There are plenty of worthwhile TV shows on tap for July. Here are some worth your time:
"History Detectives" returns to PBS with four "Special Investigations" that take researchers Kaiama Glover, Wes Cowan and Tukufu Zuberi into the past to unravel mysteries. The July 1 premiere focuses on the 1865 sinking of the SS Sultana, which killed 1,800 people. Was it sabotage? And did Abraham Lincoln have anything to do with it? The team also looks into the disappearances of big band leader Glenn Miller and infamous Teamster chief Jimmy Hoffa, the latter part of a July 22 "Gangster Night" that kicks off with "Al Capone: Icon."
How the pyramids and other marvels of the ancient world were built has mystified man for thousands of years, but thanks to modern technology we're now much closer to solving that mystery. PBS's "Time Scanners"
employs portable lasers to look inside the stone and reveal the Pharaohs' secrets in the July 1 premiere, followed by episodes about St. Paul's Cathedral and the city of Petra in Jordan.
On July 4, PBS celebrates America's birthday
with its 34th annual "A Capitol Fourth" concert from Washington, D.C., hosted by Tom Bergeron and featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and performers Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Jordin Sparks, Michael McDonald, Sara Evans and, of course, fireworks.
The TV landscape is littered with shows about Alaska, but Smithsonian Channel's "Aerial America: Alaska" views the 49th state from a different, loftier perspective. Premiering on July 6 over two hours, it offers a bird's-eye view of the breathtaking landscape, wildlife, and its inhabitants, from mountain men and miners to Iditarod mushers.
In a three-night event beginning July 6, Nat Geo takes views back to "The '90s: The Last Great Decade," celebrating the politics, pop culture, science, sports, and celebrities of the era with 120 interviews with people who made history — for better or worse. Narrated by Rob Lowe, the miniseries airs for two hours each night. Start the nostalgia early with the trailer below!
Fish biologist Dr. Zeb Hogan goes in search of the more rare, weird, and dangerous specimens in the fifth season of "Monster Fish," returning to Nat Geo Wild July 7 with an episode about giant freshwater stingrays.
"Highway Cowboys" patrol the roads of Texas cattle country, keeping wayward livestock safe and protecting them from predators. The 14-episode series premieres July 8 on Great American Country.
No one knows the backwoods of Kentucky like "Turtleman" Ernie Brown Jr., and on July 8, the "Call of the Wildman" star takes viewers on a tour of his home state in "Turtleman’s Kentucky." Concentrating on its environments and wildlife, the Animal Planet special features encounters with black bears, lampreys
, bobcats, coyotes, rattlesnakes and flying squirrels.
A comparison between the portrait of Lisa, the wife of a silk merchant, and da Vinci's infamous "Mona Lisa." (Photo: Terra Mater Factual Studios GmbH)
In 1503, a wealthy silk merchant commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to paint a portrait of his pregnant wife, Lisa. The result has become one of the most famous paintings in the world, "Mona Lisa." But did the artist paint an earlier version than the one hanging in the Louvre? Or is it a forgery? In the "Secrets of the Dead" episode "Mona Lisa Mystery," airing on PBS on July 9, experts endeavor to find out.
Fortunately for "Untold Stories of the ER," there are no limits to the bizarre, unusual, and humorous real-life incidents that make the show possible. It returns for its ninth season July 11 on Discovery Fit & Health.
Hellhounds of all shapes, sizes, pedigrees and lack thereof wreak havoc with their owner’s lives in the Animal Planet series "Bad Dog!" which returns for a new season July 12.
The Nat Geo Wild two-part special "Kingdom of the Apes" takes an intimate look at primate behavior
, families and societies, zeroing in on individuals as they rear their young and vie for power. Introduced by Jane Goodall, it premieres on July 13. Take a sneak peek by watching the video below!
She's an oil baroness, but otherwise Rochelle Carnes is like any other Texas mom with four sons and a larger-than-life personality. She and her family are the stars of the reality show "Lone Star Lady," premiering July 13 on A&E.
Simple tasks like tying a shoelace, digging a hole, or making ice
cubes are more complicated than you thought. Nat Geo devotes an entire program to each of these taken-for-granted tasks and others in "Going Deep with David Rees," which debuts July 14 with two back-to-back episodes, following the summer premiere of "Brain Games."
Elephant rescuer Daphne Sheldrick and one of her charges in "My Wild Affair." (Photo: The Sheldricks)
Exploring uniquely special relationships between animals and humans, PBS's four-part series "My Wild Affair" kicks off July 16 with "The Elephant Who Found a Mom," about orphaned pachyderm rescuer Daphne Sheldrick. Subsequent episodes' subjects are a woman who raised a sign language-signing orangutan on a college campus, the vet's family that adopted a rhinoceros, and a man who rescued a baby harbor seal.
Never mind the titillating title, "Sex in the Wild" is not erotica. But you may want to send young children out of the room because it's full of explicit — and fascinating — talk about the mechanics of animal reproduction. Premiering July 16 on PBS, the four-part series covers the process in detail from mating through gestation, birth, and beyond, focusing on elephants, orangutans, kangaroos and other marsupials, and finally, dolphins and whales.
The cast of American Heroes Channel's "Gunslingers." (Photo: American Heroes Channel)
American Heroes Channel pays homage to legendary figures of the Old West in the six-part docudrama series "Gunslingers," telling the stories of such icons a Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok with narrated reenactments and expert commentary. The July 20 opener follows Earp in the months leading up to the infamous showdown at the OK Corral, and its aftermath, and features Kurt Russell, who played him in the movie "Tombstone."
On July 23, the celebrity genealogy show "Who Do You Think You Are" returns to TLC with six new stars on a journey into their pasts, beginning with Cynthia Nixon. Also included this season are Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, and Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen.
In the new Nat Geo series "Survive the Tribe," botanist, zoologist and survival instructor Hazen Audel gets a week to master the skills of indigenous tribes to survive in remote places from Mongolia to the Solomon Islands. It premieres July 24.
Living on houseboats off the grid on Great Slave Lake in Canada's frozen Northwest Territories, the "Ice Lake Rebels" must battle Mother Nature to survive. Their stories unfold in a new Animal Planet series premiering July 27.
Bear Grylls is known for his solo treks into the wilderness, but in his latest series, he's got company — and famous company at that. In "Running Wild With Bear Grylls," premiering the first of six episodes July 28, the survivalist will take celebrities on two-day adventure journeys like skydiving and mountain climbing in remote locations in and outside the U.S. Zac Efron, Channing Tatum, Ben Stiller, Deion Sanders, Tom Arnold and Tamron Hall have signed up.
Reality and fantasy collide in ABC's competition series "The Quest," a hybrid from the producers of "The Lord of the Rings"
and "The Amazing Race." Ogres dragons and other nemeses will test 12 contestants heroism in the series, which premiere on ABC on July 31.
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