National Geographic Channel Presents ‘Star Talk,’ ‘The Big Picture with Kal Penn,’ ‘Barkfest’ and More [TCA 2015]

ngc tca winter15

We’re back at a new Television Critics Association Winter press tour and during the first cable day, National Geographic Channel presented a few panels for their new and returning series/events.

Here are some of the highlights:


National Geographic Channel is bringing back their documentary series, Explorer, after a five-year break. Explorer will expose viewers to various cultural and political stories from all over the world. It will premiere later this year.

They have also announced a few difference series including, miniseries History of the World, which will put a twist on telling the story of the world by using a mix of comedy, animation and documentary storytelling, Dino Autopsy, which will use special effects techniques to build the world’s first full-size anatomically correct T-Rex and, yes, cut it wide open, and Wild River Timber, which will introduce us to the world of log-rafting trade.

Fish Bowl II returns during this year’s Super Bowl for four hours on Sunday, February 1st at 6pm.

Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s top rated podcast is coming to the National Geographic Channel. Tyson was in attendance to talk about the show. He explained that Star Talk is a low risk for National Geographic, because Star Talk exists as a Podcast. In fact, it was selected by iTunes as one of the top 10 podcasts of 2014.

Star Talk is a mixture of comedy, science and pop culture. They interview people who have a following and orchestrate a conversation around them and detours into science to find out how science has affected them over the years.

Tyson explained that, “the goal of Star Talk was to find the people who don’t know, believe or understand that science is all around us.” He added that “this alerts” people as to why science is important in our lives.

Tyson thinks that “science is mainstreaming,” which is why the show is currently possible.

In Star Talk, Tyson also has a co-host who is always a professional stand-up comedian reacting to the interview.

Star Talk premieres April 2015. It is National Geographic Channel’s first talk show.

The Big Picture with Kal Penn

In The Big Picture, host Kal Penn gives us a new way to understand how things like money, sex, food, sports and crime influence our daily lives. They will investigate different themes through the mapping of new data, the creative visualization of information and in-depth personal stories.

In the vein of Brain Games and The Number Games, The Big Picture with Kal Penn will give us a new way to explore and understand the world we live in. As someone who recently discovered (and became addicted to) those shows, The Big Picture seems like just the thing I would enjoy.

The Big Picture with Kal Penn premieres March 2015.

American Genius

The eight-part docudrama event, American Genius, chronicles the competitions between the brilliant inventors and the innovations that changed the world. The docudrama will feature scripted and non-scripted elements, as well as expert interviews with modern-day visionaries such as Steve Wozniak,, Bill Nye, Biz Stone, Mitt Romney, Craig Venter, Steve Wynn, Jack Welch and Michio Kaku.

Some of the inventors featured are Tesla vs Edison, Hearst vs Pulitzer, Gates vs Jobs and more.

American Genius premieres Spring 2015.

Ultimate Survival Alaska

The competition series, Ultimate Survival Alaska, is back for its third season putting 12 of the world’s toughest outdoorsmen against each other. The contestants are broken into four teams who have to push their way through some of the most hostile territory on the planet with minimal food and provisions in order to be crowned Alaska’s ultimate survivors.

The competition is so extreme that GoPro cameras need to be used in order to capture moments such as someone falling through the ice, which would be impossible to predict or capture otherwise.

Ultimate Survival Alaska airs on Sundays at 9pm.

Killing Jesus

Based on the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Jesus is a three-hour television event that explores familiar Biblical characters under a new light and layers that have rarely been explored before.

The movie is the third collaboration between Ridley Scott, Bill O’Reilly and National Geographic Channel (the first two projects were Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln). It was shot entirely in the Moroccan desert.

Killing Jesus premieres Spring 2015.

Incredible! The Story of Dr. Pol

You know him as The Incredible Dr. Pol and now it’s time to find out more about his incredible life. In Incredible! The Story of Dr. Pol, Dr. Pol shares his personal story from his early years in Netherlands to his becoming a world-famous veterinarian.

Incredible! The Story of Dr. Pol premieres on January 10th, 2015 on Nat Geo WILD.


Definitely the most exciting (at least for me) is National Geographic’s first annual Barkfest weekend, which will help dog owner find fun and news ways to connect with them. It will also feature the premiere of the three-part series, Is Your Dog a Genius? which will feature new research that will help dog owners understand them even better. The show will show you some games you can play with your dog to figure out what kind of intelligence your dog has. It might even help you uncover something your dog is really good at that you weren’t even aware of. For example they found that some dogs infer what behavior is desired and learn tricks really quickly as a results without much repetition. They also ask the question how do you pick the right dog for the right job.

Some of the additional programming you can expect during the weekend includes World’s Greatest Dogs, Dog’s Best Friend, Dogs: All Shapes and Sizes, and more.

Barkfest Weekend premieres on Friday May 15, 2015 at 8pm.