LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- April is turning into cable's latest programming beachhead as Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and Spike TV have confirmed they'll roll out a combined 16 new and returning series during the month.
The group will join previously announced originals on Comedy Central ("Reno 911," April 1; "Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire," April 9), FX ("Rescue Me," April 7), HBO ("In Treatment," April 5), Investigation Discovery ("Dallas DNA," April 28), Showtime ("The Tudors," April 5; "State of the Union," April 12), TV Land ("The Cougar," April 15), USA ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent," April 19; "In Plain Sight," April 19) and WE tv ("I Want to Save Your Life," April 25), bringing the month's total to a whopping 27 premieres.
Here's a breakdown of the latest offerings, all of which were confirmed to the site this week (descriptions, if available, are taken from said network's press materials):
ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN - Season 2 (Fridays at 9:00/8:00c starting April 3)
In the second season of ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN, chimp rescuer Eugene Cussons raises the stakes as he stops at nothing to pull the entire species from the brink of extinction, and he's prepared to airlift more threatened chimps out of their living hell. But, Eugene won't stop there - his ultimate goal is to find a new 'Eden' in native chimp habitat - a location in the deep forest of Cabinda Province, Angola, where it's possible to set up a protected reserve as a natural wild homeland for rescued and fully rehabilitated chimps. In the first season of ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN, Eugene completed the first three 'R's of his mission - rescue, relocate and rehabilitate. Now, in this new season, Eugene finally will approach the final 'R' - returning the chimps to the wild.
MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM - Season 7 (Sundays at 7:00/6:00c starting April 5)
MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM transports audiences to the far corners of the world to explore wild animals in their natural habitats. Experience the uncharted territory, along with the unpredictability and excitement of the animal kingdom with this classic wildlife documentary series. This season, cameras follow wild dogs, cheetahs, crocodiles, monkeys, elephants and more as they struggle to survive, and even thrive, in the most challenging of conditions.
RIVER MONSTERS - New Series (Sundays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 5)
Extreme angler Jeremy Wade is on the hunt for the freshwater fish with a taste for human flesh. This international excursion through the dark side of the watery depths mixes action and adventure with incredible mysteries, edge-of-the-seat chases and a battle of will between man and almost supernatural beasts that lurk in the serpentine waterways of the planet, subsisting murderously underwater and growing to truly awesome sizes. Like all the best horror movies, the images are intense and immediate, gritty and real. Wade illustrates to the viewer, like a forensic investigation, exactly how these river monsters are constructed to kill.
NIGHT - New Series (Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 8)
Since the dawn of time, man has feared what happens when the lights go out. Tapping into our most primal fears, NIGHT takes viewers into the darkness to experience the wonder and terror of nocturnal nature and all its annual activities. From the shivers down our spines when coyotes howl to the involuntary jumps when snakes hiss, to the uncontrollable urge to run when confronted with bright yellow beady eyes, host and animal expert Brandon McMillan faces this and more as he embarks upon the shocking and sometimes terrifying journey into the depths of darkness. McMillan goes on a global search to capture rare activity that happens only a night in varying nocturnal environments including jungles, deserts and forests in search of what it means to be nocturnal, where these creatures lurk and why they scare us to death.
GROOMER HAS IT - Season 2 (Saturdays at 9:00/8:00c starting April 11)
GROOMER HAS IT is a competition series, hosted by Jai Rodriguez, that sniffs out 12 of America's most creative and hard-working groomers - amateur and professional - brings them to Los Angeles and puts their drive to the test as they compete for the supreme grooming title. Watch GROOMER HAS IT: Season Two and see how these groomers transform some of the scruffiest-looking dogs to their doggie best! Judges Dr. Karen Halligan, Xavier Santiago and Joey Villani put the groomers through their paces each week to see whose knowledge and skill can turn the shaggiest, most unstylish pooch into a fancy, prancing pup. While every dog has its day, at the end of the series, only one groomer has his or hers... and is crowned Groomer of the Year!
MOST OUTRAGEOUS - New Series (Saturdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 11)
From America's most extravagant doghouse to an eccentric millionaire's private zoo, MOST OUTRAGEOUS will dig into everything weird, wacky and wonderful about our country's obsession with animals. Find out what goes on behind the scenes of the nation's biggest animal parks, visit some of the world's wildest pet palaces and doggy digs, plus meet the animals and their offbeat owners who have become overnight YouTube sensations in this wildly over the top series.
STRANGER AMONG BEARS - New Series (Fridays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 17)
For more than twenty years, Charlie Vandergaw has been living with wild bears in the Alaskan wilderness. In defiance of the law, he has developed a unique, but controversial, relationship with the black and grizzly bears that live in the area surrounding his isolated cabin. Now, for the first time, Charlie has allowed cameras to capture an entire season at "Bear Haven." But even as cameraman Richard Terry finds himself drawn into this extraordinary world, the Alaskan authorities are clamping down on what may prove to be Charlie's last year as a stranger among bears.
MYTHBUSTERS - Season 7 (Wednesdays at 9:00/8:00c starting April 8)
Hosted by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, and build team members Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara, the MYTHBUSTERS mix scientific method with gleeful curiosity and plain old-fashioned ingenuity to create their own signature style of explosive experimentation. The teams combined backgrounds in animatronics, robotics, model building and prototyping arm them with the ability to create anything they need to test a myth.
DOING DA VINCI - New Series (Mondays at TBA starting April 13)
A team of four builders and engineers take on one of history's greatest minds as they try to build Leonardo da Vinci's never-before-constructed inventions using only materials available in da Vinci's time. Will these outrageous machines work? Or were da Vinci's genius ideas better left in the history books?
DEADLIEST CATCH - Season 5 (Tuesdays at 9:00/8:00c starting April 14)
Emmy(R)-nominated series DEADLIEST CATCH follows the brave men who do one of the deadliest jobs in the world - crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Viewers go on a voyage with the captains and crews as they endure subzero arctic weather, 60-mph winds and waves the size of four-story buildings, while fishing for the lucrative king and opilio crab in the frigid Alaskan waters. Why do these men risk their lives doing this deadly job? Ask them and they will tell you they can't imagine doing anything else.
OUT OF THE WILD: ALASKA EXPERIMENT - New Series (Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 14)
Nine ordinary Americans volunteer to be abandoned deep in the Alaska interior. They set out for civilization, traveling the harshest miles on the planet, with only rudimentary clothing and gear to help them survive. No cell phones, no food, no real sense of direction. Its a punishing test that will take at least a month. There is no million dollar prize, no seven figure job, no wedding day with "Mr. Perfect". Just an epic journey. Who will survive Alaska?
TIME WARP - Season 2 (Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c starting in April; exact date TBA)
TIME WARP reveals the world in astonishing new ways by radically changing the lens of time. Join the TIME WARP team, Jeff Lieberman and Matt Kearney, as they capture and examine ordinary and extraordinary life on their super slow-motion cameras.
PITCHMEN - New Series (Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 15)
Billy Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan are the kings of the infomercial. Mays and Sullivan have sold millions of cleaners, sweepers, kitchen gadgets and other miracle products to people all over the world. What is their story? And who are the inventors who come up with the imaginative products being sold? Go behind the curtain and peek into the world of the clever inventors and the equally clever men who sell their products in PITCHMEN.
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER - Season 9 (Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 1)
No official description has been released.
DEADLIEST WARRIOR - New Series (Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c starting April 7)
This April, Spike TV will pit the greatest warriors of all time against each other in a fearsome battle to determine history's ultimate fighting machine in "Deadliest Warrior," an original, action-packed historical narrative series. Each weekly episode will feature two of the most feared warriors civilization has ever known including
Genghis Khans Mongol Barbarians, U.S. Navy SEALS, Viking warriors, Roman gladiators, Japanese Samurais, Pirates and Aztec warriors. The premiere episode pits Apache vs Gladiator and guest stars UFC legend Chuck Liddell as a combat expert.
PROS VS. JOES - Season 4 (Mondays at 11:00/10:00c starting April 27)*
Michael Strahan, a future NFL hall-of-famer and current television personality, joins well-respected veteran NFL journalist Jay Glazer as hosts of Spike TV"s fourth season of its hit series, "Pros vs. Joes." The new season, entitled "Pros vs. Joes 4: All Stars," goes into production in sports venues around Los Angeles in February 2009 and launches in the spring. Spike TV"s "Pros vs. Joes 4: All Stars" will consist of eight episodes with each installment featuring three former notable professional athletes going head-to-head against three regular Joes. The roster of athletes will be announced at a later date. The new twist this season is there will only be one sport showcased in each episode instead of the variety of sports in previous seasons. Each episode features three skills competitions and a three-on-three scrimmage pitting the Pros against the Joes. The sports featured this season will be football (4 episodes) and basketball (4 episodes).
* Note: The original report featured a typo indicating the time as 10:00/9:00c.