TV Critics Tour: Nat Geo Gears Up For ‘Expedition Week’


Beverly Hills, Calif.—National Geographic Channel will take a page from the Discovery Channel playbook, creating an annual programming event it's calling "Expedition Week."

The programming block will debut Nov. 16, and will have nightly premieres including Unlocking the Great Pyramids; Live from the Moon; Shipwreck! Captain Kidd; the Real George Washington; Explorer: Lost City of the Amazon; Egypt Unwrapped; Dino Autopsy and a bonus premiere with Herod’s Lost Tomb.

Steve Burns, executive vice president of programming for the channel, said expeditions are in NatGeo’s DNA, adding that he hopes the block becomes long-running like Discovery’s Shark Week.

The specials will feature such personalities as former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. He, along with other panelists from the specials, was asked by television critics meeting here to describe their most exhilarating discoveries. Aldrin nearly silenced the room as he described his nights in space on the way to the moon, when he observed flashes, lights he could see even with his eyes closed. His Apollo team briefed subsequent astronauts on the phenomenon and eventually the flashes were identified as a type of particle that actually penetrates space capsules and its human contents.

Every time it hits a human brain, “you lose a cell or two,” he told a rapt audience.

Oh, and by the way, it’s a myth that you can see the Great Wall of China from space, he said.

Another debut, planned for Sept. 28, is World’s Toughest Fixes, will spotlight unique repairs, such as fixing a rupture in a jetliner’s pressure dome or replacing a turbine in a nuclear power plant.

How does one find a host who can also help with such repairs, such as professional rigger/host Sean Riley? Producers said they found him with an ad on Craigslist. They added they had other avenues of outreach, but it was the Internet ad, listing the variety of skills needed by the show host, that captured Riley’s attention.

The network also teased a Sept. 15 debut, Solo: Lost at Sea, a wrenching documentary created by kayaker Andrew McAuley, who attempted to traverse the sea between Australia and New Zealand but died in the attempt.

The critics were also charmed by Georgia, one of the “stars” of Dogtown,a program about the Georgia no-kill shelter. The toothless, overbred, scarred pit bull is one of the dogs liberated from football player Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation. She dozed through most of her moment in the publicity spotlight. The episodes on the Michael Vick dogs are scheduled for Sept. 5.

 For more coverage from the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, click here.