special “World’s Weirdest: Happy Hour,” premiering April 1. It’s followed by the three-hour special “Total Riff Off,” in which the comedic commentators from RiffTrax poke April Fools Day fun at various Nat Geo shows and clips.
3. Through hunting and urbanization, humans have reduced wildlife habitats, throwing the ecosystems that support animals like big cats, wolves and bears out of balance. In the “NOVA” special “Wild Predator Invasion,” premiering April 2 on PBS, scientists explore whether reintroducing predators to their natural environments can restore that balance without threatening humans.
4 & 5. Going beyond teacup poodles and tiny terriers, the Nat Geo Wild special “World’s Smallest Pets” spotlights more unusual critters. The following week, on April 11, “Supersized Pets” takes the opposite tack, with reindeer, buffalo and a giant monitor lizard.
6. In the latest TV excuse to blow things up (and otherwise destroy them), the new Nat Geo series “Showdown of the Unbeatables” pits ingenious inventions against each other in a contest that promises to be explosive. It premieres April 4 with the aptly titled “Battle of the Ballistics.”
7. The economics behind the obesity epidemic is the subject of the three-part BBC World News special “The Men Who Made Us Fat.” The first episode, airing April 4-6 at 10:10 p.m., 11:10 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. ET, focuses on high fructose corn syrup; the second (April 11-13, same times) explores the idea of supersizing; and the third (April 18-20, same times) deals with marketing’s power to mislead consumers.
8. Jeremy Wade travels to the Amazon in search of deadly “River Monsters” in the sixth season of his Animal Planet series. The two-hour premiere on April 6 will be followed by the special “River Monsters: Live With Jeremy Wade,” in which Wade will answer fans’ questions and tell behind-the-scenes stories.
9 &10. Cautionary tales for the digital age, the TLC specials “Cyber Stalkers” and “Web of Deceit” tell stories of Internet connections gone wrong. They premiere April 9 and April 16 respectively.
A golden retriever with a prosthetic paw. (Photo: Kevin Bachar/2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC)
11. Disabled animals and the scientists who come to their aid with cutting-edge prosthetics are the focus of “My Bionic Pet,” premiering on PBS’ “Nature” on April 9. The special includes a golden retriever born without a front left paw (above), an alligator with a missing tail, a pony with an injured leg and a swan with a deformed beak.
12. Ever wonder what your dog, cat or bird is thinking? So do the scientists in the three-part NOVA series “Inside Animal Minds,” which explores just how smart creatures are. The April 9 premiere, “Bird Genius,” introduces a remarkably intelligent raven, and subsequent episodes focus on man’s best friend (“Dogs & Super Senses”) and the comparative braininess of species like dolphins and elephants (“Who’s the Smartest?”).
13, 14, & 15. The human body goes under the microscope in the PBS documentary “Your Inner Fish,” premiering on April 9 and based on Neil Shubin’s book of the same name, traces human biology back to the oceans at the beginning of life on Earth. (That's Shubin pictured at right.) Carrying on the evolutionary theme, “Your Inner Reptile” follows on April 16 with “Your Inner Monkey” airing on April 23.
16. As the only veterinarian in town — which means for thousands of miles — Dr. Michelle Oakley cares for creatures ranging from housecats to caribou in the new Nat Geo Wild series “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet,” which focuses on her work and family life in Northern Canada. It premieres on April 12.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on-location during Showtime's "Years of Living Dangerously." (Photo: The Years Project/Showtime)
17. Bringing attention to the most pressing environmental issues in an eight-part docuseries premiering on April 13, Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously” enlists celebrity reporters including Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger (who produced, along with James Cameron), Matt Damon, America Ferrera, Ian Somerhalder, Leslie Stahl, Jessica Alba, and other actors, journalists and politicians to explore the global ramifications of climate change.
18. We’ve seen “Dirty Jobs” and “Jobs That Bite.” Now MTV2 presents the opposite take on employment possibilities with “Jobs That Don’t Suck.” Premiering on April 16, the show centers on fun, unique or unusual occupations such as nightlife photographer, human cannonball, rap genius, zombie crawler, snake milker, beer keg engineer, crime scene cleaner, junk food blogger and Tupac impersonator, profiling people who do them.
19. Writer, artist, naturalist and Wyoming rancher Joe Hutto embedded himself with a herd of wild mule deer for seven years to study their behavior, and the result is the “Nature” documentary “Touching the Wild,” premiering on PBS on April 16.
20. The polar vortex may be over, but it’s still winter for the intrepid few in the 49th state who choose to live “Life Below Zero.” The Nat Geo series about Alaskans living far off the grid returns on April 17.
Cesar Millan with a pit bull from his new special "Cesar Millan: Love My Pit Bull" on Nat Geo Wild. (Photo: National Geographic Channels)
21. As a breed, pit bulls get a bad rap. Dog expert Cesar Millan seeks to debunk the notion that the canines are innately aggressive and explains why owners are often at fault for their pets’ behavior in the new Nat Geo Wild special “Cesar Millan: Love My Pit Bull,” premiering on April 18.
22. Premiering on April 20, The Weather Channel’s “Will to Live” is a five-episode series telling stories of survival in extreme conditions, including storms, fires and the open sea.
A scene from the 10th season of Discovery's "Deadliest Catch." (Photo: Discovery)
23. On April 22, crab boat skippers return to brave the hazards of one of the world’s most dangerous jobs as they vie for supremacy on the Bering Sea in the 10th season of Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch.”
24. Kicking off its third season on April 23, Travel Channel’s Trip Flip” returns to Travel Channel with two back-to back episodes, taking adventurous travelers BASE jumping in Idaho, ziplining in Costa Rica and heli-skiing in the Swiss Alps among other destinations.
25. It’s Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy to the rescue when “My Cat From Hell” returns to Animal Planet on April 26 with 16 new episodes featuring desperate owners seeking help for their misbehaving felines.
26. Manatees, alligators and rattlesnakes are just a few of the creatures spotlighted in the two-part Nat Geo Wild special “Florida Untamed,” premiering on April 27.
27. The “Fish Tank Kings” return to Nat Geo Wild on April 28 with an enormous challenge: how to install a 5,000-gallon shark tank in a Florida office. They also have to build an octopus exhibit at a Syracuse, N.Y., zoo — but first they have to catch the octopus.
28. The Weather Channel’s annual Tornado Week begins on April 28 and kicks off with the premiere of the new series “Tornado Alley,” which uses actual footage and CGI recreations to explore deadly twisters from the points of view of experts and survivors.
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- In search of more 'Wild Things'
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- TV shows could improve kids' behavior
Inset photo for "Wild Predator Invasion" courtesy of Dave Long/Long Memories Photography; Inset photo for "Your Inner Fish" courtesy of Nathaniel Chadwick/Tangled Bank Studios, LLC