From Shark Week to 'Fat Guy' survivalists, here's what we'll be watching in August
Other highlights for late-summer TV include cute kittens, ruthless oil tycoons and British secret agents.
Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 03:34 PM
"Operation Maneater" host Mark Evans holds up a baby crocodile. The PBS special focuses on human encounters with apex predators. (Photo: Si Wagen and Windfall Films)
Summer is winding down, but here are 19 TV shows to help you take a last gulp of nature — human and otherwise — before September.
1. Felled redwood trees get spectacularly repurposed as cottages, treehouses, roadside attractions and more by the twin craftsmen behind Daniels Wood Land in the seven-part series "Redwood Kings," premiering Aug. 1 on Animal Planet.
2. From bears in the backyard to coyotes in the city and kangaroos on the golf course, wild animals are encroaching on human habitats metropolitan areas and their environs all over the world. "Urban Jungle," a three-part special simulcast on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild on Aug. 3, documents these close encounters and explains why they're happening with increasing frequency.
3. "Gator Boys" Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle and back and they're hitting the road for the two-part kickoff of the Animal Planet series' sixth season on Aug. 3: they head to Mazatlan, Mexico, in search of monster croc that's terrorizing villages. A flashback episode featuring memorable moments from the boys' time in Mississippi precedes the premiere.
4. It may sound like the premise for a sitcom, but don't let the title fool you: "Fat Guys in the Woods" is a serious Weather Channel survival show that takes a trio of couch potatoes to the woods for a week to see how they cope. But first, they must learn to hunt, forge, and fish, build a shelter and make fire with lessons from survival expert Creek Stewart. The series premieres on Aug. 10, following the premiere of "So You Think You'd Survive?" which posits choices and consequences in life-and-death scenarios.
5. Discovery's 27th annual summer Shark Week celebration kicks off on Aug. 10, boasting a record 13 new specials and the return of the nightly "Shark After Dark" talk show, hosted by Josh Wolf. "Sharkageddon," "Lair of the Mega Shark," "Zombie Sharks," "Aliens Sharks: Return to the Abyss," "Jaws Strikes Back," "I Escaped Jaws 2," "Monster Hammerhead" and "Great White Matrix" are just a few of the toothsome offerings.
6. Not content to leave the lucrative Shark Week to its competitor, Nat Geo Wild is staging Sharkfest, a weeklong celebration of Condrichthyes beginning with "Shark Kill Zone," "Shocking Sharks" and the orca vs. great white battle "The Whale That Ate Jaws: Bite Sized" on Aug. 10 and the quest for the bull shark in "Monster Fish: River Jaws" on Aug. 11.
Photo: Chris Fallows
7. For 60 years, oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle has made it her life's work to save the oceans and marine life from man-made threats like pollution, overfishing and the carbons that contribute to climate change. Her story is the subject of the documentary "Mission Blue," which begins streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15 at the same time as opening in theaters in New York and L.A.
8. Animal Planet's "Too Cute!" series ups the awwww factor with its latest run of episodes starting Aug. 16. "Pint Sized" is all about newborn puppies and kittens, with the cameras capturing the few months of life and all the associated milestones.
A Siberian kitten during Animal Planet's "Too Cute!" (Photo: Animal Planet)
9. Nat Geo's "Wicked Tuna" spins off into a new series that pits the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusetts, against crews from the Outer Banks of North Carolina in "Wicked Tuna: North vs. South," premiering on Aug. 17.
10. Survival of the fittest is the main event in Nat Geo Wild's "Animal Fight Night," which has its two-part season premiere on Aug. 18, which features bloody battles between kangaroos, tigers and octopus in the first hour and grizzly bears, guanacos and beetles in the second.
Two tiger battle in Nat Geo Wild's "Animal Fight Night." (Photo: Thinkstock)
11. Weather Channel marks the start of hurricane season with a countdown of the "Top 10 Worst Hurricanes" on Aug. 18. Immediately following the special is the premiere of the eight-part series "Hurricane 360," an in-depth look at mega-storms like Sandy and Katrina and the people who survived them.
12. If you were too busy to tune in to Shark Week, Animal Planet has the Cliff's Notes solution: "Shark Week in a Day." The channel will run a marathon of program highlights from its sister network on Aug. 19 from 4 p.m. till 3 a.m. ET/PT, including "Shark of Darkness."
13. Trash becomes treasure in FYI’s series "Red Hot Design," which follows interior designer Shasta Smith and her team at Vintage Monkey as they salvage, rebuild and turn vintage scrap metal into unique new pieces of art. The 10-episode series premieres on Aug. 11 on FYI.
14. Discovery's "Bering Sea Gold" returns for its fourth season of Alaskan treasure hunting on Aug. 22 with the ice dredging crews battling weather and each other to find a lucrative mother lode.
15. Nat Geo Wild's peripatetic vet "The Incredible Dr. Pol" returns for a new season of farmhouse calls on Aug. 23, tending to livestock and pets all over Michigan. In the premiere, Dr. Pol's diverse tasks include rescuing starving piglets, castrating a guinea pig and breaking the news to a dog owner about his best friend's cancer.
16. Premiering on Aug. 25 on PBS's "P.O.V," the documentary "Big Men" depicts the dark underside of the oil business. Director Rachel Boynton examines how power, politics and corruption compromised oil development in Ghana.
17. In the three-part "Operation Maneater," veterinarian Mark Evans zeroes in on apex predators — great white sharks, polar bears and crocodiles — analyzing deadly encounters with humans to find ways we can protect both people and the animals. It premieres on Aug. 27 on PBS.
18. Made famous by James Bond, the British spies of the agency MI6 really do exist and have been operating undercover since 1909. PBS goes inside this clandestine organization in "Secrets of Her Majesty's Secret Service," premiering on Aug. 31.
19. The world's fastest predators are profiled in the Smithsonian Channel series "Speed Kills," which has its second season premiere on Aug. 20 with an episode including cheetahs, tiger beetles and the lizards, snakes and other creatures inhabiting South Africa's Namib Desert.
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